The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

Great Gatsby! An Early 1920's Tunic Top and Belt

     This is the outfit I made to see, on opening weekend, the new "The Great Gatsby" movie.  The tunic is very cool, loose, and breezy, just like the ideal 20's silhouette.  My outfit was so easy sew!  For once I spoiled myself and took my good old time to make it, resulting in a very fun and low stress project.

     I was channeling the early 20's with my combination, in which the large fancy hats from the late teens were still popular, but quickly loosing favor to the flapper cloche hats.  Besides my hat, my skirt and my shoes are RTW items (which I think match well).  Everything else is "Kelly" made - I even hand strung my pearl necklace!


FABRIC:  for the tunic- a polyester silky print, 1 yard on sale for $5;  a matte dress lining fabric to line the silky print;  for the belt - a random square remnant in my stash of a thick purple satin;  3/4 of a yard of quilter's cotton for belt backing in the same color purple as the satin

NOTIONS:  I had everything I needed.  I only bought a sequined headband (for $2) to cut apart and use as the center front decoration for my belt 

PATTERN:  I used Simplicity 1693, view B, for my tunic, while my belt was a self-drafted pattern

TIME TO COMPLETE:  The tunic itself went together in several hours.  With the changes I made, all the beading, and the belt to assemble, everything probably took  more than 10 hours stretched out over a week.  My ensemble was finished on May 10, 2013

THE INSIDES:  There is not a seam showing!  Everything is finished in french seams or self-enclosed (as for the belt)

          To turn Simplicity 1693 into a tunic, I added 10 inches to the bottom when cutting out the two pattern pieces.  I left the side seams open from just below the waistline down to the hem so my top would have a free flowing, unconfined look.  Then I did a large 2 1/2 inch hem along the bottom, and a wide hem along the side tunic openings so they would show.

     I checked on PatternReview. com and saw that several ladies said that the bust was generous.  To fix this, I merely cut my right size according to the guidelines, but made the bust darts two sizes smaller, for example

making a size 10 top but size 6 darts.  This is my normal practice for many patterns with generous ease, and doing this adjustment has always fit great for someone petite like me.  Also, I made my own bias bands to cover the armhole and neckline seams.  The Pattern Review ladies also recommended doing this, and I heartily agree. Self-fabric bias covered neck and arm seams make for a much smoother, more polished look than a plain turned under finish (which is in the pattern).  Every review I read on Simplicity 1693 raves about how it's so economical and easy, while looking great, and I couldn't agree more.  Only 1 yard of fabric can indeed make something very nice.  How affordable is that ?!? 

     My button for the neck close, as well as the buckle for the back belt closure are from my inherited stash of my Grandmother and my Mother-in-law's collection.  I know both items are old, and also unlike anything in the stores today, so I feel they make my clothing a bit more special.

     I am so proud at how the belt turned out, due in big part to the fact I made it all on my own.  I drew my pattern on paper, tried it on myself, and added on the seam allowances.  Next I cut out 2 pieces (a right and a left) out of the satin, the interfacing, and the cotton backing.  I ironed the interfacing onto the back of the satin, sewed the center front line, then sewed the rest of the belt together as you would do for ties. 

     The best part about my belt is my creative closure system.  I just came up with this, and I'm not really sure how.  The tie ends wrap around the buckle and snap together on the underside of the belt so they are hidden.  I wanted something that did not show any closure hardware, something decorative and dressy, but not casual or messy like a traditional belt.  I feel I succeeded in my goals.

     The sequined headband was such a quick, fancy, and perfect complement to my belt.  I cut off the elastic at the sides, then cut the whole design in half along the 'leaves'.  I sealed up all the cut edges with clear fingernail polish - my cheap alternative to fray check- and let them dry.  The pieces were arranged and sewed down to the belt just an hour before we were to leave to see the movie.  The sequin decoration is not flimsy but not 100% stable, but, as I don't expect to wash the belt at all, I don't care. 

     All the hand beading done on the shoulders of my tunic gave me some serious carpal tunnel syndrome.  I wish, after all that work, the beading was a bit more noticeable.  However, I'm o.k. with my tunic having a subtle's what I expected.  I used two different types of pearled seed beads and plenty of clear mono-filament to sew on the decoration.  My bead work has already underwent a wash machine test, and it held up pretty well in the delicate cycle.

     Here are some of my deco designs I had in mind:

     I would like to add this design (in color, at right) to the 4 bottom hem corners of the tunic, but that will have to wait until some time in the future.  My hands did enough work for now.

     Hubby and I went to watch the movie in the cinema at an Art Deco Hotel downtown and there were a few other ladies there who were dressed in period attire as well.  I got my picture taken with them, then we went and did this post's photos.  We found this wonderful Deco looking building on a major street in the inner city, not actively being preserved,  just used as a daycare and apartments.  The history of the background building is quite interesting, as neat as the facade details.  More great pictures and some history of the DeBaliviere building can be found here.  I hope buildings like this one are restored by the time they reach their 100 year mark!  This spot made for a pretty cool era correct background, I think...what about you?

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