Monday, June 3, 2013

Finished: 1924 Draped Flapper Dress

Flapper Time!

I signed up for the Great Gatsby Challenge and it certainly was quite a challenge for me! I was terribly confused about what to wear. The dropped waists, the weird ruffles, the pleating, the beading! I hated it all! (Seriously, beading is gorgeous, but how are you expected to sit in those dresses?!)

Traditionally I've shied away from flapper apparel because the costumes have too much fringe and the actual 1920s outfits tend to favor those without curves. Or so they say. As someone with curves, I need structure. Or so I've always been told.

I made a 1920s inspired dress last year that was more fitted before the dropped waist, and then flaring out in a circle skirt. It was also yellow and made out of jersey. Don't get me wrong, I love it. But this was the Great Gatsby Challenge, and I knew I needed to step it up.

I was planning on doing a general solid color, as that is what I do best. Plus, it's pretty safe in regards to patterns and whatnot, but then I thought: Screw it! I want art deco! The strong lines and the bright colors have always done something for me so I headed to my fabric shop to see what they had.

Nothing EXACTLY like what I wanted, but one fabric did speak to me. If you follow me on facebook, you've already seen what I picked out.

And yes, those are silk chickens.
1924 Dress made from two straight pieces
The downside to the silk chickens is that the fabric store only had 1.25 yards left. An easy fix for most people, and normally for me: buy more silk in black or white and continue making the dress.

But, you see, I'm terribly lazy. So while that WAS an option, it wasn't a very good one. So I had to make it work.

And luckily, I found this amazing draped dress pattern from 1924 from Emily's Vintage Visions. It required 3.5 yards, but I got around it.

Best of all, using this cool pattern meant that I qualified for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge! (I've been wanting to enter for a long time but never had the time! - Details for that challenge at the bottom.)

Okay so! Following the draping directions, I put the two rectangular shapes together/on me. I didn't have enough fabric for the back cape or the long sleeves, but I made it work. The instructions also tell you to shir the back which I was planning on doing with elastic, but then decided I didn't need it. Or at least, I could add it in later.

I didn't really encounter many problems with this. This is the simplest dress I've ever made, and it came together in a few hours. I french seamed the sides, and I faced the neck and bottom hem. The sleeves I just folded over and top stitched out of the french seams on the side.

Oh, and I made a hat from Simplicity 1736!

Franklin approves.
 It didn't turn out exactly as planned. I attempted to get black silk, but I was distracted by the sale going on. Then when I remembered black fabric, I just grabbed some, but it's a bit shiny and hard. I might have grabbed some cheap pleather, but I'm not sure. I also grabbed red piping, hoping it would match the red in my dress, but it didn't.

Why, no, these are NOT all of my pearls. Why do you ask?

So I made a brooch to tie everything together! I used the left over piping to make a flower, then used a scrap of black pleather/whatever for the center. 

Also, the hat is crooked and slightly small. I was going to toss the whole thing, or give it to a small child, but then I thought, "That's not flapper mentality! Screw society!" 

So I tilted it sideways and brought it closer to my face and suddenly it works!

The weird black material, in addition to being a hat, is also the ribbon I tied around my waist. I really (kind of) tried to make it into a fancy ribbon, but it didn't work very well. It works well enough for this because it's underneath a flowy top, but really, I don't think I'll ever be able to use it for anything else.

 Also because I didn't have buttons for the hat, I used the piping as faux buttons on the sides. I think I like it better than buttons!

So there you have it! I can't wait to see whatever everyone else came up with for the challenge!

Historical Fortnightly Challenge Information:

The Challenge: #11 Squares, Rectangles, and Triangles
The only curve is in the neckline - otherwise it's just 2 rectangles put together.

Fabric: silk

Pattern: Draping with 2 Straight Lengths from the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

Year: 1924

Notions: none with the dress

How historically accurate is it? The dress is very accurate as I only left out the shirring in the back. I wish I could have made the longer sleeves as in the pattern, but I didn't have enough fabric.

Hours to complete: about 6

First worn: today!

Total cost: $10

UPDATE: If you want to see this lovely dress in action, check it out at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island.


  1. YOU LOOK just FABULOUS!!! And I love those chickens! Great job Kristin!

  2. Ahh! I love the fabric. It's different but I think works really well as a 20s dress.

  3. Super cute with the styling and everything!

  4. OMG CHICKENS! I love it! I almost didn't recognize you in the hat; the flapper look is totally for you!

  5. This is great! It looks so much fancier than just a couple of rectangles. You've done a fabulous job with the styling for the photos.

    Also chickens!!! I die.

  6. Fabulous!!! Love the chickens, and love the way you've tied the whole look together - and I adore those 1924 publications!!

  7. Your dress is beautiful! I love that it's true to the 1920's but you could still wear it going to dinner or whatever today. Well done! Unfortunately my dress won't be finished on time since my machine is broken :(

  8. Lovely dress and that fabric was the perfect choice!

  9. I love it!!! You look just adorable in it! How fun that rectangles can all of a sudden be so shapely and stylish! Great colours, as well. And, your hat came out great! I think it's very wearable as an everyday item, not just for a 1920s costume party. My hat was not the least bit wearable, going to pick it apart and see what other pattern I can use for it.

  10. LOL! I love the fabric! The dress turned out great! The hat is awesome!

  11. Very pretty dress! The hat adds the perfect touch to your outfit. I just love the print on that material. I didn't even realize those were chickens until I looked a second time at the close-up. Ha!

  12. How did you keep the blousey top with just a band around your hips????

  13. Love this and you actually look like a flapper girl.

  14. what fabric store did you find the silk chickens?

  15. Absolutely lovely dress and you look like a true flapper girl! This is my style!

  16. Wow Your dress is so beautiful! I love that it's true to the 2010s but you can still wear it going to dinner or at all today.