Gatsby shirt

The Theme
Over at The Sew Weekly this week, they were celebrating all things Gatsby. In Mena’s words:

“This week, we’re traveling back in time and making creations inspired by the 1920s and 1930s.”

The Facts

  • Fabric: 1.6 metres of something blue that was in my stash. No idea where it came from or what it is, but it’s some sort of heavy, rustle-y synthetic in a pretty petrol blue, so I like it. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Pattern: re-releasted vintage Vogue V2859
  • Year: 1935
  • Notions: none
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • Will I wear it? Yes, surprisingly I think I will
  • Total cost: free!

The Story
I really wanted to make a 1930’s style dress for this challenge. Like, I *really* wanted to! I searched through my pattern stash. I searched through my fabric stash. And could I find anything suitable in either? No, I could not. I did dig up this length of petrol-blue fabric though and for some reason, it really wanted to be made into something 1930’s. I’m not quite sure why, as the fabric itself isn’t particularly 1930’s. I think it was the colour that did it. And the slightly slubby texture to it also had quite an appeal.

I think I spent about 2 hours trying to find a pattern that would work. I researched 1930’s dresses, I went through my stash looking for anything that I could convert, and when I finally decided to just draft my own, I got around to holding up the length of fabric and discovered I had just short of 2 metres of it. Which isn’t enough for a 1930’s tea gown, no matter which way you look at it. I slunk into the lounge and despaired over my predicament to Steve. Who, ironically, echoed what Mena’s husband told her and said to me “why don’t you make a jacket?”.


I compromised and made up re-released vintage Vogue V2859 instead. The shirt pattern. Lets face it – that length of blue fabric just wanted to be a shirt. I gave in to it’s wishes.

The plan was to make a skirt to go with it – I even knew what I was going to do, with altering a pencil skirt so it flared from mid-thigh and had a rectangular cut-out and inset in the middle front and back, to echo a lot of those seam details from the 1930’s and add a bit more drape to the style. Only once again the plan didn’t come together – I couldn’t find a suitable fabric that would match the era, the style, the shirt, and that I would wear again. And I completely ran out of time. Oops. So, just a shirt this week, after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Pattern
This Vogue pattern calls itself ‘Advanced’. And, quite frankly, I agree with it. Yikes! This puppy took me five hours. (Or it will, once I finish a bit of hand-sewing to get the neck sitting right.) It felt like it should have been easier, but those points at the neckline just were not that easy to get right. It also called for a lot of narrow hems all over the place, although I think it was the fabric that let me down a bit here – that stuff just wasn’t easy to press, so I had to pin everything down constantly when doing those narrow hems. I’m glad I stuck with them though – they’re kinda nice-looking.

I found the instructions a bit tricky to follow at times (but then, I tend to find this with many of the re-released vintage Vogue patterns. I’m not sure why that is). I have a feeling that if I make this pattern up again, it’ll only take me three hours. Maybe I’ll test that one day and see how it goes.

Next time, I may also try using a bit of interfacing or the like at the corners of the neckline – they just refuse to sit flat and the points aren’t as crisp as I’d like them to be. So I’d like to try that again, and see if I can make it any better next time!

After making this up (and making up the dress from the same pattern a few weeks ago), I have a lot of respect for the pattern drafters back in the 1930’s. They did some amazing complicated and cunning things with fabric, with those insets and angles everywhere! They’re a bit like a jigsaw puzzle to sew. I’d love to get my hands on some more 1930’s designs and try making them up – such a great challenge!

I did two alterations with this top. Firstly, it was far too big around the bust for me, so I took it in by 1.5cm in the centre front where the neckline comes to a point, and tapered the adjustment down to the lower centre front seam. It’s also quite a short pattern, and as the lovely Meg found out as well, it shows a bit of midriff. I didn’t want to have to be pulling it down all the time (or have to always wear another top underneath it), so I added a 1.5 inch band around the bottom, which means it now sits just past the waistline and should work perfectly over any skirts that sit at the natural waist. As long as I don’t raise my arms, that is.

The Verdict
Part way through making this shirt, I nearly gave up, as I was starting to hate it. I’m rather glad I kept on with it though, as I surprisingly like the finished version! The main thing I like is the colour – it makes me happy, yes indeedy. The way the shirt crosses over at the back and ties at the front is pretty nifty, and the different sleeves (kimono style in the front, raglan style at the back) are quite cool. I think I’ll be wearing it, when the weather warms up enough!

I think I’ll even try the pattern again. The shirt just isn’t quite as professional looking as I’d like, so I want to give it another go and see if I can iron out the issues it gave me this time. I refuse to be defeated by a pattern! Take that, vintage Vogue!

The Photos
It was cold outside today. Four-layers cold, with three of them being wool. And raining. Sorry folks, it wasn’t a good day for outside photos, so here we get to see part of my lounge once more. I tried to pretty it up a bit with a few fake flowers though, just for variety.

I’ve styled the Gatsby shirt with a vintage woolen pleated skirt I picked up in an op shop a while back, and a pair of vintage-y shoes I bought in Napier a while ago. I tried to wear a hat with it, but it turns out it just wasn’t working in the photos. There’s one with it below, just so you can see I did try to do the vintage hat thing, and all that.

I’m still determined to make a 1930’s tea party dress at some stage, though….. So watch this space. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you haven’t seen the Stitched In Color blog yet, you should go and check it out – they’re having a ‘celebrate color’ series over the next few months, and you can see all sorts of gorgeous creations that people have been making in pretty colours. Lots of fun!

13 responses to “Gatsby shirt

  1. Pingback: Gatsby shirt «

  2. It’s a *beautiful* shirt and you look lovely in it. That last photo is my absolute favorite ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. wow! great rendition of that vogue blouse! i think that is the nicest version of it i’ve seen–i’ve been afraid and yet desperate to try it and now maybe i will ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ I must admit – it took me a while to build up the courage to give this pattern a go. I’m glad I did, though! You should try it – would love to see what you come up with! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Definitely Gatsby! You wear it well, and I especially like the shot from the back. I can only imagine what would befall me if I tried a vintage Vogue pattern. I can barely wade through Simplicity!

  5. Pingback: Spring Rain trousers and jersey | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  6. I love that pattern and have been tempted to buy it but it’s too expensive! About $24 from memory – I may wait for a sale. But since its so hard – maybe I will give it a miss! Great job sewing and I really like the colour on you – it really suits you!

    • Thanks Trish! ๐Ÿ™‚ I waited until there was a half-price sale on Vogue patterns – they’re just far too expensive to buy otherwise I reckon. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (I’m so envious of all the US girls and their 99c pattern sales at JoAnns!)

  7. OH!!!! I just ADORE your version!!!! I think you may have just inspired me to try again ๐Ÿ™‚ Lovely work, my dear!!

  8. Absolutely love it! It’s simply lovely. : )

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