MAINE! It’s a little ironic how many states are doing this, all within a matter of months. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just an observation.
“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.”
The shape of this dress is flattering to pretty much all body types. An empire waist, one that is very high and sits under the bust, with a flared skirt is a great shape for those of us with less than perfect figures. Although the high jewel neckline isn’t good for women with large breasts- the “uniboob” effect.” Besides the slight flare, I wanted the skirt to mimic the lantern sleeves. Getting this to happen with the “cuff” was not easy. The fullness wasn’t right, it kept coming out very flat. I think I was trying too hard to stay true to the original vision; to a point where the physical object, the dress, was starting to look absurd. I have a hard time with curves, but it gets easier.
It takes me somewhere around 1-3 tries before I get a pattern right. This particular style took somewhere around 9, maybe more. I lost count. I also didn’t keep all the toiles. It would’ve been nice to see them all here, but I think you can see my progress with the ones that I’ve saved.
The neckline to this dress was also an issue. At first I was just going to gather and let it be kind of haphazard and “natural” or “soft” or “feminine.” Then I realized the fabric at the neck should be folded and creased in a manner that was clean and geometric, like the rest of the dress. This had to be flattened out on a piece of paper, so that any seamstress who picks up that pattern piece knows exactly where and how to fold those pleats.
The buttons on the cuffs were added on last minute. It became apparent that not all women have these narrow little hands. This also just makes it easier to put on. I love the contrast of the leather with the silk. All of the leather for our buttons are from recycled, used, vintage clothes. I don’t buy fresh hides.
Finally, the color and fabric choice was not easy. Most designers start with fabric choices, then design the garment from it. I work backwards. This dress was going to be a pale robin’s egg blue or yellow in cotton. At one point I was going to make it in a houndstooth check, but I couldn’t find a nice big open pattern. All that was available was the traditional closed houndstooth pattern. (The day I can design my own textiles is going to be insane!) Then when I realized this was for Autumn/Winter, my palette changed and I finally settled on the black silk crepe (I needed to have at least one LBD in this first collection.) and burgundy silk crepe. The burgundy color in the silk is much more vibrant than the wool, it’s almost magenta or red. It would make a great color for a Christmas cocktail dress. The silk crepe is also a beautiful fabric. It’s 3-ply, so it’s thicker than a traditional silk blouse, as well as stronger and heavier. It also has a slight luster to it versus the high-gloss sheen of satin. I just thought lustrous materials like this would be more fashionable this Fall- it’s more subtle.
So there you have it! I don’t know exactly how long it took because I tend to work on a few things at once. I ended up with 14 pattern pieces for this dress. I really need to learn how to economize. It’s pretty cute though, and this was actually the first drawing where Jonny and I were like, “Hmmmm. I think there’s something here.”
*All the pieces are named after women in my life who have inspired them or who I think would look best in them. Amy is Jonny’s younger sister.