Friday, April 18, 2014

Champagne wishes on a beer pocketbook.

There are so many wonderful contests currently running and coming up on pattern review. These contests always inspire my creativity and push my skill development.  I entered the Terrific Tanks Contests and am currently working on a shirt with reverse applique and tramputo for it.

I was not going to enter the Barganista Fashionista contest because of the work for that one. My plan to not enter was in place until I saw Naomi Campbell in a one of a kind leopard print chiffon dress by Gucci at the Glaad awards.

She is a vision in these colors, with the Afro, the jewelry and the attitude. I love the cut of this dress at the shoulders and the look of open back. The leather choker and belt seem to put a leash on a wild animal and I love it! I immediately wanted one and decided to use the contest as a motivator (excuse) to make one for myself. The contest guidelines does not require a replication of the inspiration garment, but a reference to it. Phew! that takes some of the pressure off! 

I knew I did not have this exact pattern in my stash so I shopped my stash to find a similar one or combination of patterns to build this dress. For the backless bodice I chose this vintage Edith Head for Vogue pattern that is a size 12.

Edith Head Vogue 2692 Evening Dress Pattern Bust 32.5 - Click Image to Close

For the skirt portion I chose New Look 6096 and cut the size 12 here too.

                       New Look 6096    
I shopped my fabric stash and found a snake print rayon that I bought on sale a few years ago. For the leather collar and belt, I repurposed a belt from a jacket I purchased on $.25 day at a local resale store.

This dress was an exercise in franken-patterning the top to take into account the backless design and choker neckline. I shortened the bodice by three inches and widened the center front by two inches to allow for more gathering. I completely lined the bodice with self fabric and installed bra cups to provide added support. To simulate the train of the inspiration dress, I cut the skirt back a foot longer. I free-handed the train into a curve that  pools on the floor.

I used my dress form to determine the length of the choker and hand sewed a hook and eye closures to the ends.
Backless halter side view

Back with removable belt.
Leather choker sewn with my heavy duty machine and leather needle.
Here are the photos of me in my dress:

The inspiration and the execution
I love this result, but I will not likely make it again. The backless quality leaves me more exposed than I am used too. Also, the fact is, I do not go anywhere where this is an appropriate dress. If I ever have an occasion and get my hands on some leopard print chiffon, who knows?

If one were to make this, I suggest increasing the size of the skirt by three or four sizes to allow for more fullness. I would also add four inches to the bodice center front for more gathering there too. The bra cups were an afterthought once most of the dress was constructed. I decided to hand-stitch the cups into the dress lining using my custom dress form as a guide for placement. (I did not include pictures of that because it is ugly and no one really wants to know how the sausage is made). I suggest planning to add cups and install them between the outer fabric and lining before attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Before officially entering the contest, I need to find some pricing information about the inspiration dress. I will need to submit and savings calculation to show the percentage saved over the inspiration. This dress cost me about $20.25 to make: $15 for fabric, $.25 for the belt, $1.97 for New Look pattern and the Vogue pattern was given to me. For the contest, I will need to factor in the actual pattern cost and cost of leather. Even with those costs, it will not be anywhere near the cost of a Gucci original.

Happy Sewing,

(This dress is a part of the Summer Dress Sew-along.)


  1. Looking pretty fierce Bianca! You are bold in your makings-so impressed. Sewn in cups-intimidating. Who says you can't wear this. It's perfect grocery shopping attire. :) (I'm always one for making a statement.). Good luck in your competition. Fun to cheer each other on.


    1. Thanks Hilary! My clothes live a life I cannot! Umm, will not be wearing this one my neighborhood Kroger :) It would great for a fluke, but then I would feel compelled to look right for late night milk runs :) You make great statements! I love your most recent bag.


  2. Great knock-off -- very impressive, and you are certainly tall and majestic enough to carry it off!
    I am so inspired by your blog, so I've nominated you for a Sunshine award -- if you do awards please feel free to participate in it!

    1. Hello Melwyk,
      Thanks for the kind words! I am not familiar with the Sunshine Awards, thank you for the nomination. Please tell me more :)

    2. It's a blog award/meme that is shared around, to highlight other bloggers who inspire you -- I am always given new ideas and inspiration from all the sewing and other projects that you share, so would like to make sure you know that you are very encouraging to new sewers/bloggers, too! The info on this can be found in my blog post about it.

    3. Thank you! That is awesome! I will participate when I grab a free minute this week.