Gatsby Dress | A Modern Ode to the Roaring 20’s

Gatsby Dress | A Modern Ode to the Roaring 20’s

The Gatsby dress is a brand new pattern from Heidi & Finn . I’m over the moon about it! It reminds me of all the things I love about the flapper era.

The 1920’s were a time of unprecedented wealth and luxury. If you ever drive through downtown Tulsa, you’ll see remnants of the second oil boom that established Tulsa as the oil capital of the world then.

Some of the historical buildings are now being restored. Details are easy to miss if they’ve been painted over or neglected. Look for gilded ceilings, arches and steeples, mosaic glass, domes, fountains, statues, and geometric sculpture. To me, the allure is ornamental details that serve no functional purpose. Some people think Art Deco architecture is gaudy, but I think it’s fun to imagine having so much money that you have to find ways to get rid of it.

Prohibition birthed speakeasies and an air of defiance. Restrictive garments of the past were replaced by looser clothing that allowed free movement. Hems got shorter; waistlines dropped. Girls bobbed their hair and preferred a boyish silhouette, challenging the femininity that was expected of them.

Women voted. They lived by themselves for the first time. They learned to drive. Some entered the workforce. They fought for child labor laws and equal education for women. They were doing things that only men did before.

Store bought women’s clothing became available for the first time, but almost every home had a sewing machine in it. The majority of women’s fashion was still handmade.

And that’s my bridge into the sewing portion of this post…

I wanted  fabrics rich in texture to showcase this dress. I used crushed panne. The Gatsby dress pattern calls for stretch lace at the bottom skirt panel and the bodice top, but I wanted lace sleeves too. There’s not a functional purpose for them, therefore lace sleeves are my “gilded ceilings”!

I added sequins to the collar. Given more time, I would’ve put a sequin in the center of every flower on the lace. Too much was never enough in the roaring 20’s!

The Gatsby dress is a quick, easy sew. It’s made with knit fabric and features an a-line or slim variation. It’s a kid friendly design with versatile fit.

You may remember Isabelle as a fashion contributor in my Tween Sewing Survival Guide. She is modeling the a-line version Gatsby dress  in size 10/12.

I have a fun question for my friends and readers. If you could be a young woman during any time in history, what period would you choose?

I know I wouldn’t choose the flapper era because the style is horrible on me. Totally vain, but I’m being honest. I wouldn’t choose the 60’s either. I could never live in a van with hippies, no matter how good the drugs were. I’m undecided, but dying to hear your thoughts!

About The Author

Amy Mayen

Hello. I'm Amy and I'm addicted to sewing. I borderline-hoard fabric, buttons, & patterns. Sometimes I wish I could pile my fabric up on the floor and just roll in it!


  1. Terri Lin (Sew Straight and Gather)

    Oh my godness! I didn’t even realize this was yours Amy! It’s beautiful! I don’t know how I missed it on my Google + Feed??
    Great job! I love the Lace! I love all things lace. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I am in desperate need of a Leonardo DeCaprio fix.

  2. Karly

    LOVE the dress! Your daughter is beautiful and this dress looks stunning on her!

  3. Alisha

    I just love this and your daughter is just gorgeous! I can’t sew a button on a shirt so I’d be that person buying everything from your Etsy Shop! LOL Having a ball perusing through your site and ooooing and aaahhhing over the fact that you have some awesome skills!
    Alisha recently posted…MANICure Monday | Blue Rose & Silver Polka DotsMy Profile

  4. thisblogisnotforyou

    Woah, do you have a new model? :) I love that dress and I’d definitely wear it myself if it was my size :D I love the flapper era, but I’d probably choose cheesy Jane Austen Victorian era – so many pretty white dresses :)
    thisblogisnotforyou recently posted…Self-drafted bridesmaid dressMy Profile

  5. Ajaire

    The dress is lovely Amy! Did the pattern have any sleeves or did you add them completely? I have this romantic idea in head of the late 1800s. Things were so difficult then, but there’s something to be said about the pay off of a hard worked life. I just don’t know if I’d be so keen to give up my modern luxuries. Like lighting haha.
    Ajaire recently posted…My Favorite Posts of 2013 – A Look BackMy Profile

  6. Rachel

    Beautiful dress! I’m not sure when I would pick. Some eras fashion appeals to me, but the lifestyle they would have implied don’t!
    Rachel recently posted…Fast and Fun Circle DressMy Profile

  7. Angela Bullard

    So sophisticated!!

    I bought fabric for dresses and skirts for Princess and myself so I may need your help at some point :)
    Angela Bullard recently posted…Now Showing…My Profile

  8. Danice

    Oh how cute the dress pattern is! The Roaring ’20’s era was sure interesting and politically charged. Women voting, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol in the speakeasy, for the time era that was very brow-raising. ‘Not sure which era I would choose to have lived in. ‘Love the 40’s fashions, but that was also a war era with war rations on fabrics, zippers, and buttons. Thank you for the excellent post :)
    Danice recently posted…Win from Crafty Texas GirlsMy Profile

  9. Gina

    p.s. your hair piece/mini fascinator is fabulous too!!!!

  10. Gina

    you knocked this dress out of the park Friend!!! i especially love the lace sleeve and sequins around the collar details. it is a perfect fit on Isabelle! my favorite fashion era is the 50’s, no contest! i watch Mad Men just to see the clothes:)

  11. Pam @Threading My Way

    Is stretch lace hard to sew? You’ve done an awesome job combining the lace and stretch fabric. As a young woman, I could totally have worn the 20s dresses, but wouldn’t want to have lived then without equal rights. As a teenager in the 60s, I LOVED the bright psychedelic clothes. Ha, ha… you could wear them without being a hippy. I also loved the Indian clothes made from cheesecloth… sheer blouses covered in embroidery and long, flowing dresses worn with JC sandals. Being a young woman in the 70s, we had almost total freedom to wear whatever we wanted. Pants became an accepted piece of clothing for women, even if they were a separate piece of clothing and not worn as part of a slack suit. The length of dresses and skirts became shorter and shorter. Bikinis became smaller and smaller. We really did have freedom that women before us did not have. That’s not to say I’d like to wear the clothes now. Each era has it’s clothes that looked good and those which need to stay in the past. I think I’d love to go back to the 60s, with my worn JC leather sandals and cheesecloth clothes, although now I’d be wearing a camisole underneath… LOL!!! Not sure that I like to hear the 60s called history!!!
    Pam @Threading My Way recently posted…Friendship Bracelet Kit…My Profile

  12. Hannah Elizabeth Smith

    I want a grown up version of this dress!
    Hope you are well and having a wonderful Christmas xxx

  13. Amy of while wearing heels

    Loved this dress. You are so talented. Do you ever get sick of hearing that? I also enjoyed reading your historical synopsis about the 20s.

    Like you, I would like to be part if the style from the 60s or 50s. Something Mad Men- esque.
    Amy of while wearing heels recently posted…The Big Christmas Card RevealMy Profile

  14. Tiffany

    Beautiful dress! I think it’s perfect for a teen, but the 1920s look probably wouldn’t look great on me.

    I think with any time period, you can enjoy something like the art or the fashion, but there is usually something about it that would make it a not so great time to live for many women. Eg. the 1920s gave many rights to white women, but not necessarily black women. So, I’m not sure what time period I would like. It’s really hard to pick!
    Tiffany recently posted…Sewing: Winter Jacket Adjustable Waist OptionsMy Profile

    • Amy Mayen

      That’s true. I was reading about Tulsa during that time. There was a black “Wall Street” which was a very affluent area-there was a huge riot and most of it was burned to the ground. Black and white were segregated in the factories and black side got the more dangerous, physical jobs. Segregation was still everywhere, and especially in Oklahoma there was a lot of racism. There was a big oil movement. But I didn’t touch on the big Klan movement there. They were likely a lot of the same people. I wanted to write about some of the darker aspects of the time, but didn’t since it was a kid project. I also left out the fact that women began publicly drinking illegal alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and um…”dating” a lot. I love reading about history, and it’s nice when you can get out and see it. It’s important to talk about the good and bad, because history repeats itself! Thanks for the thought provoking comment Tiffany!


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