Learn about Life in the 1920s

1920 Long-Waisted Dress Description

The Moyen-age, or long-waisted, dress occupies a very definite place in the fashions of fall and winter.


Dress Style

Slenderness and simplicity, which tend to youthfulness and dignity, are the most characteristic features. Such a dress is becoming to tall and medium-tall figures who are not definitely large through the bust or the hips. For figures with proportionately large bust and hips, unless the hem of the tunic is heavily weighted, the garment would have a tendency to fall in at the waist line, thus interfering to a considerable degree with the smartness of the style.

Material and Pattern.


Cloth medium light in weight, satin, Canton crepe, and faille are excellent for this type of dress, for it requires a material luxuriously soft and yet with enough body to hold in shape.

For the average figure, 3 3/4 yards of 54-inch cloth or 4 1/2 to 5 yards of 40-inch satin will be the right amount for such a dress, with 1/2 yard of material for trimming and 1 yard of 36-inch material for lining.

Pictorial Review design No. 9071 carries the foundation pattern lines that make possible the development of long-waisted dresses. Study the illustration closely and adjust the pattern to conform to the lines that you know to be most becoming and satisfactory to you. Determine upon the length of the waist, whether you will use darts to the bust points or seams from the shoulders to the bottom of the waist, and whether the closing will be at the center front, the center back, or the side. Also, determine whether you will use a plain, an accordion-plaited, a tunic, or a harem skirt. By carefully determining these mat- ters, you will be able to produce a more satisfactory and indi- vidually becoming garment than if you cut your material at random with the thought of making the necessary adjustments in the fitting. In addition, you will prevent its acquiring an amateurish or home-made look.


To cut out this dress, which is made of blue tricotine, first, for the vest effect, fold back the front of the waist pattern and mark and cut the side-front and side-back seam lines. Then place the vest edge of the front on a length- wise thread, the center back on a lengthwise fold, and the side- front and side-back sections so that the lengthwise center of each is on a lengthwise thread of the material.

For the plaited tunic, cut three straight pieces of material of a length you consider suitable for your type. This season a generous seven-eighths of the finished skirt length is employed. Make one of these pieces of a width equal to the distance at the lower edge of the waist from one side-back seam to the other, plus allowance for plaits on each edge. Make the other two pieces of a width equal to the distance from the vest line to the side-back seam, plus allowance for the number of plaits desired, remembering that each plait requires three times its depth.

For the belt, provide a lengthwise strip of material about 3 inches wide and 2 yards long, planning as few piecings in this as necessary. Cut the cuffs and vest from straight pieces of the trimming material, which is tan duvetyn, and form the collar pattern by experimenting with muslin. Cut the waist lining or underbody in the usual manner.


In preparing for the fitting, place a facing of the dress material about 3 inches deep around the armhole of the waist lining, and then baste the lining seams and run a gather- ing thread at the waist line. As the foundation skirt may be gathered at the waist line or fitted by means of darts, the skirt seams may be finished with a plain pressed-open seam before the first fitting. Leave the upper part of the left seam open and finish this with a continuous or flat-stitched continuous placket. Then gather or lay darts in the upper edge of the skirt.

Join the overskirt sections by means of plain pressed-open seams. Baste the plaits in position. Then baste the waist seams, turn under the lower edge of the waist, and baste this to the tunic, following the general directions already studied in doing all this work.

Next, hook in position on the figure a piece of inside stay belting prepared according to instructions given in your lessons. The belting should be cut long enough to prevent a tight waist- line effect, and just loose enough to accord with the straight silhouette. Place the waist lining on the figure, do any fitting that may be necessary, and pin the lining to the belt, adjusting the fulness properly. At this time, also, pin the sleeves in posi- tion. Then bring the waist line of the foundation skirt over the lower edge of the waist and pin this to the inside stay belting, arranging the fulness so that the skirt sits properly. Stay the fulness of the front gore from the center front to the left side seam with a piece of tape, in order to prepare for the closing.

Slip on the overdress and note the points generally observed in fitting, as described in your lessons. A very important detail in the fitting of a dress of this kind is the effect at the back neck line and shoulder seams. If, after the dress has been on the figure a few minutes, it has a tendency to fall away from the neck line at the back, remove the shoulder bastings and lift the back portion of the waist a trifle. Then pin the new shoulder line and reshape the neck line if necessary. Turn the lower edge of the overskirt the desired length; also, turn the hem in the foundation skirt.


Proceed with the making of the dress by finishing the seams, the neck, the front edges of the lining, and the waist-line closing of the skirt, and apply snap fasteners the entire length of the foundation closing. Attach the sleeves to the lining by means of plain seams. Then press the seam edges together so that they turn toward the waist rather than out into the sleeve. Face the lower edge of the sleeves with light-weight silk. Remove the tunic from the waist and finish the side waist seams as single-stitched seams, making the stitching a scant 1/8 inch from the seam line.

Make plain pressed-open seams at the shoulder and under arm. Hem the sides and lower edge of the tunic with fine but rather loose stitches, and press the plaits in position. Then baste the tunic to the lower edge of the waist.

Fold the strip for the girdle lengthwise through the center and stitch a plain seam. Then turn the girdle right side out so that the raw edges are concealed. Next, prepare the collar, cuffs, and vest. For the trimming that is illustrated, 1/8 yard of blue suede is required. Cut the suede motifs of the desired size and shape. Plan their arrangement and then applique them to the duvetyn by means of chain-stitching or blanket-stitching. Face the upper and lower edges of the vest section, and line the cuffs with satin or soft silk of a matching color. Line the collar with material like that used for the dress.

With the dress in this condition, slip it on the figure. Pin the vest, collar, cuffs, and girdle in position and make any slight changes that you may consider advisable in order to add to the becomingness of this style.


Stitch the waist to the tunic to make the finish correspond with that used in the side waist seams. Then over- cast the raw edges or bind them with silk seam binding. Secure the front edges of the waist with fine hemming-stitches, taking care not to have them show on the right side. Bind the length- wise edges of the vest, tack this in position, cover the joining of the collar with a narrow bias strip of silk, and secure the cuffs in position by means of slip-stitching.

Then sew on the buttons and apply snap fasteners to the side front overdress closing. Secure weights in the hem of the tunic near the front edges, and then press the dress carefully.

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