Upcycle 1920's Great Gatsby Dress from Slinky Slip and Silky PJ Pants


Blog Contents:


Me Not the Next 'American Idol'


Clothing--My Theater

The Advent of My Thrifting

Cut To Current 2020

Embarrassed By What? Vogue-ing?

Embarrassment Comes From Insecurities

The Befores

The Process

Final Photos

Next Upcyle



Look At ME, Look At ME!!!

I actually don't feel comfortable, visually that is, on Social Media.

Had you fooled right? With all those 'full of expression' photos I post!

Hamming up the spirit of each upcycle I create, whether modern, or vintage or party looks...

I've been hamming it up for many years.

me, 4 years old, posing in my aluminum foil crown and

'upcycled' Queen Dress my mom made for me out of 1970's orange (shocker!) curtains

if this photo doesn't say it all, then I don't know which would...

Me Not the Next 'American Idol'

I tried theater when I was younger, but I could not sing--and I mean, I can't sing at all. I was devastated each time I auditioned for a main role, was so close to it, but lost it to someone who could sing. I was a 'shoe-in' for the role of bratty Brigitta in the Sound of Music, but conceded to the girl who had the lovely voice. I cried inconsolably for days. I wanted to do theater.

Singing, just not in my 'wheelhouse'

This began the search for another theater outlet for myself.

me, 4th grade, a deliberate non-singing role

a religious "Postulate"...how befitting


Now cheerleading in 8th grade worked really well for me. Here was finally something I could do super well! I could dance, I could utilize all those 'mouth-a-gape' expressions, and I could act!!!

In fact, in 1986, I won MVP (Most Valuable Player) out of more than 300 girls in a San Francisco city wide tournament.

I still have this trophy! My mother used it as her door-stop for 20+ years

until she thought I should have it back to use as my doorstop!! LOL!

Redemption for all those theater roles I lost out to!

With the Yang of my success came the Yin in the form of bullying from 12/13 year old children. I was made fun of incessantly about those expressions and my physical looks. And all I ever wanted was to be in theater.

Add that 8th grade bullying to 'de rigeur' self-consciousness of being a teenage girl, I was a crumbled juvenile and did not further my cheerleading career into High School.

Clothing--My Theater

Turning more and more inward, versus outward, and not being talented in any sports at school, plus add a dollop of conventional teenage dynamics (there's a reason why stereotypes exist), I chose to protect myself and isolate more and more at home.

It was at this time I started sewing....

...when clothes became my stage.

Throw in the fact that I was the daughter of immigrant, blue-collar parents with finances tight, I had to have an after-school job. By default because I did not have a car, I worked at the neighborhood deli. Not loving this job--but it was a needed job--this is where I learned about thrift shopping.

The Advent of My Thrifting

My boss, Patty, always looked so nice--even if we were JUST slapping mayonaise and mustard onto sandwiches. I would compliment her, and at a time when is was shameful to shop at 2nd-hand stores, she offered the fact that all her clothes were thrifted. I asked where she shopped, and the rest is history for me!

Although I was more 'Preppy' in style during high school in the late 1980's, I could not afford retail Ralph Lauren, Izod, Benetton, L.L. Bean. Maybe I had one or two pieces gifted during Christmas or my birthday, but nothing more.

Thrifting allowed me the luxury of slowly eschewing these 'cookie-cutter' styles and develop not only my own look, but bolster my self-confidence.

WIth financial constraints an almost non-issue now (thrifting was pennies back way when), I could take risks. And with these risks, I was on my road to redemption by creating my own Theater Productions where I could be up front and center stage.

And this is how I finally came into my own during college and my young adulthood.

But little did I know, later on, my stage could be as large as I wanted via Social Media.

even bus-stops in post-Communist Poland did not escape a chance for theater!

me, when I was in college

this was an amazing orange wool turtleneck sweater!

and I wore torn-hem jeans before anyone else did! neither here nor there, but I want my teen girls to know their mama was ahead of the times...

still posing into my mid-20s...in my Deee-Lite "Groove Is In The Heart" Phase

All is fine with these photos as they were for me and my memories.

But sharing on Social Media? I would have never dared! ............or maybe I would have?

At that phase in my life, those who invented Facebook and Instagram and Tik Tok were not even born yet....just seedlings, right?

Cut To Current 2020

Sometimes I cringe when I think about the fact that I post my pictures on Social Media.

Although 'posing' comes very naturally to me, as evidenced by the photos I have shown you above, sharing NOW, at my age, is embarrassing. Had I been born 20 years later, it would be a given!

The only reason I do my modeling?

because my 18 & 17 yr. old teen daughters will not help their mom out...

And follow this logic: the only reason I am now Upcycling and Refashioning clothes for myself? Covid built a 360 degree tall wall around my local costume rental business www.CostumeTakeOut.com .

So if I want to showcase my creations--because what I do is textile art-- I can only display by wearing it.

Embarrassed By What? Vogue-ing?

And if you boil it down, what is embarrassment?

When I feel embarrassed it's really only those in my immediate community...but not my family--because they have seen and expect this 'Vogue-ing' from me, because I was born with a hand on my hip.

So who is it? It's my local community of women, moms, former co-workers, families in my suburbs...I'm embarrassed to being doing this in front of them. NOT the millions of people that are on my subscriber radars.

I caught wind of a few people making comments that got back to me such as "Oh, she's posting again?", "Creating again?", "New Business, eh?", "Maybe a little too old to model?"...and although it's not horrible, I understand the sentiments behind those comments because I know those people.

Then I became self-conscious again.

so much fun, but embarrassing to who? to them, not me

At a crossroad, I re-evaluated where and why I would post my Upcycles and Refashions

You know what I did? I never stopped posting where I wanted to. There will always be 'haters', and my 'haters' aren't the true kind of 'haters' anyway. Mine are mild and I am just being sensitive. Actually, I become stronger and even more confident in what I do.

Embarrassment Comes From Insecurities

Realizing the problem was with them--that their embarrassment for me came from their insecurities--was a game-changer in my approach to Social Media.

When someone doesn't feel actualized themselves or are actively accomplishments, it's so easy to tear someone else who is making their lives happen.

I have the guts to be true to me and what I feel is necessary for my 'theater'.

When all is said and done, these blog posts mean nothing to anyone except me, and as a legacy of my thoughts for my daughters when I am long past gone.

I want to be my authentic self. And if the need to take pictures of me in my creations, than so be be it.

The mild adversity again brings me to the top, and actually gives me more confidence in loving myself.


I think it's time to:



Somehow the color and fabric combination of this thrifted 1980's blazer, silk PJ bottoms, and Forever 21 long slip dress really beckoned me.

Each item purchased at completely different times.

The faux-brocade jacket was the inspiration piece from which the final product resulted. But little did I know---


---that the jacket did not play a significant role in the final look....just as a cover-up if let's say it was a cool day or evening. And that's okay. Sometimes in Upcycling I can't force something that does not want to happen.

However, my "Byers" (such a big brand in the 80's!) jacket set the tone for a romantic/feminine/vintage look, which I am starting to see myself leaning towards this style as I create. The vintage being the 1920's. Someone suggested to me once to use artistic paintings as a muse for color combinations, and the brocade print was my French countryside landscape.

And I will never shy away from making a dreamy vintage piece if I am summoned!

The periwinkle color of the PJ bottoms and the mauve color of the slip 'polyestery faux silk' dress were so well suited together not only color wise, but fabric weight wise and could be manipulated and sewn easily together.

Initially I wanted to make a lovely head-scarf from those PJ bottoms, but I couldn't resist the idea of using the silky fabric with the slip dress.

This slip dress was just awful on me! Way too long for starters, and the style was a No-Go for me and my 'hour glass' figure.

And the Blazer? She will just have to wait for another thrifted style or Upcycle

...I never know with these things!


Enough of Blazer Patronization!

Let's Get Started



Part One:

Top of Dress


1st Step--Un-Cross Straps

  • Remove straps and reattach straps straight down instead of criss-cross.

2nd Step--Cut New Hem

  • 2.1. Chalk new hemline.

  • 2.2. Cut new hem.

  • 2.3. Hope you made the right cut!

  • 2.4. Take a look at your new hem.

So here we pause to think...

How to use the PJ Pants as straps...

I can't describe what I was trying to achieve because frankly I had no clue. I took time making the straps letting the fabric lead me to where it wanted to go.

I knew I wanted romantic, vintage, little did I know I was headed for the 1920's!

So I draped the PJ legs in the front and back of the dress.

Then starting cutting up the PJ legs into strips. I used a serger to overlock the edges and then completed a narrow hem.

4th Step--Lower the Neckline

  • 4.1. Determine new neckline and remove straps.

  • 4.2. Turn inside out and press line.

  • 4.3. Snip excess.

  • 4.4. Turn top neckline back outside.

  • 4.5. Reattach straps.

5th Step--Add Sleeves

  • 5.1. Sew on first sleeve from strips cut from PJ legs.

  • 5.2. Make sure the shape works.

  • 5.3. Add second sleeve.

  • 5.4. Turn dress form around to check out back.

  • 5.5. Tie a bow in the back and check it out.

6th Step--Create Back "V"

  • 6.1. Chalk center line down back.

  • 6.2. Cut down chalk line.

  • 6.3. Tuck in corners inside out.

  • 6.4. Press down V and sew edges.

7th Step--Add Decorative Strip of Fabric Under Armholes

  • 7.1. Sew strip inside-out and sew along edge.

  • 7.2. Continue sewing up the other side of armhole.

  • 7.3. Tie decorative knot up front.

  • 7.4. Repeat steps 7.1.-7.3. for other side.


Part Two:

Make Dress Skirt


8th Step--Make Dress Skirt

  • 8.1. Cut broad fabric strips from PJ bottoms.

  • 8.2. Sew first PJ strip to hem of dress.

  • 8.3. Serge edges together.

  • 8.4. Sew mauve strip from excess slip dress from Step 2.

REPEAT THESE STEPS TWO MORE TIMES...one more blue and end with mauve.

Just an illustration to show how the layers build.


Part Three:

Make Dress Sash

& Add More Decorative Finishes


9th Step--Make Sash

  • 9.1. Use leftover fabric from Step 2 (there was a ton of it!), and find a thick strip of another fabric (I used left over linen).

  • 9.2. Create a tube of mauve fabric long enough to go around your waist.

Check out my cute teddy bear slippers! I made an enlargement of these cozy guys!

  • 9.3. Sew tube together on one seam.

  • 9.4. Pin interfacing on top of tube.

  • 9.5. Hand-stitch the interfacing in the middle of the tube to the tube fabric so interfacing will not shift while inverting the tube.

  • 9.6. Invert tube, sew down edges, and press.

10th Step--Make Blue Sash Overlay

  • 10.1. Cut equal lengths of blue silk fabric as the mauve sash in Step 9. Sew the ends together.

  • 10.2. Serge with a narrow hem, 3 thread-overlock stitch to create a silky edge.

  • 10.3. Tack by hand blue overlay onto mauve sash only in one spot.

11th Step--Add Shoulder Frills

  • Cut thinner strips of blue fabric, serge with rolled hem like in Step 10.

This was absolutely so much fun figuring out how to tie it in a charming way. And then I hand tacked the decorative tying so it would not move out of place. I love these kinds of details.


My Dress is Finished!


Ready To See How I Styled It?

without the hip belt & bow

with hip belt & bow

with blazer


I felt so girlie wearing such a feminine dress!

so much fun to wear!

styled Blazer without hip belt & bow just to see if the look would work

the thrifted necklace had such a vintage/deco vibe! and the pearlized modern handbag has a blue tint in the snake skin and the pink suede base

and now with the blazer tied with the belt & bow!

and a girl's gotta tie her shoe sometime!

yes! very happy how my mauve Gatsby dress turned out! and yes,

I would wear this to a special occasion and not as a costume!


Below is a sneak peak of SMT's next

Upcycle & Refashion!



Links To Other "Vintage Inspired" Upcycles:

Upcycle 'Great Gatsby' Garden Party Dress

from Long Sleeve Dress

Refashioned 1950's Dress

from Modern Zara Dress


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