Draped skirt with understructure – the croissant dress

posted in: Designing | 14

I have spent a couple of weeks draping over understructures and found it hard work. I wanted something dramatic, but also wanted something wearable.

First here is my minimalist understructure – I created a couple of “croissants” (left).  I made a hip belt with two stuffed crescents on them. The idea was to drape over these to create a dress somewhat similar to the picture on the right.


I draped the skirt, attached it (pined it) to a size 12 bodice, and draped a simple bias neckline. I was now at the stage where if I wanted to make up this dress I would have resorted to flat pattern cutting. The bodice needs to be very closely fitted (use an evening dress or lingerie block) in order that the full hips really stand out. I just pinned some additional darting into the bodice. The only tricky aspect of this dress really is having the hem on the straight grain with the waist join undulating over the understructure and the high waist at the front. To some extent this was easier to achieve with draping than with flat pattern cutting where accommodating the pads would have required some interesting measurements.

Draped dress with understructure
Draped Croissant dress

It’s not the Givenchy dress, is it? It is made in khaki embroidered viscose for goodness sake! The original is made in heavyweight, exquisite silk satin damask, and actually required less fabric as it is heavier and can be pleated. Mine takes two gathered-up widths to add sufficient width and bulk at the sides. The neckline is just draped on (as you can see in the back view) and the bodice trimmed away underneath. So it just an demonstration project – not something I intend to make.

Draped dress with understructurer
Croissant dress, back view

What do you think? I suppose it would be a dramatic outfit and I now feel more or less OK about wearing padding under my clothes. If I were to develop the design and make it up I would choose fabric like this.

14 Responses

  1. Jay

    I don’t think I’d wear padded understructure, the closest I might consider woud be something made in a stiff net or similar fabric as an underskirt. As a test project its turned out well. Its hard to work more adventurous projects into practical wardrobe considerations isn’t it? Fun to do, but difficult to work the end product into everyday life.

  2. thedementedfairy

    Interesting- and your little hip pannier gizmo is cute [effectively it’s what I built into my Victorian corset.] I think the front raised waistline has a risk of looking rather maternity-wear, but even in the khaki stuff, it has potential for a really dramatic occasion dress. Nice one!

  3. Chris

    Very interesting….and I have worn padding on my clothing. I once made a fitted dress with a structured peplum and used shoulder pads on the hips(under the peplum) it gave it the necessary oomph!
    I’ve also made a less dramatic dress with gathering at the hips of the full skirt.(Inspired by a dior style) I used gathered sections of netting between the lining and skirt fabric to give support just to the hip area.

    • fabrickated

      Thank you for this interesting feedback. There is certainly a place for exaggeration, and clearly you have used it to great effect. But there seems to be an almost morbid fear of width and bulk these days. I may try a blog post on it.

  4. Sheila Harvey-Larmar

    I have natural padding in the form of a spare tyre – would that make it easier for me to achieve the same effect?! Excellent exercise in construction though, I love to see how you experiment with draping.

    • fabrickated

      You are so funny Sewchet! I was originally pretty freaked out about the idea of adding padding. However, I think, after having done a bit with the understructure, that sometimes the padding enhances one area to make the others seems smaller by comparison. Also think of shoulder pads, and padded bras, for example – pretty standard and normal in our culture.

  5. Anne

    I love these posts – so interesting. It’s a pity I can’t just send you my natural padding! Your test drape looks remarkably similar to the designer one. I like the dark green/olive colour rather than the pink or the silver grey (and I’m not a fan of green!)

  6. Jennifer Miller

    Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine adding any padding to my garments, More than enough natural resources to work with. But….your work is exquisite! If you do make it up, I believe a darker pink would certainly make a dramatic statement.

  7. mrsmole

    I think the only way I would ever wear “croissants” under my clothes would be if they were filled with something to eat. You know in the US we use the word “crescent rolls” instead and as I already have built-in and well earned rolls of my own, I’ll pass. But the sample does already have a regal feel with that fabric don’t you think? I’m with Jay, these garments based on older or period pieces just don’t work so well in everyday life…bummer. When you realize how much work goes into them, it is a real shame we cannot flaunt these masterpieces whenever and wherever we want.

    • fabrickated

      Ha ha ha! Carrying a little snack around in your under garments!

      And no, I didn’t know about the crescent rolls, but I am aware that many US citizens do not have much experience with the French language. We found some of the pronunciation in NOLA interesting eg Bur-GUN-dy street. Also I remember when a “posh” bread shop opened in Manchester I asked the sales assistant what the croissants were. “You say!” one nudged the other, “No you!” she replied. In the end they managed to say “Cross-unt”.

      I haven’t written off this dress, but I would need an occasion. I did see a wedding dress with this sort of detail. Will email you.

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