Friday, January 1, 2021

1930s Lemon Butterfly: repurposing a modern bridesmaid dress

In "Bridesmaid Revisited", I asked what does a bridesmaid do with her fabulous outfit after the wedding ceremonies are over. In this post, I'll show you another way I've repurposed my gorgeous yellow gown.

Every summer, the Art Deco capital of the world hosts the Napier Art Deco Festival. I bloom modestly in the midst of it because I live there. A modest and moral lady does have to be particular about what celebrations she exposes herself to from that era. Mostly I enjoy exploring the wide variety of fashion stylings that ladies of the period enjoyed, and creating portraits that salute them.

Desiring to celebrate the resourcefulness of the 1930s, and being a fashion frugalista myself, I give myself two boundaries.

1. I don't buy ready-made clothing from the city's plethora of specialist costume providers eager to tap my purse. I occasionally wander through their displays, but only for inspiration. Clothing comes out of my existing closet, and any new accessories required are made during the festival using my existing fabric and haberdashery stash.

2. I aim for verisimilitude rather than historical accuracy.

I have one other guideline that shapes my clothing choices. I'm not looking to emulate a promiscuous pin-up girl. I am interested in the moral women of the Depression era, whose courage, determination, and ingenuity formed the heroic linchpins of family stability in my Kiwi heritage. It's their legacy I want to honour as I enjoy my dress-up games.

The Satin Dress

The bridesmaid outfit I wore for my sister's wedding comprised of two pieces: a sleeveless, ankle-length, A-line underdress, and a lace overdress with angel sleeves and asymmetric hem. The lined satin underdress was designed to be worn without supportive underwear. Being extremely well-fitted, this modest lady won't wear it without something drapey over the top.

The Chiffon Shawl

Four square chiffon scarves sewn into a butterfly shawl created the perfect Art Deco answer as a modesty fixer, and it took very little sewing to accomplish it.
The two sides of the back are overlaid slightly, delicately secured from the top to midway with satin-stitched dots every couple of inches.

The backs and fronts are joined at the shoulder for about three inches, applying a reinforcing patch of bias tape to each side before sewing the two together with a decorative honeycomb stitch.

The two sides of the front are fastened with two gold buttons and a toggle crocheted from narrow satin ribbon.

The Silk Bandeau

The quickest way to get a 1930s look is with accessories. A headpiece is king.

I purchased this luscious silk sample during an extensive hunt for bridesmaid fabric for my sister's wedding. At only 10cm wide, the sample offered limited'd think.
But there are many ways to tie two ends. Bunch it this way. Turn it that way. Add a fulsome rose of satin ribbon and a squiff of floral mesh between... I was very excited with the result.
I hope you've seen something beautiful and inspiring today.

Look out for more Boutique Narelle posts detailing modest fashion techniques.

Fiat lux!

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