Fringe - Sew It On & Create a 1920s Flapper Girl Halloween Costume
I am hot with a bout of Fringe Fever since I’ve been sewing on metres of fringe onto my Gia Slip Dress by Capsule Patterns in order to create a Halloween costume. This project was made possible by Rit Dye, whom I partnered up with for a Halloween Campaign on Instagram. Please check out my IG reel which documents the dyeing process of the dress with Rit DyeMore for synthetic fabrics.
I must say that I am totally enjoying Rit DyeMore products, not just because I was paid to promote it on IG, but my completely unbiased opinion is that they are extremely easy to use with color formulas that provide an infinite number of shades and colors. The collaboration didn’t require me to write a blog post at all, so all the opinions stated here about the products are my own. The best way to dye synthetic fibres or materials is via the stovetop method, which keeps the dye vat at almost 100 degrees celsius for at least 30 minutes of dyeing. For the Flapper Girl dress, I used 3 colors - Tropical Teal, Kentucky Sky and Daffodil Yellow - to create a pale turquoise color.
Different synthetic materials react differently to dyes, so the fringe on the dress turned out a mint green, the polyester/lyocell fabric blend picked up a more yellowish tone, and the headdress was closest to the pale turquoise.
It was a gamble dyeing the feather boa in the same dye vat because it is recommended to use the Rit Dye All-Purpose for natural materials including feathers. I did it anyway because I was afraid that if I used the All Purpose dyes, then it would be harder to match the turquoise shades between natural and synthetic materials in the outfit. In the end, I was surprised that the feathers actually absorbed the DyeMore colors very well. In addition, it took very little time for them to get a rich color in the dye vat. I only let the feathers sit in the vat for only 5 minutes, and they picked up a fabulous pale turquoise shade that goes really well with the mint green of the dress. An experiment to see what color the feathers would be if I left them for the full 30 minutes can be seen in the picture below:
The feather on the far right was submerged for 30 minutes, while the left and middle feather was submerged for 5 minutes. The feather on the left is what it looks like when still wet, and the middle feather is the final color when it’s completely dry. That’s another thing to keep in mind while dyeing: that the final color will be a shade or two lighter when dry.
There was all this excitement with trying a new product, and the Rit DyeMore range means that it opens up all the possibilities of dyeing with synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon and plastic. That was a thrilling prospect. To add to the exhilaration of this new discovery, I was also playing with fringe and learning how to use it for the best swishy effect. It’s so fun to wear a fringe dress because of all the lovely movement that the fringe provides. Also, the fringe instantly brings glamour and drama to any outfit. The following slider is a progression of how the base garment was adorned with fringe, dyed, then accessorised for the full Flapper Girl effect:
Fringe comes in many different forms and lengths. Some are beaded strands, and some are bedazzled with sequins. However, most of them are made with polyester as the base material. They come in various lengths ranging from 5cm to 100cm, maybe more. The one that I used for my Flapper Girl Dress is 30cm tall, and I ordered it online from Aliexpress. One big piece of advice about working with fringe is to overestimate the length that you will need especially if you’re thinking about attaching fringe to the full length of the dress or top. I was lucky that I bought mine in bulk. They came in unbroken lengths of 10 metres, and I used it all for the Flapper Girl Dress. I thought that I would only use 5 metres, but ended up with only 10cm of extra trim left when the project was done.
The Flapper Girl costume was so fun to make that I started on another fringe project immediately after. This time, I made a crop top instead.
The crop top was dyed in the Rit DyeMore Super Pink color, with no mixing of other colors, and I love how the shade of pink is soft but bright as well, with an undertone of purple. This top used up about 6 metres of a different fringe trim that is studded with sequins, and is 20cm tall. For both garments, I used fringe trims that were white, and dyed them the color I wanted after I sewed the fringes on. You don’t have to do it this way if you can’t be bothered with the extra step of dyeing. However, I find that it is difficult to find the right color of fringe trim that doesn’t look radioactive or too-too-glaringly bright. That is why I took the dyeing route. The other reason was that I was getting paid to dye it - ha! And it’s one extra step, but the result of the colors I got is definitely well worth the effort and time. Plus, it doubles up the fun!
A word of warning: if you want to dye your fringe, remember that there would be some shrinkage of the material when it is sitting in a hot dye vat. For this reason, perhaps it’ll be playing it safe to dye the fringe before sewing it on. This shrinkage happened to both my outfits, but I got lucky because I was half-anticipating that it would happen, and cut out my dress a little larger than my actual size to accommodate for any shrinkage that would occur. In addition, I reasoned that if it didn’t shrink, that the dress would still fit OK with a little bit more give since flapper dresses in the 1920s tend to hang a bit looser on the body. After dyeing, I felt that the dress and the top shrank about 7-10%, and I reckon that it wasn’t only the fringe that shrank, but also the fabric itself. Even though I pre-washed and pre-pressed it before cutting, I think that the fabric shrank a little bit more in the hot dye vat as well. So to be ultra super safe, maybe do the opposite of what I did: dye your fabric and fringe before sewing it up.
Both top and dress come from the same sewing pattern - the Gia Slip Top/Dress by Capsule Patterns. It’s a garment that is sewn on the bias, which makes it cling flatteringly on your body. I chose to make the size 4, and added ¼ inch to both side seams in case I needed some extra room to play with, and as I said, it worked out really well. However, if I didn’t have to dye the garment, I would stick with the pure size 4 sizing and not make any changes. Sizes for this pattern go from US size 2-14. The other modification that I did was to straighten out the shape of the back neckline from a V to a softly scooped line. This was done mainly to make sewing on the fringe easier. This was also the reason that I chose the straight neckline for the front. There is another view of the dress which has a V neckline in the front as well. The best detail for me is that this dress has double spaghetti straps, with one pair of straps criss-crossing in the back.
The last modification I made has to do with changing the lengths of both top and dress with the lengths of the fringes in mind. For the dress, I shortened it to where my fingertips are touching my thighs; and the crop top was cut right where my waistline is. It’s also helpful to know that bias-cut dresses tend to hang a tad longer when you’re wearing it than when it’s lying flat. In addition, when I was sewing on the fringe, I had to stretch out the fabric some to follow the give of the dress. I did this for all the rows of fringe except for the one at the hem. The reason being that the hem will hang wavy - it’s part of the beauty of the bias cut. However, this waviness looks strange when there’s the braided cording of the fringe attached to it. That is why when I sewed the fringe onto the hem, I was doing my best not to stretch out the fabric at all. Of course, if you decide to use a slip dress that is cut on the grain, then you would be saved from the trickiest bit of this sewing project - which is trying to figure out how much of the bias-cut dress I should stretch out while sewing on the fringe. Nevertheless, I consider it a good decision to have stuck to a bias-cut dress because I really like how the dress shapes itself around the curves of the body.
Another thing to keep in mind for a fringe dress is the choice of fabric. There’s a lot of weight added onto the dress when there’s 10 metres of fringe hanging off of it, so I knew that I needed a fabric that would be strong enough to hold up to the weight. But I also wanted something that wasn’t stiff, and had some drape and movement. I settled on a textured suiting fabric from Minerva which is of medium weight and of a polyester/lyocell blend. It says that there’s Elastane thrown into the mix, but I feel there’s very little elasticity in it. One last piece of advice: try not to choose a base dress with a zipper in it because it's a real pain trying to zip it open and close with all this fringe hanging loose.
Finally, I made a YouTube video which is basically a sewing tutorial on how to sew fringe onto a garment. And you can view it here:
I’m pretty sure that I can style up my pink fringe top into a Disco Queen Halloween costume as well, which means that I’ve already got 2 Halloween costumes lined up for this year. I hope this post is giving you the itch to make your own, because the best costumes are the ones we make ourselves. Throw some fringe on some little-loved garment that is in your closet and transform it into a dazzling costume. It doesn’t take up much time at all. It might look intimidating to work with all this fringe, but it’s actually quite easy to do. The crop top that I made was sewn up in one morning - fringe and all. If I didn’t have to document the make with video, it would have taken less time as well. The big bonus is that I believe I’ve made 2 costumes that I would actually wear on non-Halloween days as well. So get yourself some fringe and happy sewing!