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The ‘Bambi & Bows’ 1929 dress

Whew!  A day late, but my dress for the HSF ‘Pink’ challenge is done!

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

Things got held up by a nasty attack of hayfever, which turned into a nasty cold.  And at the same time I’ve got a massive, top-secret, super-exciting project to work on: the biggest project I’ve ever had.  And it’s amazing.  And due on the 28th.  And in the meantime I’ve got a trip away to Napier’s Art Deco weekend, and a trip away to Auckland on the weekend of the 2nd of March.

So for a while not much happened with the fabric except Felicity lying on it:

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

But this weekend I hauled myself out of bed, and, with the help of a box of tissues, I alternated an hour on The Project and an hour on my dress, and got it done late on Sunday.

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

As you can tell, the fabric is indeed pink, and features darling fawns with bows around their necks scattered  across it.  The English-language edition of ‘Bambi, A Life in the Woods‘ was published in 1928 (the movie did not come out until ’42), and was an instant hit, inspiring a whole plethora of fawn themed designs.  The fabrics I know of were probably intended for children’s wear, but finding such a perfect Bambi fabric was too good to pass up on for a 1929 dress.

Excella E3178 late 1920s dress

Excella E3178 late 1920s dress

I was extremely dubious about this dress as I sewed it up: it just looked like an almost-flesh-coloured sack.  Then I added the collar and bow and belt, and suddenly it all came together, and I’m in love!

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

I’ll be wearing it next weekend at Napier’s Art Deco weekend, along with a matching cloche.  For now though, I did a simple -pre-dinner photoshoot in Wellington.  Mr D was quite grumpy that I insisted on a pre-dinner shoot, so I let him choose the location.  Inexplicably he decided to head to our favourite beach, rather than simply walking around our neighborhood, which was my choice (and which would have taken half the time).

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

So I have no idea what the dress has to do with the photoshoot locations.  Bambi on the beach?  OK.

The Challenge: #3 – Pink

Fabric:  2m of pale pink poly-chiffon (shhhh) with fawns ($16 per metre), 1/4m white rayon challis ($2).

Pattern: Excella E3178

Year: 1929

Notions: Thread, a vintage shell belt buckle ($2), vintage 1960s fusible belting.

How historically accurate is it? The fabric is poly, so not accurate, though the particular weave and hand is a good match for early rayon chiffons.  And I overlocked all the interior seams, because poly frays like mad.  And I have no evidence than any adult ever wore a dress patterned with fawns in 1929.  So 75%

Hours to complete: 7.  I was slow.

First worn: Sun 16 Feb for the photoshoot.

Total cost: $36

1929 'Bambi and Bows' dress

A ‘life fell on me’ post

I have so much to blog about, so many elaborate posts half started, and SO MUCH TO DO.

Life has pretty much fallen on me, and it’s big, and heavy, and all you can see of me are little dreamstress hands and feet sticking out from under it, scrabbling wildly at the ground.  You know how that feels?

So the solution to that is cute Felicity-ness:

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

 

She’s not helping me get stuff done.  She thinks that my slippery, wibbly, tricksy, every so carefully layed-out and placed chiffon is the perfect place to lie, and why am I glaring at her like that anyway?

The rather evil bambi fabric is being turned into this, for the HSF pink challenge:

E3178 E3178 late 1920s dress

Excella E3178 late 1920s dress

It’s currently driving me crazy because it is so slippery, and it is almost, but not quite, reversible, so you have to keep careful track of fronts and backs as you work with it, and the pattern is asymmetrical, so everything has to be cut out unfolded.

So that’s my life (wiggles hand goodbye from under it).

HSF Challenge #23: the Ettie Mae Hooverette Dress

When it came time for the HSF Challenge #23: Gratitude (make something utilises the tutorials, patterns and research that so many of the historical costuming community make available for free) I was in a bit of a quandary.  I’ve got a list of tutorials and patterns that I want to use that is a mile long, and kilometres of fabric and lace that have been gifted to me by generous people, but every one of these tutorials and patterns was would be a very involved project.  Stupidly I’d scheduled the ‘Generosity’ challenge right at the end of the university semester, and I was up to my neck in marking.

What to do!?!

I had a browse through the HSF photo albums and finished projects for inspiration, and was reminded again of the Hooverette dress that Jen did for the Robes & Robings challenge.  It’s simple, it’s sweet, I’m madly in love with it, and I want one!  Also, Jen did a bunch of awesome research on Hooverette and wrap dresses from the 20s-40s, making reproducing one easy.

After looking at all the different types of Hooverettes, I was particularly drawn to the early-mid ’30s styles with shawl collars and little puff sleeves, such as this one, and this one.  I don’t think I’ve worn little tiny puff sleeves on anything since I was about 5, but every once in a while my inner Anne gets her way!

I had some 1930s inspired quilting fabric in stash, and I actually own a late ’20s wrap dress pattern:

Excella E3244 late 1920s wrap dress

Excella E3244 late 1920s wrap dress

The pattern simply calls it a ‘wrap around frock’ and it’s a bit early for the look I’m going for, but I used it as a pattern base, and drafted my own slim 1930s skirt and a shawl collar, and borrowed puff sleeves from another 1930s pattern.

Things started out easily enough, and then I decided to get complicated and have a contrasting collar, and the white for my collar and cuffs and sash was too white, so I tea-dyed:

Tea Dyeing thedreamstress.com

The middle fabric is dyed, the outer two are not – I just wanted to cut the brightness of the white the tiniest bit.

As it turns out, that was the beginning of my problems – I forgot to dye the sash pieces, and then couldn’t get them to match, and then cut the sleeve cuffs wrong, and had to re-cut them out of un-dyed fabric.  In the end, my sash, cuffs and collar were all different dye jobs!

Then there were sewing headaches with getting the wrap of the shawl collar to sit right,but in the end, I persevered, and I’m extremely pleased with the overall result:

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com
(OK, so I wish the collar was wider and more crazy-30s, but I’ll get that right next time)

The pattern has cunning little tucks at the waist to give it shape:

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

I edged the collar, and cuffs in tiny red ric-rac to give them definition.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

It’s very subtle, but provides just the right contrast and pop to the dress.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

Or at least I think so!

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

I repeated the ric-rac on the pocket and added white piping to keep it from blending into the dress:

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

I couldn’t do it on the waist ties though, as they would have been too stiff.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

The proof of the pudding, is, of course, in the wearing, and let me tell you, this wears well!

I’ve already worn it to do a last bit of university work, to hang out the laundry, wash dishes, make dinner, and tidy around the house, as well as to teach a sewing class.

It was a fantastically warm day in Wellingon: almost too warm, and brilliantly sunny.  In between doing housework and errands I stopped by Madame O’s house for a photoshoot.  Like many people in earthquake-wary Wellington, she’s having her chimney removed, so when I arrived she was literally shoveling out dirt from a hole in the floor where the fireplace had been, but she climbed out to have a cup of tea and take photos of me.

We sat in her pocket handkerchief back garden and I posed with the roses and lemons and old-fashioned grapes:

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sun.  Frogelina was loving the weather.  I was posing and Madame O was snapping away and then I noticed Miss Frogelina hanging out and watching the show.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

I’m in love with the dress as a whole, but I’m particularly in love with the pocket.  It’s big enough for my car keys and a coin/card purse and a lip gloss.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com
Or a lemon.  Lemons are good too!

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

The Challenge: #23: Generosity & Gratitude

Fabric: 2m reproduction 1930s print quilting cotton ($4 per metre on sale), 1/3 metre white lawn for the collar, cuffs & sash ($5 per metre)

Pattern: My own, mushed together from various vintage patterns and with a bit of drafting (hmmm…this sounds really familiar).

Year: ca. 1934

Notions: Cotton thread, vintage ric-rac, vintage bias hem tape, all inherited.

How historically accurate is it? While the print is accurate, quilting/craft cotton is not an accurate weight or hand for the 1930s (which is why all those reproduction prints are so annoying – perfect pattern, not at all period fabric!), so the dress doesn’t wear or hang as a period original would.  My construction is all period perfect though.  So 70%.

Hours to complete: 5 or 6.  I spent way too much time fussing with the collar.

First worn: All day Wednesday to be a teacher and seamstress and housewife and friend.   

Total cost: $9.50

And special thanks goes to: Jen, for the inspiration and research, and Madame O, for taking time out of her busy day to do a photoshoot for me.

1930s inspired 'Hooverette' wrap dress thedreamstress.com

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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