Hot! The ‘Great Gatsby Affair’ Dress | Debi Fry

The Facts

Fabric: 2 metres of 100% cotton, £14; 1 metre of gingham fabric,  £6; 1/4 metre white silk, £3
Pattern: McCall 7403
Year: c. 1934
Notions: zipper, £1.00, 6 buttons from stash (a gift), free, vintage handmade belt (recovered), £1.00
Time to complete: 15 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes–though I don't think it will get a heavy rotation!

Total Cost: ~£25

I was so very excited for the challenge this week–because I was very lucky to be able to stop in San Francisco enroute to visiting my family and I was able to attend the Gatsby Summer Picnic!!!  It was the perfect day. I was so happy to finally get to meet Mena, Christine, Shannon and Xandra!!  

Picture 1
Awhile back, I had a poll on my blog for which dress I should make for the event.  McCall 7403 was the clear winner.  I was a bit in a panic because I didn't actually get to start the dress until the day BEFORE the picnic! Eep.  Luckily, I had contacted the Sewing Workshop in San Francisco and I was able to get in to use their sewing machines for part of the day.  Karine, the owner, was so lovely and accommodating! I got up on Saturday at 4:30am to cut out my fabric and grade the pattern, then I went to the studio and sewed up every seam I could for the next 6 hours.  The next day, which was the day of the picnic, I got up really early to hand finish the remaining parts of the dress which included hemming and attaching the collar, attaching the buttons, putting in the zipper and hemming the dress.  I finished exactly 30 minutes before Mena came to pick me up for the picnic!!! Phew!

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I absolutely ADORE this pattern.  It was very easy to grade and put together (stop by my blog later in the week as I'll be hosting a giveaway for this pattern).  Like most early 30's McCall patterns, I found that it was brilliantly drafted.  I really loved the interesting details of the yoke and matching hip v-line.  The back closure, the great collar and sleeves also have really unique details.  I chose to make the neck yoke in red and white gingham and the rest of the dress in pure white.  It seemed the perfect combination for a summer picnic.  I actually decided on these fabric choices to match the red buttons I already had in my stash.

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I also really love the style of belt for this dress.  It's actually looped through a buckle and buttoned on each side.  I used an old handmade belt I found in a vintage store for £1.00 and recovered it with the gingham fabric.  I cut the buckle off (which was a self-cover buckle) and took it apart.  I was going to try and recover it but it was too difficult without some sort of adhesive.  At the last minute I borrowed a beaded bracelet from my friend and twisted into a figure eight and used that as my 'buckle'.  It worked beautifully.  I'm so glad I had it because I think the belt really helps to break up the dress and add a bit more colour!


The picnic was so much fun. I felt completely in my element.  The photo above is of Mena, Christine and myself all in our handmade dresses.  Mena brought an extra parasol for me to use (thank goodness because it was very sunny).


The house and grounds of the Dunsmuir Hellman Historical Estate were absolutely stunning! It was also so great to be at an event where every single person was dressed in styles from the late 1920's and early 1930's.  

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It was great to enjoy a picnic surrounding by people that enjoyed the same time period and who put so much thought into the day.  It was so much fun to just walk around and see the various picnic settings, outfits, and vintage cars.

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Oh, I wish every day were Gatsby day :)  What about you?  Do you like the styles from the late 20's / early 30's?  Have you ever been to a costumed event where everyone dressed up?


Debi from My Happy Sewing Place

Debi Fry LOVES vintage patterns. She started sewing in 2009 and has been going since. In 2011, she participated in the Sew Weekly challenge and looks forward to the new challenges that lie in store!


Comments are closed.

  1. Wow! Debi – you look incredible and it looks like you ladies had a ton of fun at the picnic! Love the gingham detail on the neckline!

  2. How lovely! I so want this pattern now! I’ve never been to a Gatsby event but I do love the Renaissance Festival, and while not everyone is dressed up, there are tons of people who are!

  3. The Great Gatsby is my all-time favourite novel. I wouldn’t mind living in Gatsbyland for a day.

  4. Debi you really are the most amazing sewist I can think of! I can’t believe you made that in so little time. If I had waited until the day before I would have been so nervous that I wouldn’t have been able to sew at all.
    I love the details of this era…just fantastic! Someday I will sew SOMETHING from that early on.

  5. You are amazing, Debi!! Well done!!

  6. Jonathan belmares

    what a great story your dress is lovely i run the costume closet i been doing it for the past 2 years and being a non sewer i really envy you girls who make ur own dresses for this event i whish i could have some beautiful dresses like that for my closet

  7. Oh that looks just fantastic on you, great job, you really look the part! I bet being at an event like that is quite something, almost akin to time travel.
    I have recently started taking an interest in styles of this period and love the cuts and details, I would definitely wear them and plan on making something soon, especially as I’ve just got a bunch of pattern magazines from then!

  8. I LOVE the 20s! In fact, for my 30th birthday party I had a full themed party. Sent my 20s packin’ in Roaring 20s style! Period dress, music, food, and we drank our liquor from teacups! It was the most fun, so I totally understand wanted every day to be like that. Great dress, Debi!

  9. Awe inspiring. . .especially that part about starting the day before.

  10. You’ve definitely done justice to the pattern Debi. It’s lovely. Such fine detailing. Clever with the belt fix too.

  11. what a fabulous pattern! I so want it! Can’t believe you only started the day before the event. It’s so awesome that the dress turned out fantastic!

  12. Phew!! you were really pushing it time wise, I believe you work excellently under pressure Debi the dress is brilliant as are the photos of you three wonderfully talented dressmakers.

  13. Love seeing these dresses on real bodies. (Has any human being ever been shaped like those drawings?) Tremendous job and darling combination of fabric and trims.

  14. Oh my gosh, I was sitting in the picnic spot next to you and I thought your dress was so gorgeous and you looked so lovely! I had total dress envy! I wish next year you could help me with MY outfit because mine was so ho hum! Great job!

  15. OH! I saw you both!!! Your little boy’s sailor outfit was SO ADORABLE!!! I loved your matching outfit! Ooooohhhh…I am so bummed we didn’t get to meet!!!!

  16. :( Next year for sure as I will have no one to go with. Was a bit dismayed that Asher did not win for best kid. Already dreaming up our matching outfits for next year…. Your hair and make up, by the way, were sublime.

  17. OHHH amazing! Great dress, I too love all that detail: the sleeves, the shapes, the yoke! The collar!! Wow, well done Debi, and especially well done to be sewing on your HOLIDAY! Nice work with your deadline! I would have frozen in fear! xoxo

  18. I have a gorgeous photo of most of you ladies from the costume contest. Let me know if you’d like me to e-mail to you!

  19. You are a sewing inspiration – way to meet a deadline! You and the dress look amazing, I hope you had an incredible day!