Closure on a 1930s dress

So, this dress needs to close somehow, as dresses often do. I don’t think zippers were really a thing until later, so I planned to a closure with snaps.

Here are the instructions on my pattern:

Finish opening at left side with a continuous lap. Cut a strip of material 1 3/4 inches wide and required length. Sew to edges of opening. Fold through center and fell over seam. Turn lap under front edge and slip stitch. Finish for closing.

Thanks pattern, that’s real helpful.

I scrounged the internet for what on earth a continuous lap might be. I could find lots of examples in sleeves, but not something which is closed on the top and bottom.

I finally found this article, and even though the pictures were terrible, a light bulb sortof went off in my head and I figure I would just start sewing and see what happened. Basically, I am using one strip of material right sides to right sides around the whole opening. It’s called continuous, because it forms a circle.

24 circle of selvedge

Step 1 – sew strip right side to right side around your whole opening. 

I used a strip of selvedge so I wouldn’t have to turn the other end under twice. That was pretty much a theme with this dress.

25 from outside

Step 2 – Flip the strip to the inside to get an idea of what this will look like from the outside!

Heyo, that looks like it might be a workable closure!

26 understitching

Step 3 – Understitch

I understitched the strips by hand, so they would stay better and not pull from under the placket. Optional, depending on your material.

28 snaps

Step 4 – Sew on snaps. 

On the front piece of the dress, I tacked down the free end of the selvedge of the opening to the dress. For the back side, I left it free hanging. This way it would be like a normal snapped placket with the front piece of placket lying on top of the back. Let me know if this makes no sense and I will try and draw a picture or something.

Moment of truth – trying on the dress

29 closure on


Ok, it’s not perfect. Annoyingly, after the whole time of the waist being too big in my mockups, it ended up being about 1/2 – 1 inch tighter than I wanted. The snaps peek out a bit up close, since there is a bit too much pulling happening. And sitting down sometimes causes a snap to pop open.

Still, it looks good from 5 feet away, and great from on stage, which is where I intended to be wearing this.


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