Getting started on the Six Napoleon dress

posted in: Designing, Inspiration | 14


You may remember the 6Nap challenge launched by Sew2Pro. A dozen or so seamstresses from all over the world – America, Canada, France, London and Birmingham are committed to making a version by early next month. I have already had a think about this, but due to my recent holiday I hadn’t got very far.

Making a pattern

The front has five asymmetric sections; basically we have an adapted princess line top. But those style lines are quite challenging. The princess line starts in two different places. On the left it comes into the mid arm hole – on the right it starts much higher up. On the back I realise that the Six Nap dress has a CB zip. I have, instead, created three asymmetric shapes, again following a princess line shape. I am not sure if I want a side zip, or if I should separate the bodice at CB, creating four sections at the back. I tried to get the pattern cutting very accurate as alterations will be quite challenging without changing the essential style lines of the bodice. I found it quite a complicated challenge.

Drafting the Six Napoleon bodice
Drafting the Six Napoleon bodice

Next I cut out the 8 bodice pieces putting seam allowances on every edge apart from the hem. I then pinned the toile together and had a good look at how it worked on Camilla. It made me think it might be nice to exaggerate the seams by sewing them on the outside, or using piping. It is quite hard to see. This version is not even stitched.

Making the toile

As it looked OK I  stitched up the toile and inserted a temporary side zip (just for trying on at this stage).

It fits reasonably well I want to take a tiny bit out at the underbust and also slim down one side of central panel. The back needs a little taking out of the centre panel too as you can see in the last picture – there is some fullness in the back neck. Also the armholes have 1.5cm seam allowance on them and the top will look better when these are finished. I added a little bit of width to the hip area to create a little stand-away  peplum that would go over the skirt if I produce this garment as a two piece. This isn’t quite right in the waist area. I will have to have a think about this, and welcome your views.  But overall I feel confident now that I can meet Marianna’s 14 July deadline.

Fabric and materials

I have bought some cotton muslin (as suggested by Marianna) as it is comfortable, translucent and inexpensive (I got ten metres). I am thinking of using my white screen printed cotton lawn, although it is too fine for the job. It would need underling/lining with a more substantial cloth. At the same time I am not sure this dress should be white so I will have a look at what I have in my cupboard – I am thinking purple at the moment.

cotton lawn with beetle print
white beetle fabric

I now need to address the skirt -either as part of the dress, or as a separate skirt.

I nipped out to Simply Fabrics in my lunch hour in the hope of finding the perfect fabric. Unfortunately not. But as I chatted to Leo another customer recognised me from the blog! What a surprise. So I am just saying Hello to Jo – I hope you make something lovely with that deep grey linen. Do let me know how you get on.


14 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Looks quite good so far! I will be happy just to get a well-fitting bodice. That said, I thought the deadline for photos was July 14, but perhaps I am mistaken!

  2. thedementedfairy

    I was just thinking about this today to take my mind off the horrors of the referendum results. You did give me a jolt with July 4th as deadline though!
    My beautiful fabric is staring at me from the ironing board…
    I’m not 100% sure I’ll have time to get the whole thing done by the deadline, but should at least manage the skirt. We’ll see…your bodice looks great. I’m impressed that you’ve gone with all those asymmetrical seamlines, and love the idea of making them a strong feature. Are you considering corded piping or flat piping? You could be punky and use frayed strips, or even leave the seam allowances au naturel?

  3. Kerry

    I am really impressed by the toile, the asymmetrical lines fit you beautifully. This is the sort of dress that could look awful if not properly fitted, as though one was playing ‘dress-ups’. I think the top as a separate garment sitting over the skirt is going to make this outfit a winner. I have a black formal dress with raw edged pin tucks on the front and an unfinished hem, which I think gives it an interesting twist. I love the white beetle fabric but I keep imagining this dress with a more sophisticated fabric, probably because the dress is quite stylish. Amazing job, Kate!

  4. Mary Funt

    I like the idea of this as a separate top as it will be more wearable than a full skirted dress. You can always make the skirt and wear the two together. Initially I had no interest in joining this project but your idea of doing it as top and skirt is more appealing. I’m thinking a dark solid fabric so as not to compete with the complex style lines. We are waking up here in the US to your voting results; a big surprise to many.

    • Fabrickated

      It would be great if you joined in Mary – you have so much knowledge, which you share so generously. I would prefer a two piece if I can do it, but am keeping an open mind.

      In terms of Brexit, we weren’t expecting that either. I feel sad, and angry at the same time. I am European. Leaving the EU is bad for our kids, our jobs, our economy and our well-being. The poorest will pay the price with fewer job opportunities and more cuts to public services.

      As you know America broke from Britain in 1776. But it was a very large country with a great deal of talent (it still took 14 years to create its constitution). If Scotland leaves the UK then England will be too insignificant to achieve very much.

  5. Jay

    I could not see the asymmetric seaming on my monitor Kate. Maybe I’ll try it that way too. I’m slightly pre-occupied with the Brexit problem (nothing done today). It’s not good news for the 1.3 million of us expats in Europe on a personal level, and I’m worried for the family in the UK too.

  6. Sew2pro

    I had a day without my email working (the curse of the Brexit?) so am late in catching up but delighted by your progress and ideas. The peplum sounds like a fab solution to having this over a separate skirt and I’m now coveting the imaginary dress which is in beetle-printed organza!

    Having made worked on the bodice for myself as well as for my friend, I am surprised now just by how our interpretations will vary but also how the dimensions of the pattern pieces differ according to body size.

    Please don’t feel you have to meet the deadline if it’s going to compromise the project: I am very understanding.

    As for Brexit, we have a strange mood of remote grief today still.

  7. Sew2pro

    And I love the idea of reversed seams and raw edges on the outside, though not all fabrics fray in a desirable fashion. The right denim would be wonderful.

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