Hey there, folks!
I’m so happy to finally share the dress I made for this year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon! This picnic, hosted by the Art Deco Society of California, is always held in September at the Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland. This was my second time attending (although I would’ve attended last year if it wasn’t for the fact that my Bears came to town). It’s such a fabulous event where the dress is 1920-1940 and you have the chance to step back in time and enjoy a fancy picnic amid like-minded folks for the day.
I went for 1920’s historical accuracy for this event rather than flapper costumey evening garb. After all, this is an afternoon event and a lady wouldn’t be out in short skirts, no sleeves and a beaded dress. She’d also be wearing a hat and wouldn’t have her long hair down unless she was under 12. For my dress, I chose the Decades of Style 1925 Zig Zag Dress with OOP 1928 reissue Vogue 2535 for my slip.
My dress is made of ivory silk georgette and my slip is this luxurious turquoise viscose batiste. I had planned to make my dress out of a high quality white cotton voile, but when I sewed the Zig Zag dress up in it, it just looked like a sheet hanging on my dressform. So I went to my stash and dug out the silk georgette, which paired perfectly with the vintage lace I used for the insertion and my cloche hat.
I had been planning this dress for several months and of course I waited until about a month before the event to start it…. Last minute sewing and all! The theme for my dress is “Egyptian Revival in the Afternoon”, and I had originally planning on adding beadwork and embroidery to it. But as it hung in my sewing room for a few weeks and the more I researched 1920’s Egyptian designs and afternoon dresses, the more I felt that it was better to keep it simple. Ladies did not wear fancy dresses during the day and they had little adornment, so I decided to leave my dress the way it is. I’ll save the beadwork and embroidery for my evening gown for the Art Deco Preservation Ball next year.
This lace is very unassuming from afar, but looking at it closely, you can see the sphinxes and pyramids it has woven into it. I got this gorgeous vintage French made lace from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco several months ago for this project. I wasn’t certain at first how I was going to utilize it, but after making my first version of the zig zag which we’ll now call a muslin, I decided that I wanted to insert on the zig-zagged gores with some on the shoulder seam. I tell you what, this was a VERY monotonous and time consuming process as it was difficult and intricate work attaching the lace to the gores. I spent about 2 days working on that and I really wouldn’t recommend doing it, but boy, it sure did turn out to be so darn lovely when I finished. The lace shows just a little pop of turquoise from my slip.
I used French seams throughout this dress on both the dress and the slip, with rolled hems on the neckline and skirt hem. Hand sewing on the neckline and neck tie. In some of the photos, it kind of looks like the skirt drops down lower in the back, but the slippery silk slips down backward and makes it look like that. The tie on the neckline is optional, but I really like the look of it and opted to use the material from my slip for it.
My hat is Simplicity 1736, a Theresa LaQuey design. I made View B out of a wool/rayon blend felt that I purchased at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. It has self-fabric piping and two Art Deco-esque gold buttons that I also picked up at Stonemountain. I’ve never worn a cloche before and as I have a big head (7 1/4″) and a lot of hair, I’ve never tried one on before. I wanted a 1920’s straw sun hat with a large brim, but yet again, my hat size comes in to play, so I made a hat. For my last Gatsby picnic, I also made a hat, out of buckram and silk and I didn’t really like wearing it. Making this felt cloche was super easy, but a little hot to wear and probably an inappropriate fabric for an afternoon garden party affair. This is probably the only time you’ll see me in a cloche, as it’s not really my favorite.
My purse is the Decades of Style 1917 Foxtrot Bag. I used the turquoise batiste from my slip for the outer fabric and lined it with white cotton voile. I used the Egyptian patterned lace from my dress for the ribbon casing and ivory silk ribbon from Britex for the handles. I also sewed two Merchant & Mills abalone buttons on the knots. I won’t recommend using such lightweight fabrics for this purse pattern as I think home dec fabrics would probably work better as it needs some stability to hold it’s shape. I wanted mine to match my outfit exactly, thus the reason why I used my lightweight batiste.
My parasol is back again and likely will always make it’s comeback with 20’s day dresses and when I feel like using it. It’s vintage 1920’s and I originally got it to use as a prop for my wedding.
My intention was to make my husband a seersucker suit which he could wear for this and future events. As I told ya before, I was a last-minute gal again and I only finished his suit pants. He was going to wear them with his navy blazer, but I thought the tan pinstripe pants he’s wearing would look better with his golf cap. He also has on a vintage 1920’s silk foulard tie. Next year, he’ll be donning that tie with his seersucker suit, a panama hat and some brogues.
My husband’s parents also joined us. It was my mother in-law, Alana’s, birthday. She is a fantastic dressmaker and also made her dress. She went 1930’s with Butterick 5879, which is a modern pattern, but the version with the long skirt really looks like it’s from the 30’s.
We had an early-entry pass this year and were able to come in and set up our picnic a couple of hours before the event was open. It made it so much easier to drive in and drop our stuff off and choose the site where we wanted our picnic.
We weren’t going for a winning picnic, just basically one that blends in and looks good. Most everything is just stuff we had around the house. The mid-century tablecloth and napkins make their appearance again just as the last Gatsby (and likely will continue to come to the Gatsby!). The linens are hand cross-stitched and feature crocheted lace on the edges and inserted into the cotton. My grandparents’ purchased it from a convent when they lived in Spain.
I made a vanilla coconut cake with coconut buttercream frosting and topped it with raspberries for my MIL’s birthday. Well, let’s be honest here, I would have made the cake regardless of whether it was a birthday cake or not….. The vintage buffet plates were a wedding gift and are probably circa 1920-1940. The silver wine glasses were my grandparents. I didn’t bring any silver silverware as I felt a little bad about the possibility of perhaps losing it at the picnic and messing up the set. The china and goblets are some of many, so I guess I wouldn’t have felt as bad if something happened to those. I walked around with my silver glass and drank out of it whilst tasting wine and the man in the 30’s suit from the winery called it my chalice. 🙂
I recently found this vintage tablecloth from Australia at a thrift store for a buck or two and decided it should come to our picnic. That’s a silver chip and dip tray I bought for about a buck at a yard sale. It was black when I found it! It had crackers and swiss cheese on it later, but I didn’t have them out at this time.
That quilt on the ground is probably from the 1940’s/50’s. Not sure about the history of it as it doesn’t really fit in with the other family heirloom quilts we have around. But I like it and the fabrics on it. Plus, it was nice to lie down on later in the day. I feverishly made those chair covers on my serger the day before. It would be nice to have some folding wooden chairs next year! By the way, that picnic to left of us won for “Best Small Picnic”. They must have spent thousands of dollars accumulating the antiques they have at their picnic…. And here I am picking up stuff from around the house and borrowing other things ….
I tell you what — at the end of the day we were beat! We had to stay until the very end and then some before we could drive in and pick up our stuff. Next year we need to bring some games or something! Or just drink more like other people? Then we’d have to have a chauffer or a cab to a hotel room! I’ve already been thinking about my outfit for next year — an English cotton net dress with floral embroidery and rosettes. Perhaps a robe de style. We’ll see! Hopefully by then I will find myself a straw hat that I can wear year after year with different ribbons and adornments. I’d also like to have a lowered heeled comfortable pair of 1920’s shoes and pair of sunglasses. There’s my wishlist. 🙂
I also met a few readers of this here blog at the Gatsby! It was so much fun chatting with everyone! Unfortunately I am really bad at taking photos and selfies with others…. My husband and I took these photos before the event began. I also got to meet Loran and Angie! And of course, no pic to prove it… but sewing people are the best people, aren’t they?
Maybe next year I’ll play on my vintage Australian tablecloth and make a Miss Fisher picnic?!Happy Sewing!
- Dress: Decades of Style 1925 Zig Zag Dress in silk georgette, made by me
- Slip: Vogue 2535 in viscose batiste, made by me
- Hat: Simplicity 1736 in wool/rayon felt, made by me
- Purse: Decades of Style 1917 Foxtrot Bag in viscose batiste with silk ribbons and vintage lace, made by me
- Shoes: ModCloth
- Earrings: vintage 1920’s
- Parasol: vintage 1920’s