Wednesday, May 15, 2013


The year is 1922 and America is in full swing in the Jazz Age. Nick Carraway (played by Tobey McGuire in the latest version of "The Great Gatsby") leaves the Midwest for New York in search of the American dream. He stumbles into a fascinating world of millionaires complete with their illusions, their loves, their lives and especially....the magnificence of their fashions.

Long before this film opened, it was already a huge commercial success. Fitzgerald's novel is renown for its references to one of the most flamboyant and elegant eras in fashion. Beading, lace, drop waists, and short skirts, all make for fun, flattering styles with generous doses of old fashion glamour. Anticipation for the film spawned trends all over Fall 2013 runways and beyond.

Brooks Brothers, Prada, Tiffany's have come up with exclusive lines inspired by the film. Even manufacturers of stockings, makeup and costume jewelry have gotten into the act.

For my postings this week, I was very inspired by the flapper girls of those times. This being 2013, however, I felt the need to remain in touch with current financial woes. My challenge was to create glamorous looks which are as lush as they are inexpensive and easy to make.

For the two looks created expressly for launch of the film in France, I went to a store called C&A (equivalent to Walmart in the US) where I found a pair of beaded pantyhose on sale for 4€50 and feather earrings for 5€. The second (beige) outfit was made from a cheap pair of panties I found at the farmer's market for a scant 2 €.

For the black outfit, cut off the part of the stocking with the beading and slide the doll inside. Pull up the stocking on each shoulder and pinch and hand stitch in place. Now, stretch the rest of the stocking so that it fits snug from the top of the hips to the knee then straight down and pin in place. Cut away the excess, leaving the upper part of the dress loose. Note how I have made a perpendicular line from the loose top to the slim hips at the back. The bottom edge of the back draped is pinched into a point and stitched shut. I glued on rhinestones to mark the tip and I stitched on one of the feathers and its chain from the earrings I bought.

I removed the other feathers and tacked them onto the dress under the knees, saving one on its chain for a necklace. The fingerless gloves are tiny tubes I cut and stitched directly on the doll. The headband is a bit of ribbon with hot glue rhinestones and the tiniest feather.

The beige outfit consists of a tunic over a skirt. I cut the panties in such a way to make use of the elastic. This is really one piece of fabric stretched over the doll's waist and hips. My hand stitching was not so pretty, so I cut designs out of the lace and stitched them over the seam.

For the tunic...I begin with the bodice slopers. I ignore the darts and lengthen the slopers at the waist to my desired length. In my case it's +1 1/4 inch. (Check to make sure the front and back side seams are equal.) I cut a V-neck at the back which is 1/2 inch down the CB. Add seam allowance only at the shoulder and side seams. I did this because I intend to roll very tiny edges under.

It is best to hand sew this due to the fragile nature of the fabric. Roll the neck and armholes in and glue in place. When you are finished, you can add a border by cutting out designs from a length of the lace and stitching onto the hem (that's how I got the geometric edging.) I added a few tiny sequins as well as a bit of soft glitter glue to give the lace a subtle sparkle in spots. (Unfortunately you cannot see it in the photo.) But it is an easy way to add a touch of sparkle without beads. The back is closed only at the top and marked with the bow (from the underpants). Otherwise, it is left open, thus allowing the skirt to show at the back.

We're not finished with Gatsby yet!!! Next up....our Flapper Girls are on the fringe!!!! Stay tuned!!!

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