Vionnet dress

I am working on a Vionnet dress from 1919-1920  (pattern 3 from Betty Kirke’s book) It’s sometimes called the handkerchief dress, because the bottom hem looks like a collection of one and its down-sized mock-up can be easily done with handkerchiefs.


The dress sans belt.

This is not the picture that made me go “I want”. This one is:


The dress the Japanese pattern makers made out of black silk crepe. With a belt. Looks super-duper contemporary, not the least like it is a 95-years-old pattern.

I think the tricky bit about this dress is not the sewing… well, actually, that is tricky too… but the cutting. Because the thing that makes this dress work is the material. If you want this dress, there is no way past Vionnet’s original material (100% silk crepe). It needs the elasticity, the flow, the air sheerness. But more on that much later.

Okay, first tricky thing – the scaled up pattern was a bit wider than my fabric, so my ‘jabots’ (fancy way of describing those triangles) are a bit smaller and the dress is a bit shorter as well. (But I am short, so…).


Those Japanese directions are not exactly super-duper helpful if you don’t speak the langage. The 10 cm squares are awesome though.


I had some very lovely black silk crepe, bought at a bargain price when someone else decided to de-stash. Tragically, the silk crepe is slippery (no surprise) and has an natural stretch that made cutting no fun at all.  The straight lines I tore down. The not-so-straight parts… well, there have been some helpful hints about using tissue paper as backing but I read those too late. Oh, well.

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