Friday, 20 December 2013

Minerva Blogger Network: a D&G style tweed dress

I really loved Dolce & Gabbana's A/W 2013-14 collection this year, particularly the inclusion of so much tweed and houndstooth. I loved the loose fit of some of the garments, such as the swinging coats and a short a-line dress, so much so that I decided to make my own version for my last Minerva make of 2013.

Here's the £730 version from Dolce & Gabbana. I love how understated this is; the fit is loose with an accentuated A-line, simple round neck and 3/4 sleeves.

Fortunately, I found some lovely tweed on Minerva's website and adapted a simple McCall's pattern (2401). I chose this pattern because not only did it offer the right neck line and sleeves that I wanted, but I love the fit of their patterns especially in the bust.

Here's how mine turned out!

To get this dress from the pattern I first decided on the length. I knew I wanted it short as per the D&G original and so I simply measured from the shoulder to my desired length and slashed the pattern (adding a decent hem allowance beforehand!).

I then added the A-line shape. You can choose how defined you want your A-line to be, but I went for a full Mary Quant flared shaping. After I made my dress I was a little worried that it was TOO flared and I'd take off like a kite with the slightest gust of wind, but I consulted my 1960s guru, Mama Delle, and she quickly reassured me that this was perfect and very Quant. Thanks Mama! To achieve the A-line, simply mark your flare from the existing side seam/hem corner and then draw a line up to just below the bust. You can then gently shape where it meets the side seam near the bust using a french curve or free-hand. 

When working with the tweed, I really took my time, especially when creating the darts. To begin with, I decided to keep the bust darts and the back (diamond) darts. The pattern does call for front waist (diamond) darts as well, but I omitted these in order to keep the loose shaping at the front. 

After cutting I removed the darts from the paper pattern, replaced the pattern over the fabric and thread-traced my darts using white thread. Thread tracing is a couture method used on delicate fabrics. You can just about see this here:

After cutting, I also stabilised the shoulder and neck seams by tacking silk organza to prevent any stretching. 

From that point onwards, sewing the dress was really easy and straightforward. This type of tweed from Minerva was a joy to work with and was very cooperative. Perhaps it got confused and thought it was actually going to be a real D&G dress, so behaved itself - sorry tweed, you're stuck with a Dixie Lou label for now.

For the zipper, I decided to a do a handpicked lapped zipper. I pressed the zip seams to the required 5/8", positioned the zip and used double thread coated in tailor's wax to stitch it in place. If you have never tried hand-sewing your zip, I highly recommend it. I not only find it really therapeutic, but I love the finished effect. Threads do a great tutorial here

The pattern doesn't call for lining, but I lined mine by making a complete second version of the dress in black polyester lining (also included in my Minerva kit), which I attached at the neck line. I did, however, still overlock the seams of the tweed as this stuff frays like there's no tomorrow. Even though the seams will not be on display, overlocking will increase the life of this dress. If you choose to line your dress, make you sure you clip your neck seam so that when you go to turn your dress, the neckline behaves itself and sits nicely for you - then you can pose like this! 

To finish, I hand stitched my lining to the zip tape, hemmed the dress and the sleeves, and hemmed the lining - also hand stitching it to the dress fabric. 

One thing I loved about the D&G advertising campaign for A/W 2013 was the drama! If you have a google you'll see lots of brilliant dramatic scenes depicting women crying, in woe, in passion - all very Italian. Have a look.

I thought I'd recreate a little Italian drama myself. Obviously, I was supposed to meet Don Draper for lunch, but me being so busy juggling my romances with George Peppard and Elvis, I got my dates mixed up and when I reached our rendezvous spot for a quick how's your father, he was nowhere to be seen. FML!

Oh. Don.

Okay, back to reality. I love this dress and it's super warm. It will probably make its debut at my big work event at the end of January in Amsterdam, which will be appropriate as it will be cold, cold andoh yeah more cold! If you fancy making this yourself, you can buy my kit on the Minerva website here.

Have you spied anything high-end on the catwalks and made your own version? 

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