Monday, September 12, 2011

Gatsby Wedding

Happy Monday! Over the weekend I couldn't help but brainstorm all sorts of projects to post on DSA. They will be coming soon! For now, I wanted to share a costume project I did for a client I never sew for: myself!

As you may or may not know, one of my life passions is costumes. I am working on uploading my costume design portfolio, so check back for that! I'll share a bit about my process. I made these dresses for my uncle's Gatsby-themed wedding. He and his bride opted for a black and white theme, which is easy to shop for and very chic right now. You will find that the wedding section of most big craft stores are filled to the brim with black and white, damask-laden wedding stationary and accessories. Here is a mood board I made with polyvore to get the ball rolling:

The first step in costume design is always research. To make it, you must first understand it. Find fashion sketches and then real photographs of the people from that time, because just like now, not everybody was ready to hop on the stylized, funky trends flourishing in the magazines. Then read about the history of the time, so you can understand why people dressed as they did. The 20's was a rebellious time when prohibition inspired lots of illegal activities. You can see that rebellion in the clothes: hemlines went way up, and women wanted to show some skin! I found this dressmaking research site, which shows fashion plate examples and dress-making instructions for each year in the 20's.

The next step is to take measurements. Too many is better than too little, as long as you can keep track of them! Here is a useful explanation of how to take them by Threads Magazine. I could choose to drape the entire dress myself, which involves making a pattern from scratch, but I prefer to use reproduction patterns from the website Pattern Retrospective. Note: you must have experience with sewing patterns to really understand some of these, because often they come with the original instructions (ca. 1929). Here is what I selected for me and my mother:

Then I bought my fabric, cut out the pattern pieces, laid them out on my dress form, and stitched them together. It sounds like nothing when I write it like that, but it is quite a long process!  After weeks of sewing, ripping seams, sewing again, pinning alterations, sewing alterations, and ironing every 30 seconds, I came up with something like this:

I next began analyzing the fit and decided what elements would work better for my mother. I had the added bonus of the fact that she is in NJ, and I am in FL, so I couldn't try it on her. We decided to remove the sleeves and give her a small capelet as well as a solid sash. These elements made it more formal for a wedding, rather than the daywear look in the original pattern. 

Another super important element is the accessories, hair, and makeup. This is where the vintage photos help! I love to visit The Hair Archives, which has pics from all sorts of time periods. A terrific tip: go to a local cosmetology school and ask for a finger wave (bring a picture). Most students are required to learn this, and they often offer the service at a tiny cost to you! 


Now it's time to party!

The ceremony and reception were held at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, a restored 1924 villa in Fullerton, CA. I am so glad I had the chance to finally make something for me and my mother. We had such a wonderful time and I got to do what I love. It was the bees knees!

Photo by Gino England

1 comment:


Smart looking ladies! I love the 1920s!

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