Designin’ December is a challenge organised by Linda from Nice dress, thanks I made it, with the tagline of
“Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money?”
The idea is that we find an inspirational outfit, usually expensive, and copy it or use it as inspiration. I like to copy the design as faithfully as I can, including styling, hence the funny pose you’ll see with my feet splayed out, plié style.
I set about looking for inspiration. I didn’t want to buy fabric or notions, so I had that in mind as I trawled the web, my own photos and books. I kept coming back to this dress, which I have saved every time I found it online. It’s a really simple design, completely wearable, and from the 1960s, which is one of my favourite eras. However, I have no idea who the designer is, although I’ve had a good look through the designs of all the usual suspects. [update: thanks to aanemones, I now know it is Mary Quant for Courrèges. thank you so much for this information!]
I felt that I had masses of red fabric and white fabric in my stash, so this was going to be easy. Yes, well… I checked every piece of fabric I had and decided that it needed to be plain (no self striping, for example) and of a particular weight. I couldn’t find a single piece of either red or white which I was happy with. In the end I dived into my linen stash and found three pillow cases that I thought would be just the ticket. There’s a lot of material in a pillow case and these were made from high quality fabric – I had made them in the 1990s.
I trawled through my pattern stash and decided that my old faithful Lotta Jansdotter Esme dress was pretty much the right shape. I cut out the pattern pieces, modifying them to suit the target dress, and dyed the top half red together with the circles for the skirt.
I had to eyeball the size of the circles based on what I could see from the photo. I think I did ok, although mine may be slightly bigger. I just appliquéd them on to the fabric, doing my best to get them in a straight line. I only had to unpick and redo one of them.
Although I took apart three pillowcases I only needed two, however, my subconscious must have known something as, during my first try on I decided that the skirt needed more heft. I fiddled about with slips, but finally came to the conclusion that it needed lining.
I simply cut out another skirt section and used this to line the skirt using the burrito method. The hem and hip seams are enclosed and I sewed the side seams together in one pass.
I have a feeling that the original dress is in crimplene or something similar. It has a slightly knit look to it, but no way was I going down that route, authenticity be damned! I had very similar shoes in my wardrobe and made the earring from a piece of white leather and stuck it to my ear with blue tack.
I couldn’t determine if there is anything special about the back from the photo, but decided that there probably wasn’t. The back is therefore plain.
This is a dress which I’ll wear quite a bit in the summer I think. It’s really easy to put on, and the cotton is delightfully cool. Mine is a bit wider than the original, and I took it in a bit, but didn’t think it would work if it was as close fitting on me as it is on the model. I suspect that the original dress probably has a zip inserted somewhere and I didn’t want to do that.
After dyeing the top, I washed it several times until the water ran clean, I didn’t want the white parts turning pink! I’m still not 100% certain I removed all the overdye, but I’m ready to risk it.
So this is my entry in Designin’ December 2020. Check out Linda’s blog post for a really impressive line up of prize sponsors.