Still Loving the 1920s – Drop Waist Dress

1st photo courtesy of:  Ar Baurial, Sept. 1929; 2nd photo courtesy of Yours Truly

1st photo courtesy of Ar Baurial, Sept. 1929; 2nd photo courtesy of Yours Truly, Aug. 2013

After sewing and researching my Great Gatsby 1920s/30s Beach Pajamas, I really fell in love with 1920s fashions.  I wanted to make a drop waist dress this time and found a free online pattern for a Great Gatsby inspired top by Sew Be it Studios here.

Drop Waist Dress PatternsWhen I printed it out in adobe, I shrunk the pages slightly and used the “fit to page” option.  I cut the X-Small, and it was still far too big.  I had to take off approximately 10 cm (4″) from the back (2″ from each side of the back pieces) and I also made it longer so that I could wear it as a dress, with a slip, or as a top, on its own.Climbing a Tree postage stampI inserted a centre lapped zipper in the back, but did not lap it very much (on purpose) as I wanted to see the line of navy down the back that the zipper adds.  I liked the design element this provided.  However, I was not sure how to ‘end’ the zipper at the bottom, since it was not lapped right into the seam allowance, so I just tapered down to nothing on both sides.  I need to research how to insert an exposed zipper and next time, will insert it properly.1920s Drop Waist Dress BackI also added a vintage gold button and fabric loop closure at the top of the back of the dress.  I finished the seams with lace seam binding.  I’ve never done this before and really liked the effect, especially with the dainty floral fabric pattern.

Seam Finishing with Lace Seam Binding / Back Zipper and Vintage Button with Fabric Loop Closure

Seam Finishing with Lace Seam Binding / Back Zipper and Gold Vintage Button with Fabric Loop Closure

1920s Drop Waist Dress with ShadowsI think it is definitely reminiscent of the 1920s and reminds me of this vintage dress from the 20’s that I found online.

Drop Waist 1920s Dress with Underslip1920s amongst the flowersThe pattern called for use of a lace netting in semi-circular shaped pieces on the shoulders, but I thought these would look too costume-y and it would also be difficult to wear a jacket over top of them.  So, instead, I sewed the pieces out of the dress fabric, two for each shoulder, then turned them right side out after sewing them together. Pleated Shoulder PieceI pleated them first, ironed them flat and basted the pleats, then sewed them to both shoulders.

1920s Drop Waist Dress Climbing a TreeOf course, Kitty became interested in the tree photo shoot and started to stalk the scene.1920s Drop Waist Dress Climbing a Tree with KittyCat Bombed UP A TREE!!  Who Else Can Say That?

Cat Bombed UP A TREE!!  Who Else Can Say That?

117 thoughts on “Still Loving the 1920s – Drop Waist Dress

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks Kristin!! I’m completely addicted to my photo collage maker. I actually wore this for the second Sewing Bloggers Meet-up last week-end. Missed you there, this time!

  1. Charlotte Witherspoon says:

    Kitty! A very “anything you can do, I can do better” sort of cat, yes?

    I love the drop-waist on you. I’m personally deathly afraid of it, but think you carry it off splendidly. You look like you just wandered out of the chicest 1920s party.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Ha! Yes, Kitty refuses to accept that kitties aren’t supposed to be able to do some things. I have really taken a shining to 1920s fashions and hope to dig around and sew up some more. I’m delighted you think I can carry it off! I don’t think you should be deathly afraid!! Although I’ve heard people say this before, what do you think makes it scary? And, what a compliment about the chic 1920s party. I actually wish that were true. Sadly, it was just Kitty and I in the backyard….

      • Charlotte Witherspoon says:

        Kitty is currently making grand time machine plans. Just you wait.

        Oh, drop waists. I think it is impossibly fabulous on other people, but would make me look like a potato sack. I suppose we, the magazine consumers, have gotten the waist-definition-unless-you’re-a-model message drilled into our heads for a solid decade.

        • Gjeometry says:

          Oh, ok. Yes, it’s the lack of waist definition people fear. For me, I am ‘flute shaped’. I used to say tube shaped (not attractive sounding) until I read this description and LOVED it! So, it seems that this is a good shape for the drop waist, since that’s the shape it is emphasizing anyway. (And, yes, some days, Kitty frightens me….be afraid…be very, very afraid). 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Chuleenan! I was pretty pleased with the sewing, I get so awed by pics I see of others’ makes where the inside looks as good as the outside and I was giving it a go for this dress. The zipper is not perfect at the bottom (I wasn’t sure how to ‘end’ it, at the bottom of the zipper, since it was not really lapped into the seam allowance, so I sort of tapered to a point, then turned and sewed up the other side. If you know how to end the zipper more appropriately, when it’s not lapped right into the seam allowance, please let me know).

  2. Kristin says:

    This is so fantastic! All of the tiny details add up to one incredible dress. The polka dots (I think?) underneath the floral gives it so much dimension. And even though the zipper didn’t exactly work as planned, you’re right, it just adds another layer and it matches the darker print so perfectly. I didn’t even notice the sleeves until you pointed them out, and they look phenomenal!

    Of course, Kitty stole the show. 😉

    I’m so glad you posted this because I really loved the 20s dress I made a few months ago, and I wanted to do more (and a set of beach pajamas – completely inspired by you) but it’s sort of gotten pushed to the side. Maybe I’ll find some time this weekend to get started on another project.

    Great job as always!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Oh, wow, thanks Kristin!! And, doesn’t Kitty always steal the show?? Yes, the slip underneath is navy and white polka dots. Thought it complimented the tiny florals of the dress nicely. I wanted the zipper to be exposed so you could see it, so I selected the navy colour on purpose. However, I just didn’t know how to ‘end’ it at the bottom of the zipper. Normally, a lapped zipper is inserted into the seam allowances, but since this one was so close to the edge, I had to just taper off at both sides at the bottom, instead of lapping over the seam allowances, sewing across the bottom and sewing back up the other side. I think perhaps I would have had to do a proper ‘exposed zipper’ insertion, as this was still a centre lapped zipper insertion, just with very little fabric lapping over the zipper. Hope that makes sense! 🙂 Any ideas, feel free to let me know.

      • sati5000 says:

        Oh, I see! Ha, I didn’t realize at first that you wanted part of the zipper exposed and I just thought the navy coloring was a brilliant accident.

        Hm, I’m thinking that doing an exposed zipper insertion would have been the way to end it even though it’s lapped because of where it ended in the pattern. That being said, I’m sure you can’t tell that it tapers off, especially since the bottom is gathered. (At least, I tried finding it in the pictures and could not tell) I mean, if the zipper isn’t going to “disappear” into a seam allowance, I would think it should be sewn as an exposed zipper just to have the proper finishing. That’s a really good question that I hadn’t thought of before!

  3. Brooke says:

    Such a sweet dress! I love all the little interesting details – especially the shoulder pieces out of the same fabric! And those shoes just complete the look so perfectly!

    And of course Kitty just makes the great photos even better. So fun!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Brooke! I was happy with how the shoulder embellishments (I don’t know what to call them) came out. I like it more than the semi circles of netting the pattern wanted you to use. Yes, I thought the shoes looked totally 1920s, like vintage Mary Janes.

  4. larart29 says:

    Oh, wow! You look so pretty! ♥ And I love the silhouette the drop waist gives you. 😀 Admittedly I had never really understood what a ‘drop waist’ was. I heard about it, but never bothered looking it up. But it is so cute!

    Thank you for sharing this with us! ♥♡♥

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks so much Lara! I like the drop waist, as well. I know many folks run in fear of it, but I think it’s flattering and really easy to wear. And, obviously very comfortable since nothing presses on your waist!

  5. Boomdeeadda says:

    I adore your style, your photo shoots, your Kitty and by George that sassy little dress. I’m a total fan of the 20’s fashion, especially the shoes. You’ve managed to make it really hip too. I like the front hem line that shows the co-ordinated under slip, that just rocks.

    The B&W comparison to the 1920’s girl was a great artistic touch, so clever and fun. Even if I never sew a thing, it’s great fun to visit.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Aw, Thank You Boomdee! I love the 20s fashions as well, I think they have a lovely vintage feel but are still so wearable, comfortable and can look very modern. I’m so pleased you noticed my black and white photo montage. I am currently addicted to my photo collage maker and am loving spicing up my blog with my attempt at a more artistic approach. I’m enjoying trying to add a ‘spin’ to my blog, so that it’s more fun to read than strictly sewing.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you very much Em!! I went for practicality with the layering because I can remove the under-slip and wear it like a top with jeans or trousers. I do love practical. 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Melody!! I do love a good print mash-up :). I once posted something to New Zealand and it took more than 10 weeks!! So, yours was actually very quick! And, thanks again for posting it.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you so much! I think more people should try the drop-waist then it may be more popular as I had a very difficult time trying to find a pattern for this style.

  6. Missy says:

    I love it, Gjeometry! I’ve been wanting to do a modern twist on the drop waist dress after I made the Burda one for my Downton Abbey party, so I might give this one a shot 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank You Viv! I did have fun with the pics. Both taking them (I got to climb an apple tree!) and, of course, using the photo collage maker that I am now addicted to.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks Jo, you are too kind! I had so much fun climbing the apple tree (who says it’s only for kids?) and I had NO idea that Kitty would cat bomb me right in the tree.

  7. Amy says:

    Wowzers cat bombed up a tree! That’s a whole new kind photo invading.
    Very cute dress. I love the double tier skirt and the shoulder detail. Exposed zips are good fun. They’re always fiddly at the bottom tbh but look cool!

    • Gjeometry says:

      I know, right? What kind of kitty cat bombs you up a tree?? I was ambitious with the exposed zip, since I really had no idea how to insert it and just sort of winged it. It looks okay, but somebody sent me a link (it’s in an above comment, if you want to look at it) for inserting them and it looks very helpful. Probably should have looked at that first.

  8. Helen says:

    This is beautiful! I love what you’ve done with the shoulders – it really adds some interest! And the sort of exposed zip adds some modernity! Lovely!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Oh, thank you Helen! I was happy with the shoulder action as well, since I didn’t want to do what the pattern called for. I now have info on how to install the exposed zip so it should go much more smoothly next time.

  9. Kirsty says:

    Like you I’m addicted to 1920s fashion and I love a drop waist. This looks great – added to superbly with your photos! Agree that the spots underneath add a great dimension. Superb!!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks Kirsty!! I’m so happy to have a fellow 1920s fashion addict! So many people seem to fear the drop waist. I think it’s flattering and so comfortable to wear. And, I’m having way too much fun with my photo collage maker.

  10. Elise Lin says:

    Cool! It’s such a pretty silhouette on you! What a cute dress, I love how you made the blue polka dot peeking. And it must be pretty comfortable that you can climb a tree in it 😉 It’s pretty on the inside too, I’ve never bothered with it yet (it seems like so much work) but it does make it more professional. I love your sense of styling, look at those pretty shoes! Your pictures are always so lovely, they tell a sweet story of you and Kitty ❤ Btw the link to the pattern is missing the ":" after http (not really a problem of course, it's easy to add, just thought I'd mention it).

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Elise! I am so awed with the folks that make their garments as pretty on the inside as the outside, so I’m starting to learn techniques to dress it up in there. Glad you like the pics, I’ve been having a lot of fun lately taking them and editing them. And, thanks so much for letting me know about the link!! I usually check to make sure all my links are working. I fixed it now in the post.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you 🙂 Kitty never ceases to amaze at the ways he can upstage. I figured he would totally upstage me in my swimsuit post (I mean he was a swimming Kitty!), but had NO idea he would cat bomb me up a tree. The lengths he will go to…..

  11. Calico Stretch says:

    Oh cool – amazing how much width you had to take out though! Phew. I do love the peep of colour in the zipper and little under dotty blue piece in the skirt. Very cute and the little sleevettes.

    I have no waist so don’t tend to think of dropping it, if you know what I mean. Hmmmm, I shall have to ponder that one for me! Thanks for the inspirational thought.

    • Gjeometry says:

      I know!! And, not only did I take out the 10 cm, but I also shrunk it down before printing it out, as I used the ‘fit to page’ option, instead of ‘actual size’ so that takes it down in size. I have NO idea how they made their sizing, but definitely pays to measure before you sew. I think the drop waist is flattering! And, I love how easy it is to wear, doesn’t press where you don’t want it to and you never need a belt. Give it a try, you might like it.

  12. RankkaApina says:

    I love it! I also love the 20s, unfortunately, it’s not a great look on me: I mainly look fat… You on the other hand, look amazing!

    I’m STILL working on my flapper dress… I need to finish it before the end of the year. I need to read less blogs and sew more for sure.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you!! I’m glad to find another 20s fashion lover. I know lots of folks don’t like the drop waist look. I really like it, but certainly everybody has their comfort zone and things that look better on them. I can’t wait to see your flapper dress! Ping me when you have it finished.

      • RankkaApina says:

        I got into it through dancing. I fell in love with charleston… But then I picked the pattern with that in mind: that I can dance in it. I’ll definitely let you know when it’s done 🙂

        • Gjeometry says:

          Oh my gawd, Charleston dancing, that is too awesome! I’d love to learn that dance. Now, I’m going to check into local places and see if they offer lessons. Also a great excuse to sew more 1920s fashions to dance in. 🙂

          • RankkaApina says:

            That’s why I love the 40s as well: I swing dance… I totally recommend charleston! It’s so much fun 🙂 Well any swing dancing is fun 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks so much! Yes, the cut of this dress makes it really easy to wear. No belt, and not completely fitted, and yes, totally tree climbable. 🙂 In fact, I think this is how I shall base my future makes. Is it tree climbable? Yes? Then, I will sew it.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks Carolyn! I was actually standing right in the garden for that pic. And I was totally going for bucolic!! (Even though I had to google the definition of that word 🙂 Now I am smarter!)

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Jennifer! I was happy with how the shoulders came out, as well. I still don’t have a name for them. They’re not ruffles or frills or trim or epaulets. I’m just going with ’embellishments’ unless somebody comes up with something better.

  13. craftsanctuary says:

    Oh, 1920s sewing! I should be doing mine tonight… love yours! Every time someone posts inspiration photos, I want to change my design! I love the drop waist ruffle you did! hmmmmm

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Ashley! I can’t wait to see yours, I hope you get in finished in time for the Jazz Festival. And, I know what you mean, I have a vision or idea in my head, then surf the terrific blogs and I get all confused again and have to start from scratch. 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks so much! I love the fashions from the 1920s as I think they are very wearable (except for the extravagant beaded flapper dresses, of course. Give it a whirl, I liked the pattern a lot, the link is in the post. Although take heed of the sizing as I had to take it in A LOT even though I made the smallest size.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Aw, thanks Jagodas! I’m delighted you notice the details as I do like to dig in and cover all my bases. Definitely a detail oriented person. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

    • Gjeometry says:

      LOL! “Magic Glue”. 🙂 I looked at the pic again and you’re right. We look so effortless like we are both floating. I can assure you we both are indeed up the tree. Kitty apparently takes ANY opportunity to cat bomb my photos. Is there any place he won’t go?

  14. marie says:

    Love this outfit. The drop waist looks so good on you. You did a great job designing & sewing this top/dress. Love the pictures too. How fortunate to be able to find a 20s woman sitting in a tree also. Kitty as usual finds new ways to top his last blog.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks! I know, I found that pic of the women in the tree from 1929 and I was too excited!! The photo collage maker is so addicting and you can make all kinds of ‘effects’ and finishes on your photos, including making it look ‘vintage’.

  15. Karen says:

    Very, very flattering and so pretty! The layered hem detail is genius – as is the shoulder construction. Looks like a fun dress to wear, too! (Kitty must agree.)

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you very much Karen! “genius” Wow! That is too flattering. I’m going to have to invite you over when I’m having a low self esteem moment and have you repeat comments like that :). Kitty will take any opportunity to cat photo bomb.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Eleyna! I’m rather digging the drop waist styles lately. You can come over any time you like and we can run through fields of green. And, climb trees! I forgot how much fun it is.

  16. seweverythingblog says:

    You’ve kept the spirit of the 1920s and still made it appropriate to wear everyday in 2013. Beautiful pictures, too! Love this post, & kitty just adds to it.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks so much Samina! It’s one of the reasons why I love 1920s fashions so much is that I think they translate so well to modern dress and are easy to wear. There are so many lovely 1950s dresses, but, for me, I feel very much like I’m being ‘retro’ and wearing a 1950s style dress (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course), whereas, the 1920s fashions don’t necessarily immediately conjure up that era when I see/wear them.

  17. sewexhausted says:

    I am going to try this again- I have tried THREE times to comment. (I was in Chrome which I don’t normally use so we shall see) ANYWAY! Lovely! The dress… you … the pictures! I LOVE 20’s styles but alas my spoon shaped figure does not allow for them- I have thighs a mama hen would be proud of… lol… anyway- Another BIG success! I love to look at EVERYTHING you make. You put so much care and planning in to all of your makes. ~Laurie

    • Gjeometry says:

      Oh, this one did come through, so sorry you had such problems Laurie!! Thank you for your persistence and your compliments! ‘spoon shaped’, LOL, I’ve not heard that before. My body type was always referred to as ‘tube shaped’ (I don’t find this term flattering at all) but recently read somewhere, somebody calling it ‘flute shaped’. Love it!! Conjures up such a beautiful image (even though it’s the exact same body type). So, I think we need to find another term for ‘spoon shaped’ for you. Let me think on it. Your kind words make me smile Laurie, thank you so much for taking the time to tell them to me. (warm fuzzy 🙂 )

    • Gjeometry says:

      Hi Catherine, thanks! I know, I saw your post yesterday and tried to comment on it, but blogger would not let me! I could not post comments on any blogger blogs yesterday, so frustrating! But, your post was so cool, terrific pics and I did not really relate the drop waist dress to the 1960s style until I saw your post, but it really was popular in the 60s, as well. It’s so ingrained that drop waist is all about the 20s, that we all forget about all those fab drop waist 60s dresses.

  18. Caroline Joynson says:

    What a lovely interpretation of the 1920’s pattern. Beautiful finish on the shoulder details and a great idea to make a second slip to create a layered effect. What a fun photo shoot you have going on – it looks like you had lots of fun and your cat has enjoyed a starring role too!
    You would make a fantastic flapper in this outfit!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Caroline! I was initially going to sew a large lace border to the skirt just to add length to it, but the practical scientist in me thought it better to have a whole separate underslip that I could remove so that the dress can become a top. And, Kitty always enjoys a starring role. Whether he’s actually invited or not!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you! I know, it’s amazing what you can find for free online, just takes some searching. I just used the lace seam binding like bias binding, but without the extra fold (only folded it in half) since the lace edges will not ravel.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Hey, thanks so much! And, thanks for dropping by the blog. I do love a dress that you can climb trees in (it shall be the barometer for all other dresses, from here on in). And, how can you resist Kitty? He shows up, whether you want him to or not.

  19. Clare Szabo says:

    OH MY GOD! I finally got around to reading this post and it’s one of my total favourites in a long time. This dress is so adorable, I love everything about it and would love to make this. Oh I just had a crazy hope that I bought enough happy skulls….*thinks*. You look so lovely here and your photos rule! I love Kitty photobombing – he knows a great photo shoot when he sees one!

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you Clare!! And, I think this would look absolutely groovacious in the happy skulls. Think I am going to have to venture to the happy skull fabric sellin store we were at and purchase some. Then we have to totally wear our makes out together. Kitty photobombing has taken on a whole new art in this photoshoot.

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thank you, dude! I certainly have to take that as a highly tremendous compliment when your most difficult decision is what you like best! 🙂 Although Kitty is a tad disgruntled that you did not add him to the list of things that you are deciding over which is better.

  20. Geraldine says:

    what a great style that IS timeless. love your dress and all the styles you shared here. I’m short-waisted and tall (5’9″) and I love this style as it elongates the top part of the body so well, making things look a lot more balanced.

    I love your blog, I’m following now too. 🙂

    • Gjeometry says:

      Thanks so much Geraldine! I wish this style came back with more of a vengeance. It is still difficult to find modern drop waist sewing patterns even though there was a 20s revival recently. We’ll just have to draft our own!

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