For the skirt part of the challenge, I’ve been experimenting with folding, pleating and pinning squares and rectangles of fabric to the bodice on the dummy stand.
But the result hasn’t really captured the essence of the Six Napoleon dress.
So it is time I hand over to the expert! Welcome to Anita of Studio Faro as she suggests some ideas on how to recreate the skirt….
#FirstSample Skirt, the Six Napoleon Challenge
Firstly I’d like to say huge thanks to Sew2Pro for inviting me to contribute to this fabulous challenge. And it’s so fortunate that dogstar is one of my favourite local brands producing what is most likely the most interesting designs in Australia. So many local designers are enslaved to overseas trends and fail to develop a distinct design aesthetic. Not so dogstar!
I’m late to the party so I won’t be covering the bodice development but offering some ideas for the development of the skirt pattern. Initially I came up with at least three different ways to get at this pattern and I’ve decided to share the most interesting with you here on the Sew2Pro blog.
The first thing that caught my eye in the fabulous dress was the dipped hem in the front and the beautiful and generous hem allowance all so obvious in the transparent silk organza. My challenge was to find a way to cut this skirt so that the front dip was in fact a right angle. Very similar to drafting a circle skirt and leaving the corners on!
The draft above is how I decided to use 2 metres of polyester organza to replicate the skirt of the Six Napoleon Dress. The cut is based on the width of the fabric (140cm), halved to determine the length of the skirt (70cm), of which 11cm will be the hem turning (to finish at 10cm) and the remaining 59cm are the skirt length. This also presents an opportunity to produce a zero-waste pattern.
Where the skirt has a dip in the hem I’ll be using the corner sections of the cut with a mitre in the very deep hem. There will be one dip in the front and one in the back.
The preparation of the skirt for draping goes like this:
- Cut the cloth into two pieces along the cut lines and trim the excess from the mitre seams.
- Press under the 1cm turning on the deep hem edges and sew the mitre seams.
- Join the two side seams using a French seam or equivalent to avoid the use of overlocking.
- Press the 10cm deep hem and pin in place and sew.
Mark the bottom edge of your bodice on your workroom dummy as a guideline for the draping of the skirt. Please note where I have indicated for you to pin the longest part of the skirt in the front and back.
Begin by pinning the corner of the waist seam to the front right and back left as indicated. Then space the pleating out for each section of the skirt.
You can manage the direction and fall of each pleat by shifting it above the bodice seam to get the best drape. The excess above the seamline will be trimmed back to the seam line plus seam allowance (1cm).
As you can see below, the #FirstSample is a reasonable success. The high/low in the hemline is there and the effect of the deep hem is maintained. However I do think this would work a lot better with 3 metres of organza for this layer. That way there’d be a lot more in the pleating around the waist.
For the lining of this skirt I’d recommend you use a lining cloth of 150cm width and follow the exact same process giving you an underskirt or lining that’ll be 5cm longer than the organza layer.
And of course we must not forget the opening for the dress! I intend to slash through on the left side of the skirt for a side seam and mark a notch at 15-18cm where the zip is most likely to end.
There are other methods of working on this skirt pattern and I’m looking forward to seeing them in your own workings. I’ll be sharing my other methods on my blog well-suited in the coming weeks. I’m so looking forward to seeing all your wonderful dresses when they’re finished.
Thank you so much Anita! I’m much indebted. And I look forward to reading more on well-suited (readers, please do subscribe so as to receive Anita’s updates).
Here’s a round-up of everyone’s progress. If I’ve left you out, please leave a comment and a link so I can add you.
Mary, a professional couturier, has explained her bodice-making process in this post.
You can ake the bodice only as my friend Jo is doing.
Fabrickated is under strict supervision of her pattern-cutting tutor Vanda who will not let her settle for second-best. But isn’t the end of term nigh? Won’t Kate be saved by the bell?!
Of all the bloggers here, Stephanie in Ottawa has the least drafting experience. Yet her bodice is perfect. Will she complete the conundrum that is the skirt with the same high standards and attention to detail?
Stephanie on the other side (Ernie K Designs in Seattle) has written a great analysis of pleats evident in the skirt which helped me visualise where I was going wrong with my rectangles.
Demented Fairy is still marking papers but is steaming with enthusiasm to get stuck in. She also has the expertise, experience and great fabric.
Ruth who is also a teacher gave most of us a massive head start but is back in the sewing room and has now outlined her splendid plan here. She’s also found a literary connection to the name for this dress. It turns out it’s just as much about Sherlock Holmes as it is about the French general.
Pella of Pattern Pandemonium has been intrigued enough to experiment with both the bodice and the skirt but hasn’t got the incentive to make the final article. Will somebody please invite her daughter to a summer ball! Maybe Anita’s instructions will inspire her to get back to the stand and make is for herself.
As for me, I’m going away. I’ll be following your progress eagerly and I’ll hopefully be able to leave comments on your posts but no sewing machine anywhere for me. Which will be hard.
Anyone else tempted to join us? The deadline for your images and/or posts is the weekend of 6-7 August.