Learn about Life in the 1920s

1920 Waist-Line Dress Description

A group of fashion women recently assembled were asked what type of dress they liked best. They were equally divided between the one-piece and the waist-line dress. It would seem that the decision was made almost entirely from a personal point of view. Those women who required clothes for service and who had to be smartly dressed with very little time and effort selected the one-piece dress. Those whose clothes demands were not so serious chose the waist-line dress.

Dress Style

The dress featured here is in every way ideal for the dress- up dress, and it has also many possibilities for service. It is a practical dress, especially where few dresses can be had, because the drape may be easily changed to conform to any fashion. In addition, it is simple in line and consequently will stand con- siderable wear and yet hold its shape longer than some other types.

One may feel very safe in selecting this type of dress for continued wear, for dresses cut with the aid of a plain-waist pattern with panel-effect back and front and joined to a simple straight skirt are accepted each season, provided the waist line expresses newness in position and finish. Waist lines, for individual becomingness, should be tried out in front of the mirror with as much patience as is required in arranging a new coiffure.

Material and Pattern.


The model illustrated has a skirt of very dark-blue crepe meteor and, over a gray Georgette foun- dation, a blouse of dark-blue Georgette, with a back panel of crepe meteor. Gray, dull-silver, and American Beauty colored threads form the embroidery. The design is worked heavy across the front just above the waist, and then, in order to pro- duce proper balance, is made lighter both in design and in color as it nears the shoulders. For the average figure, 4 yards of crepe meteor, 1 3/4 yards of blue Georgette, and 1 yard of gray Georgette should be provided.

A plain waist and a two-piece straight-skirt pattern are needed for the foundation. Try out in muslin at least the front and back waist panels in order to ascertain exactly their correct width and shaping. Cut the back panel from 4 to 6 inches longer than the back length, so that the upper end may be turned back 2 or 3 inches to form a fold or collar that will extend across the shoulders. Cut the foundation waist of gray Geor- gette and the back panel of crepe meteor, allowing for a 1-inch hem on the lengthwise edges of the panel and a 2- or 3-inch hem at the top. Cut the front waist panel in one with the under-arm sections and provide for a plait about 1 inch wide to form this panel. For the skirt draperies, provide a 1 3/4-yard length of crepe meteor cut the full width of the material.

Dress Construction.

Baste the plaits to form the front panel of the waist. Then, with the foundation and outer waists together, baste the right-shoulder seam and both under-arm seams; also, baste the sleeve seams and the hems in the lengthwise and upper edges of the back panel. Next, slip on the waist so as to make sure that it fits correctly, and, in order to provide an opening, slash the left side of the waist and of the foundation at the inside edge of the tuck. Then pin the shoulder seam from the opening to the armhole edge. Also, mark the line for picoting the neck line of both the foundation and outer waists, arranging for the neck line of the foundation to extend above the neck line of the outer waist.

Remove the waist and have the neck edges picoted. At this time, also, have a row of hemstitching run through the length- wise center and along one end of the piece cut for the draperies, and cut this through the hemstitched line to form a picoted edge for the upper part of each draped portion.

Before finishing the waist seams, apply the embroidery to the outer waist portion only. This will produce a softer finish than to take the embroidery stitches through the foundation after these parts are secured together. Then French-seam the shoulder and under-arm seams of the waist; also, join the sleeves and insert them with French seams. Bind the length- wise edges of the opening with self-colored Georgette, and face both sides of the shoulder opening, making it as neat and incon- spicuous as possible. Secure the hems in the back waist panel with fine, loose hemming-stitches.

Make plain pressed-open seams in the foundation skirt, but leave the left seam open at the top and finish it with a con- tinuous placket. Then gather the waist line of the skirt.

With the parts of the dress thus prepared, place them on the form, adjust the waist and skirt fulness to an inside stay belt, and turn the hem at the lower edge of the skirt.

Stay belts for this season are merely perfunctory in point of service because of the looseness of the waist line. Now they should be 1 to 3 inches larger than the waist measurement and in the majority of cases narrow. Frequently the 2 1/2 inch belt- ing is split through the center and bound on one edge with ribbon or silk seam binding, thus making one belt length serve for two dresses. A piece of the lining silk finished with a picoted edge or narrow lace makes a good covering for the belt. This piece of silk should be applied when the dress is prac- tically complete.

To arrange the drapery for each side, secure, at the side front of the skirt, the unfinished end of one of the pieces that have been picoted. Arrange to have the selvage in the lower part of the drape and the picoted finish for the upper edge. Lay the fulness in soft plaits, arranging these to occupy a space of about 5 inches on each side. With this done, loop the material down at the side; then tack the upper finished corner at the side-back waist line, as the illustration shows.

Gauge the width between the drapes by the appearance of the individual. For large figures, bring the drapes closer together in order to form a narrower panel than is becoming to figures that are slighter. Soft plaits and drapes are very effective in satin and soft, luxurious materials, especially when designed to accord with the individual. Some designers con- tend that no rule can apply for drapery, for every dress has its own demands in this regard.

In order to prevent bulkiness in the drapery and to make it very soft and pretty, pin a dart from the upper edge of the center of the looped-down portion. Take up 10 or 12 inches in this dart and taper it so that it terminates about 4 inches above the selvage edge or just inside of the lowest fold of the drape. Stitch the dart in a plain seam and press this open to make it very flat. Then lay the looped portion in folds, extending these from the plaits at the waist line.

Finishing the Dress.

If the crepe meteor or satin is heavy, the drapes will hold in place very nicely. If any difficulty is experienced, however, because the material is too light, sew a small weight at each inside fold so that the drapes will hold in place and the effect shown acquired.

Tack the back panel in position to produce the neck-line effect you desire. This will provide a fold to simulate a collar that extends straight across the back. The fold may be tacked merely at the shoulders and brought up high at the center back to stand up straight, or, if desired, it may be arranged so that it will flare out from the neck.

Make the girdle of a true-bias piece of crepe meteor 11 inches wide, finishing the sides with a 5/8-inch hem slip-stitched in posi- tion. Gather the ends into the width desired when the girdle is crushed into position, and secure these gathered or shirred ends to a tape or light-weight covered bone. Then, to hold the girdle together securely, finish it with hooks and eyes.

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