Hot! Our Day at the Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2010

image from Given that the Gatsby Summer Afternoon was Sunday and I've been silent until today, you can surmise that my energy level was depleted significantly. As you may recall, the theme of our picnic for this year was "Gatsby by the Sea." We've already decided that the theme of next year will be "a picnic that doesn't require china, glassware, silverware and tables." This was the second year that we created a massive large picnic — while last year's was tiring to put together and take down, this one kicked our collective butts. All our hard work was rewarded with an "Honorable Mention" for large picnic ribbon, however.


Of everything, I was most proud of our dresses. All of the women (and the two girls) were wearing home-sewn garments. I sewed five of the outfits — for the women and the two girls and two of my girlfriends made their own. Because of this, we were all coordinated and period-correct (for the most part). But more importantly, we were all incredibly proud to have all created a piece of clothing that was something special. I will be interviewing Libett and Krissy, the gals who made their own dresses, in the upcoming days.

Here we are, from left to right: Maddie in the beach pajamas I sewed. Krissy in the dress she made. Me and my dress. Libett in the dress she made and my sister-in-law, Sarah, in the dress I made for her:

The Gals

The menu consisted of shrimp cocktail, three salads — a pasta, a cold beef and potato — and a trifle. My husband, as always, made an awesome feast. We even served the shrimp cocktails in shrimp cocktail glasses complete with icers. It was nice to do once, but probably never again (at least at a picnic).

And now the photos!


The happy group:

Group Photo


The view of my dress, front and back:



Our grand nautical style picnic. We brought everything from home:

The Picnic


Some folks eating:



The bottles I relabeled with original labels from the 1930s:



A view of the life preserver and napkins I decorated. Each place setting had an embroidered anchor and the name of the person.

Life Ringnapkin


Ben's delicious trifle:

Place Setting


Another view of some of the gals:



Krissy and Me. Maddie and her beach pajamas.

Maddie in her Beach Pajamas


My family:

Trott Family


Me and my husband. The girls dancing:



The Dunsmuir house where the picnic is held:

Dunsmuir House


Us, kissing. Me, contemplating:

KissMena, contemplative


The girls playing around with the life preserver:

Caught in a Ring


John and Krissy. Libett and Gil:

Libett & Gil


More folks eating:



Sarah, Abe and Greg. Andrew and me.

Andrew & Mena


Ben and John:

Ben and John


Our Lady of Gatsby, Pray for Us. The girls dancing:

The Girls

Until next year!


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. i am so jealous! the whole thing looks fabulous! and i really really want those beach pajamas! Did you use a pattern?

  2. This is beautiful and looks like so much fun! I am so jealous of those beach pajamas – any word on where to find a pattern?

  3. I’m going to be writing up the construction of the Beach Pajamas soon!

  4. That group photo is FANTASTIC!!

  5. I’m sure it was a ton of work, but your photographs are AMAZING. I am in awe.

  6. these photos fill me with joy! love the beach pajamas.

  7. Oh WOW! You made so many beautiful things! I absolutely adore your dress–it turned out fantastically! The beach pajamas and other dress are great! the little girls dresses are so adorable. AND you embroidered the napkins???? I’m speechless! It looks like you all had an amazing time! I can’t wait to move back to the states just so I can go to this :-)

  8. WOW! That’s incredible! What fun!

  9. Soooo wonderful! I am jealous as this looks like such a blast. My sister does vintage sewing too, but she goes to Jane Austin events. Perhaps some day I’ll do something along these lines. Great job and you all look lovely!

  10. Wow! Great job! All the details! Really great post, I’m glad you put up so many great photos. Can’t give enough compliments about this!!!

  11. This makes me want to host a themed picknic! The images are amazing.

  12. I’m the lucky lady who got to wear the beach pajamas and I can tell you I have never received so many compliments in my life. Bravo, Mena!

  13. You all looked beautiful. What a lovely day you must have had. The dresses and outfits were all amazing.

  14. These are wonderful – I want to go picnic!

  15. What fun and how beautiful you all look.

  16. It looks absotively posulutely AMAZING! Congrats on a job well done and a beautiful wrap-up of the event.

  17. Utterly sensational! What a fantastic feast for the senses. Congratulations on an outstanding job! :)

  18. Love the pictures! The party looks amazing! You’ve done an incredible job! Impressive, and it also looks like you’re having much fun!

  19. Ok, that is freakin’ INCREDIBLE! I’ve never seen anything like it. Although our town did do a period picnic this year but I missed it. You guys are beautiful and oh the details. Only Honorable Mention? What would 1st place look like? I cannot imagine what could out do your picnic.

  20. The event looks so glorious! I love how your dress turned out–the neckline is especially pretty. :)
    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  21. Oh my gosh, you did such an incredible job! Those pictures look amazing. What fun!

  22. WOW! Your creations are absolutely stunning, but the one you are wearing is my personal fave… you are amazing!

  23. You look amazing! Love everything. Have been looking foward to the pictures. Thanks so much. Amy

  24. While the dresses and every other detail are fantastic, Ben’s moustache is the highlight for me.

  25. Wow! Fantastic photos! The dresses are lovely and you look beautiful. And happy. So fun!

  26. what fun, you all look gorgeous & the dresses are fabulous, I wish we had something like Gatsby overhere. x

  27. You are the reason I was inspired to attend the Gatsby event myself for the first time this year after thinking about it for a long time. I had a small table and picnic for two that we my husband and I pulled together carrying everthing in just about did us in.
    Your dress really is lovely. My husband noticed the girls in the navy outfits first and I said, “hey that’s the girl I’ve been following on the internet”. Great job!

  28. jonathan belmares

    i whish i could sew i was admiring those dresses that day especially the red polka dot one, i loved your little girls i got a picture of them, they were too cute. MY friend who wore a nautical dress this year really wanted a photo with them. I was in charge of the costume closet this year and also brought a large picnic, yes it was quite butt kicking but much easier since we did have to carry the heavy items as far. Anything extra you have clothing wise that your not using for next year would be greatly appreciated at the closet for the day as im sure i will be donating my collection again next year.

  29. CONGRATS ON THE RIBBON! Wonderful job on the picnic, the outfits and the dresses! You are truly amazing and thanks for sharing all your great photos too. I love the red and white dress that Krissy is wearing….
    Anyone can attend next year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon next year, we are set for 2011 for Sept. 11 (Sunday of course) at the same location, the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland CA.
    This event is produced by the Art Deco Society of Califorina and managed by a dedicated group of volunteers. We always need new volunteers each year, so please let us know if you are interested in helping out. Jonathan especially needs smart folks to help at the Jay Gatsby Costume Closet (see above note). You are all welcome to visit our web site, or our facebook pages to become a fan and check out membership. We would love you to consider attending out Art Deco Preservation Ball May 7th 2011 at the Berkeley City Club. Another excuse to dress up in vintage, but in formal attire with more dancing to the RSJO, the Decobelles and more!
    Heather Ripley
    Gatsby Summer Afternoon Event Chair 2010

  30. Mena,
    Once again, you did an incredible job! You completely captured the spirit in every detail!
    We would love those that are following your blog to come to our events as well. While it is true that you could do a “simple picnic” next year…without having to haul so many things in…I hope you will feel rested up by Septemer 11,2011 and will do another amazing “scene” such as the seaside elegant picnic you created this year…and the elegant birthday-at-Gatsby Summer Afternoon from last year.
    One of these years I hope you will be able to bring home the silver champagne bucket trophy !
    No one would be more deserving!
    In the meantime, I want to echo the Event Chair, Heather Ripley in encouraging you to think about joining the fun at the Art Deco Preservation Ball May 7,2011. 1920s-1940s Night time Glamour…and for that you need not bring any silver,china,tables or chairs! Just your beautifully dressed selves!
    Facebook: art deco society of california
    Thank you Mena, we all love your photos and writeups!
    Laurie Gordon