The Deadline

I don’t know if I’m going to pull this off but I need a special occasion dress to wear in just under 4 weeks’ time.

It should showcase what I’m capable of – in case anyone’ll be looking – without being fussy or formal.

Recently I’ve been giving the matter some thought and have decided to copy one of three designs:

Option 1: Six Napoleon Dress

Option 2By Masayo Yasuki, of the fashion house ‘dogstar’, this has an asymmetric boned bodice with sheer drapery redolent, in both the style lines and the volume of drapery, of Vivienne Westwood.  This caught my eye a while back on Pinterest and the trail leads to this website where the description reads, with spellings corrected: “featuring carefully placed tucks and a well fitted corset, who can resist the luxury and fullness in its 8 metres of silk organza?”

Well, that should narrow down the fabric search.

I’ve made a muslin of the bodice which was easy enough but I now wish I’d paid more attention when those of you who teach me stuff talked about Draping.

Difficulty level = 8/10

I really think it’s time I tackled draping.  I have an aversion to travelling to courses but I’m good at self-taught so if you know of a book that will demystify the process, I’d be grateful for a recommendation.

Option 2: Pleated Neckline Dress

option 1

I’d already been experimenting with my own pleated neckline designs when I discovered this picture on Pinterest.  The trail takes me to the website of Eileen Fisher but nothing in the designer’s current collection is like this.  Everything about it appeals.  I love the straps and I can just imagine how sensual it would be to bury fingers in those midriff folds.  The wine stain colour is gorgeous too, but not essential.

Difficulty: 5/10

How do you envisage this dress ending?  I mean, what should happen in the lower half?

Option 3: Sleeve Drama

pinterest sourceNot much dress visible here: the sleeves steal the show.  I’ve experimented with this design a lot, firstly by making a simplified version and putting it onto a refashioned men’s shirt (you can download the pattern PDF).  I’ve now fine-tuned the pattern to be more like that in the original above.  The rest of the dress would be long with princess seams, and also a thigh split like in the BHL Anna dress.Anna Stride

Difficulty = 4/10

And talking of the Anna dress, that’s my back up if I run out of time.  It would be a shame though.  Flattering as it may be, neither the workmanship nor materials are special (Anna’s more of a t-shirt than a special occasion dress).

1 so many sleeves, so few armsOr I could go to Liberty’s, where while gallivanting around with Ruth last autumn I spotted dresses that would be perfect, made by proper designers.  Yeah, and spend the rest of my days in self-loathing.

So many sleeves, so few arms…

Like I said, no pressure.

I have already made my decision and begun work on one of the above but I’d love to hear what you’d do.

24 thoughts on “The Deadline

  1. I love the photo of the boned bodice and the silk organza skirt. I know nothing about draping so can’t help you there, but it is a very special looking dress. If it’s the one you choose, I wish you SUCCESS and please share the end result!!

  2. Oh this is so fascinating. I just tumbled into your chunky neckline pleats post and was also reminded how much I love your sleeve experiments and need to copy. So many great ideas, so little time…

    I love all three but the wine-coloured pleated one in the middle is catching my eye today. I feel as though the sensual top needs to end fitted and at the knee, but maybe that’s not exciting enough. Gianni and I were talking about how often the simplest ideas are the most sophisticated!

    Good luck and have fun.

    By the way, you are a proper designer! Each step leads to the next one…

    • I came back to see the dresses again this morning! I see the appeal of number 1 more now, too. The long, boned bodice would be so pretty on you (in black?). I keep on looking at the bottom to try to understand how it is pleated and draped. I really like the deep hem. I am very curious to see what you will do…

      • It is a beautiful bodice. I love its seam lines: not the typical princess seams you’d expect. And the deep hem; again, not what I’d assume would be done. This is definitely a style that would suit you (if you have a dummy to pin to). It might just be that some kind of sewing challenge is needed here for a whole team of us to give it a go.

        • It is really stunning! I don’t yet have a dummy – my local sewing guy’s assistant said he had a dummy for me and then when I went to the store it had a 39″ bust. This guy is a costumer for the theatre so I was a bit surprised that he couldn’t tell that I’m not a 39. In any case….I wait for the next shipment! I think this would be beautiful on you so give it a go if you feel so inspired. My big problem with formal outfits is that I have no place to wear them and have not had for many years. Even in Italy they tend to dress in what I would refer to as a smart business casual way for the theatre for the most part, which is the only fancy place I ever go. I am invited to a wedding in Florence on July 2 but I’m still not sure if I’m going (now that would be an opportunity to go haywire with the organza…hmmm). I read what you wrote below…I also have a wonky big toe – left foot though!

  3. I adore the wine colored one…. And that color is magnificent. I,otoh,think the bottom part should be really flowy and long. Very gothic heroine like

    • I can just see that working: drama all the way.

      I will have a go at sketching your idea on a croquis.

      Thanks Katherine.

  4. Option 1 for me! In fact I need to design a dress for part of my course and I have been thinking of a boned bodice so I may well copy this myself if you don’t. But I hope you do. I have every confidence of the sleeves and the neckline as they are developments on what you have already pioneered so successfully and we know they look great on your figure, so lower risk. Don’t even think about buying something.

  5. I have a really good book on draping called Draping The Complete Course by Karolyn Kiisel which has excellent instructions and many photos showing the draping process. It also comes with a DVD with 32 video tutorials demonstrating the techniques in the book. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make.

    • Thanks very much Deb. I wonder if this is the same book that Ruth recommended a few years ago (I haven’t been able to do a search). The video tutorials certainly sounds very helpful.

  6. Sorry but I don’t have much experience with draping so can’t help you with resources. Regarding the dresses I like them ALL, but love option 1 most. What a dress, but so much work. And 8 metres of organza. I think you might have to be quite tall to carry it off too. So, my guess is you’ll make 2, which is very lovely and do-able in the time. The sleeve on 3 is amazing. Happy sewing!

    • Thanks Karen (Or “the sewing miserablist,” a name that always brings a smile to my face).
      I think you’re right about Option 1 needing a bit of height with all that busyness in the lower half. I’d need to make a pretty accurate muslin to gauge if this would suit me: I’m quite short-legged and have arthritis in right big toe so can only wear medium-height heels.

  7. I like both option one and two, though the general opinion seems to be leaning toward number one. I saw something about draping recently and can’t think where but will get back if I remember.
    Have faith. Whatever you make will be lovely.

  8. I wonder what the special occasion is. Are you the inviter or the invitee? Is it going to be mainly family and friends in attendance or potential clients? Will there be people there who want to marvel at your draping abilities or who want to run their fingers through your midriff folds? I need answers 😉
    Personally, I love the wine coloured demi dress. I think, like Katherine, it deserves a flowy bottom half. I had a look at the Eileen Fisher site and I see her designs are all very understated so I don’t think it would be ruffly or anything. I’m not sure whether I’m being unduly swayed by the colour though – it would be amazing with your mane of dark hair.
    The first dress would look fabulous although I have a fear of the asymmetric and handkerchief hems. I’m sure you could carry it off and it would be a showstopper though – if that’s what you’re going for.
    If it were me, I’d probably go for the self-loathing but then I haven’t trained myself up to your level of skill.
    Can’t wait to see which one you go for – but I’m guessing it will be the first one

  9. Marijana, its no.2 for me. No.1’s proportions don’t thrill me cos the body might look a bit long perhaps?
    I think I’m attracted to the fabric in No.2, it looks soft and approachable but not very evening wear.
    Look forward to catching up with your decision. Whatever you do, it will look fab I’m sure.

  10. A little late to the party, but I am fond of the first. Possibly because I have been shopping in the curtain section of the thrift store for costume bits, and I can see just draping and pinning the already hemmed sections on a stretchy ballet styled bodice.

    Not for me, I’m too boxy, but you? Yeah.

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