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Category Archives: Gatsby

Gatsby Summer Afternoon Picnic 2017

The annual “Gatsby Summer Afternoon” (casually known as the Gatsby Picnic) at the Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California, had another lovely event recently! I finally got a chance to wear my original 1930s cotton organza dress and had a great time socializing with an impeccably dressed and fun crowd.

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Photo by John Carey Photographic Imagery

I love how this is a versatile dress! I can change up my look by wearing a different color slip (which is also vintage). My hat is a vintage one that I retrimmed. I am wearing the beautiful Lillian heels from Royal Vintage Shoes.IMG_4075

It was a hot and sunny day, and my sunglasses were definitely needed! (They are not quite right, but close enough for an Amazon find).IMG_4074

Kelsey is divine in 1930s ensemble she sewed using a Wearing History pattern.IMG_4016.JPG

Natalie is lovely in a vintage 1930s dress, the navy version of the Lillian, and a hat she crocheted herself!IMG_4020.JPG

Here we three are again with Jess and Abby.IMG_4082

The event was full of vintage cars, amid the backdrop of the wonderful Dunsmuir House mansion.IMG_4068.JPG

In years past we always had too much food and leftovers, so we scaled back the food. You can’t see from the photo, but I think we had more beverages (especially delightful cocktails!) instead of food.IMG_4047.JPG

As always, the table was organized by my friend Kim, shown here wearing a handmade dress and waiting patiently in line with David.IMG_3991.JPG

I made my boutonniere using some vintage flowers, floral tape, and silk taffeta that I cut into a ribbon.IMG_3980.JPG

I made the belt out of a broken half of a buckle, more vintage flowers, and some silk taffeta.IMG_3966

We had a great time!  Elizabeth high-fiving with the American Duchess ladies included!IMG_4072.JPG

Can you count the number of Lillians in this post? They were definitely the hot new shoe people were sporting at the picnic! I can’t wait until next year!IMG_3993.JPG

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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.

Costume College: 1920s Tea Party Dress

The dress I wore to the Ladies Ascot Day tea party at Costume College is one I made a few years ago, but it’s taken several wearings to accumulate all the accessories.

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It was my first 1920s dress, and I didn’t have a pattern. If I was making it all over again I would make some small changes in the construction, such as to the hipline. Overall, it is a very simple tube-like shape. The dress is made of a semi-sheer green fabric. The bodice is 2 layers of the sheer, and the slip underneath is made of the same fabric, with 2 layers as well.

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The neckbow, hem and waist are trimmed with a pink lace.

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The waist has a bow, accented by a rhinestone brooch.

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The back of the bodice is plain, but the pleats and trimming on the skirt extends all around.

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I made the cloche out of the same mint green fabric, lined with a very light canvas. It is decorated with flower appliques and pink ribbon.

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The cloche is a little small. One day I’d like to make another slightly larger one.

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The purse was a last-minute, hasty project the morning of a Gatsby picnic, so it’s a little crooked. (Shh!) The handle is made of several silver metal necklace cords twisted together.

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I think I may have obtained the pink satin gloves at a swap party, and the shoes are an eBay find.

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The ivory necklace is vintage, and features a cool climbing monkey clasp!

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Project cost: I don’t know. I made the dress a while back, and didn’t keep any receipts. I did get all the materials from Fabric Depo in El Sobrante, and everything is synthetic, so it was probably quite a bargain. I remember the brooch was $1. Aside from accessories, I wouldn’t be surprised if this cost around $50 or less.

Gatsby Style – Maternity Version

Last week I went to the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, a yearly event put on by the Art Deco Society of California. The dress code is 1920s or 1930s summer daywear. You’ll see a lot of dropped waists, flowy chiffons and fabulous hats!

Being pregnant I couldn’t fit my dress from last year, and I didn’t want to spend too much time making a dress that would fit me for such a brief time, so I decided to modify an existing dress.

ImageRead on to see the before and after. Read the rest of this entry