It’s that holiday that’s in the middle of October some time, and for 1492 sailing the ocean blue!!!! (From the old kid’s rhyme of how to tell when Columbus sailed across the ocean!) But, I always thought of this as an Italian holiday, and liked turning a little Italian on this day….sort of the way we all become Irish on St. Pat’s and Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. And although food is a great way to celebrate these ethnic holidays – I mean what’s better than green beer & corn beef hash or tacos and chilies or seafood and pasta, for me Italy is all about style and fashion. No one does fashion more baroque and ornate and yet can be starkly beautiful than Milan. So in honor of Columbus Day – here’s a little piece on the dresses (yes dresses) from the Milan Spring 2014.
Designers are still into nude and so you sort of have to look through that….for me this has lost it’s shock value and I think see thru to a slip is far sexier than seeing everything. But this dress shows the big message – feminine and see-thru. And remember you can always put an under layer in here to do this.
This is a simple statement dress. Because it is see-thru you can see the darts on the bodice, very classic (waist to bust, and if you need a side bust dart aka FBA), and because the fabric is so light and airy, and delicately gathered skirt. Remember when you gather, to gather the least amount at centers front & back and on sides, and the most in those spaces in between. This makes the skirt look all that more attractive on you.
To me this is everything I love about Milan – look at that gorgeous embroidery, and the graduated hem over-exaggerated and yet totally in proportion (yeah, and the neckline has to come up). Look at the lines that the embroidery is place on the waist and hip and how those lines are compatible with the lines of the hem. So what we could take away from this is as an interesting line between the hem and the embroidery placement. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a border print only turning it upside down and using it at an angle to a graduated hem? Or finding a gorgeous fun trim to play around with to apply onto a classic dress (darted bodice and lightly gathered skirt). This has classic written all over it, and in a shorter version with a more modified hem graduation it would be a killer addition to anyone’s wardrobe. Even if you just wanted to do a top version that had this interesting waist line on it, would be a great look.
Dolce and Gabbana are so great at doing really exquisitely technical design that is just so….well….Italian. Isn’t this what we all love about the Italians? Here’s this simply elegant design, in this gorgeous print (take a good look at the print because this has got a killer look to it) and wrapped in that belt. Granted the medallion on the belt is a little much, but here’s the thing. Find a print like this (might have to go to mood or an up scale store, and then maybe not – try your local store first) and it has to be see-thru – must in this dress. Then do a slip (if you really want to have fun with this, make a nude slip in Nude color in Bemberg Ambiance or another gorgeous lining – China Silk or light weight woven silk and have this to wear with all your see-thru dresses), and belt it with a color that’s in the print. Now to add onto this, if you want to make some silk organza flowers (no need to seam around the edges of the little flowers, if they fray it’s even better), and tack them onto the fabric (after the dress is finished) or use a trim that’s floral or floral-looking around the neck and sleeves. Then I would make those sleeves a little shorter and slimmer.
Here’s some great pattern ideas for these wonderful Italian-esque dresses!!!
This is a not downloadabe, but you can get this in almost any pattern store. It’s a Simplicity and I like a lot of what this has to offer, although it doesn’t have the slip that the Burda pattern below has, it’s still got a lot of charm…it has the bodice (version B is my fav), and the full skirt, that is all pleated in the right places, and a sleeve head (you can lengthen the sleeve from the head and taper it a bit to your comfort fit). It probably needs to be lengthened a little. A longer hem would make it more classic, but if you have good legs, go for it! This needs a belt, which could be easily made from belting, neatly wrapped (I like to use wonder under tape), use skirt hooks & eyes to close in back and it makes a very neat belt.
You would need a slip pattern (or download the pattern below to use that slip pattern), to finish this off, and only a couple of other touches, like having lingerie straps in the shoulder seams to hold the slip straps in place (that way no matter how much ease or slipping the slip does, you won’t have falling slip straps), and you could gather the skirt instead of pleating it, which I think would look prettier. The skirt in the pattern is made from a taffeta or equally stiff fabric so it naturally sticks out when the chiffon or gauze or other limber fabric won’t stick out.
Here’s a Burda downloadable pattern (click on the picture) and it even includes the inside slip.
There are a few changes. I would like to see this zip up the back. Yes, you’re doing this in a chiffon, and what you will do is, knowing that the zipper tape will show, keep your center back seam neat and the same seam allowance all the way down. For an extra couture touch, you can roll over the remaining seam so that no raw edges show. This is one of those touches that will make this dress really sing – if for you, even if no one else notices, you will know. The other is that this slip zips up the side, and since there’s a center back seam, I’d rather see it zip up the center back. This is just a dynamite slip pattern that you will use again and again – no waist, just some darts (if you’ve added side bust darts, add them in this slip too). But there aren’t a lot of hullabaloo to get in the way of the dress.
On the dress, you can modify the skirt so that it’s not so full, but if you’re feeling extra frilly, think about keeping it the way it is. Remember this is for chiffons, and drapey, see-thru fabrics – don’t do this with a linen or a cotton. You could also use a cotton gauze or other such fabric.
If you feel like you want some more character to the skirt, but do not have access to a professional pleater, think about taking the skirt, sewing side seams, putting in water and crinkling it like the old-fashion broomstick skirts (all you do is starting at waist gather tightly and wrap with rubber bands or string – I like string – and continue wrapping tightly till the skirt is wrapped all the way to the hem of the skirt – I like to put the hem in before I wrap, even though the skirt isn’t attached to the bodice yet.)
This dress requires a belt, and I would do the belt in this pattern. I would make one from belting at the store and wrap it neatly (you can use wonder under tape to glue it together) and add skirt hooks and eyes to the belt and have it open in back. This keeps it simple and easy.
So that’s my homage to Columbus Day – if you’re having a holiday today – hope you spend it sewing and enjoying the day!
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