Inspiration – Flappers and the 1920’s

1920's evening dress, hand beaded


Last month on Sewcation, my mom and I visited the local art museum to see an exhibit of flapper dresses from the 1920’s.  I love seeing historical garments in person – you can really see the details up close and begin to understand all of the time and labor that went into creating clothing long ago (so not the case today).  The timing seemed pretty appropriate since The Great Gatsby (one of my favorite novels) is coming out this weekend; I have a feeling we’ll be seeing fashions inspired by the movie in the near future.  Plus, have you seen Miss Crayola Creepy’s Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge?  I may jump in late and make a summer dress – frankly, this straight style of dress is easy for me to wear.

Here’s a fun fact: flappers got their name from the boots that they wore unbuckled, which was considered in style.  When they walked, the boots made a “flap-flap” noise.  Crazy, right?!

Here’s some photos I took of the exhibit (shhh photography wasn’t allowed but I used my iPhone):

1920's flapper dress

1920's evening dress

Because of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, many apparel and jewelry designs reflect the interest in Egyptian culture at the time: colors such as Nile green and lotus motifs were predominant and pharoah-like headbands were in vogue.  I found this green dress interesting – the closure was on the side of the dress and consisted of only a few snaps.  I guess since it’s sheer and is worn over an underdress, the closure doesn’t have to be that secure?

All the little beads.  Hand

That dress is 100% all hand beading.  Yeah.  That’s hardcore, man.

The latest styles from Paris

1920's McCall's sewing pattern ad

McCall's sewing patterns

I loved seeing these McCall’s sewing ads.  These were for garments inspired by current Paris fashions that could be copied at home.

Hand beading detail

More crazy hard-core hand beading on that dress!

Party dress

This dress was for a day-time party.  The edges on the scallops were turned under and slip stitched with navy blue thread, not a matching color thread, surprisingly.

1920's wedding gown

And of course, an obligitory wedding dress.  The train on the veil was incredibly long!

The next time I go home to visit my family, I’ll be seeing the current exhibit: bodices of the Tolouse Lautrec era!  I love costume history so much.



  1. May 8, 2013 / 10:35 pm

    Wow, those dresses are amazing! The beading is so beautiful and I cannot imagine the work that went into them, very cool.

  2. May 9, 2013 / 1:20 am

    The details are so stunning!

  3. Kerry-Anne
    May 11, 2013 / 8:48 am

    These are truly beautiful dresses etc, but I do wish you hadn't taken photo's as this is not good for the fabric, if we all took pics when we are asked not to then in the future there won't be any garments to show our grandchildren and their grandchildren you can always purcahse the book that is usually for sale at any exhibition.

    • May 11, 2013 / 9:03 pm

      Kerry-Anne, I completely agree with you: flash can be bad for fabric. Fortunately, I didn't use the flash on my iPhone camera.

  4. May 11, 2013 / 9:47 pm

    These are so beautiful! I can't even imagine how much time it would've taken to do all that beading!

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