Lately I have been fascinated by 1920ies flapper dresses.

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Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous? They must have been such a fashion revolution after the tight corsets and enormous skirts of earlier eras, a complete reversing of the silhouette everyone was used to. I can just imagine the outcry of ‘no waist’ and ‘hopelessly frumpy and shapeless’. But they were a major turning point in fashion, much for the better as far as comfort and ease of movement are concerned,  and their aesthetic has stood the test of time.

So when DH announced that he had organised a party to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, naturally I thought that this would be the occasion I had been waiting for to make myself a flapper dress. But when I thought about it a bit more rationally, I realised that a) I didn’t have much time, b) I had absolutely no experience with any kind of embellishment and c) no design wanted to pop into my head they way they usually do. Then the party was going to be on a boat, and it is usually pretty cool on the water in the evening, and to top it all of I just wanted to enjoy a nice time with family and friends without imposing a formal dress code, which would mean shopping hassles and expense for a goodly number of them.

So let my nearest and dearest feel comfortable and enjoy themselves in ‘smart casual’, which most people have at the ready, and I will wear what I want, as I usually do, but not so over the top as a lace, ruffle and bead ecrusted flapper dress. Not that I mean to sacrifice comfort either, so out with my trusty LBD, which in reality is a matching set of black silk tunic and pants, also known as evening pyjamas in bygone times. What could be more comfortable than silk pyjamas? And over the top of this little nod to vintage will be something very 21st century, not to mention something able to keep me warm against the cool sea breezes.

I have to say, when the millennium first turned, I thought it would never find its own style. We had revival after revival, the 70ies, 80ies, 90ies, the vintage craze, you name it, everything but something new. Then slowly something like 21st century style started to emerge, with pleated bodices, ruches, tucks and drapings, and my personal favourite, asymmetric and shaped hemlines. Hurray for the latter especially. I am going to cry buckets when this trend finally becomes dated, not only because a shaped hem on a top is so much more flattering than a straight one for pears like me, but also because I have entirely lost the skill, if I ever had it, of making a plain straight hem.

Unlike a design for a flapper dress, the idea of the technicolour dream coat popped into my head without any conscious effort whatsoever, thanks to my recent silk painting craze. My love for the above mentioned extravagantly shaped hemlines did the rest. I even had a pattern I have very successfully made up before, several times, which is always a good start.


It is Vogue 8659, which is now sadly OOP.


The more observant among you will have noticed that this is a dress pattern, not a pattern for a coat, but that is neither here not there. With a little imagination this is a very versatile pattern, I have even thought that it would make a very nice jumpsuit, if you sewed up the curved hem and left the lower diagonal sides open for your legs. You would have to install a zipper, or similar, to climb in through the neck opening, but that is not a problem. One day I will make this jumpsuit, but not for now. The idea of trying to use a tiny boat toilet in something you have to take off first does not appeal.

For a coat version, all you have to do is to leave the CF seam open and cut on a facing. I also decided to snug up the neckline, as a wide and sloppy neck on a jacket or other topper does not look good in my opinion.

To put my plan into action, I painted up 3m of silk shantung, left over from DD’s wedding dress, in turquoise blue and black. It looked rather good as soon as it was done, even if I say so myself.

Here it is wet.

And slightly less intense, but still pretty good, once it has dried.

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And here is the finished product. You can read all about the sewing process on Pattern Review.

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