1920’s Inspiration & Possible Projects

When it comes to sewing, the 1950’s tend to steal the spotlight in terms of vintage inspired fashions. Fit and flare dresses are incredibly popular and for good reason! They are flattering for all figures and depending on the bodice are pretty easy sews. A couple of darts, a nice full circle skirt and BAM you’ve got a nice dress. Some fancy pleating on the bodice might trip you up a bit but otherwise they tend to be straight forward. Speaking of straight forward, 60’s and 70’s trends are also popular right now. Boxy tops and coats, a-line skirts and dresses, those are all very much in style right now as well. It’s a great time to be a home sewer because there are some really great patterns out there for vintage and modern looks alike.


A previous skirt I’ve made, very typical look for me. Circle skirt, fitted shirt, it’s such an easy and classic look.

What I’m really obsessing over right now though are the 20’s and 30’s (the 30’s will have their own inspo post)! These tend to be underrepresented but I’m not really surprised. Drop waists are very unusual to see these days and while they may be coming back they are definitely being paired with more modern styles, like fitted waists and hips. This is probably because the willowy figure of the 20’s is hard to achieve. If you have curves of any kind or are petite you’ll probably feel just a tad awkward wearing these styles. And yes, I remember the craze for 20’s fashion when The Great Gatsby came out, but that seemed to die down pretty quickly. Downton Abbey created another slight craze but again it didn’t really stick. The Flapper look has been relegated back to costume parties or those of us that don’t mind looking less than modern.

1920 inspo 1

Robe de Style is an easier look to pull off I think, it’s the Garconne Silhouette that is more difficult and iconic. Photo from Glamourdaze.

There are a few patterns out there that are inspired by these decades, but they are few and far between or have been heavily modernized (NOT including Decades of Style, which is a fantastic site but again a bit limited) I’m working on one now, which is why I’m writing this post. Simplicity S1103 has a dropped waist but also has a very fitted bodice through the hips, with a cutout detail on view B, which is the one I’m working on. It’s a very cute pattern and I’m glad this is my first time working with a drop waist. I’m a bit curvier with my measurements being 34″, 24″, 36″ approximately (give or take a half inch) at only 5’2.5″. So not only are my hips much larger than my waist I’m also petite! Needless to say fitting patterns is a pain on a good day, let alone for very fitted patterns. It’s why I usually stick with the fit and flare styles, it’s just easier for me all around and looks good.


My current project. I joke with my boyfriend that he loves this dress I’m making because he’s a fan of tennis and it seems like something a tennis player would wear.

I’m not quite finished with this dress (ok, I’m like no where close, I still have to sew the pleats/gathers into the skirt, sew the bodice to the skirt, attach interfacing to the yoke, sew the yoke on, sew the lining on, the zipper, the hem, like everything guys) but I’m obsessing over the potential. I’m hoping that it’s flattering enough and it should be with the fitted bodice but I’d like to sew up some truly 20’s and 30’s fashion so I’ve been looking at what’s available in RTW, patterns, and in historical fashion plates for inspiration for future projects. Here’s what I’ve found, let me know if you have anything that should be added or if you know of a good pattern or few! Please keep in mind I am not a historian, not an expert, and these are just images I find inspiring and just all around beautiful.


What do I look for for 20’s inspiration? Mostly the dropped waist and loosely fitted bodices. I do like sleeveless and looking for coat inspo was fun too! I’m also a fan of anything art deco or nouveau, so styles inspired in that regard were looked for too. I noticed a lot of hip embellishments, like pleating or bows, as well as wrap fronts with deep necklines. Lots of skirt pleats seem common as well as layers, and of course lots of shiny accents! You’ll see mostly dresses here and honestly that should not be a surprise!

modcloth 20's inspo.jpg

More casually styled from Modcloth.

modcloth 20's inspo 2.jpg

Thanks again Modcloth!


McCalls 20's.jpg

McCall’s Pattern for a 20’s coat, pretty cute.

Vogue 20's.jpg

A dress from Vogue Patterns.

20's inspo.jpg

Those hip details! Again, from Glamourdaze.

Miss Fisher

And I couldn’t finish off without mentioning the amazing Miss Fisher. Even Buzzfeed has this right.


I’m loving the sleeves on these dresses, as well as the layers. From Vintage Dancer.



Those pleats and ruffles! Very chic. From Vintage Dancer again.

These are just some images…there are so many! So if you’d like to see more, I now have a Pinterest board for 20’s and 30’s inspiration, including patterns and accessories. I’d also like to just put some links here for some sites I found that have great resources:

Vintage Dancer




Vintage Pattern Selector – this is a book with many vintage patterns, including a 20’s flapper dress, 30’s trousers, and many others! I really love this book and there is a lot of added information about styles in those decades (from the 20’s to the 70’s).

And I also follow some people on Instagram that wear vintage inspired (or straight vintage) clothes and accessories, check them out:

Royal Vintage Shoes – American Duchess is on Instagram!

American Duchess 2

She is always wearing amazing wide legged trousers!

Royal Vintage 1

The accessories are always gorgeous as well, her shoes are fantastic.

Rouge Your Knees – Isabella is a fantastic dresser and she’s always looking so amazing in her vintage wear.

Isabella 1

She’s got some really adorable hats and accessories.

Isabella 2

Always stunning!

Miss L-Fire – This is a shop Instagram, but they sell vintage inspired shoes and boy do they look amazing.

miss fire.jpg

Eeep! So adorable, from their shop.

The Art of Dress – Cassidy posts a lot of fashion plates, from various decades and they are really great points of inspiration.

art of dress 1

Not the 20’s, but you can see how things are starting to change to get that look.

art of dress 2

She also has a blog where she talks in depth about fashion history!

That’s it for today, please share any sites you know of or any Instagram accounts you enjoy following. Do you love 20’s fashion as well? How do you wear it? Let’s chat!


Until next time,

—Bethany Out


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