The Six Napoleon dress is finished

This project was set as a challenge by Marianna, as she was selecting a wedding dress design for herself (after 25 years together!), and challenge it was. Certainly for me. But the thing about doing something challenging is that you gain so much as you leave the old comfort zone and learn some new techniques. As someone who is committed to lifelong learning I appreciate having projects suggested by others. I would not have attempted this dress without Marianna setting it as a challenge. And it has been so much fun participating alongside others who have been puzzling and planning alongside me. I especially appreciated the detailed work on the pattern shared by SJ Kurtz, Anita and Marianna herself.

And now it is done I feel an enormous sense of relief. I can tidy up my sewing area that has been overrun with paper and fabric for weeks. This carrier bag and large envelope holding my Napoleon Six patterns are now consigned to the recycling bin.

Pattern cutting
My paper pattern for the Six Napoleon dress

Six weeks of tussling with so much fabric, paper and alterations have tired me out. How do people like Mrs Mole cope with all that white stuff, foaming around her,  lifting great bundles of various layers of fabric, getting down on the floor trying to get the hem right?

It was the hem that did for me.

Did I say the worst part was doing the hem? Actually the worst part was doing the hem and then having to re-do the hem.

We would normally hem a dress or skirt at the end of the process, wouldn’t we? This dress has no skirt waist band to go down from – you can only really go up from the floor. Due to the method of finishing the hem, (using a facing) I had to hem the skirt and then attach the skirt to the bodice. And once I actually tried the dress on, with the skirt basted to the bodice, I felt the proportions were wrong. The skirt was just too long – nearly floor length, and it looked like a wedding dress. I felt it needed to be ballerina length.

It was necessary to remove the facings from the hem, measure up 12″ from the floor (kitchen work surface actually, as you can see in the misty third picture above) 12″, recut it and re-apply the facing. This was seven metres of re-applying facings.

Then I discovered the handkerchiefs point was too long and that had to be taken out, altered and re-inserted.

And also the bodice was a bit on the big size (due to my pattern cutting teacher telling me I needed to “skim” over my curves. I had to take in the side seams and the back princess seams a bit. Overall in fitting terms this outfit maybe has a bit too much ease in it. But it is very comfortable to wear.

Here is the inspiration picture. Black and grey, gothic, otherworldly and a little bit scary.

Six Napoleon inspiration picture
Six Napoleon dress

And here is my version. A summery, happy, white dress. I did actually think about making a hat, but sometimes Even I know when enough is enough. It’s already covered in Schiaparelli-inspired colourful cartoons.

Fabrickated Six Napoleon
Six Napoleon Front view
Fabrickated Six Napoleon challenge
Six Napoleon Back View


Fabrickated Six Napoleon challenge
Six Napoleon Side view

This was a big project for me (and everyone else I think!) I may have made something that is too over the top to wear. Now I have photographs.  Perhaps, after a little get together with some of the other Nap 6 ladies, I may take off the organza layers and turn it into a more simple dress. The organza layers might make an interesting skirt in their own right. I am on holiday this week, walking in the mountains in Bosnia. But as I share these photographs I urge you to have a look at the websites of all those who made their very own Napoleon Six bodices and dresses. What an amazing achievement. Despite the fact that it was probably the most difficult thing I have ever made I love prancing around in this dress and will find opportunities to wear it. It is a joyous dress.


32 Responses

  1. Ruth

    Excellent. I love how the Schiaparelli-inspired cartoons can be seen below the organza. And while mine is OTT too I know what you mean about enjoying prancing about in it. Well done on finishing – it looks great!

  2. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Sooooo pretty! Joyous is the right description, lovely work. It has been a helluva challenge though. Mine is done, and would have been worn at the weekend, but things all went askew [already blogged!]. I’ll be getting rigged up in it and get some photos taken very soon, or it will become The Dress That Never Was.
    I hope you twirled a lot!

  3. sew2pro

    How I recognise your pain! I was feeling sorry for myself because I had to reattach most of the (lower) waist seam after it was trimmed and edge-stitched (it looked lumpy). But to have to re-do the entire hem is way more masochistic.

    Gee, no one is going to talk to me after this….

    I love your dress; it is light and playful and so unusual that it demands to be worn. People will delight in it, they will want to talk about it (unless they’re of the kind who think it’s not polite to comment on someone’s clothing, and you never know what they think about anything anyway). It will bring happiness!

    Thank you so much for taking part.

  4. eimear

    fantastic…and it hangs beautifully. If you ever had the chance to wear it to a ‘hat-type event’ its the type of dress that could take it – what fun you could have with a schiaperilli inspired one and all its a lovely fit and the skirt is incredibly well finished (its the type of fabric that would break my heart and to do it twice – nerves of steel). stunning

  5. Lynn Mally

    And no one in the world has one like it! In the course of your write up you changed from “I might never wear it” to “I’ll wear it with joy.” And you sure look joyful

  6. Patricia Clements

    Your dress is delightful! I can see this worn on dinner dates, cocktail parties, , outdoor events in a park such as an art display (with a blue organza stole as there is enough color). Don’t cut up that work of art, please.

  7. Elle

    I think an occasion needs to be invented for all of you Napsters to prance around together. This dress is delightful!

  8. Jay

    Hmm, my post got eaten by gremlins. I love your joyful Schiap inspired fabric, and can understand why you might separate the organza layer at some point. There are only so many occasions for twirling in organza.

  9. Jenny L

    It is truly lovely. Don’t you dare destroy it for something simple and ordinary. You will have many occasions to wear it I am sure. I can picture you on your roof terrace in the moonlight sipping cocktails, singing or dancing across the roof. Very fancy!

  10. Alli

    Are you really throwing away your pattern pieces? Butbutbut what if you want to make another one…! 😀

    Also, I love the whole dress together and I wish you would keep it the way it is! You should wear it out anytime you want to feel amazing! :):):)

  11. ceci

    I hope you DON’T decide its too over the top – was it Mae West who said “too much of a good thing is wonderful”? Wise, whoever.

    I think a solid color hat in one of the face colors would be perfect. And the blue glasses are perfection.


  12. Kerry

    You did it! From your photos the dress looks really well made, it fits you well and is flattering. What an achievement! Job well done I say. Would you wear it? I hope so. Admittedly it’s a party dress, but it’s a special dress and I can imagine it provoking lots of flattering comments.

  13. Chris

    Stunning dress Kate – I would happily wear this with a hat / headpiece to the races! Women go all out for ladies day – and this would definitely stand out. Well done 🙂

  14. Gail

    Love the playfulness of your dress – especially the handprinted fabric. I think it needs high heels or really light summery flat sandals to wear it well.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks alot Gail. I did try it with higher heels but it looked a bit too dressy for me. Maybe I need to try it with sandals (although it is rarely warm enough for them over here!)

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