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.
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.
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.
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.