Hot! Early Ideas for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon

Miss Teegerstrom, Mrs. Trott & Miss MagañaAlthough the Gatsby Summer Afternoon is months away (Sunday, September 12, to be precise), I've already begun planning the outfits that will be created to clothe my friends and me. A neat thing occurred during the course of the year since Gatsby — two of my friends and fellow Gatsby attendees begun sewing in earnest! While I made Krissy's dress last year, she'll be sewing her own; my other friend, Libett, has even learned pattern drafting (!) but will most likely be using a vintage pattern for her own dress. 

As the organizer of our picnic, I dictated the exact period of our dress (early 1930s) and the theme (nautical). I chose the early 1930s because, as pretty 1920s dresses can be, a waistline is a bit more flattering to modern bodies.

In all, I believe this is what I'll be sewing:

  • My dress
  • 2 toddler dresses & 1 infant boy's playsuit
  • A dress for my sister-in-law
  • A dress for my friend, Maddie

Writing that down makes it seem a bit more manageable. Last year I ended up making four dresses (only two of them actually ended up making the cut), so this should be a breeze! Here's my post about the dresses I made. This year, the hard part is narrowing down my choices for my own dress.

With the exception of "G," all of these patterns are available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library. I acquired "G" as well as the patterns that will most likely be used for Krissy's and Maddie's dresses last week at Alameda. 

A. I like the contrast of the collar and dress on view 2 but prefer the short sleeves of view 1. I'm not sure if that look works, though, when combined.

B. I love the bodice but I'm "meh" about the sleeves. Neither sleeve seems like it would be particularly flattering to my arms but I think if I was to remove the bottom half of the puffed sleeve (in green), I'd have a nice little butterfly or capelet sleeve.

C. Yeah, probably not.

D. While "D" feels a bit too matronly, I think that the right fabric and buttons could make this dress look amazing. Or, I could be wrong and it could be another "mom from Our Gang" dress.

E. There's just something about "E" that feels a bit off. Maybe it's because it's an illustration of a more realistic body shape and she doesn't look 6"5 and 120 pounds. I do like stumpy because the sleeves are flattering and there's a tie of some sort. Perhaps with a lighter color tie and a darker color dress it will look a less scout-like as well. 

F. In the illustration these puffed sleeves look like they've gone off the rails a bit. I love the neckline and tie detail, though. Even if the sleeves seem a bit crazy, I think that if they turn out anything like the sleeves on this dress worn by Myrna Loy, it would be fantastic. While the second view is cute, I fear that it will read too "dust bowl" when I'm wearing it. 

G. I have my heart set on a dress with contrasting fabric so I'd most likely stick to the first view and make it short-sleeved. I definitely want a dress with a bow, tie or some sort of interesting collar but that seems to be the only really interesting detail happening with this dress.

What do you think? I'm thinking that "B" is going to probably be the one.


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. What an exciting and fun event that must be!
    I think I like version A.2 the most. It’s lovely, very elegant!

  2. I like A2 as well but if you want short sleeves I’d go with either B2 or G2. They’re all so gorgeous though – I can’t wait to see what you make!

  3. I like B1 best with the change of a puffy sleeve to more a capelet sleeve (might still be able to keep the color contrast by lining the sleeves in the contrasting color! Sounds like a fun event!

  4. I like ‘D’; it’s similar to A1, but with better details. Because the drawing is more natural, there’s a better sense on how the dress will actually look. I also agree that B1 without the balloon sleeve is the better look; besides you want to show off that gorgeous bodice detail!

  5. My faves are A, B, D, and G and I tend toward the single fabric views, but I’m extremely conservative when it comes to fabric. I think the contrasting views are beautiful and would look great on you. A2 is really sharp. Funny that you should post this today; last night I cut out pieces for a dress from a vintage early 1930s pattern myself!

  6. I like B.1 and F.1. Apparently I like contrasting sleeve details.

  7. Thanks for all the feedback, guys! Last year when I sewed for Gatsby I didn’t have this great feedback loop! Keep it coming.

  8. A2 is a beautiful frock, the bodice detail and the way the points are echoed in the yoke part on the skirt. A1 is a bit bland. Maybe A2 would work with elbow length sleeves?
    B2 – balloon sleeves are silly. B2 ok.
    C – I like this dress – it has strong and interesting geometric lines happening with the bodice and skirt seams. It has a little soft feminine touch at the sleeves with those gently gathered ruffles. It also looks like there could be some gathers at the neck? In the right fabrics this would be a stunner. My only reservation is how those angular bits on the bodice would look on a generous bust (climbing the mountain peaks… lol)
    D. I keep on imaging Joan Collins in that!
    E. Is a pretty dress – it’s the way the shoulder line is drawn that makes it look off (looks like a football player’s shoulder in there!).
    F1 Very snazzy if you make the puffy contrast sleeve bit look like Myrna Loy’s outfit. F2 also pretty – I think it’s the colour that makes you think dustbowl. In a bolder colour it would be charming.
    G1 looks hot and itchy to me. G2 is bland – but it’s hard to see the details.

  9. Yes, I agree that F’s puffed sleeves are ridiculous. They seem more like they should be on a dress from the 1850’s. I absolutely love B!

  10. I really like C and think you would look smashing in it. You can definitely have some fun with the contrasting fabric.

  11. I really love E – it would make a cute Sailor-Dress. But all of the patterns have stunning details you can turn into something nautical. I’m so curious which one you will choose.

  12. B is my favorite too!

  13. I like F view 2. I think the illustration is not great but if you look at the dress there is a lot you could do with it.
    But really, I dont think you could go wrong with any of them.

  14. I like F2, the v neck is incredibly flattering, particularly if you have just the right length of pearls.

  15. F2 has a very ‘dust bowl’ look to it. E looks the most matronly to me, perhaps that repro was originally a New York pattern? Ive always felt they had rather square women on their covers.
    I totally dig C and D. C mainly. Im a sucker for contrasting bodices, although asymmetrical cuts in the skirts as one facet of 30s fashion that never appealed to me. C also appears to have raglan sleeves, so you could play with that.
    I was thinking about going this year too. I havent been yet and people have been egging me to attend. :)

  16. B is my favourite, I love the seaming detail, and how fun will it be picking out those buttons! Excited to see what you decide to make :)

  17. I love this idea! I would go with A. the blue dress with the amazing collar and switch in the sleeves from the yellow dress in B.
    I wish I could come :)

  18. Mena, that dress you made for yourself in that photo is gorgeous! You look adorable. My daughter goes to this event as well.