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I knew from the beginning that whatever I made I wanted it to be couture and have a modern, “on point” fashion look.
And to me, the largest challenge would simply be to take the ballerina dress and make it just that: high fashion.
My inspiration comes very often from period clothing, and the bodice part from a ballerina outfit always reminded me of a pair of stays. So when I saw the theme, a pair of stays was my natural starting point; especially that stiff flat front with the bust pushed up. Second thing is the wide skirt, the tutu, which made me think of the rococo pannier.
Then there was the title of On Point, which I wanted to take very literally, having points on the pattern of the fabric but also in the garment itself, the fabric meeting in the center front making a downwards point, the points on each side of the bust, the folds pointing out to the sides. But also being on point to me, means being sharp, on time, precise and structured. No loose draping or too much flowiness, but precise pattern matching and on point tailoring. I wanted the dress to be shaped into its form rather than letting the fabric fall into it, but at the same time I wanted it to be light and fun.
I found a very beautiful, semi loosely woven stripy fabric in yellow and black with gold, pink and blue threads woven in (I think it is cotton/polyester blend), that I simply fell in love with. Because I wanted that firm flat front of a pair of stays, I chose a simple cotton drill from Sew Curvy for the strength layer, since it is a heavier and rather stiff fabric. I used the same fabric to make the skirt stand out as it does, by extending it 15 cm beyond the waist. I also ended up adding horsehair ribbon to make sure the folds of the dress do not collapse in time. By doing this, instead of a real pannier or padding or fluffy skirts, the dress kept its lightness. The bodice is entirely boned with 7mm artificial whalebone.
To make it fun, I went out and bought pink polyester lining. It was the Women's March that inspired me to that colour, but I also love having a pop of colour in any garment. At first it was not my intention that the lining should be seen, but while having the dress on the stand, all even and circular in the skirt, the dress simply looked too bottom heavy and boring. It frustrated me a lot, I used hours in draping the skirt in different ways, until I finally said, to hell with it all, and cut into the fashion layer of the skirt. I followed the lines in the fabric on the sides of the skirt, but also at center front and center back where I cut a piece in an upwards point. Doing so gave the skirt a much more lifted and light look. And I love that you can see the pink.
As a last minute thing I added a yellow belt with this awesome geometric pattern, which I draped onto the dress to make sure the belt looks as if it hold the folds of the skirt between its points. It was meant to have a buckle in front, but it ruined the lines of the fabric that met in a point at center front. I remembered reading on Foundations Revealed that someone had used magnets to hold hip fins in place. So I sewed in magnets in the front of the belt and the bodice, and it worked perfectly.
And I simply love the overall result..;)
You can find a more detailed description of my process with pictures on my Facebook page. It's in three parts, with the first part furthest down the wall.