The Six Napoleon Challenge

six napoleon challenge

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!

1 six nap

Yes dear but less is more. Source: Dogstar Clothing Facebook Page

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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.

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Tartan inspiration? Alexander McQueen, Widows of Culloden Collection

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.

Tstorm it sewistahe 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!

The Six Napoleon Challenge

34 thoughts on “The Six Napoleon Challenge

  1. OMG Marijana, I’d be so tempted luv, but the queue is getting longer and I must whittle it down, so sadly won’t join in your Dogstar triumph.
    I had never heard of Dogstar, it seems they come from Brissie, like me! Lots and lots of fabric and quite avant guarde. I’ll be up there next week, so tempted to pop into the store.
    My next area of study at college apparently includes illusion necklines, maybe if I learn something useful I can blog about it, might help some Dogstar challenge people?

  2. Oh yes Lesley – grey idea! Please go and look at the dress and model it too if possible. I just copied a Karen Millen dress, and only looked at how it was made afterwards (that would have saved me a lot of trouble).

    I will do it Marianna – I love the dress and like you and Steph I would want something wearable day to day and was thinking about denim too. May I suggest that a closely fitted bodice does not require boning (although I too am keen to try), and that the skirt could be done in anything floaty (like chiffon) or drapey, a lightweight jersey could be nice, or even a slightly stiffer fabric for a different look. I also think you could create the skirt without a stand, just using pleating to the waist measurement. And saying it needs 8m of silk may put people off, due to price. I know you set the rules but in order to get more joiners perhaps you could give everyone free reign to create it in anyway they choose?

    Anyway you make the rules and I will try to make the dress as I love it and think it will be a fun challenge.

    • Great! Kate, you’re the deputy commander of my avant garde dress army! Thank you for joining 🙂

      I’m very curious about what you will make. It’s certainly going to suit you and I’m sure you will teach many of us a lot in your process.

      I will edit the post slightly to point out that you don’t need silk, organza nor in fact 8 metres of skirt: Ruth must have only used about 1-2m.

  3. OMG even in denim or chambray this is the sort of thing that will have my fellow Canucks looking at me as though I have recently landed from Mars. Even though I have no chance of executing this well and the aforementioned Mars thing, of course I will take on the challenge. I like to expose my complete ineptitude you know!

    • I’m so glad you’re in, thank you so much Stephanie for being adventurous and brave! You’re the obvious candidate for being likely to wear this very well and a show-stopper of a dress will come in handy at some point…. I just hope you don’t need an extra suitcase to take it to Italy with you.

      • You are too generous M. I have already put on 2 kg and I have only been in Italy 5 days…last night it was fried anchovies followed by Sicilian granite at midnight. I might have to practise storming the Bastille to fit into the dress…

        • It’s when you’re too scared to jump on the scales that there’s trouble; till then, no need to worry!

          I hope you’re having a wonderful spring holiday.

          • Oh I know…this is my usual Florence routine. At home I walk so much and eat much more veg and fibre so the weight falls off within a week or two. Gives me an opportunity to feel more Rubanesque for a week or two though, which I like. 🙂

  4. I have never attempted boning and was watching a girl make something lovely with it on the Great British Sewing Bee last night. How hard can it be? I think the top would be great in a slightly stretchy denim (I have some in black) but not sure about the skirt part. Having said that, I’m with Stephanie, in that I couldn’t possibly wear it anywhere around here. However, I am going to send a link to my daughter as she is soon to finish her degree and might be looking for something challenging to make and this style is right up her alley. I’ll let you know if she takes the bait.

    • Thanks Lynn, that would be wonderful.

      I did think of your daughter and her comicon costume (though probably not the same daughter who is finishing her degree) when I saw some neoprene which I thought might be suitable for the bodice part as I’ve been told by Stephanie M (of Ernie K Designs) that it’s a good ‘building up’ fabric. Maybe with the seams inverted and seam allowances cut very short, and then some punky-coloured tulle or netting for the skirt? If only I was younger…

  5. I love the dress but can’t imagine wearing it as it is. If I can come up with a suitable compromise (and a way of creating time or going without sleep!) I’m in.
    I have something in the sewing cave about boning – if I can find it I will scan and send it to you.

    • That would be very kind Kim, I look forward to reading!

      As for the challenge, I’m sure a deep/dark woven bodice with a draped (jersey?) skirt would have reason to get an occasional outing if you were to make it. But I don’t want you to go without sleep!

  6. What? you’re going to make what we voted for? We were voting?
    (swallows hard)
    Sure! Challenge accepted. Boxy shaped fiftysomething accepts your strongly worded challenge! Not doing it in neoprene (already perpetually overheated) and anticipate a severe cheat somewhere. As my Westwood challenge entry is still in the UFO tub, my honor is at stake.

    And July is so far away…….

    • Ha! I believe it when I see it…

      No, really, I’d be honoured (honored) to have you on board Stephanie 🙂 Thank you for accepting. You’ll bring your expertise and experience to the project (good point about neoprene) and come up with something that will surprise. And like you say, July is sooo far away.

  7. Sooo tempted. I’ve just had an invite to a posh daytime event in London at the beginning of July and so this challenge is perfectly timed. However, should I just use a RTS (ready to sew) pattern? You’ve posed a dilemma. I’ll wait until marking is finished then spend more time on this. So at the minute I’m not out but not quite in either…….

    • No pressure Ruth, you’re already the inspiration and the beacon. And you do have lots of patterns in your stash to try. And as every blog post in the sewing blogosphere proves: RTW patterns always really work.
      Like I said, no pressure (*grins toothily*)

  8. I’ve just been lured here via Kate’s blog post…and I must say I’m very tempted, despite being another in the short, stout 50+ team, like SJ Kurtz!
    Dammit, I’ve got a project list as long as my arm…

    • Well according to Lena, you don’t need to actually have a waist: with a tight bodice you can fake one. I hope this is true.

      Let me know if you’re tempted but need more time: we might negotiate an extension. We could do with some historical sewing insights.

  9. How delightful to hear from you!
    The Six Napoleon Dress is certainly a challenge to not take lightly!
    The biggest hurdle I would have to say is, the 8 meters of silk organza that makes up the skirt… not to mention the 6 meters of lining!
    Good luck, Please keep dogstar up to date with your progress!

  10. Right- I was talking to the missus about this today, and she’s giving me a bunch of pennies to buy a certain fab fabric that I’ve got my eye on [it’s my birthday next week]. I’ll be doing a steampunk version [of course]. How do I grab the challenge button?
    Woohoo! [Mind you, an extension WOULD be good, I’m in exam marking season right now, and will be all the way until July 19th…]

    • Dear Demented, I’m delighted! Thank you, and take all the time you need: I have a special soft corner of my stone heart reserved for teachers!

      A steampunk version will suit this dress perfectly (by the way, I live a walk away from HG Wells’ birthplace? Er, it’s now a Primark store 🙂 ) and I’m intrigued to see the angle.

      I’ve had a look at your home page and it has a different layout to mine (different WordPress theme). I’m not sure if you can place a blog button in the side bar. This is how I place a blog button on my page (which is rather than .com but I think very similar):

      Copy all the code in the box under the challenge button which begins with the instructions

      The Six Napoleon Challenge
      • Hiya! I have my fabrics planned already lol. I think I’ve got the skirt sussed. I can do buttons, my side bar is hidden in my layout unless you click on the little whatsits at the top right. I don’t see any code under your challenge image though. I’m pretty inept with this stuff!

        • Hi Elaine
          I think I’m the inept one. In fact, I look up to Jen from the IT Crowd, that’s how limited I am.

          There’s no code in the picture below but below the picture in the side bar (top right of my home page). Every time I try to and paste it into my comments, the picture comes up so I’ll email it to you instead.

  11. Hello there. I stumbled across your blog this morning, (I think via Bloglovin) and came back to read this evening, and I am rivited! This challenge especially caught my attention and I will be peeking back here for inspiration a lot…see, I started a project with a similar dress way back on April 5…and 3 (I just counted and cringed) months later I still find myself stumped. My deadline is only in September, but it is just unbelievable how quickly time has flown already and I was just beginning to feel panicky! I am now going to secretly align myself with what you guys here one this challenge are doing and see if I can keep up to at least have something to show in August. Thanks for the motivation!

    • Thanks for getting in touch Klarisabet. The dress you’re making is ‘a tall order’ and makes SixNap look simple. I hope you don’t spend the rest of the summer at the machine.

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