Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pattern Review: Self-drafted silk dupioni evening dress

I had long been a fan of a certain 1930's or 1940's velvet evening dress I saw in a book once.  I don't remember the designer, and the book is at my parents' house, but the lines were something like the dress in this photo from Vintage Textile.  I had ordered some silk dupioni from Denver Fabrics, and when it arrived, I thought the color was really ugly.  Since I didn't care if I ruined the fabric, I figured I might as well use it to try to replicate the dress in my memories.  And this is the result:
Well.  I think that worked out!  Here's the back:
And here's the front and back of the dress flat on the ground:
The construction was remarkably straightforward.  I took my favorite slip pattern, cut it off at the hips to give it a dropped waist, and added gathered rectangles of fabric for the skirt. 
I added decorative bands of fabric at the waist and neckline.  They are cut perpendicular to the grain of the bodice and skirt, and so they stand out from each other by having a different sheen, not that it shows with the diffuse overhead lighting I used to take these photos.
I used grosgrain ribbon as stays to secure the gathers, which just barely shows on the inside.
The dress is lined in black silk habotai.  The skirt lining was gathered together with the skirt fabric, but it took me forever to figure out how to line the bodice.  In the end, I had to make the bodice lining several inches longer than the dress bodice, and stitch it onto the grosgrain ribbon stays by hand.  Time-consuming, but this way the lining isn't too short and doesn't cause the dress to pull weirdly.
I experimented with several different strap designs, and ended up going with these, which are gathered in a couple different places.
Overall, the drafting was relatively easy, but construction was difficult due to top-stitching all those tiny points in the contrast bands.  Still, I consider it a success, and this is one of my favorite dresses to have photographed.
Thanks to my beloved local rock climbing gym, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, for letting me do the photography there!
I think this is the best photo I took.  It reminds me of A Wizard of Earthsea, and the story of how the wizard Geb was pursued by a shadow, only to ultimately realize that it was a part of himself.
The black and white version is good, too, but I think I prefer the pop of the color one.
Anyway, happy sewing!

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