Downton Sewing: A 1920s Inspired Dress

Downton Sewing 1

When Elisa of Charming Doodle approached me with her idea of a sewing series based on Downton Abbey, my head swarmed with ideas for a dress for Alix.  I had to be part of this series!

The 1920s….  Shift dresses, bob haircuts, cloche hats, flapper look, pleats, gathers, slits, collars, low waists…. total design heaven for a sewist!

Downton Sewing square

A quick sketch to nail down the design, some digging in the stash for the perfect fabric, many evenings in the sewing room cutting, pinning and sewing feverishly and here’s the result!!!

Downton Sewing 6

Downton Sewing 5

Cap sleeves, low waist, pointed flat collar, knife pleats on one side of the skirt, three buttons, a small simple bow, an exposed metal zipper, a fun floral lining fabric, and a more conservative choice of fabric on the outside…

Downton Sewing 8

 Of course, I needed to add a tiny little detail on the side of the skirt… just a little reminder of the beautiful lining that’s hides underneath…

Downton Sewing2

I doubt that plastic zippers existed in the 1920s so an exposed metal zipper made sense to me.  Plus I must admit that I’m a sucker for an exposed zipper…

Downton Sewing3

The design started off with the Caroline Party Dress from Mousehouse Creations.  The pattern’s cap sleeves, collar and lining were perfect for what I had in mind.  I lengthened the bodice by a full 3 inches.  I then added a 4 inch band of medium weight linen in coral as a belt.  To that, I attached a self-drafted rectangular skirt with 4 knife pleats on the front right hand side.

I modified the Caroline Party dress‘ Peter Pan collar in order to obtain a pointed flat collar.

Downton Sewing4

Garment Characteristics

Pattern: bodice – Caroline Party Dress size 5; collar, lower bodice and skirt – self drafted

Fabric: main – navy blue striped tweed; collar and band – coral medium weight linen; lining – Flea Market Fancy, Posie in Grey

Elements: pointed flat collar, cap sleeves, dropped waist, wide belt, simple bow on belt, knife pleats on front right hand side of skirt, lined bodice, small tag on side of skirt, exposed metal zipper, three small white buttons down bodice front.

And just for fun and for the sake of creativity, let’s turn turn back the clock all the way back to the 1920s with a few parting images…

Downton Sewing 9


Downton Sewing 10

Downton Sewing 11

Thank you Elisa for coming up with this cool concept for a sewing series and for educating us on the style and fashion of the1920s over the last couple of weeks. I loved it!!!

If you’ve missed any of Elisa’s posts, head over to Charming Doodle to see a recap of the entire series.

*Before designing this garment, I didn’t know that I would end up loving this time period as much as I did! 

But I think that the finished result really represents my design esthetic. 

So I am linking up this little creation as my Signature Style for Project Run and Play.*



72 thoughts on “Downton Sewing: A 1920s Inspired Dress

    1. HI Renee,
      Thank you so much! The dress did seem to go well on her… and bonus, she loved it too so I am one happy momma!!!!


    1. Thank you so much for putting the series together Elisa. I really appreciated your approach to it… posting inspiration images and ideas for a week prior was really helpful in putting together my design. I’ll definitely keep that format in mind if I ever decide to do a sewing series…


    1. Thanks Heidi… I think I might be addicted to knife pleats… I kind of want to add them to everything now, haha!


    1. Hi Jo-Anna,
      The possibilities become problematic at times… so many things to sew, so little time! Haha! But it’s a nice problem to have I suppose… Thank you so much for stopping by!


  1. Oh my god.. this is adorable! I don’t know if I just want this dress for myself, or want a daughter to make it for! I really need to pull out my sewing machine soon and learn to use it!

    1. Cate, sewing is really not that difficult at all… it starts off with being able to follow instructions, and then get creative from there. I see your blog… you certainly have all the creativity required to jump into the sewing world. I’ve been sewing for 4 years only… be warned though, it gets pretty addictive!


    1. Tricia, thank you so much! I hesitated at first (I was thinking grey and coral) but am glad I committed to the navy and coral…


  2. Oooh Nat I love the dress you made for this…I followed the series on the other blogs but I really like this one. Now you don’t know this about me (of course) but I attended this: this past August and it will be running again this year. Now I can custom make the girls costumes. This past year I modified some value village finery but we are going to kill it this year!!!

    1. Oh Kelli! Will you be showing your creations on your blog? I would totally love to see them… what a great event!!! I’ve never heard of this… very cool!


  3. So amazing, Natalie! I’m a sucker for navy dresses. They always look so polished and perfect. Then you add those amazing pleats and that lovely collar and it’s so much more. Alix looks so sweet in it and your photos are perfect.
    I love that you can see a hint of the beautiful lining right under her sleeve. Lets you know it’s a very special dress.
    Made with love!!

    1. Stacey! I actually didn’t know this about myself but I love navy dresses too! I think there will be many more navy creations coming soon… it’s the perfect colour to pair it with a splash of anything really. Could it be the new black? Oh, and I just adore that lining… Alix wasn’t a fan of it at all when I first showed her the folded yard of fabric… not a kid thing really. But hiding it in the lining means that momma gets the final say, tipi! It’s so important for me to sew with fabrics that I love… I guess it’s like painting… I hate painting anything that isn’t a colour I love (like when a friends asks me to help paint and her chosen colour is beige… boring!!!)

    1. Hi Sally,
      Thank you so much… and I love that you used the term “Darling”… I am picturing you as sexy iconic Hollywood star with a martini in one hand and a super slender cigarette in the other, hahahaha!!! Love it! 🙂

    1. Hi Marion,
      I love vintage clothing of all sorts… I normally veer towards the 50s and 60s. This was my first time heading down to the 20s and had a blast. Might have to revisit this decade again in the future!


    1. Thanks Lindsey! Yes, knife pleats have such an impact and a relatively easy to do… more bang for your buck, haha!


    1. Hi Mie! Now it’s my turn to be slow at catching up… hahaha.. but I wasn’t going to let this lovely comment go unreplied! I’m so gad you like this little dress… Alix is already wearing it tons, which is obviously the highest praise for a home sewist, no? Thanks so much for stopping by Mie!


    1. Oh thank you so much! You of all people would know that it’s those little details that make all the difference, no? Your garments are always so precious with loving little touches… just beautiful!


    1. Olga! You’re so sweet!!! Thank you very much! Those two colours did contrast well… must find something else to sew in navy and corral, ha!


    1. Eva, you know what? I am so happy to hear you say that as I am thinking of making a pattern for this one. You might have just convinced me! Thank you for your sweet comment!!!


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