Style & Then Some

How to make a bumblebee flapper dress fancy dress costume

When I chose the fancy dress themes – yes, multiple themes – for my 30th birthday party I already had one of my costumes in mind. The three options were bees, pandas and Star Wars, and I’d decided I would take a black dress and somehow apply yellow stripes so that it was bee-like, but not a crazy/skimpy/boiling hot outfit I’d regret the minute I put it on. I had my black Bardot dress (I bought two at the same time) and with a bit of help from my friend Roxane and her sewing machine I started sewing strips of yellow material onto it. It looked okay, but then it hit me one day what would be a much better material to emulate the fluffy stripes of a bee, and so it began: my quest to make a bumblebee flapper dress…

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You will need:

A short black dress – mine was a jersey fabric but it’d make your life a lot easier if the material wasn’t stretchy

2 metres yellow and 2 metres black 4-inch fringing – You may need to adjust according to your size and the length of your dress. I ordered mine on the phone from Fabricland for delivery, total cost with P&P £8.50.

A sewing machine

Pins, tape measure, scissors etc

How to make the dress:

1. Start by working out how many layers of alternating black and yellow fringing you’ll need by measuring your dress from the top to the hem. The fringe is 4 inches long but you want the layers to overlap slightly (by about an inch) and for the last layer to hang over the hem slightly. I used four rows each of black and yellow.

2. Put on the dress, take the black fringe and hold it along the top hem to work out how wide the first row needs to be. Cut off the strip of fringe. Then, starting in the middle, and while still wearing the dress, pin the fringe in place. N.B: You need to keep the dress on otherwise when you pin it the fabric won’t be stretched to the right width. If you use a none-stretchy fabric you can pin it flat and everything will be much easier.

3. Carefully take off the dress and adjust or add any pins so that the fringe is held in place. Then use the sewing machine to sew the fringe to the dress, being careful to keep the ends of the fringe out of the way so they don’t get caught. It was a bit tricky because the length of fringe was longer than the unstretched material but I just about managed it, a few wonky rows aside.

4. Repeat this process for each of the rows. By the end I was pinning two at a time and then sewing them. It took probably four hours in total.

5. Snip off excess thread or loops of the fringe that have been cut and you’re done. You could also add wings or any of the various bee bits you can get in fancy dress shops, but I didn’t bother.

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

The two types of fringing I used

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

Tilly went nuts for the fringing – I think she was trying to make herself a dress here

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

The first row pinned and ready to sew

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

Sewing the first row

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

The finished article

Bee fancy dress bumblebee honeybee costume girls fancy dress womens fancy dress black yellow striped dress flapper dress fringed dress 1920s how to make sewing how to sew

With my fellow bees at the party

My other costume was much easier. All I had to do was buy a C-3PO swimming costume, some gold leggings and a pair of gold shoes (all from eBay) and my terrifyingly tight C-3PO fancy dress was complete.

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One comment on “How to make a bumblebee flapper dress fancy dress costume

  1. allthoughtswork
    August 30, 2014

    That dress needs some jazz music and a cocktail, pronto!

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2014 by in Style and tagged , , , , , .
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