Back in the 80s, sequins for evening wear were all the rage and I fell in love with this commercially made butterfly top. The piece had been handmade in India, and worked from underneath, using a tambour stitch to secure the sequins. It was worn to many black tie events, including a fewcruises. (Ah-h-h! Another lifetime!) The trouble was that as I grew older and heavier, if I lifted my arms, the “V” shape at the very bottom of the piece revealed my bare belly. So, rather than donate the piece to charity, I decided to add on to it, allow it to evolve as any butterfly would, and make it my piece of own wearable art.
Here is a detail shot of the center medallion that I used in the front and the back of the above mentioned “V” to “fill in the space” I needed. I used a gold brocade fabric for the center of the piece, and pink and black bugle beads to make a band around the center that radiated out like a star. Gold metal beads were added for their shine. A similar medallion was placed in the corresponding “V” on the back of the top so that my front and back were covered discreetly. After all, these were classy affairs!
However, the sides had the same baring problem when I raised my arms. There was that offending gap. (I hate it when clothes “shrink” like that on me!). Swallow tail butterflies, with the long lobes at the tips of their bottom wings are all over the place in my gardens in the Summer. Perfect, I thought, I’ll just add some really long lobes to make sure that this piece will be wearable for quite a while. I added strips of black and gold ribbon alternating with black satin. Two “shields” of black velveteen made the spots that are on often on the real butterflies. Scattered all over were some more of the pink bugle beads and gold metal beads. Instead of adding dress weights into the lining to get the panels to hang straight, I added some of my beloved buttons for the added weight. (The link has an interesting article on how the Queen of England solves the problem). The panels even give an interesting “swoosh, swoosh” sound when I walk, which makes me smile as if I were flying,
A few posts back, I wrote about chokers that I’ve made. The photo of the black one that shows up was made to be worn with this top. I also made a long black lace stole to drape over my arms and felt quite elegant when I went to parties. I love making things that are different, and wouldn’t be seen anywhere else, and always got a lot of compliments when I wore this outift. Alas, it’s gone out of style, but there have been a few Mardi Gras parties where it worked. Who knows what the future will bring for this top? If I wait much longer it will become an antique, but then I’, fast approaching that status, too!
What have you ever added to a piece of commercially made clothing to make it special? How did it make you feel when you wore it?
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