Hot! The “Waah waah waaaaahhh” Dress | Sarah Gabbart

Gatsby fail

Contrary to what this photo might make you believe – I'm not 8 months pregnant.

The Facts 

Fabric: 3.5 yards of Liberty from my stash (arg!)
Pattern: Folkwear 1927 Tea Frock
Year: c. 
Notions: None
Time to complete: about 3.5 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? No, but I will cut this sucker up and make it into something I will wear!

Total Cost: ~$100

Oh drop waists, why must you be so unflattering on my pear-shaped figure! I found the cutest pattern at an AWESOME fabric shop – Bolt – on my recent trip to Portland, Oregon, and thought "That will look great on me! Let's do this!" 

Upon returning, I grabbed some Liberty from my stash and started working. The pattern wasn't very difficult – I even made my own bias tape used it on both the neckline and the armholes. I decided to do view A , which features these adorable flutter sleeves. Mistake! They, coupled with the ankle length skirt, make me look like an old lady (and I forgot to snap a photo – dang!!). I ripped them out and tried a sleevless version with a shorter skirt. Still no dice.

With time rapidly running out on this week's challenge (and a migraine sprinkled in there for good measure!), I'm calling this week a wash. Dress – not gonna work!

I started a new version – this time from the Sorbetto pattern like Mena did here - and made a cute little gingham muslin just to check the fit.

MuslinPlease ignore the wrinkles – it's a muslin!

Much better but still not on the mark. I'm going to keep trying though! I want a 1920s/1930s dress to wear to here! I'll keep you guys updated on the progress… fingers crossed for a Gatsby-worthy dress in my near future!


Sarah Gabbart


Comments are closed.

  1. So sorry about the Liberty fabric. It’s beautiful and so worth saving. Thanks for sharing a project that didn’t work out. I too have put on something that I made, looked into a mirror and said to myself (in that wonderfully dry way that the English have in all the movies I love), “well, that was an unfortunate choice.” Good luck with next week!

  2. I am hearing you re the drop waisted pears problem, I think a fishtail skirt of some kind is recommended for our figure type, those 1920’s/30’s fashion illustrators used extremely stylized figures when drawing their women, nobody really looked that much like a string bean

  3. love your framed scissor collection, and the fabric!

  4. 20s patterns like that make everyone cranky. They’re just so unflattering! I guess that’s why everyone else made 30s patterns. That’s too bad about the liberty fabric, it makes me cry a little.

  5. Honestly, I think it looks good – you look like photos I’ve seen from the 1920s. (Photos, not fashion illustrations!) Women had hips then, too, and in my eyes you look right. :)

  6. wait’ll you see what the 50s sewing book i dug up in banff has to say about pear shaped figures. apparently, there is NO hope for us.
    it seems to me you have a couple separates there- slice that jammy in half! gorgeous top, and high waisted skirt. take in that (very cool) drop waist a little, slap a wide belt on it and you’ll have one of those paper bag effects at the top, but l miracle du cinch!

  7. No idea how to make that one work but I wanted to tell you that often when I have a nice fabric wadder I make my dd an outfit or dress out of it. That little bugger can pull of any shape.

  8. I think Oona is on to something here, I think this could definitely be turned into separates. Thanks for sharing your struggles with this challenge, and all the best for next week!

  9. I made about 8 dresses out of this same pattern for a production of “Chicago” (used it for the prison uniforms for the “He Had it Coming” girls), and I think the trick is that you need to make the dropped waist band large enough that the whole dress actually drops freely to the band. If the band is “too big” for your hips, it won’t be snug there and you won’t have the fabric pooling above the band making you look pregnant. Don’t know if you have enough fabric left to remake the band or piece it, but it might save the dress. I’d post pictures here of the examples I made if I could figure out how.

  10. I hate it when nothing works! I always tell myself; at least I learned something right? RIGHT?!

  11. There were more styles aside from the dropwaist that were noteworthy in the 20s that may be more flattering. An empire waist or a shirt waist perhaps? You can also opt to omit the waist all together and put emphasis at the collar and the dress fit very straight, slim through the hip. That would be historically accurate and equally flattering. If you insist on a dropwaist, though, you’d have more luck if you ruched the sides or took in the sides so that they hug your hips and there is no bulk on the upper half. The gathers should be placed at the sides and back and not the front (which could explain the sack thing that’s going on). It looks like you’re having more of a fit issue if anything. Anywho… Good luck!

  12. What if you cut the top part on the bias and added more volume to the skirt part by cutting it as a circle skirt? It would probably hang much more nicely and be more flattering.
    Or turn it into a nice blouse and a nice skirt.

  13. Blerg! I’m a total pear, and I feel your pain. But like others mentioned, it does look like you’ve enough to salvage the dress into a top & skirt, even if it’s not 20s style. A Halloween costume once proved that my curves make for a horrible flapper.

  14. Love, LOVE the 1950s New Look, but it is not friendly to my figure. I’ve found that the early to mid 1940s seems to work for me. Aren’t we lucky that we can choose our eras? Embrace what works for you! Don’t let the skinny flappers from an illustrator’s imagination get you down!

  15. Clarissa Henderson

    Sad for you that this didn’t work. I’m always so disappointed when that happens. Thank you for posting though, as it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in this. Looking forward to your next creation :)

  16. oh honey. i hear ya. pear to the core, over here. i got this dress on clearance at anthropologie and i loooooove it. it’s not precisely of a 20s/30s style, but it can fake it. otherwise, i’d go with mena’s style of dress, with a defined waist. i try to think of our shape as a flower in bloom, not a pear. so much better.
    full length side:
    i don’t love those pictures of me, but i am sacrificing my vanity for your benefit. ;)
    the back is plain, center zip.
    at another wedding, i pulled half my hair back with a little twist, and stuck the feather thingy in that. much better.

  17. Oh no! Not the liberty! I agree with Oona that you could totally salvage the fabric. And omg. that art bar is fabulous! You must go there in your new creation!!!!

  18. This is kind of similar to what is happening with my efforts this week. Well, I’ll post mine too. Love the fabric though. It’ll be nice to see it salvaged.

  19. Hi Helen! I know! I was like NOOOO – not Liberty! Wasting a scrap of fabric makes me want to cry! I will absolutely be salvaging every bit I can for something else! Also, I love the English – they have dry wit down to a science!

  20. Amen Trish! I keep trying to tell myself that these are illustrations and that not all women look like that in the 1920s/30s! But alas, I keep thinking “I have flapper hair! I will be a flapper.” LOL
    Also, fishtails FTW! I love that cut – I need to explore that for my new 1920s dress!

  21. Thank you so much! The scissors were left to my by my great aunt who passed away last year – I decided to frame all the scissors as an homage to her!

  22. YES! Now I see the wisdom in the 1930s choices – they were totally on to something with these more flattering cuts!
    The garment fail on the Liberty makes me want to cry to – I’m saving it somehow!

  23. Thank you so much Nuranar – you have made my week!

  24. Bwhahaha! A friend once found a 50s pattern – for children – that had a “Suitable for chubbies!” button on it and I died laughing. The 1950s were not light on the criticism!
    I totally agree! I think I can salvage this or at very least cut it up and make something 100% more flattering!

  25. Hee hee hee – I have a good friend who has that going on! Looks great in anything!

  26. I agree Amber – this sucker can be saved yet!
    Thank you for saying that – it’s sometimes hard to know if you should be like, “I’ll make this look great!” or if you should just cut your losses and own up to a craftastrophe. I went with showing the whoopsie! situation I found myself in – many times it’s a “YESS! Swish!” situation, others it’s a fail!

  27. Wow! Costumes for Chicago – that sounds incredible!
    Thank you so much for the help on this – that sounds like EXACTLY what I need to make this work as a dress or to make the next version better!

  28. YES! It’s always a learning opportunity and I always leave a crafting fail with a lesson!

  29. Hello Color and Light! Your comment sent me straight to Google to find more flattering styles from that era – thank you so much for your help! I love the idea of one smooth garment and think I might have found inspiration!

  30. Thanks Cat! I love the idea of a circle skirt – might have to make that happen!

  31. I have done the same thing! And I was like 15lbs lighter at the time – I was a flapper for Halloween and was like “On noes. This is not for me.” Then I did it again with this dress – will we never learn!?!
    Top and skirt seems like the way to go – I am going to rip this sucker out and remake!

  32. Yes Jeanne Marie! I love that we can choose which era suits us – it’s so difficult to be tied to one time!
    I think I’m more of a 1940s gal myself – I like trousers and tops that make me look like a lady pilot!

  33. Absolutely! Thank you so much for saying that! I know that through my sewing history, I have felt many times that all these sewists were amazing and thought I was inadequate because I tend to screw things up. Then sewing blogs became big and I found a whole community of folks who were just like me: they love sewing, aren’t perfect and always learning something!
    Craftastrophies are just part of the hobby. I once taught a beginner sewing class where I pulled out a garment I recently messed up and the class went bananas – they were super happy to know everyone messes up, no matter how long they have been sewing, and it made them more relaxed.

  34. WOW! That dress is beautiful – you look stunning!
    Flower in bloom – I am so going to make that my new mantra!

  35. Thanks lady! My good friend is getting married there in November, so my new goal is 1920’s style dress in time for that wedding!

  36. Awesome Jen! I would love to see your creation and I will absolutely salvage this fabric, I love it!

  37. Clarissa Henderson

    “Craftastrophies” I am so using that word from now on :D

  38. Two words Sarah: Stomach darts :D No, not really. I temporarily mourn your Liberty fabric but it is only temporary because I have faith in your ability to turn it around into something awesome! I do love that you have 3.5 yards of Liberty fabric in your stash, that alone gives you several hero points in my book. And I like your flapper hair. And I am jealous that Houston is awesome and has awesome things. Trade you a giant rocking horse for an Art Bar??

  39. Oh dear! (but I adore the craftastrophies of this as well!)
    I am super scared about expensive material! BUT! You could totally do separates! xoxo

  40. Bwhahaha! Please do – the first time I heard it I laughed so hard I cried!

  41. HA! YES – I need some stomach darts for sure!
    Also, will trade for the rocking chair, but you also have to take the terrible climate. Deal? Sweet – send over some rain asap!

  42. It make me so nervous to cut nice material – for this reason! But if this is the worst that can happen, I think I can conquer this fear – this fabric is totally savable!