Keep it simple

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, less is most definitely more.  It’s advice I impart time after time, yet in this particular instance it’s advice I’ve disregarded.  Occasionally, even an expert can ruin the mixture and here’s my own particular ruinous journey…

I’m in the process of redesigning sample dresses for my website.  It’s always nice to try out some new designs in different fabrics and it gives me an opportunity to stretch my creativity.

As regular readers know, I’m very much a fabric lead designer, with ideas coming together when the cloth is on the mannequin.

I’m always influenced by the 1950s designs – after the 1930’s, I believe it’s the most elegant era, and unlike the 1930s the styles are pretty much accessible to all, whatever your body shape may be.  The 1950s silhouette is certainly the most requested shape for both brides and mothers of the bride alike – something which will flatter the top half, under which a bra can be worn, and a multitude of sins hidden.

So, I set to work in early January, designing a bodice, using a remnant of the beautiful Princess Duchess Satin from James Hare silks.  I didn’t have enough for the skirt, but that didn’t bother me as I wanted to use a contrasting fabric.  I had my eye on the Marton Mills Cairngorm Pebble & Sky. I thought using a muted blue would be a witty take on the “something blue” tradition.

The most flattering way to create volume (and hide the bottom and tummy) is a circular skirt; it’s dramatic but flattering across the tummy area, unlike it’s gathered or pleated counterparts.  The downside of the circular skirt is the sheer volume of cloth required (in this instance 5mtrs!).  However, a full length circular skirt in tweed would be far too heavy for the bodice.  To be creative I sought alternative fabrics for the skirt.  Finding a little gem in Litmans metallic satin in blue, I opted to use this for the full length skirt, with a tweed overskirt…

…and then I decided to bead!  Oh yes, not content with the contrasting fabrics, a bit of piping on the neckline, I decided to add extra beading.  Of course the design didn’t come together overnight, this mammoth piece of construction has taken the best part of three months in the making and I have to admit, I’m rather disappointed with the results.  In the meantime, I’ve designed and made many less grand scale dresses and suits, with, in my opinion, far superior results.  However, judge for yourselves:

There’s just too much going on… rear beading, tweed overskirt and satin circular skirt
Up close: contrast trim, piping and beading…thank goodness I changed my mind on the button fastening and opted for a zip instead!


By contrast, this slim-fit dressed based on the classic Eliza shift, with an off shoulder sleeve and applique detail, is in my opinion far more dramatic

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