The “Mademoiselle” Dress | Adey Lim
Fabric: Dark red matte jersey from fabric.com sale at US$7.50 for 1.5 yards
Pattern: Japanese sewing book 'Drape drape' Volume 1, No 3 Gather drape dress
Notions: Fringe trim and tiny rose trim
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: To be worn on Lunar New Year 3 Feb 2011
Wear again? Yes.
Total Cost: ~US$9.90
It's the Coco Chanel week! Loving the theme was the easy part. To create a Coco Chanel inspired garment which also fits into my Lunar New Year sewing schedule. Now, that's challenging!
The theme got me researching and I got to learn more about the remarkable woman. Not only was she the revolutionary designer famous for the LBD, immaculate tweed suits with fringe trim and hats, Coco Chanel practically pioneered the nautical, military as well as minimalist looks, miniskirt and trousers on women, the use of jersey in everyday garments and the use of costume jewelry. Her style – clean, simple, timeless, elegant yet practical.
Black would have been the perfect color to work with and I've got lots of new black/black and white combo in my stash. However, these were the very colors I had to avoid for the Lunar New Year. Black is taboo, so is white or anything of the two mixed together. The nautical or military look were also not suitable for the festivity. I heart tweed fabric but the weather here simply doesn't allow it.
It was Coco Chanel's ideal of the LBD and how versatile it should be that truly inspired me. "A dress that was minimalist, sophisticated, elegant, to be worn at any time of day." (UK Telegraph) And while I couldn't sew my dress in black , I held on to this ideal while selecting the sewing pattern. After much thought and a lot more googling, I decided to use red jersey to create a minimalist dress with some draping. I was drawn to the drape dresses wore by Coco Chanel in the 1930s (Source: Clothing & Fashion Encyclopedia) and the red dress worn by Keira Knightley in the recent Mademoiselle ad campaign.
It's a comfortable and simple red jersey dress with gathered front sleeves. I love the minimalist style of this dress and the simple draping created by gathers on the side front. I was also inspired to add a fringe trim and tiny rose trim at the neckline. Trimming was a signature style of Chanel's designs and definitely made this dress a whole lot more interesting without being overwhelming.
I do not read Japanese but this is my second project from the Japanese sewing book 'Drape Drape'. While the clear diagrams always make sewing a breeze, I hated how humongous the gathers at the back made me look. So I spent hours unpicking stitches, draping the dress on myself, readjusting the fit and finally ended up with a backview I am reasonably happy with. The last thing I want is a dress I won't wear out again and again.
I've read many times how difficult it is to photograph red and after making this dress, I would have to concur. Red bleeds into red so details can go missing easily. And the tone which is eventually captured could be quite different from the actual color.
Despite the issues with the back, I had so much fun sewing this up, totally enjoyed the learning process and can't wait to work on my next piece. This dress is definitely great for the lunar new year as red represents prosperity. I hope you like my interpretation of Coco Chanel and i f you are interested, do check out the construction details on my blog- The Sew Convert. Merci beaucoup.