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Category Archives: 1920s

1930s Vintage Dress at the Gatsby Picnic

Yesterday was the annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon, hosted by the Art Deco Society at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate. (This wonderful event is open to the public, but buy your tickets early because they sold out this year!) There is a live band, dancing, gorgeous antique automobiles, and many great costumes. I found a car that matched my dress! image

The dress I wore is a vintage 1930s gown made of a very fine cotton or rayon net. It was such a lucky find in great condition!  I am wearing the 23 Skidoos from American Duchess and a hat I trimmed myself.image

I bought the hat base from Amazon and decorated with a scrap of green silk taffeta from my stash, and some pink blossoms from Michael’s.image

A group of us reserved an umbrella table and organized a luncheon.image

We also had delicious cocktails (that matched Samantha, winner of the fashion contest!)image

For the first time I was invited to sit inside one of the vintage cars! image

Bonus photo: I realized my dress matched the car so well it looked like I had extra “assets.” Hah!image

Here is the brochure with the schedule if you are interested in the many activities and performances that happen at the picnic. Hope to see you next year!imageimageimage

1920s Egyptian Revival and Poiret Cocoon Coat (Part 3) at the Rosicrucian Museum

Yesterday I wore my 1920s Egyptian Revival dress and my Poiret cocoon coat at the GBACG Egyptian Expedition at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose, CA.IMG_7051

You can read about the finished dress in my previous posts, but to summarize, both the dress and coat are made of silk velvet. I used the Decades of Style Zig-Zag dress pattern and the Folkwear Poiret coat pattern.IMG_6943IMG_6944

I am wearing a vintage fox fur collar and footwear from Royal Vintage Shoes. I felt so glamorous in this coat!IMG_6946

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I found a place in the museum that had interesting lighting and gave things a slightly eerie glow.IMG_6981

You can see the double-layered silk chiffon sleeves in this photo.IMG_6980

I am wearing golden bee pins in my hair.IMG_6987

Outdoors in the sun the colors of the coat are more obvious.IMG_7017

Here’s a shot of those gorgeous shoes (I got so many people asking where I got them!) with my matching purse. My vintage-style stockings started to pool and slip just like the real ones.IMG_7021

I came in under budget for the dress, so I splurged a little on the coat materials.

  • 5 yards of silk velvet burnout: $82.50 plus tax (from Fabric Depot in El Sobrante; I still have leftovers)
  • 4 yards heavy blue satin: $12.77 plus tax (from Joann’s at 50% off, with an additional coupon!)
  • Folkwear pattern: $19.95 plus $2.75 shipping (from eBay)
  • Tassle: free! (The place where I bought the velvet threw that in for free)
  • Button, thread: from the stash

Total: $119.12

You can see more photos of our museum adventures on Flickr. My friend Kim also has a very nice photo album here.

1920s Egyptian Revival (Part 2)

My 1920s Egyptian Revival dress is finished, in time for the event at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum!

I used Decades of Style’s zig zag dress pattern. It’s a great pattern that I’ve used before, although in retrospect silk velvet is not the best fabric for it. Velvet slips and stretches so much during cutting and sewing that needing lots of triangles to match up perfectly can be difficult. (After cutting, I had to fuss around with mine a lot to make everything fit, so it doesn’t line up as well as I wanted). I also used very sheer silk chiffon for the sleeves and collar binding. It was so sheer that I had to double up on layers. I originally ordered 1 meter of the navy blue silk, but the shop sent me 4 meters by accident (and told me to keep the rest!) so I’m glad I had the extra since I had to use twice as much as I was planning to.

Here is the dress with an Egyptian collar I purchased on eBay.IMG_6867

I found these really neat appliques on eBay as well! The seller didn’t have any information about them other than they are “vintage,” so I don’t know where they are from. They are a rather stiff, so the folds of the skirt drape a little funny, but I still find them an interesting touch to the project.IMG_6870

The neckline is bound with 2 layers of silk chiffon, and the shoulders are gathered.IMG_6873

The chiffon didn’t work out for binding the zigzags, so I found some fine rayon twill tape to do the job.IMG_6876IMG_6877

I need to iron flat some small details but it’s finished!IMG_6880

Stay tuned for next week, when I will take pictures of myself wearing it at the Egyptian museum, along with some accessories I am excited about (like new shoes from Royal Vintage Shoes!)

Final costs (lots of lucky bargains!):

  • 3 meters white silk velvet and 4 meters navy silk chiffon : $58 including shipping from Halo Silk Shop
  • Appliques: $6 including shipping from eBay
  • 10 yards twill tape: $4.50 plus tax (with extras left over)
  • Pattern: $0 (I already own it and used it before)
  • Collar:  $10.80 including tax and shipping from eBay

Total: ~$79.30 (for a silk dress!)

Read Part 1 here.

Poiret Cocoon Coat (Part 2)

I’m currently hemming my 1920s Egyptian Revival dress, but have been working a little on the Poiret cocoon coat in between.

The Folkwear 503 is a very simple pattern, but the assembly is different than what I was expecting. I’m used to coats and most garments having seams in the shoulders and sides, but this pattern has a long seam down the center back, and then a horizontal seam across the front of the chest, with darts in the shoulder/neck region. It works, but took a little staring to get over the “you want me to do what?” feeling.

Here is a diagram from the inside of the pattern instructions:

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The sleeves and coat body are cut as one huge piece for each side of the body. The top is folded down to make the sleeve (hence the horizontal seam). The pattern piece is very wide, and takes up most of the width of your fabric.

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I’ve cut out the pieces and sewn them together, but I need to press the seams and attach the lining to the outer fabric, and add a closure. The width of the pattern piece makes pattern-matching on the fabric difficult. To match I would have had to line up my pattern piece about a foot in from the edge, and that wouldn’t have been wide enough.  However, the busy pattern helps hide this a bit, and using a solid fabric would make the back and front seams very obvious.

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At the moment I’m considering not using the collar pattern piece included with the pattern, and putting a fur collar on instead. I tucked this fur scarf I have into the coat to get a general idea of what it would look like, but I think I would rather have a chocolate brown fur that matches the fabric, or go for a fluffy cream collar for more contrast.

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So far I would have to say that this pattern is very easy to use – there are definitely not a lot of pieces at least!

Poiret Cocoon Coat (Part 1)

I am still working on my 1920s Egyptian Revival dress, but I am in the middle of tediously hand-stitching the trim, so there isn’t a lot for me to discuss about the progress of the dress.  Meanwhile, let’s talk about cocoon coats! I have been wanting one of Paul Poiret’s luxuriously draped coats, and since the Egyptian event I am attending is during the winter, this is the perfect time to make one.

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Illustration by Paul Barbier. Check out that Egyptian print on the dress on the left!

I am using the Folkwear Poiret Cocoon Coat pattern, which seems quite easy and straightforward. Originally I planned to make one out of solid red velvet to highlight the red accents in my 1920s dress, but  . . .IMG_6573

. . . a few weeks ago I was shopping for ribbon when I came across this incredibly beautiful silk velvet burnout fabric!IMG_6575

It has a beautiful blue, purple, and chocolate brown paisley pattern.IMG_6579

I later bought coordinating lining fabric to highlight the blue in the silk.IMG_6735

I’m looking forward to starting this project!

1920s Egyptian Revival (Part 1): Silk! Embroidery! Flapper Shoes!

Next month the GBACG is hosting an event at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. To celebrate the Egyptomania surrounding Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, I will be making a 20s dress with an Egyptian Revival theme.

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I am using white silk velvet and navy blue silk chiffon. Here it is pinned together but still looking rather plain before its embellishments.

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I am using Decades of Style’s zig zag dress pattern, which I used before to make my Daisy dress for the Gatsby Picnic.IMG_6680

I made a bunch of silk chiffon bias tape to trim the zig zags, but sadly they are really too sheer and delicate and the seams show through, so I will have to come up with another plan. (The fabric is so sheer the sleeves are 2 layers of chiffon).IMG_6570

I have 8 of these vintage appliques, one for each panel of the skirt. They might be a little weird, but I am hoping they are just weird enough.IMG_6738

I am excited to wear the dress with these shoes I got from Royal Vintage Shoes. They come in black/gold and navy/silver, but not navy/gold, so I went with the black/gold combination. They are really lovely and I’m glad I’ll have an excuse to wear them!IMG_6565

Gatsby Picnic and the 1920s Daisy Dress

Another lovely Gatsby Summer Afternoon has come and gone! I made a new dress this year, and although I did not have the name in mind when sewing, I am now calling it the Daisy dress. It’s yellow and white, with daisy lace around the bottom, plus Daisy is a character in the Great Gatsby. I hope I am nowhere near that frivolous, though!

Here I am in front of the Dunsmuir Hellman House in Oakland, CA. The picnic is held on the lawn, but there is a tour of the house for part of the day. Lots of people also bring their lovely vintage automobiles and they are parked on the lawn to contribute to the atmosphere.  There is also a live band, dance floor, performances and contests.

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The shoes are American Duchess. My hat is a straw cloche that I bought from eBay and redecorated with scraps from the dress, plus a vintage flower.

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My dress is primarily linen, with chiffon sleeves and accents of cotton, dotted net and rayon lace. I used the 1925 Zig Zag Dress pattern from Decades of Style #2502. The pattern is well-made, but perhaps runs a little large, unless you like the looser look.  I prefer something a little more fitted, so I ended up taking the bust in a few inches. The dress is made stitching all the gored skirt panels together, then edge-stitching that to the bodice.

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I liked how cool the linen was in the heat, but linen wrinkles like crazy! I had all the skirt trimmings but didn’t have my swatch with me when I had a impulse stop to get chiffon from the fabric store when passing by. I had to eyeball the color, then run out after a few minutes. It doesn’t look too off in the sunlight, but in indoor lighting the chiffon looks too orange.

I made a few little modifications in the pattern. I bound the neckline, then made a bow, whereas the pattern calls for a loosely-draped necktie. I also used yellow thread to make a decorative zig-zag pattern over the shirred portions near the shoulder seams.

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I also made some little tweaks to the sleeve pattern. I added 2 inches, since I have long arms, and used French seams. I also omitted the snaps on the cuffs, and made them a continuous band.

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Each year I think 1930s would be more flattering, but the 1920s shape is easier to sew. Then I sabotage myself by choosing a lot of embellishment! I spent a long time pinning and sewing down all the decorations around the waist and hem. The bottom of the skirt is decorated with pale yellow dotted netting, surrounded by triangles of bias tape. The hem is polished cotton with rayon daisy lace.

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As you can see here, I left the bottom layers unattached so the look wouldn’t be so flat, and so I can slip an iron underneath the netting to access the linen.

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I reused the slip from last year’s Gatsby dress.

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Dress project cost was ~$57:

  • 3 yards linen + 1 yard chiffon: $26.10
  • 10 yards bias tape: $7.49
  • Pattern: $18
  • Hem trimmings: ~$5 (the netting, polished cotton and lace all came together, and were purchased as part of a bundle with other items, so I this is an estimate).
  • Flower: 50 cents (it was part of a $3 cluster).

I’m not counting the shoes, hat and slip in the total cost.

Kathy of Stuff I Sew also made a cute sleeveless version of the dress from the same pattern. Are all these ladies lovely? Samantha is wearing a yellow vintage dress, and Amanda and Breanna made theirs. Breanna’s dress is also a Decades of Style pattern.

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You can see more pictures from the picnic at Flickr.