Monday, October 28, 2013

The Wedding Guest Dress

My sister doesn't get married for another 2 months and my dress is already finished! How impressive is that! None of my usual 'snipping off the threads on a hand-stitched hem an hour before I have to walk out the door' shenanigans. I wanted to cross this one off the to-do list before both the reporting (school report cards) and the silly-social season kicked off. 

This dress was a classic case of fabric love before pattern choice. I spotted this extraordinary J. Mendel designer roll end on EmmaOneSock many months ago. I thought it was soooooo beautiful. Included in the fabric description was a link to one of the designer dresses created using this fabric. It took my breath away. Stunning! Pure elegance! Now, it wasn't actually something I would ever wear. I'd happily wear it of course, but it's been, well 'never' that I've actually attended an event where this would not be seriously over-dressed. Clearly, I've been dating the wrong guys.

Source: http://www.lyst.com/clothing/j-mendel-floral-gazar-strapless-gown-multi/

Price: $8500 ouch!

Despite my fabric lust, I summoned up the willpower not to buy this fabric. By the end of the day, it was SOLD OUT. I wiped away my tears and moved on. Fast forward a few weeks and it was back. This time, I didn't hesitate and snapped up a few metres. "It's mine! My own, my precious."

The fabric is a silk/wool gazaar. For those interested, gazaar is a silk or wool plain weave fabric made with high-twist double yarns woven as one. It has a crisp hand and a smooth texture. Although, it is often described as lightweight, it's not really 'light' but then not heavy either. There's certainly nothing floaty about it. It is quite unlike anything I've seen before. It is gleaming and crisp, yet also appears to be quite a loose weave. It frays like crazy. Despite it's crisp structure, it has to be treated as a delicate as it runs quite easily. Sharp needles and scissors are a must.

Heading into this project, I had a few ideas about what I would like:
1. one-shoulder - love these but have never owned one
2. fitted bodice - a much kinder option for a pear-shaped gal
3. princess seams - I always feel that princess seams give you much better control over fit, on a fitted garment.

I created the pattern from my dress block. This block was fitted to me by my sewing teacher a few years ago. The block already had the lines for the princess seams so was an excellent place to start. After googling a few one-shoulder dress images, I randomly drew a diagonal line where I thought the neckline would run. 

I was open to the style and fullness of the skirt. I originally went with a skirt that had one pleat either side on both the front and back. I decided to eliminate the pleats at the back because I felt they looked unflattering and somewhat ridiculous. Despite only having one pleat either side on my toile, I changed the pleats to two, just before sewing the bodice to the skirt. I'm glad I made this last minute change as I think it looks much better.



The dress is fully lined in black silk habatai. It's a beautifully soft, smooth silk that protects my skin from the slight scratchiness of the wool. (I've always had issues with wool and scratchiness). 

The dress is finished with an invisible zipper. I'm not sure why the zipper looks so obvious in this photo because in real life it is actually invisible. I hand-stitched the hem into place.


extreme close-up




I'm really very happy with the way this dress came together. Initially, I had concerns about my 'blooming boob' but decided I quite liked the balance of the three main flowers across the bodice. The waist seam does not always sit straight, due to the one-shoulder thing, but this is also something I am happy to live with. 

I'm thinking I'll probably wear the dress with the shoes shown in the photos. What d'ya reckon? Do you think it needs anything else in the way of accessories, or are the flowers enough? 

LOVE THIS DRESS! (The dress in the first photo costs up to $8500. I made mine for $8350 less than that. Bargain!)

A few more of J. Mendel's designs:

Gorgeous, but better suited on someone much younger than me.

Source: http://www.bergdorfgoodman.com/p/J-Mendel-Floral-Print-Cap-Sleeve-Sheath-Dress/prod81700106/


Also gorgeous, but not a neckline that I'm generally drawn to. 

Source: http://www.lyst.com/clothing/j-mendel-gazar-dress-floral/

Finally, a little celebrity spotting - Emma Watson rocking her little J. Mendel number.


Source: http://www.closetcravings.com/2013/03/emma-watsons-floral-dress/

14 comments:

  1. You look stunning in the your dress. I am not the person to ask about accessories but I was thinking a bangle or something would look good (on the hand opposite the strap).

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  2. That fabric!! I can see why you fell in love with it. Your dress makes great use of it, and the fit looks particularly nice. Accessories-wise, I think you could easily go without - maybe at most a cuff bracelet or subtle earrings. A dress like that really doesn't need much!

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  3. Oh my goodness, you look amazing! That fabric is stunning and the style of dress really suits you. I probably wouldn't wear much accessory wise - maybe a pair of simple earrings. I like those shoes too - but am wondering about a pair that are a slightly darker/bolder colour? You are going to steal the show!

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  4. Wow - that is really beautiful - I love how you have used this fabric - it looks stunning. You must be thrilled. I also would not have been able to resist this fabric, and the fact that a few metres turned up after it sold out was clearly a sign you were meant to have it.

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  5. Wow, this is lovely (and what a bargain!) Nice work on creating something suiting the fabric so well, and yet very wearable (compared to the inspiration garment) from your garment block.

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  6. Oh, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! The fabric is stunning and the style suits you perfectly. And - you made the pattern! I don't think it needs any accessories and the shoes go well - or something dark like the fabric background would too. Careful you don't steal the limelight from the bride, haha! But seriously, this is such a great example of how home sewing can save serious money sometimes. Plus, yours is far more wearable. Have I raved enough yet? Love!

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  7. Oh my! That fabric is amazing~! I love your new dress - you should be really stoked with it and you look fab!

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  8. Wow! A stunner of a wedding guest dress, for sure! That fabric is divine. I had the pleasure of getting my hands on some gazar whilst overseas recently... it's like organza on testosterone. So very.... buoyant! Love what you've done design wise, the colours are great on you.
    I really must get back into regularly checking EOS's site... she has some stunning fabrics (like this) that pop up every now and again!

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  9. Stunning dress. But interested in why you weren't tempted to follow J Mendel's design worn by Emma Watson. You would look sensational in a longer version.

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  10. Beautiful dress - the design is perfect for you and the fabric is beautiful. I am very impressed with your drafting and pattern making - a beautiful fit. Even more impressive is ready 2 months before you need it! I think some beautiful orange or red shoes would be better - and of course you deserve them with the savings you made. I like your dress better than the one Emma Watson is wearing (not because I think it is for someone younger) as I think it highlights the fabric much better. You have been busy the last 6 months!

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  11. Wow, so organised AND such a gorgeous dress! The dress (self-drafted - wow!) is a beautiful shape, plus looks like a perfect match to the amazing fabric. My compliments to the seamstress ;-)

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  12. So beautiful! That fabric is amazing, and you made it into a wonderful dress. How nice to be ready ahead of time, too.

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  13. Fabulous dress! It is stunning, as are you. I would go with a bangle and dangly earrings. I made a S2444 dress out of a purple floral silk/wool gazar. It is certainly a special fabric.

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  14. Holy cow, that fabric. I'm drooling. Such an awesome, awesome dress. I love the shoes, too.

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