Du Barry Patterns 1930s Cape Dress

Have you had a sewing pattern in your stash for a few years, just waiting to be made? Du Barry 1230B for me is one such pattern, and today I share my experiences (and incorrect preconceptions) of sewing this dress.

Back in this post, I shared my forthcoming sewing plans. Usually I make sewing plans, then only adhere to them in a rather vague sort of way. For example, I may plan to make a dress, but then get distracted by 1). A sewing pattern I had newly discovered and feel like I have to make it right now 2). Seeing blogger reviews on other sewing patterns, which then makes me feel that I need that particular item in my closet above all my other sewing plans and intentions 3). Getting my eager little paws on some fabric to add to my embarrassingly large hoard, and excitedly prioritising makes with that instead.

So as you can see, I can get side-tracked pretty easily. But, I adhered to my plans and made this dress as I had both planned and hoped. I think in part, that this was actually due to writing and publishing my aforementioned blog post – having my plans in writing somehow made me stick to them more so than I may have otherwise.

I purchased this reproduction early 1930s pattern a few years ago, around the time when I had only just started sewing with original vintage patterns. I remember when I bought it feeling a bit daunted by the design features (which goes to show how far I have come in both my confidence with sewing, and my actual sewing experience/abilities). In fact, when it arrived I put it to one side and didn’t really pay it much attention – until a few weeks ago. I must confess, I was deterred from making the pattern because I really hate sewing buttonholes. My experience with buttonholes has always been hellish, but recently my sewing machine & I have reached an understanding, and he now plays nicely when I want him to sew the aforementioned item of dread. Now that I had reached a stage where I am happy to sew buttonholes, I decided to re-visit this pattern.

But – the joke of it is – this pattern doesn’t require any buttonholes! So all that time I had been putting-off making this dress because of my irrational fear of buttonholes, when there wasn’t even any buttonholes to sew anyway! All the buttons are for ‘show’ only, none of them actually work as a fastening.

In fact, reading through the scant instructions revealed that the dress is constructed in a manner which at first glance, seems quite bizarre. The CF is sewn with the wrong sides together, down to just before the pleat at the skirt. So the inside has a neat seam, whilst the outside has the unfinished edges. Then, the placket is pinned into place to cover the seam edges on the outside. But – the placket is only stitched up to the neck on one side only. The other side is open from the neck to about 3.5inches down to allow for a placket facing to be applied. Onto which poppers are stitched to form a neck opening. There is also an opening at the left hand side of the dress – with the instructions calling for a popper placket. I however, decided to insert an invisible zipper – not authentic, but neater, quicker and easier. For the cape, I firstly finished the edges, using a light gathering stitch to ease in the seam allowances. I then stitched to the bodice with the right sides of the cape matching the wrong sides of the bodice; so the seam allowances were all underneath the cape. To finish, I understitched the bodice and the seam allowances together. This gave a neat inside finish to the neckline.

For the armholes, I used bias binding turned to the inside and slip-stitched. I added machine sewn button loops at the waist side seams in order to keep the belt where I wanted it. Now – onto the buttons and belt. I discovered Harlequin a few months ago when I was looking for a company to make some things for me, for my wedding dress. Their communication, customer service, and the swiftness of dispatch were all absolutely top notch. I was so impressed, that they would always be top of my list should I require any custom made haberdashery items. Naturally, Harlequin were the people I turned to for these buttons and matching custom belt.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to decide on what type of belt buckle, the width of the belt, and which style of buttons I wanted. They have so much choice, and I was pretty tempted to go for triangular buttons – so art deco! I really love how the buttons and belt enhance the dress, and even though I thought contrasting buttons may have been a nice visual touch, I knew I wanted to keep the whole dress one colour and one fabric. That way, the dress can act as the perfect canvas for choosing various coloured and patterned accessories – as I did so here.

Outfit Details

  • Dress Pattern – Du Barry 1230B from the Vintage Pattern Shop
  • Fabric – Yellow linen from London
  • Belt & Buttons made in my own fabric – Harlequin
  • Scarf – Silk Celia Birtwell (purchased years ago)
  • Shoes – Hotter (no longer available in this particular colour)

Concluding Thoughts

This dress is the perfect example of – read the instructions carefully in order to have an accurate idea of the construction and techniques required. I can’t believe I spent years thinking this dress had oodles of buttonholes, when in fact it doesn’t have a single one! I really love the fit and shape of the skirt – much to my surprise. When I made my toile, I fully expected to want to shorten the skirt, but I found I actually really liked this longer length. Skirts in the early years of the 1930s were around mid-calf to calf length, so in that way the length makes it even more authentic. I may sew some swing catches to the cape, as it did tend to fly up around my face in gusts of wind! Overall, I am really happy with this dress, and I most likely would make it again.

So that is an item ticked-off my sewing list, and of course an eligible Vintage Pledge item, hurrah! The next garment I am working on is another 1930s dress, and after that I feel a Merchant & Mills make coming on.

Have you ever been put-off a sewing pattern at the thought of some of the techniques required – only to discover that the imagined techniques are not actually required? (I fear perhaps it is just me, but I know I won’t make that mistake again! Haa ha!)

Until next time dears!


A Perfect Holiday Dress From Til The Sun Goes Down

Here I review the Beach Pyjama and Holiday Dress Pattern by Til The Sun Goes Down. For this version, I made the shortened Holiday Dress.

In my previous post, I discussed the recent discovery that I needed to incorporate more plain/solid colours into my wardrobe. Whilst this is still true, it doesn’t mean that I won’t every now and then deviate from this course – especially when bright bonkers prints are involved! Also, I actually bought this fabric a year ago, so in a way I feel my recent make is validated and excluded from my recent sewing epiphany 🙂

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the fruits of my labours – the Holiday Dress by Til the Sun Goes Down. This pattern contains a total of 3 completely different versions/looks. First up is a pair of beach pyjamas (has anyone else noticed that beach pyjamas have recently enjoyed a massive surge in popularity over the past 2 years or so? Not only are more pattern companies adding beach pyjamas to their collections, but reproduction clothing companies are releasing various versions too. Personally, I am loving this renewed interest in this fabulous garment). The next version is a full length holiday dress – which, as the title suggests, is perfect for wearing on holiday/on the beach. The final variation; and the version I chose to make, is a pattern hack to shorten the holiday dress to any desired length.

Part of my decision to make the shortened holiday dress was due to the fact that I wanted to use this particular fabric. Of which, I only had 2 metres at 60″ wide. So straight away I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make the full beach pyjamas, but a knee length holiday dress? Yes!

The pattern is comprised of only 3 pieces – front, back and a separate pocket. The front and back pieces actually have grown-on pockets, so initially I was confused as to why there was a separate pocket piece also included. But, ingeniously, the separate pocket piece is for use when the width of the fabric is too narrow to include the grown-on pocket options, so you have a ready-made pocket piece which is good to go! Excellent idea, and goes to show the thoughtfulness that has gone into the production of this pattern. The front and back pieces have the bodice and skirt/trousers cut as one whole piece, so you may need to be mindful of the fabric requirements based on the size of your material.

The back of the pattern envelope outlines body measurements and corresponding sizes, fabric requirements in both yards and metres, and finished garment measurements (something I always find incredibly handy!) The envelope contains an A4 booklet, detailing pattern layouts and a step-by-step guide for making the differing versions.

The pattern itself was clear to read, containing instructions not only for the beach pyjamas and holiday dress, but also a guide as to how to shorten the dress to any desired length. As I decided to effectively take the pattern-hack option of shortening the dress, this required some preparation work on the pattern prior to moving onto the next stages.

Firstly, the pattern front & back pieces have a line from the CF & CB down to the hem. This line is the cut line to make the dress versions – BUT I strongly advise not to cut this at this line – simply fold it under so that you can retain the original pattern to make the beach pyjamas version if you so wish later on. Next, the pattern needed to be shortened at the lengthen/shorten line on the skirt sections. For this, I folded the pattern underneath itself, then measured from the waistline down to the hem until I had the desired length. For me, this was 30 inches, leaving a 1 inch S/A on the final hem. I then used re-stickable Washi tape to temporarily hold the fold in place.

At this point I traced the new shape onto fresh paper, creating a new side seam line running straight from the pocket down to the new hemline. For this, I used light pencil marks only – as there is still a final stage to be undertaken before the pattern is complete. The final alteration, is to add size back into the pockets. The new side seam runs through the original pocket position, which means some of the size has been taken out. This was simple enough to do, and the pattern instructions provide an illustrated guide on how to do this. Now that I had all my new lines finalised, I then went over my newly traced pattern pieces, making the lines bolder with marker pen.

Ironically, after carefully making the size alterations to the grown-on pockets on my newly traced pattern pieces, when it came to laying out the pattern on my fabric – I didn’t have enough fabric length to accommodate them! So I simply folded under the grown-on pockets on the pattern, then used the separate pocket pattern piece instead. At least I have the grown-on pockets pattern for future use, when I am using longer lengths of fabric 🙂

I calculated that I used 1.4metres of 60″ wide fabric to make the shortened knee length dress variation, with the pockets cut separately, at a UK size 10. This excludes the tie belt, of which I used 75cmx20cm on the straight of grain, also from the same fabric. The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding, which takes around 3 metres of ready-made binding.

The Holiday Dress by Til the SUn Goes Down – Things to Note

  • Be careful with the bias binding at the CF – leave enough at the ends to tuck it to the inside.
  • When shortening the dress, use the lengthen/shorten here line as just that – a guide as to where to apply any length alterations. Do not just cut on this line as the pattern will likely end up way too short!
  • Use tracing or pattern paper to trace the pattern in order to keep fresh versions of each variation. I traced off the knee length variation so I still have the complete pattern should I wish to make the beach pyjamas or full length holiday dress later on.

Total time to make – it probably took me around 1 day, which includes altering and tracing off the pattern.

Would I recommend this pattern to others? ABSOLUTELY! In conclusion, I think this pattern is quick to make, comfortable to wear, and extremely versatile. The shortened knee length version really reminds me of 1930s house dresses, whilst the beach pyjamas are full-on holiday glamour. I also really like that the skirt portion of the pattern is stitched together at the CF & CB – so it is effectively a half wrap dress. I do really like wrap dresses, but the skirt section of wrap dresses usually have me worried that in the wind they will whip open to reveal all! This dress has all the advantages of a wrap dress, but sans the worry of a windy day drama.

I can really see multiple versions of the knee length dress version, and I think a pair of beach pyjamas (perhaps with a little matching jacket/bolero) would be so smashing!

Has anyone else tried Til the Sun Goes Down sewing patterns? What did you think?

Also, in case you are not aware, Til the Sun Goes Down produce amazing reproduction vintage fabric prints, along with some true vintage fabrics. Rather ironically, I actually purchased some of their fabric 2 years ago to make – lo and behold – a pair of beach pyjamas! Check out that post & the fabric I used here.


Until next time dears!