Blast From the Past: Sew A 1930s Dress From Scratch

by Hilly
8 Materials
4 Hours

The 1930s brought about some weird times; some women dressed in clothes made out of sacks, yet some dressed extravagantly. Regardless of class, one thing in common was that skirts were a big trend. The 1930s dress pattern was a slim-waist and cut on the bias. I love this classic, clean-cut style and in this DIY tutorial, I will show you how to sew a vintage 1930s dress! Let’s get to it.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric for mockup
  • Fabric for dress
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • 1930’s slim waistline dress pattern
  • Zipper
  • Needle
  • Thread
Sew a 1930s dress

Start with a mockup

A mockup is a rough copy of what you will be sewing. It will ensure that they are correct before you cut out ( and possibly waste) your fabric. Place your patterns on the fabric, pin them to the fabric, and cut around. 

1930s style dress

See if the mockup fits & measure accordingly

In my video, you will see that this mockup was actually too big for me and I had only realized this once I had sewn the fabric pieces together. The waistline was not slim, either. So I went back to the drawing board, measured my waist, got all the necessary measurements, and cut the dress again using a different fabric. Remember, a 1930s style dress needs to sit tight on your body.

1930s women’s dresses

Cut out the fabric

Once you have measured your waistline and hips, pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out. Since the skirt is on the bias, and not on the straight grain, make sure to cut it diagonally.

1930s dress pattern

Iron your fabric pieces

Have all your pieces ready, including sleeves, front and back pieces, and so forth. Before you jump to the sewing part, make sure to iron out all your fabric pieces. Ironing will ensure that the measurements stay true to your body. 


Vintage 1930s dress

Sew your fabric pieces

Focus on the skirt piece first. Hem the edges and stitch. My fabric was not versatile and kept on fraying, so I did a zig-zag stitch, which also did not help the fraying. In the end, I resorted to rolling the hem and sewed it by hand. If your fabric does the same, know that there’s a way around this, and sewing by hand would be your best bet. 

1930s party dress

Measure the skirt

Once you have sewed your skirt, wear it and see how it fits. If it’s still too big, take it in and keep doing this until you have your desired, slim- waist look. Mine was an inch too wide, and as you can see, I had to take it in.


1930s day dress

Connect the bodice to the skirt

Pin your skirt piece to your bodice and sew them together.

Add a zipper

Install an invisible zipper

This process looks hard and tedious, and you probably want to get the project done so that you can flaunt your newly sewn 1930s day dress, but it has to be done! Carefully pin the zipper inside the hem of the back part, pin it, and sew it together.


Sew your 1930s dress

Attach the sleeve to the bodice

Yes, one more step before you have yourself a lovely vintage 1930s dress. The last piece you need to attach is the sleeve to the bodice and now your dress is complete!

Glamorous 1930s dress

Wow, would you look at that! I am so happy with the way it turned out. Even if there were a few sewing mishaps along the way ( it happens to everyone, as you can see). It’s chic, stylish, and screams 1930s glamour! The slim waist, sweetheart neckline, and pattern of the fabric just look amazing. I hope I inspired you with this vintage 1930s dress tutorial, it was great fun.


Suggested materials:
  • Fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
See all materials

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Join the conversation
4 of 5 comments
  • Carol Carol on Feb 14, 2021

    I think you did a MARVELOUS JOB on your dress and thanks to your stick-to-it-tiveness, you did an AMAZING JOB!

  • Ncb Ncb on Feb 14, 2021

    yes inspired, going to make it soon, love the 1930's fashion !