Guest Interview: Krissy on her Gatsby Dress

As I've mentioned in my previous Gatsby post, two of my friends made their own dresses this year. I asked them a few questions for The Sew Weekly about the Gatsby gown-making process. First up is Krissy, who has been my sewing buddy this past year. She focuses on truly "green" sewing by almost exclusively sewing with materials that are vintage, second-hand or recycled. I joke that I can make a dress in the time it takes her to make a dart, but she truly embraces the art of sewing and dots her "i's", crosses her "t's" and lines up her stripes.

The Facts
Fabric: Linen – 5 yards from Scrap – $2
Pattern: VPPL T7746 – borrowed
Notions: White buttons – $.10, buckle: borrowed
Year: c. 1934
Time to complete: About 10 hours

Total Cost: ~$2.10!

SW: How long have you been sewing? What inspired you to make your own dress this year?
Krissy: I first learned to sew when I was in high school and I sewed several pieces back then, but they were all really simple. I only knew how to work with elastic or zippers.  I started sewing again earlier this year for a few reasons: I made a vow to not buy any new clothes this year (all my clothes have to be thrifted or sewn myself), and I got inspired by hanging out with Mena who sews all the time.  Once I discovered the joy of searching for vintage fabric and patterns, I was hooked.  I also really love the sustainable aspect of reusing old fabric and notions.  And I finally taught myself how to make buttonholes.

I wanted to make my own dress this year because it's difficult and expensive to find a vintage dress from the '30s.  Plus we had the nautical theme to achieve, so sewing my own frock made the most sense.
How did you find your patttern? (I know the answer, but you can just say you made it from sight)I left my Gatsby preparation until the last minute so I relied on borrowing patterns from Mena.  The hat pattern and dress pattern are from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

SW: How long did it take you to make your dress?
Krissy: I sew very slowly and don't really keep track of time.  I'd guess it took me 10 hours to make this dress, but it would go much more quickly for anyone else.  I enjoy the process of sewing and get a little lost in it.  I made the dress over three or four days.

SW: What was the total cost?
Krissy: I scored about five yards of this printed linen for less than $2.  The red linen for the hat was maybe $0.25.  I found the buttons in a button box I bought at the Alameda Antiques Fair for a few dollars.  I borrowed the belt buckle and patterns and already had the nylons, garter belt and shoes.  The leather gloves I wore cost $7, bringing the total for the whole outfit to about $10.

SW: What was the hardest part?
Krissy: The dress pattern is very simple and easy to make.  I took in the sides a bit, but I wish I knew something about pattern altering because it could have fit better.  Finding buttons was difficult because it called for 12 buttons of more than an inch in diameter that looked era-appropriate.  These shell buttons were at the bottom of my button stash and were the best match, but I only had five of them.  So I just sewed the rest of the bottom of the dress together.

SW: What would you do differently next year?
Krissy: I would start a little earlier in my preparation and try to find some nice accessories.  I'm thinking of buying some era-appropriate shoes.  It was a little bit of a bummer to have a hat and dress from the right era only to punctuate them with sad, anachronistic shoes.

SW: What was your favorite aspect of the dress?
Krissy: The dress was very comfortable to wear in the nice warm weather, and it was surprisingly fun to wear a bold red print.

Krissy

SW: One more thing. Tell us about the hat. 
Krissy: That $@^&ing hat.  I am no milliner.  I kept rereading the instructions and trying to wrap my head around what they were saying, but I don't really think in 3-D.  It was so frustrating.  The inside of the hat is completely unfinished and I tacked the bow on in the three minutes before I left my house.  I almost gave up, but I'm glad I didn't, because when else could I wear a ridiculous red topper like this?  

Author

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.

14 Comments

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  1. I love the fabric, the dress pattern, the color and the hat. You look so nice in it. You did a great job and have me wondering what else you have made. Do you up-cycle any of the 2 hand clothes you ware? I’d love to see pictures.

  2. Congratulations on sticking with the hat – it’s fabulous and really completes the outfit!

  3. The entire outfit is stunning, you have a great eye for putting things together. I’m always so jealous when I see how much it costs to pull these looks together.

  4. The dress is gorgeous–and so impressive for the little cost! :) I always love scrounging and getting the most bang for my sewing buck too, so it’s neat to see so many others doing the same! Loved reading this! :)
    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  5. I also love the pattern and fabric!

  6. Hi Sue, thanks so much for your kind words. I haven’t done much to the second hand clothes I’ve bought, beyond changing buttons and very basic repairs. I have taken a couple of nicer vintage dresses to get altered at a tailor and that was totally worth it!

  7. Thank you, Stella. I got so lucky finding that 5 yards of linen for so cheap!

  8. :) Thank you Suzanne.

  9. i love it! the hat is adorable! i’m so glad you didn’t give up on it.

  10. Beautiful Krissy! I absolutely love it.

  11. Hi Annie! Thanks and I hope to run into you soon. :)