Sleek Silhouette

Gatsby Love


Have you seen the Great Gatsby yet? Don’t tell me anything! I promised myself I wouldn’t go until I had finished my dress for Miss Crayola Creepy’s Gatsby challenge. Well Phew, I’ve done it! I’ve finished my 1920′s inspired dress, what do you think?

Similarly to the Mad Men challenge, I have not recreated a 1920′s dress perfectly but have been inspired by the 20′s to produce a dress I want to wear now. I’ve kept the elements which to me make a 1920′s dress: A dropped waist, pleats, a low back, and beading! But I made it more me by making it more fitted and shorter, a lot shorter actually!

I’m over the moon with how this dress turned out! I started making it on Monday evening after a busy bank holiday weekend. And when I say ‘started making it’ what I mean is ‘started thinking about shapes and drafting a pattern’.  I didn’t even cut it out till the following day, I sewed it together yesterday, and today I altered the fit and hemmed it. I can’t believe there were no major hiccups along the way! Especially since this is designed by me and so is a Sleek Silhouette original!

Originally I thought about using this pattern in the latest burdastyle magazine. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s got a dropped waist and a gathered skirt. I thought seeing as I already had the magazine I might as well utilise it. But then as I started tracing it my block came into my mind… why trace and alter a pattern when I already have a block waiting to be used? I chucked the magazine away and stared at my block.

Inspired by the burdastyle dress I slashed the bodice to create a bust pattern piece and a waist pattern piece.

I slashed at the widest part of my hips and added a band. I then made a pattern for the pleated skirt. I’m sorry that these photos aren’t great. No computer at the moment means I can’t use the nice camera or do fancy computer pictures. I am planning another post on modifying a block as soon as the new computer arrives, so I’ll go over this in more detail then.

I decided I wanted pleated skirt instead of
a gathered one as I feel that pleats are a little more sophisticated? I measured 1 inch pleats – meaning there would be two inches of extra material for each pleat as they are folded in on themselves.

I sewed them with the pleats facing towards the middle of the skirt, with an inverted box pleat in the middle.

I decided I wanted a low back, I’ve talked before about my love for backs, and although I need to wear a bra the right bra strap converter works wonderfully (I wore the same at my wedding :) ). The length of this back was more luck than anything, I just blindly cut it and luckily it falls at just the right point, much lower and my converter would be showing!

The fabric was the one source of frustration for me on this dress. I had such plans of beautiful lime green crepe and a contrast grey on the waist band. I was inspired by this dress by Michelle from project runway (I’m sooo glad she won!). I LOVE it. The colours are so wonderfully summery.  Alas I could not find the fabric I wanted anywhere, the greens were too neon or too ‘bottle green’ and the grey’s were just boring….

I then thought about using a grey crepe and then adding in the lime with the beading… but then there was no nice grey crepe and I couldn’t find lime beads…. I felt like the fabric gods were against me.

Then I stumbled across this fabric. It’s 100% polyester (yuk!), but has a lovely subtle sheen and feels so yummy to touch! I also love blue, particularly inky blue, so I decided this was it! When I got to the till I realised there was only 1.5 metres of it, not only that the last 30 cms has this written on it!

By this point I was running out of time and willpower so I bought it regardless, and I got a discount, yay! Unfortunately this meant that I didn’t have enough material for any facings…. grrr! I therefore used some bias binding I already had, luckily the right colour, and bound all the edges. It’s not the perfect finish I was looking for, but it’s good enough :) It also means that all in this dress cost me £13, I call that a bargain!


All the main sewing done, and I could not believe that I managed to get all the pattern pieces to fit together so perfectly! I sewed it up with no problems, even the invisible side zip went in easily. It all lines up perfectly! To say I’m proud of that is a bit of an understatement, I expected something to go wrong! The only fit issue was that I have lost some weight since I made my block and the fit was a little loose. All I did to remedy this was to take in the side seams and increase the size of the darts, then it fitted perfectly. It was a little baggy at the bust (annoyingly that has reduced too!) and in my infinite wisdom I had already bound the neckline and armholes making it difficult to increase the size of the side bust dart. In the end I ended up increasing the length of the under bust dart to take some of the extra fabric away. I think it worked quite well and I got away with it. I’ve now transferred all these alterations to my block so next time it should fit exactly right :)
Oh, and I made this necklace too, it’s one of my favourites :)

I’m not sure that there’s much more to say about this dress other than, Yay it’s done! now I can go watch Leo and Baz bring the 20′s to life, can’t wait!!!


  1. Wow you look smashing! I just love the back.

  2. Wow! you look fabulous, your dress is amazing and am glad to hear it went together so swimmingly :o)

  3. To say I’m in awe of you is a MAJOR understatement. This is STUNNING! And the fact that you designed, drafted, and constructed the entire thing by yourself in a matter of days is simply incredible. It’s SUPER flattering and I love love love your design. You’re fabulous girl!

  4. You look gorgeous and it fits perfectly!

  5. Cute!! This is beautiful and wow, fits you perfectly! It especially looks great on your perfect little figure. I love the low waistline and I love that blue fabric. I can’t believe it’s 100% polyester actually, but I suppose that’s a good thing huh? ha I hate polyester too but ya this definitely doesn’t look anything like it.

    • Thank you. I was surprised it was polyester as it feels so nice. Its called Trieste and was quite pricey so I’m hoping that means its good quality. Fingers crossed it won’t be too hot at the summer wedding I’m planning on wearing it too!

  6. You went back to your block! What a fabulous dress. I love the neckline and the beads. I’m a little in awe that you can draft something so quickly…

    • I did, you inspired me :) although yours is looking far more impressive! Once you have a block its pretty quick to alter it :) I’m so pleased you like it!

  7. That dress looks AMAZING and I’m so excited for you going to see the great gatsby for the first time. It is also awesome! Enjoy x

  8. Wow. I really think you have a talent for dress design. I love the dress – that’s one of my favourite colours too, and I agree with you that low backs are attractive though unfortunately I can’t wear them (acne scars). I like the loose 20s interpretation – wearable, but I can still see the inspiration, with the dropped waist and the pleats, and the long necklace.

    • You’re so kind! I’m really enjoying learning to design and draft patterns so it’s lovely that you think I’m doing a good job :) I think the fun part for me is working out how to interpret the challenge to fit in with my style.

  9. Wow this is such a pretty dress you have done an amazing job! I love the skirt on this dress I really want to make a dress using the same style you have done. So clever you using your patterns and cutting them up. Well done!

  10. That’s so supercute, I’m in love!

  11. Wow, great job! I love the ruffle skirt, and the low back and the detail along the neckline. Perfect modern interpretation of 1920s style…love!

  12. Wowzers! This is really spectacular. The dropped waist and low back are a perfect pair. I tried to do something similar when I modified a dress pattern from the last Burda book but I did it in knit so it doesn’t have the gorgeous structure this dress has.

    • Aw shuks thanks :) I love a low back/dropped waist combo. I’d love to see your version, I’ll have to look through your old posts :) So glad you like it!

  13. You look amazing! I love the deep back on the dress. Really cute and as you say so wearable since it’s a modern twist on a vintage theme.

  14. I found your blog last night through burdastyle (kovu) and was blown away! I went all the way back to your first post and could not stop reading. I also have a hard time making patterns fit and my first thought when I realized this was also to just draft them myself. I have not been as successful as you, I tend to get discouraged and put it down for months and just sew other things. To see your progress was so inspiring! Im following on bloglovin, I cant wait to see what you sew up next!

    • Oh wow, that’s so lovely of you. I’m really pleased that you’ve enjoyed my other posts :) I hope you give some of your projects another go, it lovely when you get something to fit just right :)

  15. Wow that fits you so perfectly! And I love the beading! Enjoy yourself at the movies now that you’ve finished such a lovely project

  16. WoW Katy! This dress is beautiful!! Any hints about pattern drafting? I seem to remember from an earlier post that you learnt how to do the block via the burdastyle web? I am a complete novice so I’m not sure…as I am finally free of exams, am planning on using my sewing machine….(it’s been collecting dust for far too long). I feel, however that without a pattern I would be lost… (and with the pattern I might be too…).
    The other thing is, do you use a mannequin to try the clothes once you have started sewing them? I wouldn’t know how to check whether I am doing the right thing by just trying it on me. Does someone help you? I may have to ask a friend…
    Sorry for bombarding you with so many questions… and thanks for so much inspiration, Pati x

    • Hi Pati, Thank you so much :) I’m planning to show some more info on pattern drafting (or at least how I did it) and modifying a block, but unfortunately I don’t have a computer at the moment which makes it a bit harder. The phone pics aren’t really working! As soon as the new computer arrives I’ll put something together :)

      Yes I used the tutorial from Burdastyle to make my block (, and I;m really pleased with it. I was a complete novice when I gave it a go (I feel like I still am!) but it wasn’t that tricky. Perhaps the perfect post exam project? :)

      I don’t use a mannequin to check the fit – I wish I had one, as I’d love to learn how to drape, but I just don’t have the room at the moment! I just put it on and look in the mirror. So far I’ve been able to cope without someone helping me – I’ve seen how much I need to take out and spread this out over the seams and it’s always worked. When working on my own patterns the block fits so well there aren’t a lot of changes I need to make. But I haven’t made anything too complex yet, I might need a mannequin when I get more advanced!

      • Thanks very much for all the information Katy, it’s really kind of you.
        Whilst you might be quite new to this, I think you are doing sooo well. It seems like second nature to you, which is fantastic.
        Thanks once again for sharing so much with us. Pati x

  17. Beautiful dress! What an amazing job you did both designing and sewing it. The beading along the neckline gives it such a subtle punch of snazziness. I love it!

    • Thank you, I’m glad you like the neckline. I considered sewing on a huge border of beads, but I’m glad I went for a more subtle look :)

  18. Very pretty! I love the color on you!

  19. I think this dress is an absolute triumph. Pattern is spot on and the skirt shape is very flattering on you. I love the beads at the neckline, a fantastic little detail. Massive kudos!

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