Vintage Decorative Dressmaking

Vintage Decorative Dressmaking

How Much Does It Cost?

How Much Does Roaring Twenties fabric Detail Cost Today?

It was a time for a change and prosperity in every way, the twenties were remembered for its speakeasy, flappers, prohibition and social change.

The 1920’s was an era that turned the world upside down and began the long road to liberation for women. For me the lure of the era has to do with the elaborate beading, fabric manipulation and detail of what seems to be from one basic style; the one piece chemise and the drop waist dress and suits with long structured jackets.

The focus of this article is to explore what makes these styles timeless in their simplicity, but fashion icons based on the fabric and hand-sewing skill needed to carry out the stunning effects.

Another reason that I thought this article was a good idea was my love for the PBS series Downton Abbey, and the fashions worn throughout the series and a few other fashion books that I have covering fashions from that decade such as the Fashion Source Book 1920’s by Charlotte Fiell.

Another title in my library is “The 1920’s Fashion Sourcebook” by John Peacock.

How were these pieces affordable? I pondered that question and the fact is they were not affordable then and they are not today, at least for the real thing.

Most women of the time were schooled in the hand arts and a lot of the dresses were imported from Paris.

So start thing off I would like to introduce you to a woman with extraordinary talent Mary Holland, the artist behind Mary Gwyneth, a fashion designer and the creator of the White Peacock gown and coat and Niche award finalist.

Why am I featuring her in this article? Because her surface hand-work is beautiful, and I happen to know just how many hours went into creating this incredible work of wearable art.

The White Peacock Trousseau is a fine example of what’s known as fine embellishment techniques and provides a modern example of the beadwork, thread work and Passementerie (couching) in detail on silk fabric.

White Peacock Gown, Backless Wedding Dress retail price $25,999.

SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY SALE White Peacock Gown, Backless Wedding Dress or Evening Gown by MaryGwyneth Fine Wearable Art

The item description states:

The couture White Peacock Gown, a stunning couture silk wedding or evening gown by nationally recognized NICHE Awards designer Mary Gwyneth, is offered at a special SALE introductory price, regularly $25,999. This backless dress is a foundation piece in the White Peacock Couture Collection. It would make a knockout winter wedding gown for a Very Special Woman.

Styled to match the White Peacock Coat, separately listed, the White Peacock Gown will draw hushed audience murmurs at a wedding, state event, or private party.

The silk charmeuse White Peacock Gown recalls the muse’s otherworldly beauty. Lustrous, large freshwater pearl drops and silver-lined glass beads sewn into a Gothic window pane pattern sway and sparkle on the deeply cut, sweeping open organza back, giving the illusion of a backless wedding dress. read more

HOLIDAY SALE White Peacock Coat NICHE Awards Finalist Fabulous Couture Silk Pearl Beaded Wedding Coat By MaryGwyneth

The WHITE PEACOCK COAT by Mary Gwyneth is being offered for private sale, at a special introductory HOLIDAY SALE price. Regularly retails for $43,000.

This unbelievably beautiful, show-stopping, fabulous wedding coat is fit for a genuine Princess. It’s one of Mary Gwyneth’s early (read, highly collectible) and finest original couture designer samples. It is finally being offered for public sale to one Very Special woman. It was a finalist in the national 2010 NICHE Awards in the Fiber, Surface Design category.

The coat can be worn two ways – as a three-quarter length coat, or unsnapped inside and worn as a graceful beaded cropped jacket over an evening pants set or the White Peacock Gown, sold separately.

Growing up on a farm in the far reaches of northern New York State, my family had a majestic pet peacock. It was stirring those childhood memories of the extraordinary romantic beauty and other-worldly elegance of these birds that inspired me to bring the rare white peacock to silk and beadwork in the one of a kind, couture “White Peacock Coat.” Read more

As you can see Mary’s work is exquisite, it is rare now to see such quality workmanship.

HOLIDAY GIFT SALE Golden Garden Coat and Hat, One of a Kind Couture Art Jacket Designer Sample Handmade Christmas Gift by MaryGwyneth

Golden Garden Coat and Hat, One of a Kind Couture Art Jacket, retails $6675.

Covered in three-dimensional origami silk and beaded flowers, this fabulous golden silk couture wearable art coat with matching hat is the foundation piece for the Mary Gwyneth Golden Garden Collection. What an incredible handmade gift for someone you love!

Iridescent raw silk dupioni, in assorted colors from the artist’s fabric library, created this original one-of-a-kind, dress-length, long-sleeve coat, and hat.

Nature’s allure comes alive in this dreamy ensemble. Pale-yellow warp threads within the fabrics represent golden sunlight sparkling in a rising dew mist. The original three-dimensional floral elements are influenced by the designer’s love of origami. Read more…

Next let’s explore the techniques Mary used and let’s look at a few 1920’s examples of similar embellishments and fabrics.

Bead –  is simply the art of embellishing fabric with beads. Methods are as simple as they are many, you will find various complexities and an infinite number of applications. Bead embroidery is limited only by one’s imagination.

Here is few couple examples on Peggy in Paradise Blog

Mary Colbert’s Needle and Thread book review explores bead embroidery

bead embroidery shelley cox

Bead Embroidery (Essential Stitch Guides)

Now let’s look at material cost, fabric, beads, threads, etc., these cost doesn’t take into account the labor or other fixed and variable cost.

Look at this example of beautiful surface work.

Another technique that I would like to reference is , what is it? The technique was used widely in the 1930’s, it an odd name for a way to join pieces of fabric, producing an open decorative seam. There are many variations and endless uses. One thing is for sure there are basic versions and very complex uses such as creating an entire garment.

The technique is comprised of several embroidery or decorative stitches the twisted insertion stitch, knotted insertion stitch, mock hemstitching, and lace (lacea) stitch.

Kim’s blog has great examples of faggoting.

You can also find a machine stitched example of the mock hemstitch on Threads.

I did find one reference a Weldon reproduction that can be found on Amazon.

A really great book that I do own is “Decorative Dressmaking” by Sue Thompson and the technique is referenced there.

Are you going to create a flounce on your next skirt, dress or blouse, or maybe stripes, or pintucks? I like piping, I even made my own with my last doll project using double folded bias tape and cord. What about bands and binding, those I use all the time, have you heard of the Hong Kong finish? Here’s a picture of my last project using that finish.

I like piping, I even made my own with my last doll project using double folded bias tape and cord. What about bands and binding, those I use all the time, have you heard of the Hong Kong finish? Here’s a picture of my last project using that finish.

Burlap Over-Blouse Hon Kong Finish
Burlap Over-Blouse Hon Kong Finish

Here’s a video on the sewing technique ruching for your enjoyment.

What about pleats, beading and remember applique is for more that quilting, talk to me about your next project and what special technique you’ll try.

Until next time.




Your thoughts, ideas & comments are appreciated