Category: 1920s

The Gatsby Prada Exhibit

I had a chance to stop by the Gatsby exhibit at the Prada flagship store today after work. Gorgeous, gorgeous dresses. These dresses are truly breathtaking: intricate beading, attention to detail, fitted silhouettes (not a single sacklike, baggy silhouette in sight). Daisy’s dress had a hand-done crystal beaded overlay, with huge chandelier-type crystal beads over light peach.

Prada apparently designed most of the clothes from the Gatsby movie and the costumes were on display at their store. I was a bad blogger and only took my iPhone with me, but here are some photographs from it.

This exhibit has definitely inspired me to make more loose-fitting shift dresses and high-low dresses. Not a single, baggy, sack-like 1920s silhouette in sight.

Laurel, The Gatsby-Hacked Version

It took way longer than it should have, but I finally finished my version of Laurel. I finished reading The Great Gatsby on my commute the other week, and I wanted something that would capture the decadent, opulent, lush feel of the novel.

Btw, I didn’t realize how sheer this dress was. I’m lucky there’s a brown fence behind most of me.

Edit: Thanks for reminding me guys, I am entering this in the Colette Patterns contest.

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Pattern Description: Loosely fitted basic sheath dress or top.

Pattern Sizing: 0-18. I cut a 4 on top and tapered to a 6 on the bottom.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, sort of.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I have on idea, I didn’t read the directions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how versatile and simple this pattern is.

Fabric Used: Sheer crushed velvet.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I changed this pattern a lot. I dropped the neckline, took out the front and back darts, and raised the hem. I wanted a 60s-inspired does 20s-inspired version. I serged the side seams and hem and used seam binding to finish the neckline and armholes. I removed the darts since I didn’t think the crushed velvet could handle it, and I wanted to keep it simple.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. I’d really like to sew this so it would actually look like Laurel version, and not severely modified.

Conclusion: I’d definitely make this again.

Work in Progress: Laurel, The Gatsby-Hacked Version

Here’s my progress so far on Laurel. I really wish I made a muslin. I need to adjust the neckline and the hem, and it’s almost there.

What I’m Working on This Week: Laurel, The Gatsby-Hacked Version

Sheer crushed velvet, with topaz and cobalt blue flowers.

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It’s been quiet around these parts since I’ve been doing a lot of pattern modifications on Colette Laurel and have no decent photographs to show for it.

I’ve been working on my version over the weekend. No sleeves, lower neckline, no darts, much more simple shaping. I finished reading The Great Gatsby on my commute last week, a novel thing since I’m a very slow fiction reader, and I’ve been greatly inspired by that. I want something that will mirror the lush opulence and decadence of what the 1920s are in my head (at least based on what I read from Gatsby>), and it’s been slow going.

Hopefully this project will be done in time for the Laurel sewing contest next week.

Wit’s End: 1920s-themed Party

The band, playing live jazz and songs from the 20s/30s.

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This Saturday was Wit’s End, a monthly 20s themed party that I definitely will starting to attend more regularly. It was my first time at Wit’s End, and it didn’t disappoint. A live band with jazz playing, free dance lessons (I learned bits of the Lindy and the Charleston, as well as how to avoid colliding into people on the dance floor), booze poured from coffee mugs just like the old days. The venue was actually an old speakeasy from the 20s. It’s a small space in there and dimly lit, and I had to bail early since I had a mud run the next day, but it was a lot of fun.

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My friend Kevin, wearing a three-piece pin-striped suit and a newboy hat (not shown here).

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My friend Alaina.

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I love the florals and gingham tone on tone pattern-mixing.

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I love the hair.

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This was my dance partner for the dance lesson. I love the turban, the spit curls, the pearls, and the white dress with flounces.

Outfit of the Day: 20s inspired

Trying to evoke a sultry jazz baby look.

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Apparently you can see the outline of the bottom of my girdle from this shot. Not 20s authentic, I know. Ha!

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Dress: thrifted
Shoes: Clark’s
Jewelry: Piperlime
Hair: faux bob

For once, I’m not wearing a shred of black. Or a shred of 40s, 50s, early 60s, or 80s inspired toughness and rock-and-roll.

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The 20s are not a very strong period represented in my closet. I had a long-standing invitation to attend a 20s themed vintage party for a few months now, and I haven’t gone because I have nothing to wear. I know this is a poor excuse considering I sew, but the 20s aren’t particularly flattering to my figure, and I always feel slightly-too-fat in anything 1920s inspired, so I thought I’d cobble together something and somehow try to make it work.

I had a lot of fun at the party (more on this in a future post), and I definitely want something new to wear now next month, so I’ll probably be wearing something I’ve made in the next one. My next challenge will be finding silhouettes that are evocative of the 20s yet flattering to my not-very-rectangular non-1920s-ideal shape.

The door woman didn’t turn me away when I walked in (there’s a 20s dress code), so I guess it was fine.

Sewing Fail: 20s-Inspired Dress

I love documenting my sewing fails as well as my successes since it reminds me that (just like in life) not everything you undertake will be executed to perfection or even turn out well in the long run.

I haven’t finished this dress yet but I can already tell it’s a fail.

I’ve been working on this project here and there this week. I took Colette Jasmine (which worked well for me previously as a blouse) and grafted a skirt on to it, thinking it would be a good drop-waist silhouette dress. The cutting took the longest (more than an hour), and everything was pieced together in half-hour intervals throughout the week.

The sketch started out like this:

A good premise but terrible in either execution or how it actually fits me.


  • I like red and it makes my hair look even more black
  • this was some $2/yd fabric I found over the weekend so it’s not a huge loss


  • the 20s silhouette is not friendly (or flattering!) to me
  • it looks like a deranged figure-skating outfit
  • chiffon (or crape?) is really hard to work with, especially on the bias
  • the skirt keeps riding up
  • I haven’t worn anything this short since I was five

I’ll probably still go to the 20s event, but break the rules by wearing something modern (read: circa 40s or 50s).

Sewing Inspiration: Wit’s End Dress, circa 1920s

I have a 20s themed party to go to at the end of the month, and again I have nothing to wear. I don’t have any patterns from the 20s, so I decided to draft something that would look appropriate. Here are some patterns that I found inspiring.

Butterick 1856. I really like the skirt on this one, but the bow on the top part seems a bit much.

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Butterick 1191. I like this dress overall. I have no idea how to do the asymmetrical ruffles on the front part of the skirt — maybe make two ruffles and hand-sew them on, curving upward?

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Unnamed pattern, 5833. I really like the clean lines and the pleat detailing on the skirt, but is it too plain?

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Excella 2576. I really like the skirt treatment. It’s plain but maybe with the right fabric it can work.

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Excella 2576, back view. The pieces look simple enough to drape/draft and mimic.

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McCalls 4704. Or I could always cheat and draft something like this “50s does 20s” pattern.

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I’m sort of on the fence about the boxy dropped-waist silhouette. This might be as flattering as draping a rectangular burlap sack for a dress, but I don’t care, this is what the roaring ’20s is about. Period authentic (yet unflattering?) or flattering but not authentic?


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