Monday, May 23, 2011

Carolina Herrera Dress Knock Off - Part 1

The highlight of my weekend was fabric shopping in the NYC Fashion District. It was a spur of the moment thing. There were some extra seats on the Northern VA ASG charter bus and P. and I grabbed them. The 4 hour bus trip seemed to fly as we talked to a great group of sewing enthusiasts that included fellow bloggers Jane and Michele. I made fabric purchases at Mood, Paron's and Metro Textiles. Kashi opened up Metro as a special favor for us. He is every bit as nice, and enabling, in person as other bloggers have reported. Most of my purchases was there.

There are two contests running over at PatternReview.com that I am participating in; the Vintage Pattern and the Knock-Off contests. The Knock-Off contest ends on May 31, a month before the other one, so I set aside my vintage pattern to start on my knock-off.


It is this Carolina Herrera dress from her Spring 2011 RTW collection. I just love the use of the ruching and shaped band around the neckline. Yes, it is low cut (the first comment I hear from anyone I show it to) But it is not like there is decollete showing and I have the same lack of it as the model. I spent the early part of the month looking for similar fabrics. Based on zooming in on the photo, it looks like the main fabric is an off white silk jacquard overprinted with black floral sprays. The ruching is a sheer white fabric which is sewn over part of a solid black fabric band. The solid black band extends beyond the ruching and is covered by a strip of sheer black fabric. I had no luck finding a similar print silk and rejected the idea of overprinting or stamping a black floral motif on a jacquard silk. I decided to use this printed linen from Denver Fabrics. The print is in an olivy brown and purple, so the trim will be brown instead of black.


Duplicating the bodice design with flat pattern drafting was beyond my skills and available time. I remembered a quote by Tomoko Nakamichi, author of the Pattern Magic books. She said "When I was a student, I remember how difficult it was learning pattern making off the blackboard. I achieved the shapes I wanted by making miniatures (of the garment) out of paper, flattening them out by inserting lines and cutting them to make a pattern . It gave me a great feeling of satisfaction, but I knew that logically, it was a dubious way of going about it." Dubious for her, but it works for me. Another person who uses this technique is Shingo Sato. He calls it Transformational Reconstruction. Shingo has published a fantastic book by the same name and it comes with 2 CD's containing many of his Utube videos showing the technique.

Basically this is the technique:

1. Cut and join flat pieces of fabric to assemble into a three dimensional garment. I made a muslin of my bodice sloper with the center fronts extended as the fronts on this dress overlap.


2. Draw in the new seam lines on the three dimensional garment. I put the sloper on, and roughly drew in the style lines for the neck bands with a marker. Sorry the marker was green and hard to see in the photo below.



I took off the sloper and cleaned up the style lines. Note: the pieces do not lay flat because the sloper darts are still sewn in.






3. Take the three dimensional garment apart and flatten them, to get individual pattern pieces. I cut apart the sloper on the style lines and laid the fabric pieces flat. As you will see from the pictures below, the sloper bust darts and back shoulder darts disappeared and were incorporated into the shaping of the neck band because the edge of the band went through the points of the darts: basic dart manipulation. This technique works because the relationship between the flat pattern pieces and the three dimensional structure of the garment never changes.





I used the parts of the sloper as pattern pieces and cut the pieces out of fashion fabric. I sewed them together and was thrilled to see how good the muslin looks in the the neck and chest area.




Next Task - Working out the details of the ruching strip: the amount of gathering, shaping, and how to attach it.

15 comments:

Eugenia said...

I am super-impressed with your brilliant work in creating a copy of this wonderful, inspirational dress! I am looking forward to seeing your further progress ...

DD said...

I love this neckline!! I have been watching the first season of "The Good Wife" and love the picture of the main character in the red dress on the DVD Main menu. This is similar of that neckline!! Cant wait to see your finished dress.

Sigrid said...

Wow, this will be a gorgeous knock-off. How nice to see the steps you are taking. THanks for sharing.

kbenco said...

That neckline looks great on you. Your skill at drafting makes this look easy! (I know it isn't). Thank you for your clear and detailed description.

Gail said...

I absolutely adore Caroline Herrera's style. Loving what I see so far.

Irene said...

One of my favourite designers! You're doing a spectacular job. Can't wait to see the final results.

Reethi said...

I learn so much every time I read your blog. Thanks for the helpful blog post. This has been a dress I've wanted to make as well, and I can't wait to see the results.

Shannon said...

Gorgeous dress! It's so fascinating reading about your pattern engineering. I can't wait to see this all finished!

katherine h said...

What fabulous work! This is going to be gorgeous.

Sara Noemi said...

This is really clever! I can't wait to see it when you're done.

Gabrielle said...

Wow - it's a stunning dress to start with, and you're so clever to be able to reverse engineer it! I can't wait to see your final dress.

Andrea said...

I love Carolina Herrera's designs and I think you are doing a lovely job on remaking this dress. I can't wait to see your finished version. Thank you also for the tip Shingo Sato. I've been watching his youtube videos. Very interesting.

Jane M said...

Audrey, it was a treat to see you on the bus to NYC. As I stated then, you are an inspiring seamstress and this dress is just another fantastic example of your talent. Thanks for such useful, detailed pictures. This dress is bound to be spectacular.

Lynneb said...

I can't wait to see! I'm very excited!

Bunny said...

Love the way you handled this. This will be yummy!