Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Of odds, ends and the first Sari dress...

Dissertation has been finally handed in. Final term of my BA degree underway. For the first time in weeks, the Squiggle has been able to sit down and do odds and ends of costume and other people's bits. Whoopee!

Bits included my armourer's new green doublet to match my wool gown for Tewkesbury, starting to cut out a friend's doll clothes pattern, sewing the hem of my armourer's gown and making a start on my summer dress...

The Summer Sari Dress

In the last couple of years i've spent hours trying on baggy dresses in high street shops - i have a few favourites for ones that actually fit, but they cost anywhere between £30-50, and even then they're not always top quality. This year, i've had enough. I can buy a pretty sari with anything up to five or six metres of fabric for as little as £15-£30, so the theory is that if i can make up to three items per sari, it's only costing me £5-10 roughly each (excluding lining, threads, buttons, zips, etc). Even with lining, it's still possible to make cheaper, yet much better fitted clothing for myself. Expecting to make my own Wedding dress to cut costs in a year or two, it will be an excellent exercise in practising making dress patterns through trial and error. 

The main inspiration has been the returning fashion of the 1950's - i love those dresses; the way they fit in the bodice and cut across the chest, then flair out from the waist down, often with netted petticoats. On the other hand, i have a strange love for the vibrant colours and textures of Asia. Coming from a family with history of living in India (with the suitcase of photos to show for it) and having a handful of Pakistani friends at school, i guess it's always been intriguing. Indian saris are becoming one of my favourite things to collect - they can be reused as something else or worn as they were intended. They're graceful and elegant. Wondering how i was going to use some of the saris i have to create a modern dress, i found this:
1950's black and gold printed cotton dress

It's beautiful! The neckline cut is straight across the back too, however i've chosen to have a slight 'V' instead, so the back panels have changed a lot. The front neckline however was the main inspiration, and the way it is clear that a sari was used to create this. 

I have a pink and blue sari with lovely bits of sequin embroidered round some of the edges. When cut, the fabric frays quite alarmingly, so I have had to work very quickly with it to halt disintegration:

The bodice of the dress - to be lined and have straps added, so the armholes won't actually be this small! :-)

It's a very rushed photograph and the fabric needs ironing, but hopefully it should give you the gist. The seams up to the bust are closer together on purpose since i'm quite a petite frame. It looks odd flat, but once it's against me it looks ok. I've hand sewn this first dress, simply for the control factor and the uncertainty of how such fraying fabric would be affected by a machine.

A closeup of the fabric:

The embroidery on the pink edge has had to be knotted wherever it was accidentally cut so as not to lose any embellishments. Hence only using the pink for the front of the dress. Still love it though!

Next is the lining, which is a must for this dress to protect the embroidery threads on the back and to dispel some of the fabric's transparency. (As advised by my lovely friend Licy) I have had enough soft pink cotton left over from my armourer's dress lining  to use for this project's bodice, which will suffice.  

I've not even thought about the lining of the skirt yet.... though i've a feeling it'll have to be pretty radical for those rogue gusts of wind... ;-)

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