The ‘Duchess Green’ dress
Fabric: Thrifted cotton knit dress, about £5, plus polyester chiffon, originally from Goldhawk Rd market for about £2/m
Time to complete: Maybe 5 or 6 hours altogether
First worn: May 2012
Wear again? Yes!
Total Cost: About £9 (including dye)
I know it’s the Queen’s big day, and I did try to find a Queen-related project for this week, but as a brunette who favours low-maintenance hairstyling, I’m currently very much appreciating the Duchess of Cambridge’s contributions to the red carpet. I think she played it pretty safe to start with, but now we’re seeing some amazing outfits. My jaw dropped at this dress.
Fellow Sew-Weekliers, I truly was tempted to go all out and try to recreate this gorgeous Jenny Packham design. The colour, the lace, those sleeves, the draping and pleating… it’s so wonderful. But honestly, when would I ever wear it? Just for starters, compare that car Kate’s getting out of with mine:
So I’ve had this cotton knit dress hanging around for ages – I spotted it in a charity shop and fell for the intricate detailing at the neckline. I took it in at the princess seams, up at the hemline, lopped off the sleeves, and got a fairly good fit, but somehow it never got as far as my wardrobe. What got the cogs whirring again was this picture showing Kate’s dress versus the runway version:
Green gown on the left? Meh. Green gown on the right? AWESOME.
What I needed was a colour change! I used Jade Dylon dye (no longer available, bought off eBay). Thinking about it now, I should really have used bright blue, counting on the original green of the dress to tip it over to that great jade/teal colour. As it turns out, I’ve ended up with a greener dress than intended, but I still think it’s rather lovely.
Even the beads took on a pleasing greeny hue:
The other detail I took from Kate’s dress was the chiffon… and serendipitously, I’ve had some chiffon in my stash for over a year that happens to be a perfect colour match! I modified a little bias-cut cap design from a Simplicity pattern, and used bias binding to finish the underarm edges.
I felt totally comfortable in the stretchy cotton goodness of this dress all day, plus a little special and dressed up with the chiffon sleeves and beading. I can see myself wearing this all summer long. Which got me thinking – it would be amazing to have that royal access to whatever beautifully created designer dress took one’s fancy – but imagine losing out on wearing things you’d sewed yourself? My finished garments are never perfect, sometimes a bit wonky, and often a deviation from what I’d planned in the first place… but I relish that creative process. And I had a ball transforming this dress from a charity shop cast-off to something that fits my body, my lifestyle, and that happy little sewing centre in my head.
Have a great Jubilee week everyone!