Easter Bonnet Parade 1996 with Yvette

Recreate The Look: Easter Bonnet Parade 1996 

Where do you get your sewing inspiration? Instagram, magazines, celebrities, high street or high fashion? How about the Easter Bonnet Parade 1996? Bet you didn't think of that one! Now I say it, I’m wondering whether Easter bonnet parades are actually a thing or was it just something that my particular nursery had cooked up? For anyone curious, the concept is thus; parents decorate a straw hat and Easter themed accessories (with their toddler’s help/hinderance/indifference), dress up said toddler, the toddler and their peers parade around the school hall, family members come and appreciate their handiwork in producing such a fine and well accessorised child. Here’s 1996 Yvette to model the idea: 

Now that we’re all on the same page about the Easter Bonnet Parade, you’re likely still somewhat bewildered as to why I chose to recreate this look in particular. As with most of my sewing ideas, it all started with the fabric. When I saw this deadstock fabric on The Rag Shop Instagram feed it reminded me of this childhood dress and thought it might be fun to try and recreate it. I hunted down photos of the original dress with the help of my mum and her meticulously organised photo albums, and it turned out that this fabric was, unsurprisingly, much nicer than the brown floral of my mid 90s getup. However, I decided the ditsy floral and earthy tones were similar enough to the original dress to justify giving it a go.

The first stage was to figure out the design. I'm a big fan of hacking different patterns together - it means you get a unique garment with all the design elements you're after, without having to learn how to fully self draft! As the original dress had a Peter Pan collar, my first thought was the Bakerloo dress by Nina Lee. For a while I wondered whether to add the collar ruffles, which got me wondering whether to add more ruffles in between the skirt seams. I've seen a few dresses with this feature but I'm yet to try it myself. Minkie London has some fabulous examples that I’m constantly swooning over. 

Shortly after I had gratefully received the fabric from Steph, Sharlene announced the #sewrecreatethelook challenge on Instagram. This fit perfectly with my original idea to recreate my Easter Bonnet Parade dress and I resolved to put my ruffle ambitions aside for this project, and work on recreating the original design as closely as possible.


The original dress had a small Peter Pan collar, buttons and long sleeves with cuffs. For the sleeves I used my all time favourite sleeve from the Fibremood Norma pattern. I lengthened it to bracelet length and also extended the cuff pattern piece for a more prominent cuff. I also added interfacing to help the larger cuff hold its shape. Otherwise it is constructed in exactly the same way. Here is a comparison between my new dress sleeve and my first ever Norma blouse, which also happens to be in a fabric from The Rag Shop!

For the bodice I used a Tilly and the Buttons Indigo bodice that I had previously adjusted for fit and switched the armscye to match the Fibremood Norma sleeves. I added 4cm to the centre front, which I interfaced and folded over to create the button placket. I bought some white buttons to match the original garment but they just didn’t look right against the fabric, so instead I opted for these cream vintage buttons I inherited from my Nan. 

I decided to make the collar a big statement collar since that's so on trend at the moment. I used the Bakerloo collar as a starting point but ended up drafting my own collar as I wanted it to be slightly smaller and more rounded than the Bakerloo collar. I used masking tape to tape the front and back bodice pieces together with seam allowances overlapped then traced the neckline for the inner edge of the collar. I measured out from the inner edge to the size I wanted the collar to be, marked these points and joined them together with a smooth line. I used the Bakerloo collar finishing method with bias binding - there is often more value to patterns than the just design itself, I've learnt so much from sewing pattern instructions!

If you follow me on Instagram or YouTube, you'll know that I like sharing the ups and downs of my sewing projects. For a nice change, this project went pretty smoothly, hindered only by my lack of sewjo during the sweltering heatwave. This fabric is a viscose crepe so I did find it a little shifty when cutting out. I tried some spray starch for the first time which did help, although I think I need to work on a more even spraying technique as I ended up with some bits crunchy and other bits untouched. The skirt is a gathered rectangle approximately double the width of the bodice - I ripped the fabric from selvedge to selvedge, instead of cutting, to make sure it stayed on grain. Originally I had planned to make a midi skirt but I felt swamped with fabric with the long skirt alongside the high neck and long sleeves with the ditsy print all over, so I ripped it shorter to finish above the knee. It sounds like a dramatic moment -  if this blog were a cinematic experience, the ripping of the skirt would have been part of some bold act of feminist defiance or perhaps used to create an emergency bandage - alas, in reality it was a fairly mundane and practical sequence of taking measurements and carefully making a little snip to start off the ripping. The ripping part was extremely satisfying though!

Finally we've come to the moment you've been waiting for - the reveal of my final dress and the 'then and now' shots! Complete with recreations of my haunting stare and cheesy grin, you're welcome! 

90s toddler Easter styling aside, I think this dress turned out pretty cute! With the long sleeves and dark background colour, this dress feels more suited to my autumn/winter wardrobe worn with boots and tights. As is only appropriate for a me-made dress, this little number has generous pockets and ample room for cake! 

All goes to show, you can get inspiration from anywhere! 

The fabric Yvette used has now sold out but we have a lot of similar viscose fabrics here.

Want to see more from Yvette? You can find her on instagram at @blossomsandwich or on youtube here

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