Make Dior For Fifty Quid

I have been wanting to write a blog about my design process for some time. It’s really a way to demonstrate why a garment that’s well made as well as tailor made costs what it does.

And then along came the perfect project to use as an example….

Mid March I was commissioned by a hairstyling team in Essex, Gorgeous Hair, to make a dress for their styling model for the L’Oreal Colour Trophy Finals 2014.  Although originally they had wanted to hire an existing piece it became clear that their remit was pretty specific. It was going to have to be made.

The inspiration was this creation from Christian Dior’s up and coming Autumn/Winter 2014 Ready To Wear Collection.

Now, this might be a nylon dress but don’t think you’re going to get it down the high street with your monthly paycheck. Nylon or not this quilted dress has the Dior label on it. I haven’t found a price for it anywhere so I’m just going to use my imagination.

The challenge. To make it yellow and as close to a £50 budget as possible.

So, firstly I have the dress. I know the colour. Now I need the fabric. For that budget yellow is not easy to find. I need a weighty fabric that’s going to hold its structure. Look at the folds in that skirt! Quite by accident (because I’ll admit I kind of bought the wrong fabric) I ended up with 10metres of waterproofed polyester. Interesting but useable and certainly able to bear the structure for the skirt shape.  It’s all about not doing the obvious. And it turned out to be perfect for this project.

Next stage. Draft a pattern. This is a pretty simple dress really pattern wise. It’s a full circle skirt with a drop back hem and an easy to put together v neck bodice with shaped front seams. I have the model’s stats so I draft up the bodice from a size 12 dress block. I’m planning to line the bodice with a matching colour jersey to make it more comfortable for the model and more structurally secure.

Basic dress block

Drafted bodice pattern with additional seams marked out for cutting

Bodice cut in final fabric and lined ready for sewing

The skirt is a big circle so that won’t take long. I keep a block pattern for a size 12, 30 inch long circle skirt. It does take up a lot of material though. It’s three of these half circles, with the front section rounded off to a shorter length.

The pattern process. takes 50 minutes.

Once the skirt is cut, the dress starts to take shape. Here with the bodice pattern you can already start to see how it will look.

The bodice is a little more tricky. The fabric is stiff and plastic. Getting it to mould to the body shape of the mannequin takes some time. It has the structure of a corset without the boning. But finally it’s there.

For ease of getting the model ready after she’s had her hair cut and styled, this dress zips straight up the centre  back. The hem is stiffened with rigilene boning to give the skirt that extra shape it needs. The manufacture process takes about 8 hours.

And here’s the final product:

Gorgeous Hair made it through the Finals and now they’re waiting for the Grand Finals in June. Congratulations on making it through to the next round and good luck to everyone in June.



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