The “Baz and Catherine” Flapper Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Cotton Foulard from Spotlight $40

Pattern: 5700 from an unknown company 50 cents

Year: Circa 1980’s

Notions: Art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

Time to complete: 4 hours

First worn:  For the photos

Wear Again?:  Saving it for Bali, Indonesia

I wasn’t going to bother taking part in the Sew Weekly’s Gatsby week for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my idea of Gatsby fashion is skewed more 20’s than the 30’s frocks Mena and her friends wear to the Gatsby Weekend.  I feel I know almost nothing about 1930’s fashion except for bias cut satin evening gowns, and there is no way I am going there!

Secondly, there is nothing less flattering that a drop gathered waist on a woman with heavy hips and thighs.

However,  the Sew Weekly contributors’ efforts for Gatsby Week were so inspiring that I thought I’d have a crack at it!  Also, a few months ago, scenes from The Great Gatsby movie were shot at St Patricks Seminary in Manly  – half an hour away from my house in Sydney – what an opportunity!  With a house full of international guests – I was keen to work in a little photo shoot to a spot of sightseeing with coffee!  The stars aligned, I found cloche hat, and I even managed to get my hair bobbed in time for the photos!

The Seminary can be seen early on in the trailer, with its ivy covered walls, it has undergone a dramatic transformation into a castle in post production!

I was thinking of buying the famous 1920’s One-Hour Flapper Dress but I am too stingy to pay for what is a very simple pattern!  So a few weeks ago I was pleased to find this very ugly-looking 80’s dress.  I thought it would probably work – when you have been patternmaking and sewing for years, you develop the skill of being able to see how the pattern pieces go together and what they will look like.  Beginner sewers – take heart, this takes time.  This patterns wins the prize goes for worst pattern illustration ever.  I saw that there were no shoulder pads to give that exaggerated shoulder line and I knew it wouldn’t sit like that, or do I just have broad shoulders!?  I eliminated the centre front button placket and cut it in one piece.

I extended the sleeves, following the angle they were on, and sewed just to the end of my shoulders.   All the edges and hems were sewn with rolled hems.  I wanted a floaty sleeve, with an open top arm seam.  We are going to Bali next year.  The Balinese are unimpressed by the display of armpits – I hope this dress will be acceptable – light  floaty and no visible underarm! I finished them with a pair of little art deco glass diamante buttons from the stash.

A trick for minimizing the hippage, I recommend is to give it a good press, with the focus on the gathers.  I wanted them to sit flat – rather than billowing out – adding volume where none was welcome.

This fabric was wonderful to sew – it is a very fine twill weave – perhaps a foulard.  I realize that the fabric is more 50’s in feel than any other era- but that is my thing isn’t it!

My dad took the photos for this shoot.  We were up against it.  It was windy again and the camera’s display is broken – so he really couldn’t see a thing – He did pretty well though and was very patient to take 250 photos!!  Mum was great  at directing the photo shoot.  Thanks Mum and Dad!

I am sure you know that Australian Film Maker Baz Luhrmann, Director, and his wife Catherine Martin, Production Designer, are creative collaborators in this movie.  Baz with his amazing vision and kooky musical inspiration and Catherine with her incredible attention to detail – I salute you.

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