Madame Vionnet’s jabot dress

15 Feb

I have a wedding to go to, and all weddings require a new frock.

The wedding is Art Deco themed, which is wonderful (I love dressing up) and awful (I look terrible in shapeless dresses).

I far prefer 1940s or 50s fashion, it suits me so much more. But oh well.

Also, finding patterns for 1920s dresses is much harder. In the end I decided upon this dress, which afterwards I found was from 1919 so Edwardian/Art Deco. But it looked easy to sew and I could make it flattering on me.

It's a very simple design

It’s a very simple design

There’s no real pattern, but I found an online tutorial on how to make it, at We Sew Retro – 

It took me a while to understand the instructions, but eventually I got it.

1) Basically, you get four square pieces of fabric, with a length of 1m on the diagonal. Took me FOREVER to work out that I needed around 0.70m along each side to achieve the 1m diagonal. It seems I have forever forgotten high school calculus.

2) You hem all sides of the square.

3) Lay one square on top of another, wrong sides together. Stitch across one corner asymetrically. This will leave a triangle flap on the right sides of the fabric.

4) Unfold, and on one square lay another square, wrong sides together again. Stitch across the far corner asymetrically again. You will have a chain of three squares joined together, with triangle flaps on the right sides.

5) Unfold again, and lay the last square on the chain of squares you have made. Stitch again.

6) You have made a chain of four squares, attached at their pointy corners. Bring the leftmost unattached pointy corner across to the rightmost one, to turn the chain into a tube of squares. Stitch as before.

7) Now flatten the tube of squares, and stitch two top points together. These will be the shoulders.

8) Make a sash.

On the coathanger

On the coathanger

Of course I didn’t make it as easy as that.

Firstly, the cheap satin material I brought was a complete bitch to sew. It was slippery and the weave constantly shifted. Trying to get a perfect square drove me nuts. Hemming it was hideous. I purchased a rolled hem foot for my machine but it just didn’t work. In the end I just folded the material over, straight stitched and then trimmed super-close to the edge. It looks OK but is already fraying madly.

Trying to cut straight lines of the awful material. I only snipped my duvet cover once.

Trying to cut straight lines of the awful material. I only snipped my duvet cover once.

I also got my sides mixed up and sewed the triangle drapey flaps to the inside. More than once. Le sigh.

I’ve also made it too big for me. I probably only needed a 0.7m diagonal. As a result it is unflatteringly long, especially combined with the dropped waistband.


3 Responses to “Madame Vionnet’s jabot dress”

  1. Lauren at 5:31 PM #

    THANK YOU! The original instructions are super confusing.


  1. Somewhere between the Ancient World and the 1930s | Lace around the wrist -

    […] are a few good blogs on how to make this: Immature Indefinitely and We Sew Retro. There is also a fantastic blog by Cathy who is planning to make 28 Vionnet dresses […]

  2. vionnet dress pattern 3 (1919-1920) – handkerchief dress -

    […] (original?) Vionnet garment (image source here). There is actually a tutorial for this dress and the author calls this the a jabot dress, which I […]

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