In Progress – Great Gatsby Challenge Dress

Last month I mentioned that I wanted to make something inspired by/in honor of my great-grandmother Coles for the Great Gatsby ’20s sewing challenge.


I meant to post my plan a couple of weeks ago, but there have been several other things vying for my time. Boy, am I glad that I have until the end of this month for this challenge. I’m almost finished sewing the dress, but I plan to add beading, too. :O

Anyway, I have several pictures of my great-grandmother that were sent to me by my grandmother’s sister. I wanted to share some of them with you–even if they don’t directly relate to the dress–simply because I think old photos are cool. πŸ™‚

138 Wayne & Frances 1931
I love so many things about this picture! Plus, don’t ya’ just adore her coat?

Here’s an interesting side note: my great-grandmother was VERY tiny. Apparently, she only weighed 98 lbs when she got married in 1931, and she had a 19″ waist! :-0 She was also pretty short (5’2″ or 5’3″). At least I know where I got my small stature from. Everyone else in my family is pretty tall. All of my sisters are about 5’5″ or taller, and I barely tip over 5′. Ha!

The picture below is of my great-grandparents and seven of their children. They had ten children! My grandmother is the shy cutie on the left.

Copy of 152 The Family

This picture is awesome! Am I right?! It looks like she’s playing a ukulele and wearing a nautically themed outfit.

118 Mama playing banjo

OK, let’s move on to how I planned out my dress. I thought long and hard about a way to make a look that would be ’20s inspired but still flattering on me. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have large hips and an ample butt, so I like to accentuate my waist most of the time.

I looked through a lot of photos of ’20s and ’20s inspired garments, and to my delight, I found some looks that weren’t super loose on top, but they still had a ’20s feel.


I liked some aspects of the dress shape on the pattern envelope below, so I decided to use it as a general guideline for my design.


The picture below of my great-grandmother was also part of my inspiration, I really like the sweet scallop hem of her dress. This picture was taken in the early ’20s.

78 MamaI found a lot of scalloped hems and other decorative hems on many of the ’20s inspired dresses that I looked at.


The dress below is the inspiration behind the hemline that I decided on. I like the look of the large scallops. I’m even going to add some decorative beading above the hemline.

484b428f75a89f84eba3136dc94e3582I also plan to add some embellishment around the neckline. I like the embellishment on the top of the dress on my great-grandmother in the picture below.


I especially like the little hat that she’s wearing in the first picture in this post and again in the picture below. So, I really want to make a turban-like cloche hat to match my dress. I may end up having to settle for a headband.


Here’s the extremely rough planning sketch I did before starting on my pattern.


I drafted a pattern and sewed a muslin.


I had to change several things about my original pattern, but that’s what muslins are for.

I’m almost finished sewing my dress. I used a silk crepe material, pictured below, which I bought at G street almost two years ago. It was in a small clearance bin for silks. It’s some sort of silk blend because it has some stretch. There was about 2 yards of material.

IMG_7359For the under dress, I’m using a stretchy light blue material.

I just love all the beading that I saw on a lot of the inspiration photos I looked through, and I’m excited to try my hand at beading. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll probably start on that this evening.

I’ve got several new makes to share, but I’m waiting for the clouds and wind to go away so I can take some nice photos.

  1. Lesley

    May 24, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Very excited to see what you have come up with! I am sure that it will be lovely.

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Thanks! Now I just have to finish it in time…

  2. Marie

    May 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

    You are so talented, just sewing up a self-drafted pattern like that! Really can’t wait to see how this turns out. And the pictures of your great grandmother and family are so stunning!

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Thanks! I’m feeling the pressure to get it finished. It’s the beading that is worrying me. I haven’t done much of that, so we’ll see how it ends up looking. I just love looking at the pictures of family who came before me. I’m happy and blessed to have access to so many wonderful pictures of my family.

  3. CGCouture

    May 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

    So fun to have pictures of your great grandmother! And I can’t wait to see the dress! From the line-drawing, pattern pieces, and fabric choice, I think it’s going to be a real beaut! πŸ™‚

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Thanks! I hope so! It’s been a bit more of a trial than I thought it’d be, but I am determined to finish it.

  4. Mikhaela Reid

    May 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    This is just a stunning planβ€”I love your inspiration images and can’t wait to see the finished dress!

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Thank you! Now I’m off to go finish it! πŸ™‚

  5. juanitatortilla

    May 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Old photos are definitely cool. How did it feel looking at these photos of your family members generations before you?

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Yeah, it’s such a joy to see the people who came before you. I have the privilege of talking to my grandmother and many of her siblings, and they’re all AMAZING. Looking at the pics makes me wish that I could talk to my great grandparents. Even the details of what day-to-day life was like interests me. Oh, believe me, I’m sure I’ll talk plenty about my feelings in my reveal post about the dress. πŸ˜‰

  6. GA

    May 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Oh Rebecca, you are awesome! What a gift from God you are. I have seen these pictures many times but seeing them in your post makes my heart sing. Love you, GA (the shy cutie on the left)

    1. Χ“Χ•Χ¨Χ” Χ§.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      This comment made my day πŸ™‚

      1. Becca

        June 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

        Mine, too. πŸ˜€

    2. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

      This is such a sweet comment, Ga! You made me tear up. I love and miss you, so much!

  7. Sabs

    May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Love the old photos, your gran looked so elegant! Can’t wait to see what you come up with…

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 10:08 am

      She certainly did, and she was stylish her whole life. Thanks!

  8. Rox

    May 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I love it when sewing bloggers post old pictures of their family as inspiration. The grace and elegance of bygone eras is always mesmerizing: I wish dressing up was still in fashion. Don’t get me wrong: I love being in sweats at home ( which I am, as I write this), but there’s something very empowering about being decked-out. I can see there is a return to this (think Justin’s Suit and Tie), but alast, it is not widespread.

    BTW, the dress looks great: can’t wait to see it completed!

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Grace and elegance are definitely the perfect words for describing earlier eras. I wish dressing up was still in fashion, too! I often feel overdressed, even in my casual dresses. However, when I’m just hanging out at home in the evenings I like to relax in my PJs, too. πŸ™‚

  9. Tanya Maile Hughes

    May 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Looking forward to seeing what you create! Love the photos and your grandma was one classy lady!

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Thanks! Yes, she was. πŸ˜€

  10. Kelly

    May 25, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Wow, all of those dresses are so beautiful! And those pictures- you are so lucky to have them, and your great-grandmother was so pretty! I can’t wait to see your finished dress πŸ™‚

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

      I definitely know that I’m lucky to have those pictures. She was a very pretty and fashionable lady. I hope I can finish it in time. I may be up late the next few nights. πŸ™‚

  11. Sarah Lewis

    May 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Your Aunt Julia and I are sitting at the library in Sellersburg, Indiana, looking at your blog. So wonderful that you enjoy our mother’s vintage clothing! She was definitely a classy lady and dressed to the nines all the time. Thank you for honoring her in this way. Very special…love you!!

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      I definitely enjoy her clothing, but what I love even more is imagining what she was like. From what I’ve heard, she was quite an amazing lady, and she left behind an amazing family. You are all so awesome, and I’m beyond blessed to know you! Love you, too!

  12. Anne

    May 26, 2013 at 12:01 am

    So wonderful to see our Mother on here posted in such a beautiful fashion. She would be so so proud of you. She was quite a seamstress! She used to make our coats out of St. Mary’s lovely soft blankets with matching hats. You’ve inherited in Many Ways, Becca. Love you. Auntie Anne

    1. Becca

      June 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      I’ve heard she was an amazing seamstress, and that she passed that talent on to you. I’m sure my sewing skills aren’t up to the level of you two, but maybe one day. πŸ™‚ It’s fun to share a love for sewing with you. Love you, too!

  13. Dress for The Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge | Creative Notions

    June 6, 2013 at 8:49 am

    […] dress is Great Gatsby inspired, and as I said in my planning post, this project is also inspired by my great-grandmother, Frances […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: