I’ve been cutting an experimental full size pattern for the Nap 6 challenge dress. It’s been a rush job (nothing to do with challenge deadlines, RL issues). Reasoning that if anyone wears it as a finished article, it’s likely to be a daughter for whom I don’t have a dress stand, I picked the nearest (padded to a 12 Aldrich standard block) and pinned out a few lines for the bodice. Others have mentioned a difference between the right and left princess lines in the original dress, but I can’t see these on my screen, and am sticking with identical lines for both sides, except for the dropped waist.
I’ve not found a back view on the net, but changed it from my half scale to echo the front more closely.
I used the lines on the stand as a guide only for positioning them on the pattern. This is cut from what I hope will prove to be a block close to her actual measurements.
The picture of a crumpled part done front might give an idea of where I went with it. Can make out the position of the lines? Darts moved obviously.
With the bodice roughed out I started on the skirt. One way of making it would be direct draping, possibly starting with a circle. I decided to flat draft. There’s little space in my sewing room, I’d need yards of mull or fine calico, as well as a stand in the right size. This skirt is developed from the part of the bodice block sliced off below the lowered waist. I drew the basic skirt by dropping the lines from the hip, cf and cb, finishing it at mid calf.
Slashing and spreading, inserting wedge shaped pieces at intervals round the skirt, I settled on a medium amount of flare, ( about 55 cms addition to the hem width on each of the back and front pieces.)
Next came the tedious job of adding in for the pleats, marking the fold lines, trying to position them similarly to the inspiration example and taking a stab at the depth of pleats. To get the pleats right where they appear to fold towards the front, I needed to move part of the front skirt into the back. (Back or side views would have been handy.) Consideration was also positioning the seams where they’d be buried in the back fold of the pleat.
I pinned this tissue into position on the stand. The dropped waist seam doesn’t match exactly as the stand isn’t the right size, but it’s close enough to get an idea. I thought this full enough, and kept it as my starting point.
Next step was roughing out the uneven hemline. I decided to cut a double skirt and have the points of the dipped hemline a little offset for more interest.
The underskirt was cut from a quarter circle back and front, marking the dropped waist on it, and hem facings were drafted. The bodice neckline was changed from the inspiration piece, and a couple of possible sleeve versions tried and rejected. I used a CB zip in the bodice, not carrying it into the skirt.
This is it with cap sleeves. The other sleeves I tried were a fitted sleeve, to seam in at the underarm, with a point replacing the sleeve head, and a point at the wrist – also rejected.
The toile is in some left over black woven poly and a poly organza which was very cheap, rather nasty to sew and even worse to press. It’s a fair mimic for floatiness though.
There’s been discussion about the amount of stuff in the skirt – the designer of the original said 8 metres I think. I bought 10 and wasn’t left with much. Here’s one part done skirt pattern on my cutting table (made from a varnished door).
If I had more cutting space I could probably have economised, but each of four skirt pieces took close to 2 metres, and the hem facing fitted from the side scrap twice, but twice came out of the remaining length. My underskirt pieces didn’t come out of the organza. We had a flying visit from DD, and it turned out that my guesses on size weren’t too far out, just a bit to remove from the back hip. A plan was hatched to make a proper version sometime, probably using dip dyed silk organza and some kind of brocade or embroidered fabric for the bodice. I’ll probably make the hem facings a little deeper than in the toile to make a stronger statement about the shape.
This dress isn’t an exact copy of the original, there are changes, but I’m happy to report that the flat drafted pattern worked out well. The pleats seemed a little mean before the underskirt was in, but I like them now. A deeper pleat might add too much fullness at hip level and a bouncier skirt. Fabric changes have an effect, so I won’t be sure about this before I’ve tried it in silk.
Meanwhile, daughter brought this eye wateringly lovely printed silk crepe to become a simple long skirt. That pattern should only take a moment!
If you have questions about the pattern, or thoughts on the version, please comment.