Woohoo! It's time for my absolute favorite contest: the Bargainista Fashionista contest at Pattern Review. This year I've made my own version of a deceptively simple Alexander McQueen dress. Here's the original and my version.
To make my version I used pattern Vogue 8828, a basic semi-fitted dress with princess seams. In fact, this is the same pattern that I had used for this contest last time when I copied a Fendi dress. I guess I really love this pattern! This time I used view A, sleeveless with an A-line skirt.
The original McQueen dress has a half-mullet skirt on the right, made by the tartan underskirt as it lengthens towards the back. This allows the pretty tartan to show both its right and wrong side, but it means that the dress (or at least that portion of the skirt) could not be lined.
The midthigh front is too short for me, since I always must cover my knees. Also I don't like mullet-skirts, let alone half-mullets. So I lengthened the dress and made a conventional even hem all around. I pondered for a while whether I wanted to keep the same proportions of the original dress, where the tartan underskirt is only a thin sliver at the front.
Instead, I decided that I liked how the tartan underskirt starts around the place where the hands hang. Since I lengthened the skirt quite a bit, this means that my tartan underskirt is a lot bigger in proportion to the rest of the dress, than in the original McQueen dress. Here is a full 360 view around the dress.
The dress was pretty easy to make (until I came to the underskirt). I cut a full lining but I only had 1.5yd of the black stretch wool twill which wasn't enough for the full dress with A-line skirt. This meant that I didn't have the luxury of making a full dress and then cutting the curve out from the complete dress. Instead, I marked the pattern pieces (being careful not to mix left side and right side!) with the cut-out curve. I then constructed the dress as normal.
I went ahead and finished it off completely including the armholes (finished with bias binding) and an invisible zipper at the back seam. At this point I had a complete and finished lined dress, except that there was a hole on the skirt and through this hole you could see the wrong side of the lining (sorry, I forgot to take a photo!).
The cut-off section of the skirt is of course cut off on the diagonal, in other words, on the bias. I remembered that for my Christopher Kane dress such a hem was very unstable and I ended up using a silk organza underlining to stabilize it. This wool twill is too heavy for organza so instead I used a purchased fusible interfacing band ("Vlieseline vormband" in Dutch). The fusible interfacing is reinforced with a chain stitch to keep it from stretching, which is ideal for what I wanted. I applied this band at the hem all around the cut off edge of the skirt.
And here's where the fun began. How to attach a tartan underskirt? I didn't want to make a full second skirt. It would have been too heavy and a waist of pretty fabric. Plus you can see in the original that the tartan doesn't is cut on a different grain. Beyond those observations I didn't have a clue, so I just did what seemed reasonable to me. In other words, I was just sewing by the seat of my pants! So I'll tell you what I did but I have no clue if this is how it's supposed to be done. You've been forewarned!
I decided to attach the tartan underskirt to the lining. I marked the cut-off curve of the skirt on the lining and I then marked a parallel line to that 10cm above (under the outer skirt). I chose 10cm because it seemed like a good enough depth to ensure that the lining wouldn't show as the skirt moved around in normal wear. I then measured the length of this curve and sighed with relief when I realized that it was just a few cm shorter than the width of my tartan wool (157cm wide). I also measured the height of the underskirt from the highest point on the curve in the lining to the hem of the lining (47cm). To this measurement I added 10cm just to make sure that I could have a seam allowance and a deep enough hem that could go at least 1.5cm lower than the lining hem.
I then cut a piece of tartan wool that was 57cm long and the full width of the fabric. I finished both edges with the serger and sewed one of the cut edges (i.e. the crossgrain) to the lining along the curve I had marked.
Yup, this means that the cross grain of the tartan is sewn along the curve on the lining, which is mostly on the bias! I worried a lot about whether the lining would be strong enough. Before I attached the tartan to the lining I sewed a row of stitches along the marked curve on the lining. This allowed me to feel where the tartan should be sewn, but also it was meant to be a "reinforcement". When attaching the tartan to the lining, I made sure that the stitching line was always a millimeter or two above this reinforcement line, so that the weight of the tartan would be shared by two seams. I also thought I could add a twill tape on top of the tartan edge and attach it with one or two more rows of stitches. But then I worried that this would be too much. I think I'll just see how the lining holds up. If I see signs of stress I might still do the twill tape thing.
I then put the dress on the dress form and marked the hem all around the tartan piece. The resulting shape is a sort of half circle but a bit more oval.
Here is me trying to show you the various layers of the skirt + underskirt + lining. I hope the photo is not too dark for you to see.
I've now worn it to work for a day and can report that the lining seems to be holding the weight of the tartan with no signs of stress. Phew!
I leave you with another set of full 360 pics. These are darker but you might still get a good sense of how the dress hangs and moves.