When I was making this dress, I settled on a rather unconventional configuration of seams and an unusual pattern shape. This dress has only one vertical seam, in the center front. It’s lined, but has no hem. In fact, it’s just one large piece of fabric, attached to a circular collar, with a separate belt. This dress appeared in a local fashion show a little while ago.
There’s my original sketch; it’s drawn on the back of a piece of junk mail because I need to get my life together. I knew that I wanted:
- Maxi length.
- A circular collar that contrasted sharply with the body of the dress.
- A belt that matched the collar.
- Cool colors (blue, green, or
- purple) in a haphazard pattern, something that reminded me of a splash/splatter/drip.
- A flowy, woven fabric.
I waited to finalize my design until I had seen the models I would be working with. I was serious about picking fabrics that I thought looked good on them personally, not just making outfits and putting them on random people. I was originally thinking of making natural jewelry out of vines and rocks to go along with this outfit, but I thought the fabric I ended up with went better with metallic silver accents.
At the fitting, I was very happy with how everything looked. I made one tiny adjustment: the model requested that the belt be made a little bit tighter, so I took it in about an inch. I think she looks amaaaaazing! (I’m in the foreground having a moment because she looks so good.) She was awesome, and I hope I get to work with her again in the future.
So, a little more about the unusual cut of the dress. It’s pretty difficult to explain with words, so I made an example out of paper real quick:
Those are not the exact proportions, I’m just giving you a basic idea of how it was put together. The slanted edges on the center front had a piece of elastic trapped in the seam so that they were gathered as I sewed. The whole piece of fabric was sewn together into one long tube that was twice the height of the finished dress, and then the dress was folded into itself so that it’s self-lined: two layers of thin woven fabric, with a fold at the hemline. The armholes were pulled out through the neck opening so that I could sew them right-sides together, and end up with completely enclosed seams.
The collar and belt are made from 2 layers of stretchy black swimsuit fabric, so they conform to the waist and shoulders and are very comfortable to wear. I cut out two circles for the collar, cut holes in the centers, and sewed them together around the holes. I understitched the lower circle to the seam allowances to keep it from rolling to the top. Then I sandwiched the main dress fabric in between the circles, and sewed the outer edges together all the way around.
The belt is just a tube stitched into a circle, with a silver medallion attached to the front (the medallion conveniently hides the seam on the belt). Since it’s made of stretchy swimsuit fabric, the belt just slides over your hips, with no closure necessary. And because the colors of the belt are so neutral, it can be worn with many different outfits.
I also made earrings that played off of the medallion shape on the front of the belt. They’re actually made from broken and scrounged jewelry parts, woven together with metallic silver embroidery thread.
The first runway photo is courtesy of Sebrina Walter at Sewcially Inspired. She had some of her designs on the runway that night also, and her husband was in the audience taking pictures. The second runway pic is courtesy of Michael Hostetler Photography. I appreciate them sharing their photos with everyone involved with the show.