The Last Tycoon Dress


What I like about this sewing challenge business is that it gives me a little push. A little nudge to make something special, something plucked directly from my dreams rather than “shopped for” from whatever happens catch my eye. This past summer I started watching The Last Tycoon, which has since been cancelled I believe, just because I wanted something pretty to look at while assembling PDF’s. It’s a very loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished last novel of the same name, given the Mad Men treatment: essentially a period workplace drama with a slick leading man, complicated romantic entanglements, and divine costuming by Janie Bryant. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was as good a show as Mad Men (or maybe it just didn’t grab me – either in spite of, or because of, my educational and professional background, stories about Hollywood rarely appeal to me), but the period, the 1930’s, just holds so much romance for me, I can’t explain it.

I binged it pretty swiftly. There were many, many, MANY beautiful garments (including a particular favourite dress worn by Lily Collins, which, delightfully, appears to be a nod to one worn by Joan Crawford), but I found myself rather taken with the day dresses, collar details, and casual rehearsal clothes.

One lovely day dress worn by Dominique McElligott had a large cape collar that reminded me of a pattern I’d long had my eye on: the Folkwear Beach Pyjamas. I thought something along the precise lines of “ooooooooo I’m having that one”. Folkwear, as one of the sponsors for Sewing The Scene, kindly sent me the pattern, and it’s just perfect. The collar is PERFECT.

Firstly, I had to hack it to a dress. I think it would have been easiest, and most faithful, to extend the overlapping bodice pieces into a skirt for a proper wrap dress, but I had my heart set on this luscious dark floral viscose from my stash, and I just didn’t have enough of it for two full skirt fronts. So plan B was to use the original beach pyjama yoke pieces, which are attached to the gathered bodice just above the waist, and stick a skirt on the bottom. At first, it looked really strange, really dowdy. So I lopped off about half the yoke, reattached the skirt and made a self fabric tie-belt (it works great with a RTW belt too), which is much, much better, although losing a little bit of the length isn’t strictly period. It was a little heartbreaking to start cutting into an almost-finished garment, but it was the right call. It’s a genuinely great dress in the end, and I cannot get enough of this collar.


I will definitely be sewing this again, next time trying a real wrap dress, and then next spring I want to make the full jumpsuit beach pyjamas. What I do know, is that the finishing details are delightful, the collar shape elegant, and I really love how the pattern comes with a little history blurb. I might size down next time, but it will depend on the fabric.

As for this version, it has a soft, floaty, romantic quality that I’m loving. The dark colours make it autumn-friendly for me, and it’s not so dressy or conspicuously period that I wouldn’t wear it for a normal day out. I wore it to Kew Gardens and drank Earl Grey from a thermos flask and thought, yep, this is the life. This is a piece for the dream wardrobe.

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Now obligatory bonus with my photobomber:


Thanks for reading guys. I’m loving seeing your Sewing The Scene projects. After Monday’s deadline I will post finalists on this here blog, and we can vote and just enjoy seeing these cool makes.

Jo xx


3 thoughts on “The Last Tycoon Dress

  1. I feel that same tension with every TV show that has great costumes and lackluster plot – obviously they wouldn’t produce a show that’s just people in well-lit rooms turning slowly, intercut with detailed close-ups of collars and cuffs, but WHY NOT, I ask you?! Stop talking and smooching and let me see what’s happening with the neckline there! ; ) That being said this is a lovely dress and I’m sure the full pajamas would be SO MUCH FUN to wear.


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