Steampunk Dress

Why on earth am I hanging around these dummies, you may wonder.  In my Gathered Hole dress? 

Well, after adding the black lining to the shell of the dress, I thought the gathered holes had the appearance of apertures on old-fashioned cameras: the way they can be closed by pulling on the cords as well as those dark, dead interiors.  This, together with the raised, Victorian-ish sleeves, made me think that my new dress wouldn’t be out of place in the wardrobe of a Steampunk so I’ve come to Bromley High Street and the birthplace of H.G. Wells, the writer whose sci-fi machines have fuelled the Steampunk genre.

Wells is said to have been quite sneering of Bromley, calling it a “morbid sprawl”!  He may have had his reasons but it’s in the neighbourhood and I find the fabric and haby stalls at the Thursday market quite useful actually…

By the way, the site is currently a branch of the pile-’em-high clothing emporium that is Primark.  Oh, the irony!

The Design

Inspired by the Gathered Hole concept in the first of Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic books, the dress is my contribution to the Pattern Magic Challenge.  I’d wanted an elegant daytime dress that I could wear with high-heeled boots and perhaps a scarf this autumn and winter.  It had to be:

  • Warm.  I have plenty of summer dresses and nowhere near enough summer.  This meant that the dress needed lining and sleeves.  The sleeves made it impossibe for the dress to have an opening tab at the shoulder as the one in the book did.
  • A-line.  The dress in the book is designed around a basic block and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stride about if it was narrow around the knees.  Normally, I’d put in a kick pleat around the centre back but the back is gathered and can’t accommodate a middle seam.  This meant that the zip had to be a side one.

I’m not sure if the project was a success or a failure. Here are a couple of good pics that might help you help me decide.  What do you think?

The kids like it.  My OH has reservations about the asymmetry, as I do too.  In wearing the dress, I’ll often have to check that the neckline is not pulling to the side of the waist hole.  He also said he’d prefer there not to be any lining, just flesh!  “What kind of blog do you think I’m running here?” I told him…

The Making of the Dress: a Gallery

The original concept:

My sketch:

A-Line Dress Muslin:

Some steps of the pattern-drafting process:

Another toile:

The paperwork involved (the dress isn’t as “green” as it looks):

Back View:

 Side view:

Just two more days till the Pattern Magic Reveal post.  Email me your entries, Pattern Magicians, however late, and I’ll add them to the updates!