On Friday morning, I (aided and abetted by my husband) made a very last minute decision to attend the Roaring Twenties Lawn Party at the Crane Estate. There was just one problem – I generally dress in 40s and 50s styles and had nothing to wear. My husband picked up the tickets online, and I ran to the nearest fabric store on my lunch break and texted pictures of every likely print to a friend. I eventually settled on a nearly-empty bolt of an umbrella print and some solid blue to pair it with. I had a 1930s pajama pattern and I figured that with a few tweaks and a daywear fabric I could make them into passable beach pajamas.
The pajamas said that I needed just shy of 4 yards of 36” fabric, plus optionally a yard for the contrast. There were 2 yards of the umbrella print fabric left, and somehow in my hunger- and panic-addled state I decided that I only needed two yards of the coordinating blue fabric.
When I returned home in the evening, fabric in hand, I threw everything in the wash and got out my pattern to trace. This is where I hit the first snag – it turned out that the pants pieces were no longer in the envelope! After a moment of panic, I remembered that print-at-home patterns were a thing and headed to Etsy.
I settled on the Wearing History Chic Ahoy culotte pattern, which I figured would be close enough, and got to work printing and taping. I made a few modifications to the pattern – I shortened the waistband to the natural waist, omitted the ties, and left out the pockets – and crossed my fingers. Of course, at this point I realized that there was no way I was getting an entire pair of pants out of my umbrella fabric – it had a one-way nap, and there just wasn’t room. I swapped the main pants pieces to my solid fabric and cut 10-inch hem extensions from the umbrellas instead, hoping to recreate the look of the pants in the original pajama pattern.
Satisfied that the pants would come together, I went to bed and planned to resume sewing in the morning.
Saturday morning I woke up to torrential rain and another sewing problem. I was still planning to use the blouse from the 1930s pajama pattern, but as I surveyed the pieces and my remaining fabric it became increasingly clear that there was no way it would all fit. Again, I went to the internet to find a solution. I came across the (appropriately named) (Decades of Style “Last Resort” beach pajamas)[https://www.decadesofstyle.com/products/3015-1930s-last-resort-beach-pjsf] and looked at some images and eventually decided that I could potentially hack a 1960s sundress top into a passable beach pajama bodice.
I left the front neckline alone, modified the back into a deep V shape, and left the waistline darts all open for a boxier shape. I also gave myself a few extra inches of length to tuck in. I did my best to roughly copy the details from the back bodice of the Decades of Style pattern, sewed up a sash with my remaining umbrella fabric to tie everything together (and disguise that I’d entirely run out of fabric to sew a proper waistband on the pants!) and declared the project done.
I’m not the happiest with how the back turned out (also, a good example of why wide-legged pants aren’t my favorite look!) but I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished given my time constraints!
I struggled with accessories, but ended up wearing a glass necklace that matched the colors of my outfit nearly perfectly. And clearly I wasn’t too worried about my entirely anachronistic watch and nail color! I took my best stab at 1920s-ish makeup and attempted to coerce my hair into a fake bob and something resembling a finger wave, and fortunately the weather cleared up just as we were getting in the car and it turned into quite a lovely day by the sea.
Most of the more old-fashioned and picturesque parts of the estate were taken up by partygoers, so we snapped these pictures in a modern art sculpture that was constructed along the lines of an old hedge maze. I thought it matched my outfit nicely.
- Blue glass beaded necklace: Probably one of my grandmothers
- Rhinestone and silver-tone screw back crescent moon earrings: Also probably one of my grandmothers
- 1920s/1930s style beach pajamas: Made by me, a mash-up of several patterns
- White 1940s style wedge sandals: Rocket Originals