V350: 1920s Slips, Chemises, and Camisoles

I’ve been working on a 1920s slip to go under a semi-sheer beaded gown I purchased a short time ago.  Easy, right?

Well, I’m on version two tonight, haha!  I have made one 1920s slip before, but despite doing an alright job on it, I made stupid mistakes this time around, hence the second go.

Firstly, though, here are a bevvy of undies, from The Met:

The Met: Underwear, 1920s
The Met: Chemise, 1920s
The Met: Underwear, 1920
The Met: Underwear, 1920s
The Met: Slip, 1920s

Some of these are more ornate than others, and you will also notice that a couple of them are short – these were worn over little, lacy, matching knickers (how cute!).

All of these slips and camisoles share characteristics, though: simple, straight necklines, and absolutely zero shaping.

Slips of this period fall from the high bust, and flare ever so slightly over the hips, but not in a shapely way.  Width around the hips was achieved either by gored panels, gathers or pleats at the side seams, or godets at the side seams.  This little pattern shows the pleated/gathered side version:

Making a slip for the ’20s is deceptively difficult.  They tend to be quite unflattering, and weird to fit.  It is *essential* that you choose a thin, soft, opaque fabric like silk charmeuse, lest your slip stand out from your body like a potato sack.

I will share with you my efforts tomorrow – both the failure and the revised, successful slip.


  • vintagevisions27

    January 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I think under garments are often over looked. But in many case they are just as pretty, if not more so, then many dresses, etc. Those examples from the MET are gorgeous! I love all the tiny tucks and bits of lace!
    If I had had more time I would have made a slip to wear with the 1920s dress I made for the Downton Abbey event last weekend. Part of the event included a talk on 1920s fashions by Karen Augusta. She had several vintage items (including a 20s bra, so cool!) on hand for us to look at. I'll be posting about the event and my dress later this week. I've you are interested, I have an article about drafting your own pair of 1920s knickers. I would be happy to share!

    • Lauren Stowell

      January 9, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      I definitely agree! Some of the undergarments from the Edwardian are ridiculously gorgeous. I'm pleased to see all the lacey and lovely bits on the '20s stuff too. So cute!

      And yes please, I would love to read your article on the knickers. I know many women who would as well.

  • Steph

    January 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I made a 20s princess slip from a pattern I inherited from my grandmother (although it might have been her mother's), and it turned out quite well. Amazingly enough, since it's a one-size pattern, it was the exact right size for me. I found the gathered side skirt panels very interesting. The construction was very simple. But 20s styles are definitely not the most flattering for my stocky, curvy figure, but they're so sumptuous in their diaphanous, filmy way. If I ever make one again (doubtful), I'll use the same pattern.
    Good luck on yours!

  • AuntieNan

    January 10, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    I have a slip from a little later — my guess is mid 1930s because of the length. It is silk, and it gets around the risk of a "bunchy" look by being entirely cut on the bias. Dare you do that with a 20's slip, in the interest of it lying smoothly under the over dress?

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