Add fringe to an existing dress to make a quality, ‘20’s flapper dress.

Cost: $66, although I only used about half the fringe I bought.

Time: around 4 hours.

A little while ago my husband bought tickets for us to attend Davina and the Vagabonds. If you ever get a chance to see Davina and her band, take it! It was such a fun show.  She plays vintage-y big band music, so of course I had to wear a costume. I decided to go with 20’s style. I looked online for dresses, but it is hard to know what kind of quality you are going to get with online costumes, unless they are custom from reputable shops. I didn’t want to shell out $35 for a Halloween costume quality dress that would fall apart half way through then night. I also didn’t want to pay $150 from a quality shop if I’m not going to wear the dress very often.

I instead decided to add fringe to an existing dress to create a quality dress for less mullah.

Step one: Find an existing dress.

I started with a thirty-dollar black dress from Target in a very basic shape. This works best with a structured, woven dress. Mine has a tiny bit of stretch and a zipper in the back. A super stretchy fabric wouldn’t be able to sustain the weight of the fringe as well.

Step two: Decide on fringe. I used about 12 yards of fringe.  At Joann’s fringe was $8 a yard, but no one should ever buy anything from Joann’s without the 40% off, downloadable coupon.  But even with the coupon, that is $57. On Amazon, I found 20 yards of quality fringe for $36.  I decided to buy the roll from Amazon because I had NO idea how much I would be using. Decide which option is best for you.

Step Three:  Sewing Machine. It doesn’t need to do anything fancy. I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time, so I invited myself over to a friend’s house to use her machine. (Thanks Crystal!)

Step Four: Mark the top layer of fringe. This only applies if the dress you are starting with has sleeves. I started my first row at about the same level it would be if I was wearing a strapless dress. I marked the level with pins while I had the dress on. If your dress is strapless or spaghetti straps, start at the very top. I had people ask why I started at the top instead of the bottom, because they thought the fringe might get in the way. I thought the line where the fringe hit my bust area was more important than where it hit at the bottom, so I started at the top. Also, the fringe wasn’t a big deal to flip up while working on the space beneath.

Step five: Measure the fringe, pin, and cut. Make sure the fringe is in a straight line across the dress.

Step six: Sew. Don’t be scared! Sew the fringe onto the dress. For any of you who don’t sew on a regular basis, make sure to do a back stitch* any time you begin or end the line.

Step Seven: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I used a card cut to slightly shorter than the fringe length as a measuring device. I slid the card along the underside of the previous line of fringe as I pinned the new line of fringe. It worked pretty well.

My first two rows just went across the front, because the arm whole was in the way. It wasn’t until the third row that I needed the fringe to wrap all the way around. At that point, I started each fringe line on the back of the dress on one side of the zipper, had it wrap around to the front, and then end on the other side of the zipper.

I did learn to leave and inch or two extra fringe when wrapping all the way around the dress. I’m not sure how it happened, but I would pin the fringe on and then I would come up an inch or two short. So cut the fringe a touch too long.

I love how the dress ended up. The black fringe on black dress is very forgiving with any blunders I did make. It is fun to dance in, and I know it won’t fall apart at first wash. It might not be Downton Abbey standards, but hey! Let me know if you have any questions, or if anyone has a similar project!


*To create a back stitch, drive forward onto the fabric and fringe top for a half inch. Most sewing machines have a button or lever to push to send the needle backwards to lock in the stitch. Do the back stitch the half inch until the needle reaches the edge of the fabric and you are good to go. Sew forward as usual.