Make a 1920s Inspired Vintage Dress

Evelyn Wood
by Evelyn Wood
7 Materials
2 Hours

If you love thrifting and refashioning then this is the tutorial for you! I’m going to show you how I took this sack-shaped piece of fabric and turned it into a 1920’s sack-shaped outfit - but with

more style and detail.

Tools and materials:

  • Thrifted dress
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Seam picker
  • Sewing machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
Make a vintage dress

Sew a vintage dress

Gather the sides 

Put the dress on, gather the fabric from the side, and pin. This is so that we can tighten the waist and give the outfit more shape. Next, pull the fabric back (as is imaged above) and make sure the placement of the pins is correct and the body fits you well. 

Vintage dress refashion

Cut your fabric 

Use a ruler and some tailor’s chalk to mark off the sides (using the pins you placed as a guide), and then use some scissors to cut out the top part of the dress. Next, remove the bottom sides. The topsides are removed to narrow the bottom and the bottom sides will be scrunched up and put back onto the dress. 

Vintage dress thrift slip

Gather the sides 

Because we want to sew the slit together, we need to remove the hem. So, using a sem picker, unpick any stitches along with the split. Next, use a sewing machine to weave a thread through the top part of the pieces we removed for the skirt. Pull the edge of the thread so that the fabric gathers and repeat on the other side. 

Vintage dress pattern

Make your darts 

To close the split, we are going to create a dart. This is because the seam allowance on the slit is so small that it is practically non-existent. That said, we are going to have the dart run all the way to the top of the skirt so that it hits at the waist and falls naturally. Next, we are going to repeat on the other side of the skirt, so that both halves match. It might take a while to match the stripes on both sides. 

How to make a vintage dress

Attach the side pieces 

Sew up the side seam of the bodice, leaving an opening for the armholes. Next, attach the side pieces that we gathered from earlier onto the skirt. Keep in mind that aligning the stripes with a straight stitch will be tricky, but just do the best you can. 

How to sew a vintage dress

Create the hem 

Level and cut the hem to the length that you like (that is also 1920’s appropriate!). Fold the fabric over and stitch the hem to secure it. 

Make the bodice

Get creative 

Using my leftover fabric (two armhole pieces and the cut-off hem) I can now get creative. First, I’m going to sew all my little strips together so that I am left with one big piece, and then I am going to cut it into a triangle that fits into the center of the bodice. Pin the triangle into place (pictured above) and use a sewing machine to secure it in place. 

Cover the seams

Next, I took a little strip from the hem and covered the top of the skirt seams with it. I simply folded them to get rid of the rough edges, pinned and sewed them into place. This will help with some contrasting on the dress. 

Finished 1920s vintage dress

Finally, to finish this vintage dress refashion, I used some strange-looking vintage buttons and hand-stitched them down the bodice until the point of the triangle. I am thrilled with how well this outfit turned out! It is so simple and stylish and all made from a quite shapeless and boring piece of fabric. 

Suggested materials:
  • Dress
  • Pins
  • Tailor's chalk
See all materials

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Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • Dawn Dawn on Mar 21, 2021

    I am doing little sewing nowadays as I am waiting on surgery, just for my broken arm. I in broke it like 3x's past 12-15 months. But it is very inspiring! Thank you again

  • Clergylady Clergylady on Mar 25, 2021

    I love that v shap piece down the middle of the top. It really sets it all of beautifully. I have a large piece of striped fabric that would be perfect for this project. It is dark purple with raised white stripes. Some antique jet buttons would look good on it. An interesting fabric but I'd not had an inspiration for its use. I bought boxes of fabric, cheap. I lost over 40 lbs with covid last year. That means I'm in need of a whole new wardrobe. I've picked up enough jeans and slacks but no dresses and not enough blouses. Inspiration appreciated.

    • Evelyn Wood Evelyn Wood on May 01, 2021

      Contrast stripes is a very simple thin to so, but makes so much impact! I hope you try it!