Pattern Puzzle: vintage 1930’s

It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these, did you miss them?

If you’re a recent visitor and have no idea what a pattern puzzle is about, we have a separate category for pattern puzzles in which we play “guess the item”. Typically I post the pattern pieces and you have to guess what it is. You can draw a sketch of the finished item or garment and either post a comment with a link to your idea or you can email me (kathleenATfashion-incubatorDOTcom) and I’ll post the link for you. Once folks have had a chance to submit their ideas (usually a day or two), I post the solution and pat everyone on the head. We like pats, yes we do.

Today’s challenge was inspired by a link that Elizabeth Kloian sent me. Here is what the pattern pieces look like:


This pattern is actually for sale! Either tomorrow or Thursday, I’ll post a link. Until then, feel free to post your idea of what you think this design looks like. Give it your best shot and good luck!


  1. Katherine says:

    I’m thinking a strappy dress, with a self-faced front and a cowl drape at the back. The strap would pass through the self facing at front and attach to the upper back edges. The back piece is on the left and the front piece, with bust darts, is on the right. The front is wider than the back, so it is probably gathered with the strap.Report

  2. Brian says:

    I’m thinking it might be a skirt.
    Back piece on the left with darts rotated horizontally into the side seams.
    Front piece on the right with darts also rotated into the side seams.
    The triangle shape “excess and void” could be creating a narrower shaped waist with the excess of the back wrapping to the front.

    I’m guessing the rectangle piece to be some sort of bow, tie or drawstring since it doesn’t duplicate any curvatures of the waistband or hemline that would make me think it to be a facing.Report

  3. Clara Rico says:

    Last night I was trying to figure this out until all I could see was a salt and pepper shakers. Then this morning I gave it another try. I realized I was imagining a dress without arm openings! That wouldn’t be any good.

    I think I finally got it. The front is open above the bust darts and the back has angled cap sleeve that extends into front arm hole.

    The collar is very wide at the top, like a halo below the face.

    I sent you a pic, Kathleen. Could you please post it?

    If that makes sense… I sent you a pictiReport

  4. Jasmin says:

    I’m guessing a raglan sleeve top, a line, with bell sleeves, and the tie is either to gather around the neck, or as a waist tie (given it’d be super blousy). ( left = sleeves, right = front and back, and tie). I may be wildly wildly out here, I just cannot figure how you’d make it into a dress!

    Don’t think I’d wear it !! You’d need just the right fabric plus a great figure to carry it off.Report

  5. Kathleen says:

    Okay, since membership has its privileges, I’ve posted the solution in the forum. I will post it out here tomorrow.

    The forum post is also a tutorial because… this pattern is pretty messed up. Or rather, the pattern is probably okay but in those days, they drew the quarter scale pieces rather than scaling them down with a pantograph and since I’m working off the illustration of the quarter scale, I don’t have a rendering of the full size pattern for comparison. I’ll explain more tomorrow. Until then, keep your guesses coming.

    I almost forgot -I have to go start dinner but afterwards, I will post links to sketches that several of you sent to me. I sincerely appreciate your patience!Report

  6. Anaka says:

    I’m thinking a loose-cut top with a front and back cowl. The thin strap goes across the back neck, to hold the shoulders in place (prevent them from falling off the wearer).Report

  7. Sabine says:

    ok, I will give it a try, before checking on the solution, lemme think:

    I cannot think of anything! lol. It looks like something that would be wrapped around something round on top, possibly with a tie being fed through on opening on the top, or maybe there is something sticking out (arms? wooden sticks?) It does not remind of a dress, as there is an area that gets narrower or folded back on the same piece with the pattern piece on the left.
    I was thinking a slip-cover-but for what. SO now I am guessing-hand puppet! :) ok, time to go peek.Report

  8. Gale says:

    Well this was such fun! I stumbled onto this puzzle yesterday just in time to give it a try. I think it is a cowl neck dress with the bodice dart converted to gathers, with additional ease at the bodice side seams and with the back skirt darts converted to gathers roughly at the waist. The strip might be a belt or it could be a halter. I think the shoulders are connected by sewing the outside corners of the cowl together. I can hardly wait to see what the answer is.Report

  9. if it wasn’t vintage 1930s i’d say it was a trapeeze halter neck top with self facing at back and cowl drape at front? but as it is, i’d say it looks nothing like a 1930s dress, or top, so i’m going go with a child’s dress with smocked neck/yoke

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