A De La Renta Fairy Tale
August 25, 2013
Last year, Harrod's holiday window display featured Disney princesses wearing dresses created by famous designers. It was such a revelation to see how different fashion houses interpreted the classic tales into modern couture looks. Snow White fan that I am, I was completely enraptured when I saw the De La Renta version. (Side note: I never was really into De La Renta in years past. I always recognized the quality of the design -- it just wasn't my taste. But lately, there's something in each of his collections that I just fall in love with. I'm not sure if I'm evolving or Oscar is -- or a little bit of both -- but it's a new sensation for me to like the brand so much!)
After looking at the sketch and some photos of the window display, I set out a plot to make my own versions of the two pieces involved -- the gown and the duster -- and set to work.
For the gown, I started, as I often do, with a pattern from my collection. This one is near and dear to my heart -- it's the same one I used to create my wedding gown 17 years ago! (I had to cut it a little bigger this time around.)
It's a basic princess-seam dress; there are plenty of similar patterns on the market all the time. I made a slight alteration to the neck line and made a plan to change up the sleeve, but otherwise cut the pattern as-is using a yellow Mi Amor Duchess Satin.
For the blue lace overlay, I started with an assortment of white Venise lace appliques. I pick these up anytime I find them in my travels, in bulk if I can. Specialty sewing shops sometimes carry them, and online suppliers often do as well. Sometimes you can even find bags of them at flea markets. Knowing since last Christmas that I wanted to make this one, I've had an eye out all year for suitable components.
I started with white appliques, and then dyed them blue using iDye.
I did my dye work on the stove and then ran the appliqués through the wash in a lingerie bag to remove remaining dye residue.
Once I had the front of my dress assembled, I started arranging the appliqués. I would place a few at a time and then stitch them down, and worked my way through the placement of the design that way until I was done. I machine stitched mine, though you can bet the couture gown was done by hand! Here's a shot of just the front of the dress clipped to my dress form (sloppily) as the applique layout is in process.
After the appliqués were all in place, I finished the dress as normal, substituting a knit chiffon drape sleeve for the cuffed sleeve in the pattern.
The pins at the top of the bodice are keeping things in place on the form -- on me, it stays up just fine. :)
For the duster, I once again turned to the pattern stash. BUT, because this satin evening coat doesn't appear to fully wrap or close at the front, I knew I'd have to alter a pattern for the narrower fit. I went with a long, fitted coat pattern, and I only used the side front, back and side back pieces when cutting. I widened the side front piece a little bit to make sure the shoulder seam would match up with the back and allow a little more coverage than just the side front alone.
I also drafted an alternate collar -- it sort of mimics the shape of the iconic white collar that Snow White wears in the movie. The blue area in the image below is the center of the collar, which is cut on the fold. I'm not sure why I had that point in there at the center initially -- it got clipped off into a smooth line.
For the voluminous sleeves, I cut simple rectangles about 22 x 30 inches, sewed them into tubes along the long edges, and then pleated them to the right size at the shoulder seam to fit. I gathered the bottom edge, then added small pleats to mirror the pleating at the shoulder. I added small bow details at the outside of the sleeve just to bring a little more Snow White flavor to the duster.
I like that this feels Snow White but is different from a standard costume. It's got a grown-up vibe, but the colors and inspiration are still there.
Do you get inspired to recreate pieces you see in magazines or online for your own use? I have a mile-long list of such projects. Of course, it's tempting to make more designer-style princess dresses, too!
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