Jessica here! Welcome to our newest multi-post series, where I talk all about creating a 1920s costume and accessories. I am excited to share with you all the details and planning that went into making a fabulous ensemble for my friend’s Roaring ‘20s themed birthday bash! As a plus size woman, I knew that it might be difficult to find a 1920s costume off the rack. Because I love costumes and making fun ensembles, I figured I might as well make something fabulous for this party!
Today I will go over pattern and fabric selection and share a lot of the beautiful inspiration I found. The 1920s: such a fabulous era for gorgeous clothing, accessories, and details!
After receiving the party invitation, I started looking at possible patterns. I don’t have the ‘ideal’ twenties figure and I’ve never really worn drop waist silhouettes, so I looked for a style that I would be comfortable in, that could accommodate my full hips and, hopefully, be flattering. I primarily searched the independent historical pattern lines we carry at Nancy’s, Folkwear and Decades of Style, and found some great options.
From there, I looked at pattern sizing and styling. Unfortunately, the Folkwear pattern I loved most, the Tango Dress, does not run large enough for me, and I wasn’t as interested in their other silhouettes for this particular occasion. Looking at all the options from Decades of Style, I was most interested in the 1920s Hazel’s Frock and the 1925 Zig Zag Dress. After reviewing the construction details and finished measurements, I landed on (drum roll, please)…
Once I knew what I was going to make, I had to select fabrics! This is my favorite part of any sewing project and choosing fabric for this costume was no exception! At this point, I turned to Pinterest for the never-ending visual inspiration it offers. I’m going to share a few of my very favorite 1920s dresses I found there, but know there are so many other incredible examples.
After gathering ideas for materials and colors, I set out looking for my fabrics. I did a quick search through my own stash and found a potential candidate for the main body of the dress. When I couldn’t find a suitable coordinate for the neck and hem scarves, I browsed the special occasion section at Nancy’s and came up with several new, fantastic combinations.
And then I saw it: the perfect fabric. It was vibrant and fun! Sheer and opaque! It sparkled! And best of all: it was already embellished, so most of the work had been done for me! I wouldn’t even have to hem it!
Realizing the addition of scarves around the hemline would detract from the incredible embellishment, I decided I would make only the neck scarf from the original pattern, using a simple black poly organza, similar to the basecloth.
Because I chose a sheer fabric for my dress, I elected to make a coordinating slip to wear under. I used the fabulous Intimacies pattern from Folkwear, which includes a bias cut slip or teddy, tap pants, and camisole, all perfect foundations for 1920s and ‘30s style clothing. For fabric, I selected our rayon/acetate blend satin faille, which has a great hand and works incredibly well on the bias. I had help fitting the dress pattern from our excellent sewing instructor, Jacque Goldsmith. (side note: Did you know Jacque offers 15 minutes of free advice on the first Thursday of every month? It’s perfect for quickly fitting a muslin!) We moved the french dart up about an inch and added fish-eye darts to the back, to help reduce bulk and better fit my shape.
From there, construction of both the dress and slip was straightforward. The majority of my efforts were spent removing sequins and appliqués from seam allowances and the darts and hand sewing them back in after the construction was complete. I am so pleased with how this dress turned out!
Join me for the next installment as I make a 1920s headpiece to coordinate with my dress! I have a lot more inspiration to share. And stay tuned for the full, final look; it’s the cat’s pyjamas!