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Originally published at RavenDreams. You can comment here or there.

Still battling the, “its a lot of money for what it is…” notion, I thought I would use the concept of the Dress Diary to show you the design process from research and conception to finished product. Along the way there will be opportunities to help me make choices and influence the final design.

What is a Dress Diary? Its a series of blog articles most often written by amateur tailors and costumers (some times professionals but not very often because the fashion industry is so secretive) to show other amateur costumers their experiments, ask advice and to teach others about their techniques. Here is an example of a completed diary by a truly inspirational seamstress and innovator: Mode Historique – Striped Anglaise Diary.  While the fashion industry hides away it’s designs until revealing them with great publicity at a catwalk show – the world of media is changing. What better way to show you the quality and care that goes into every garment than by taking you along for the ride?


I began researching designs for baby dolls and nighties about 18 months ago (Wow! that long ago? Yep. Boundary disputes can be very distracting. But that’s another story…). I looking through the collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art website. I get my best inspiration from history and then I like to put my own spin and modern tailoring techniques onto the redesigns for a modernly retro feel.

I found this charming Amazonian baby doll and wrap by Iris made in 1964 and from the collection of Mrs. Sylvia Pedlar. I fell in love immediately with this sexy peekaboo number. If you look at the image of the back, it ties like a halter but at one time I believe the straps were sewn more conventionally into the back. That kind of long, non-adjustable strap would have meant that it would have been very difficult to keep the straps from slipping off the shoulders – hence the change to tying it at the neck. I also liked the combinations of fabric finishes with plain weave silk, satin and georgette.

When starting to sketch, I had to keep in mind a plus size figure’s needs. The bows on the origional would look unbalanced, making almost a clowninsh feature of one breast. I wanted a softer, more alluring feel with a Grecian gathering at the shoulders. I wanted to maintain the very naughty side opening matching slits in both the nightie and the wrap. At first I thought to keep it very simple and use a seethrough georgette for the main part of the nightie have a wide strip of satin ribbon highlighting the nightie’s side slit opening and make the wrap fully in a matching satin. As I began to work out modesty issues of exposing one nipple to the world I began to envision different laces; Chantilly eyelash edged, 3D layered lace, guipure… Comments about my current robe/wrap selections is that the women who wear them don’t just wear them in the bedroom but out on the town as well. The impact there in fabric choices becomes more flexible with satins, brocades and full fabric laces to make it a transitional wardrobe choice.

Remember, I began with these sketches over a year ago and the images I were using as inspirational are free in the interwebs. In the meantime, others found the same inspiration. Here’s LaPerla’s version in white georgette and pink satin edging and white lace details. Made from 100% silk and retailing at £435.00.

Its a sexy little one piece – so no separate wrap. As a one piece it uses less fabric which makes it easier and more cost effective to mass manufacture. Its a cleverly thought homage to the original which solves the halter vs back strap issues with the integrated wrap shoulder and a spaghetti strap on the other side.

So this was the first part of the Dress Diary. In the next part I will dive head first into fabrics and begin to create the toille (draped pattern).

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