20th Century, Historical Sew Fortnightly

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


  1. I found your blog just a few weeks ago and like it a lot – so much information and inspiration, thanks for that.

    I especially like this dress because some days ago I finished a skirt with similar lines and now feel as if I really did the right thing 🙂
    Have a nice weekend (what is left of it)!

  2. hayley says

    I’m slightly disappointed you didn’t make the collar in pale green to match the fawns neck bow………… 🙂

    • I tried! They are actually turquoise, and I tried every turquoise fabric in Wellington against it, and they just looked horrible! Sometimes just because a colour is in a print doesn’t mean it actually matches the print, kwim?

  3. Lynne says

    Love it! The collar and belt absolutely make it work. Very strange, because it really is an almost-flesh-coloured sack. But add the white, and it looks really smart. And the beach is a charming location – that wee jetty sets so many outfits off well. You could say you were launching the bambi dress…

  4. Marilyn J. Hollman says

    The white adds a fawn-ish touch.
    Best thing was learning about the early Bambi.
    Does New Zealand have deer?

  5. It’s a cute fabric, but yes, the colour could be a bit dubious were it not for the white accents! Those pull everything together beautifully.

    And I also looked into Bambi. Wikipedia makes it sound so unique – I think it were Canadians who started with environmentalist books, though, and earlier than that. 😀 Anyway, it’s interesting how a trend is based on a book; that’s something that actually still happens nowadays.

  6. The dress turned out so lovely! The fawns are just too cute with their blue bows on the pink fabric.
    I can’t wait to see the secret project. OD bus sure and share it on the blog if you can!!!

  7. patty kimmel says

    I love this so much!! I am trying to find a dress made of this fabric, unfortunately I am an xl. Have you seen any online?
    thank you so much and you are just sooooo amazing!!!!

    • Thank you! There were a number of NZ designers that used this fabric for blouses (possibly dresses as well). However, that was two years ago so it’s unlikely that any of their garments are available any longer. 🙁

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