Thanks for your comments on my last post. I read each new suggestion with anticipation and excitement which then turned to dismay as you overwhelmingly chose the Six Napoleon Dress as your favourite. Sorry, it isn’t the dress I’m making (more on that later). However, you made me think it was a shame to have missed the opportunity, so here I am giving myself the second chance. And I’d like you join me!
Mais oui, I challenge you to make your version of the Six Napoleon dress.
Mes amis, are you still there?
You will need: a dummy for pleating, draping and pinning; bedsheets or swathes of fabric with which to experiment; preferably a basic bodice block (sloper) made to your measurements or a close-fitting pattern with princess seams. A good friend to help you fit the bodice would be preferable but if there isn’t one available now may be a good time to invest in a tripod to take selfies of your back view.
Far as fun sewing challenges go, this one definitely has an emphasis on the challenge!
More about the dress:
Originally designed by Masayo Yasuki for the Australian fashion house Dogstar, the Six Napoleon dress was made in a limited edition of only ten so you’re unlikely to see it while out and about. Yet it looks familiar. The generosity of fabric and asymmetry could easily be mistaken for a Vivienne Westwood design, whereas to me the ‘well-heeled goth’ vibe reminds me of early All Saints dresses I’d occasionally covet but could never afford.
The close-fitting bodice shouldn’t be too difficult if you’ve had some experience of adapting patterns. If nothing else, it’ll give me (and you?) the experience of using boning for the first time.
I have always avoided bottom-heavy styles so for me the draped skirt will be a first. Despite meaning to, I’ve never delved into draping, even though I believe it’s an essential skill. The original skirt has a ‘deep hem’ and is described as involving 8m of silk organza. Silk organza is a luxurious, crisp and sensual fabric made even more irresistible by the fact that it’s not too expensive and tends to be very well-behaved! But you can use any fabric of sufficient drape., e.g. denim and/or chambray, or plaid. I’m hoping only 1-2 metres of fabric will achieve the look.
One of the reasons why I decided to launch the challenge was Stephanie’s comment that she rarely has an occasion to wear something so formal. Me too. Which is why I’ll be making this as a day-dress, something similar to the dress made two years ago by Ruth of Core Couture as part of the Vivienne Westwood Challenge. Ruth wore this when she came to London last autumn and I decided then and there that I’d quite happily throw out every single semi-successful garment I’ve made in recent years for just such one very wearable and perfect gown.
The Deadline: Ah, well, that would be 14th July, the anniversary of the start of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille! I would need your photos by then but in the meantime please keep in touch with how it’s going (I shall post my developments too) and if you have an interesting tale to tell, do post it as a guest on this blog if you haven’t your own. Be unafraid! There will be hand-holding.
Tempted but undecided? How about a few links to whet your appetite…
Want to know what a corset could do for your figure but aren’t crazy enough to actually try it? A boned bodice may be a suitable compromise. Lena of Iconic Patterns makes a boned bodice in her post Taming the Waist and it ain’t half bad! But I’m not stipulating that you make a boned bodice: it’s up to you as long, as the dress is more or less recognisable as a version of The Six Nap! The main objective is that it’s wearable.
Beg, Borrow or Buy Draping: the Complete Course by Karolyn Kiisel
Some insight into how Ruth designed her dress.
If you have any experince of making a boned bodice, please get in touch.
Go on, revolutionize your wardrobe! Are you in? I hope so but even if you don’t take part, do keep in touch with your thoughts, tips, links to tutorials, books or sewing patterns that will help. And spread the word please through your social media accounts: ideally I’d love to have at least six Napoleon participants to, well, live up to the name!