Blog update: My apologies if you’ve already read this, but somehow the post got deleted (I was fiddling with settings) and so I’ve had to republish.
Last year for Designin’ December I copied a Dior outfit that I had seen at the Dior Exhibition in Melbourne, and this year I decided to copy another dress I had seen in an exhibition, this time the Marimekko Exhibition in Bendigo. I think copying outfits from exhibitions I attend is going to become my thing!
I have no idea who designed this dress as I forgot to take a photograph of the details and I have been unable to find this dress anywhere on the internet, but I was struck by the simplicity and rather liked the feather (or is it a leaf? I’ve decided on feather). How hard could this be?
I knew exactly how to make my dress. I was going to use McCalls 6559, previously made into a wrap dress, and some red bamboo jersey from my stash. I was just going to paint the feather on, and had even done some practice drawings, but then I had a casual conversation with Sarah from Pattern Union about the dress and she suggested I make a stencil of the feather. Ooh-er, no idea how to proceed, so a visit was in order. Sarah took one look at my dress pattern and decided that we would draft something from scratch as she felt that side seams would disrupt the painting and just look nasty.
We drafted the pattern to be cut on the centre front fold and rotated the side shaping into a couple of back darts, finishing up with a centre back seam.
We cut out the dress and then considered the feather. We drew a giant version on a large sheet of paper, colouring in various elements, and cut out all the components that would be dark charcoal, laid the sheet where we wanted it on the dress and began painting.
We used those triangular makeup sponges to dab the paint on, and kept the paint layer light so that the dress wouldn’t lose its drape by having to deal with heavy paint. The first part of the feather looked like this:
Time for the next part of the stencil. We replaced the piece of paper we cut out for the charcoal part, and cut out a few more sections.
This was the green/khaki colour.
Once the paper was lifted it looked like this.
Then we put on the red. I didn’t think it would make much difference over the red fabric, but surprisingly it did. You can see the makeup sponge, which was so useful at this stage for blending colours.
The final feather. The placement was quite difficult and we chose to move it a little bit so that it would sweep round the back of the dress.
The advantage of using a stencil as against just painting on the design, as I was going to do, is that the edges are much sharper.
My feather looks a little darker in these photos but it’s not quite as dark as it appears. The red fabric also looks a bit orange, but it’s quite red.
The obligatory back view showing the back shaping and just giving a hint of how the feather sweeps around the back. Those back darts are just brilliant as they negate the need for a sway back adjustment and stop that funny bubble I sometimes get in the small of my back. They also give a beautiful shape to the dress.
I feel extremely elegant in this dress, although the fabric has grown a bit since I made it so it’s now floor length rather than hitting the tops of my shoes, but it doesn’t trip me up – yet!
I’ve already worn this dress to a Christmas lunch with some friends, and think it will be the perfect dress for Christmas Day. I can see myself wearing this dress a lot, and I’ve already made three more plus numerous hacks, which I shall blog soon. Here is another photo of the original and my version. Mine is slightly closer in colour to the original than it appears here, I had to play around with the light settings as the bright sunshine threw everything off.
So this is my entry in Designin’ December, 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with it. It is really wearable, will accommodate my shape after large lunches or dinners, and I feel as though I could just drift around the house in it if the weather permits.
This dress is the latest pattern in the Pattern Union stable. It’s been partially named for me (how exciting is that?!) and partially named for its Marimekko roots, so it is called the Sumekko dress, which I think is a perfect name. One of the things I love about this dress is that it is really flattering, hiding flaws rather than highlighting, and it’s for sale at Pattern Union for the low price of $8 AUD or just $10 if you want to buy the stencils with the dress. You can also buy the stencils on their own. My feather isn’t one of the stencils, but there are four lovely designs, which you can see in the diagram to the left.