Sunday, July 27, 2014

A 1920s Hemstitched Tennis Dress

1920s Tennis Dress 6 1920s Tennis Dress 5 1920s Tennis Dress 4

My 1920s tennis dress is loosely based on this dress at the V&A and this dress on Etsy. It's made of dress weight linen from Farmhouse Fabrics. My scarf is some lightweight cotton that I had, and is based on the photograph in this pin. I'm wearing white tap shoes, based on the flat Mary Jane type shoes based on the photograph in this pin.

I used my 1920s base pattern for the bodice. I've had it for several years, and can't remember what it started as. It's a very simple shift shape though. The skirt is straight panels box pleated, based on the pattern in Women's Wear of the 1920s. It's about 110 inches, or two widths of linen. The hemstitching on the bodice is done by hand, and explained in this post. The neckline and armscyes are bound with self bias. The belt is very simple. It's just a tube of linen without a closure that I pull over my head. The belt buckle is a mother-of-pearl buckle I bought on Etsy.

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I'm wearing the dress over my cotton 20s combinations, fully described here. I'm using garters to hold up cotton stockings. They're very simple, just crepe de chine and lace gathered over elastic. I've since bought an antique garter, which is constructed differently and that I'll eventually reproduce.

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A detail of the neckline. You can see the bias binding at the arms. The hemstitching was done by pulling threads and sewing groups of thread together.

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A detail of the waistline. The bottom edge seam allowance was pressed up and the skirt topstitched in. I've seen this done on 20s dresses, and it makes a nice, neat line. The box pleats are sewn together for about half an inch. I tried to sew them a little further down, like the pattern and the Etsy dress, but it was extremely unflattering.

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A detail of the hem. While most of the hemstitching in the dress was decorative, I actually hemmed the dress with hemstitching as well. It's quite easy, just catch the fold of the hem as you sew the little bunches of threads.

Now, if only I really played tennis...


  1. Holy Moley! Love the pull/white work. You have more patience than I! Great job!

  2. Amazing! What a beautiful project.

  3. So very incredible!!! I LOVE everything about this outfit!! You are so adorable in it!

  4. Beautiful, as all your work!

  5. Wow!!! This might be my favorite 20's dress ever. It's perfection!

  6. This is incredible! It's one of my favorite dresses you ever made!

  7. Absolutely wonderful! In 100 years time the lucky owner of this dress will wonder how it's in such good condition, thinking it was made the first time around.

  8. It looks gorgeous! You always have the eye for the details.

  9. oh it turned out so pretty! great job.

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  11. I am looking for a dress just like this for a fancy address. Do you know where i can hire or buy one from thanks