The T-Room
Counter: 1979

T. Bag Retro Sketch - The Retro Sketch Dress

Many people who have commented to me about the costumes in the Retro Sketch have siad that they thought T. Bag's red dress was the Pearl Dress. The dress actually was intended to be a heavy nod towards the original T. Bag iconography, and it drew heavily on Raymond Childe's designs. It was, however an original costume that incorporated elements of its predecessors.

The dress

The dress is based around a medieval costume pattern (Butterick 4827 - Medieval Princess Gown) with some modifications, such as the addition of the girdle and decorated neckline, the addition of godets in the skirt, the shoulder drapes and the overlay. The dress is made from Duchess satin with a glitter tulle overlay in black. There is a shaped hem to the skirt so that it has a slight train. The godets in the skirt do not have an overlay and are plain orange duchess satin.


 The shoulder drapes are made from a metallic mesh with an embossed spider's web pattern on it. The fabric appears black, but shimmers gold and blue depending on how the light catches it.

The neckline of the dress is around 4" wide with the lower edge dipping to a point at the centre front. The neckline is interfaced copper coloured liquid lame backed with red felt. It is decorated with a wavy pattern of red tissue lame which is bondawebbed in place and then the edges are embroidered with metallic gold thread. Where the wavy lines cross, hand crocheted gold lace stars are hot-glued in place. Each of these small stars has a small pearl bead sewn into the centre (the picture above was taken before these were added to the centre back stars). Where there are loops in the red lame pattern, an oblong emerald embroidery stone has been added. The centre front of the neckline has a larger lace crochet star. This star has five tear shaped peridot embroidery stones set at the points of the star in addition to the central pearl. The neckline is edged at the top with gold lurex trim with a multicoloured central band to give the illusion of more jewels. The lower edge carries a row of gold looped trim and a row of strung half-pearl beads.


The girdle is contructed in the same way as the neckline. The pattern of red tissue lame, however, takes on a more "flame like" or barbed appearance in the streamer at the front, inspired by the pattern on Tallulah's silk chiffon dress from "Turn on to T. Bag". The picture above shows the part nearest the bottom of the streamer. The upper part of the streamer and the waistband are decorated with small lace stars. The lower part of the streamer, however, is decorated with larger lace stars. These stars (as the picture shows) have a blue topaz jewel in the centre with pearl droplets mounted in the points of the star. The bottom edge of the streamer carries 3 free-dangling pearl teardrops.

The centre of the waistband carries the largest lace star. This large and intricate star (made from 4 concentric stars with various decorative turns and tricks in crochet) is adorned with 5 teardrop peridot jewels and 5 teardrop pearls. In the centre of the star is mounted a large Swarovski crystal, which is supposed to represent a Sunstone of Montezuma.

 The tiara

An interesting fact about the tiara is that it was the first part of the costume to be made, and it inspired the rest of the dress. I had the general idea for the overall shape of the dress, but not the details of the decoration for the neckline and girdle. I knew I needed stars because I was intending to use Tallulah, and stars were her "thing". I also knew that if I wanted to use Tallulah, then stars would have to feature in her tiara, and I wanted to go with something similar to the original tiaras with the stars up on stalks, although I wanted it to look a little more refined and less cumbersome. I therefore designed and made this. When making the headband, I wanted it to look intricate without having to do a lot of work, so I covered it in copper liquid lame and glued an oddment of red lurex trim to it that I had lying around. Something clicked and I immediately knew where to go with the neckline and girdle decoration. I then finished the design of the dress.

The tiara is a plastic headband from Poundland with all the rubbish taken off. It is backed with red felt and has foam pads to aid with grip and comfort in wearing. There are then five small hand crocheted gold lace stars arranged on florist wire in an arc. The central elevation of the tiara has a medium lace star attached to it decorated with a crystal in the centre and teardrop emeralds in the points of the star.


 The Choker

The band of the choker is made to match the tiara using the same decorative elements. The centre has an emerald in a gold crocheted setting. It fastens with hooks and french eyelets at the back.


 The Shoes

Yes, there were even shoes! These were bought from Matalan. They are red canvas wedges with jute soles. I painted the jute gold with enamel paint and decorated the lower edge with trim to match that used on the neckline. I painted swirls of red glitter onto the shoes using red glitter fabric paint to make them look a bit more magical. As a finishing touch, I hot glued some red jewelled butterflies at the centre of the toes.

Norma also wore red tights, but I won't bother showing these!



Neither of the two T. Bags went anywhere without jewellery. The rings were found at Birmingham rag market (£5 for three - BARGAIN!) and the earrings were made by buying two rhinestone buttons, cutting off the shanks and hot glueing clip on findings to them.