My 1940’s Inspired Hand-Stitched Lockdown Dress

Hi everyone!

Today I’m going to be sharing a dress I just completed in lockdown. This dress is special for a few reasons, namely that I created it entirely by hand – as in no sewing machine! I know, I’m impressed too.

As you may already know I made the leap to move to the UK from NZ at the end of last year, finally settling in a flat in London late February. Which as we know is not long before the pandemic and lockdown. I didn’t have time to buy any furnishings other than what came with the place so I haven’t had a desk or a couch! Obviously there isn’t much point buying a sewing machine if I haven’t a decent surface to put it on.

Fabric, Hair Scissors, Nail Scissors, a Tape Measure Keyring, a 30 Pack of Needles and Thread

This is the abysmal and challenging kit I had to work with! No sewing machine, no fabric shears,no pins and not even a piece of chalk! I always draw out my approximate patterns on paper before cutting them, so I was able to fold and measure approximately where I needed to cut. I did have a pencil to make a couple of guiding marks but it was mostly freehanding!

I bought this amazing border print fabric from AmoThreads. I had a sponsored post from them pop up on my Instagram a while ago and decided to take the leap and purchase from them.

AmoThreads sell deadstock and end of line fabrics to cut back on waste from the fashion industry. These fabrics would usually go to waste but are now being sold on to customers. I love this idea because there is no extra demand on fabric production, which can be an incredibly environmentally detrimental process.

I have to admit this is something that has been weighing on my mind for a couple of years and even back in NZ I had largely cut back on buying fabrics new and was making an effort to seek out second hand pieces. AmoThreads takes out the effort of scrounging through op-shops or waiting for fabrics sales to pop up.

And yes, I created a matching mask! With masks now being compulsory on public transport here I decided to whip up one to match my dress. I can’t wait to look this stunning on the Tube in the way to town.

Unfortunately with AmoThreads fabrics being end of line there is only a minimal amount available and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I am sad to say there is none of this gorgeous fabric left on their website so I can’t even link you to it! But new fabrics are being posted all the time and I’ve seen a couple of different knit border prints over the past few weeks.

The fabric was my main inspiration for this dress. As soon as I saw the border print I knew how I wanted the placement. I’m usually not a light colours kind of person but this print had enough black and bold colours in it I was brave enough to try it! It was a bit more sheer than I was expecting so I also purchased some matching plain knit lining fabric from Jersey Vogue Fabrics.

With it being summer I wanted a nice and light top so I used a classic batwing cut (I have a tutorial for a 30min batwing top here) but added a cowl neckline to the front. I am a sucker for a batwing, if it’s not that it’s a bishop or peasant sleeve. Those are the only ones I cycle between!

For the skirt half I based it on this true vintage dress I picked up earlier in the year. I really like the way it hangs but isn’t a wiggle and also isn’t overly voluminous. Since my plan for the top felt a bit 1930’s-1940’s inspired I also wanted to carry this through the rest of the garment.

I really think I could get away with wearing this to Art Deco Weekend in Napier. I am so pleased with how this dress turned out, it’s silky and comfortable without being clingy.

Because the border print was along the selvedge the main fabric doesn’t have much horizontal stretch. This dress actually has an invisible zip running down one side. Let me tell you hand stitching an invisible zip into a lined knit dress is nightmare material, but I somehow prevaled!

I’ve just placed my second AmoThreads order and can’t wait to get stuck in on some more projects! Most of my summer wardrobe is also still back in NZ as there hasn’t been much point in shipping it over so I need to get on to some cooler pieces as it’s been a very hot summer so far!

It’s definitely hard to keep as motivated hand sewing as it is machine sewing. The progress you make is so slow, especially if you are working on something with straight seams. I made a sheer mesh blouse a couple weeks ago and the gathering was such a visible change. It took me about 2 days for the blouse and I’d say this dress maybe took me 6-7 days. I wasn’t working on it full time but definitely at least a few hours a day.

I’m not able to work from home so it’s been finding a way to keep myself entertained – which as much as it sounds like a holiday, it isn’t. I was starting to go a bit mad having only small repairs to sew. I’m also not big on ordering fabrics online, but since AmoThreads prices are fairly low and it’s more environmentally friendly I thought, why not?

How have you been faring in lockdown? Or out of it if you’re in one of the countries who have eased out of it? I’m glad I’ve found a few things to work on and keep my interest until I can go back to work.

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “My 1940’s Inspired Hand-Stitched Lockdown Dress

  1. Pingback: My Blue Cheetah Print 50’s Style Dress – Another Hand Stitched Lockdown Piece – Xamia Arc

  2. Pingback: Vintage Inspired Low-Waste Blouse and Skirt – Pattern Included – Xamia Arc

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