The second of my Fundamentals line-up to be developed is a soft, slightly frothy gown with a full circle skirt and low-backed loose fitting bodice. This is a feminine, modern princess of a dress, or at least at will be once I’ve done all the hard work…
To start this one off I’ve drafted a basic pattern straight from my shift dress block, and I’ve quickly moved on to making a simple, raw-edged toile in a super lightweight calico.
Sometimes it’s nice to get ideas realised in fabric as quickly as possible, it can stop you getting stuck in your own head too much! And it means more of the design process can be based on what feels nice rather than what looks nice on a sketch.
(There was no one else around on this particular day, I must confess I spent an unnecessarily long time swishing about! Shame I look like I’ve been dead a week in this particular shot, but never mind)
In general I’m loving this shape, and I think it’s important for the collection to have at least one skirt with a lot of volume like this one. But what I’m not sure about is the lining – it’s certainly going to need an inner layer, whatever fabric I plum for, but do I make another full circle for the lining thereby increasing the full feeling of the skirt? Or do I reduce volume and simplify the lining to be more like a slip?
For this first sample I’ve chosen a silk georgette from Whaley’s because it’s a lovely combo of lightness, like a chiffon, with matte texture and soft drape, like a crepe. As it’s quite sheer I’ve decided to line it with an exact replica of the outer skirt: I want the lining to continue under the train for a seamless look, and ultimately I’m thinking it would be a much higher quality finish to hem them together at the bottom. But this is only early days, I don’t have to commit to that just yet.
But… can you spot the intentional mistake??!… the fabric wasn’t wide enough and I’m a great chunk missing off the bottom at centre front. I really liked this fabric, and it’s really very cost effective! I wanted to test it out on the basis that I’d have to chose my priority going forward – to either keep the front panel seamless and choose a different material, or decide to keep this material but split the skirt into more panels.
For me it’s a no-brainer: the front of the skirt has to be a single panel. Aside from the fact that it’s beautiful and clean, the fact is that to cut out more pieces, and to sew more seams, would cost more money and lead to a higher final price, negating the lower cost fabric pointless anyway.
I have options to choose from at the back. I wasn’t sure whether to support the folded edge with some kind of fusing or not, so I made each side differently:
I like the softer look, although I have to say that overall the strap on that side looks the poorer for it. The outer of the back panel is cut on the bias and as the inner layer is grown on it ends up being off grain; neither on the true bias nor straight. This is causing problems and there’s tension in various places and I think this needs to be improved. I’ll work on the pattern further to create two pattern pieces for the back, a separate lining and outer piece, but keep the seam moved considerably in from the open edge at the back to keep the softly folding look.
So there’s more work to do, but for now it’s lovely to have a wearable sample made up. This project is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment though, as I divert my attentions to two projects for upcoming weddings. For Stine I’m creating a couture gown in collaboration with designer Sarah Coates, and for Emma I’ll be altering her mothers’ wedding dress with a bespoke now bodice. Scintillating posts to come about all this and so much more!!