December 2, 2010

Is it a dress? Is it a robe? It's...

I made a new dress. It's not the velvet one for which I wanted your imput. I'm still thinking about that one. Thank you very much for thinking along though, I will get back to that.
I made the first 'design sketch' for this dress ages ago, but I didn't have suitable fabric. I thought it would need something like a silk (or immitation of that) crepe: drapy, soft but with a bit of weight and preferably with a matching shiny and matte side.
My stash contains mostly cottons and wools, so I knew there was nothing there for this dress. I didn't go to the fabric store to buy it. Instead, I just made other things and let this one weight. There were some doubts on my mind about this design on me and I didn't feel like wasting an expensive length of fabric on it.

Over the past months, I got more adventurous with regard to colour. To wearing colour at all and to colour combinations.
When I bought this mystery fibre turquoise-ish fabric at the market on sale (1 euro a meter) two weeks ago, it didn't take me long to see it as a possible match with the deep red fannel (also used for my side-buttoned trousers and bought in an even more crazily cheap sale at the market).

Last weekend, I drafted the pattern. Sort of winged it, actually.
The dress is now finished except for some sort of fastener on the waistband. I put snaps on the inside edge. I could also put them on the outside edge but wearing a dress held in place only by snaps seems like living on the wild side a bit too much...
I guess I'll have to try and find some buttons in one of these colours.

I kind of like the result. I was going for kimono-inspired with a sort of fifties silhouet, and I guess that's just what it is.
I decided to make it a wrap dress because that seemed to suit the design, but I'm afraid the skirt could open up way too far, too easily to make it suitable to be worn outdoors. There is also a slight issue with the midriff band having too much ease at the top. With this design, it's impossible too try and fit it properly before the whole dress is finished. So, after, finishing all edges and facing the midriff band.
I didn't feel like redoing most of the construction, so I kept it like this. It's sort of a wearable muslin anyway.

Now, what to make of this dress? As mentioned above, it would be a bit risky outside. It's also very soft and comfortable. And there's a major tradition (mostly in the 19th century) of kimono's as homewear. And it is definately too glamorous to be relegated to nighty or bath robe duty.
I guess some 1950's cataloge would advertise a style like this as a 'hostess gown' (although I know most of those were full length). The older term of 'robe deshabile' (used for unstructured gowns, originally only worn as homewear, from the 18th century onwards) also comes to mind...

I don't know yet. However, making this dress did teach me I can wear full kimono sleeves and midriff band dresses.
Oh, and, for amusement value only: here's what happens if I play around, trying to get a picture in an interesting pose, for too long.


  1. That is neat looking! Is there enough of the green fabric left to make a matching slip to wear when taking the dress outside? (or the red---that would look neat)

    I think some cool buttons would look great to close it, although if you don't find any you like, maybe hidden ones on the inside of the top wrap, with the buttonholes in the under layer, would work (although be a bit of a pain to close)

    I don't think combining red and teal would have occurred to me, either, but it looks swell!

  2. That's one hot dress, lady! Love that colour combo! Hidden snaps might give you the security you're after.

    I think I'd wear that dress all the time. Everywhere.

  3. Lovely and alternative silhouette.

  4. I love it. I agree, perhaps some hidden snaps or a matching underslip would solve the problem. But then again, if you're wearing opaque hosiery and a longish overcoat, that may not be a issue.

  5. I love the dress! Have you cosidered selling the pattern? I would definitely buy it. I have a dress with a similar skirt and I always wear a slip underneath. It gives me security and I love to see people's faces when the wind opens my skirt.

  6. Lovezit!!!!
    I often wear kosodes around the house. I also have sewn crisp white cotton PJ´s, that are heavily Asian- inspired. So there´s a fat chance that when peeps come unannounced, to their eyes I`m either in a kimono or a "karate gear " ( to quote a neighbor ).

  7. Love the color combo! I have a similar-cut dress from J.Crew a few years ago, it only closes with two buttons inside the waistband, and then it ties on the outside. It's made of a heavier suiting wool, so I think it would have less flashing possibility (haha), but I just make sure I'm wearing opaque tights or leggings.