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Tutorial: How to make a 1930s style handkerchief halter top

Make a 30s Handkerchief Halter thedreamstress.com

There was a fad in the 1930s for turning scarves of all sorts, but particularly souvenir scarves, into simple resort-wear halter tops

Beach pyjamas on the Cote D'Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s

Beach pyjamas on the Cote D’Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s

Inspired by this fashion, I made myself a quick and easy scarf halter to wear at Napier’s Art Deco Weekend.

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com2

Photographs of 1930s scarf tops show a whole range of scarf shirt styles, but I made mine with a gathered top and a fair amount of back overlap, for maximum skin coverage, and so it can be worn over a bra.

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com4

It was super easy, and very satisfying.  Here’s how to make one for yourself.

You will need:

– A scarf where the length of a side is at least as long as your waist measurement (or, in a pinch, a square of hemmed fabric with this measurement, with edges finished).

– Thread

– A meter of ribbon or cord for your neck tie.

Start with your scarf:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com8

Fold it in half diagonally, right sides together:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com14

Draw a line across the corner, 20cm/8″ down each edge from the corner.

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com13

Pin:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com12

And sew:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com11Turn right side out and press, and sew another line 2.5cm down from the edge, to form a channel.

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com10

Using a safety pin, thread your ribbon or cord through the channel:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com9How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com1And you’re done!  Gather up the top edge, tie the cord around your neck, the bias edge around your back, and you’re good to go:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com7

And here’s the finished product:

Make a 30s Handkerchief Halter3

You can either tie it in back:

Make a 30s Handkerchief Halter5

Or fasten it with a brooch, if you’d like to be able to wear it over a bra:

Make a 30s Handkerchief Halter6

I pinned the brooch through my bra strap as well, for extra security:

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com6

There are lots of other variants shown in old photos, and described in period magazine tutorials, so you can get creative and customise the look to your own taste and needs.

If you have lots of patience you can sew rings to the top:

McCall's Magazine, c. 1934

McCall’s Magazine, c. 1934

If your scarf has distinct borders, a halter that really showed them off, like the one on the lady in white trousers in the second Cote D’Azure postcard, is a good option – especially if you have a smaller scarf.

Beach pyjamas on the Cote D'Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s

Beach pyjamas on the Cote D’Azure, colourized postcard, 1930s via Adeline’s Attic

Jill at Adeline’s Attic made a cute version of this look.

With a large scarf you can achieve this double-tied version:

Silk Scarf halter via Ritournelle

Woman in a silk scarf halter, 1930s, Deauville, via Ritournelle

Happy sewing!

How to make a 30s handkerchief halter thedreamstress.com5

Rate the Dress: Actual 1880s opulence

Last week I showed you a linen and lace resort-wear frock.  I had serious doubts about the dating onthe dress from the beginning, and the more I looked at it, the less 1880s it looked.  I think it really is from the early 1900s.

I don’t know if a change in dating would have had any effect on the results though: it would still have lost points for not actually being that comfortable for summer wear, and for the dull colours, and odd colour matching between the laces and fabric.  Still, it was a very attractive frock in some ways, and seeing it on the wearer did help you to visualise it, so the dress managed an 8.4 out of 10, which is pretty darn good considering that there was one rating of only 3!

Since last week’s dating was a bit iffy, this week I’m showing a gown that is definitely from the 1880s.  No mistaking the bustle on this one!

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

This day dress (probably for visiting) features lustrous silk satin and lush patterned brocade (or at least one of the fabrics that would have fallen into the never-very-precise brocade category) in typical late Victorian rich, dark colours.

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Also typical of the 1880s are the asymmetrical skirt draping, and the elaborations of ornamentation and design.  In addition to the elaborately arranged front swag and bustle poof, there are glimpses of the silk satin peeping through the hem (topped, if I am not mistaken, with pom-poms), painted buttons running up the front of the bodice, and lace trim on the bracelet length sleeves.

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

The back is no less detailed, with beautifully folded and piped jacket tails sitting above an expanse of blue silk.

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

The side silhouette reveals the typical mid-1880s extreme bustle, with the added oomph of the panier effect of the side swags:

Woman's Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

Woman’s Dress, England, circa 1885, Silk (plain weave with warp-float and supplementary weft patterning) and silk satin LACMA, M.2007.211.781a-b

What do you think?  An exceedingly attractive way smuggle a tea trolly and a couple of picnic baskets into any event?  Or a total fashion folly?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

Lingerie Touches for Frocks, 1932

I’m got a bunch of blog posts half written at the moment, but they are all long and elaborate, and I just don’t have the time to finish them today.

So instead, a quick, sweet and simple blog post, featuring a page from the March 1932 Fashion Services Magazine, with frocks that show ‘Lingerie Touches for Chic’

1932 Fashion Service Mag thdreamstress.com1

 

In addition to the lingerie touches (by which they mean handiwork and lace edging), there is lots of exoticism – Persian prints, and ‘scarab’ crépes (which sound like the pure silk variation of roshanara).

Plus, Irish crochet is a la mode and skirt lengths are shorter – a whole 11 to 13 inches off the floor (and that’s in shoes!) .

 

1932 Fashion Service Mag thdreamstress.com2