Weaving Destination Contest Entry: Part 2 August 23 2014

Today I’m going to share a little bit about how I constructed a pattern for my entry for the Weaving Destination fashion contest. This is part 2 of a 3-part series; if you missed the first part, you can read it here.

The dress itself is based on one of my own patterns, the Martini dress, with some modifications influenced by both Indian and Scottish traditional dress.

Here’s the technical drawing of the Martini dress for reference.

I cut the Martini skirt hem into a new shape to mimic the sari wrapping around the body to control the pleats below. Below that, the lower skirt section takes its knife pleats directly from the kilt. Above it, the bodice section, made from Harris Tweed, echoes the simple, above-the-waist cut of the sari blouse.

The upper skirt (taken from the Martini) is a separate layer, covering an underskirt which carries the pleats. Beneath that is a lining layer, cut to the same shape as the underskirt, which has tulle on the lower part for volume.

Here’s what I did to my skirt pattern pieces. I cut two back pieces and joined them together temporarily along the centre back. I then drew an S-shaped curve, starting at the hem and finishing just below the hip. It was important to make sure that the new hemline fell above where the top of the back skirt vent would have been, so that I could walk. I transferred the same curve to the front piece, then separated the back pattern pieces for cutting.

For the lower skirt section, I cut a 2.5-metre length of the fabric and cut it as shown in the diagram below.

The long edges and the short edges would be sewn together to make the lower skirt portion, which would be knife pleated. One thing I hadn’t considered at this point is that the fabric is not reversible, that is, the border print is not the same on the front and back. So the back pleats actually have the fabric’s wrong side on the outside. The white border pattern is the reverse on the back, basically it’s the negative of the front. It’s not really a big deal as you can only see it from very close up, but I thought I would mention it here so you didn’t think I was cheating. In order to turn this oversight into a ‘design feature’, I actually sewed the white border on the back of the upper skirt inside out as well... but I sincerely doubt anyone noticed.

Since the horizontal width of the skirt was around 50cm, and the width of the fabric I had cut for the front and back lower skirt sections was 250cm, I had to reduce the fabric width to 20% of its original measurement. That is, 10cm of fabric had to be reduced to 2cm of visible fabric. I achieved this by folding 6cm (horizontal) in one direction, then 4cm back the other way. More on physically forming the pleats will be in the next post, which will be on construction.

The final dress design looked a bit like this. Remember, the top part is made from Harris tweed, and the skirt sections are made from the Weaving Destination cotton.

The design also included a shawl, made from the Indian fabric, which is somewhere between the sari pallu and the tartan sash worn in traditional highland dress.

Tune in in the next few days to read more about the construction of the dress – I will also be sharing some photographs of my finished entry.