Sunday, July 7, 2019

Yellow mohair and wool challis dress- Self drafted

This dress was so much fun to make and even more fun to wear! The design started in spring of 2018. I purchased the lovely lightweight printed wool challis from Emma One Sock and brought it with me to Design II workshop given by Sarah Veblen.

I instinctively knew that I wanted to pair the panel with a yellow fabric and I also knew that I wanted some textile that had a different texture. During the Design II workshop we had a day to spend at Michael's Fabrics/ A Fabric Place and between doing my fabric exercises, fawning over all the amazing fabrics and shopping I found a wool mohair by Ungaro that was the most perfect shade of yellow and had such a delightful texture. I fell in Love!! And bought a 1/2 a yard which actually turned out to be more like 3/4 of a yard when I measured it at home! (Thank you Jonathan!)

My original idea was a fitted princess seam bodice with a fitted 2 piece 3/4 length sleeve with a shaped fuller skirt attached at the shaped empire seam and curving around the body to hit at the lower back. I had to modify my design a little bit because I felt like the mohair was going to be overworked and some too hot in a closely fitted sleeve. I played with a bunch of different sketches and finally came up with the idea of using a dolman sleeve. I used Armstrong’s Pattern making for Fashion Design to draft the dolman sleeve and then made modifications for the fit that I wanted. Luckily, I had just enough of the yellow Mohair to cut out the longer sleeves which ended up being somewhere between 3/4 length and bracelet length. 

I made one muslin of the newly drafted bodice and then moved into my fashion fabric. Yippee!
I underlined the entire bodice with silk organza and the entire skirt pieces with imperial batiste and then lined the dress in a bright yellow china silk.

After I cut out and underlined all the pieces with hand basting I pinned them onto my dress form just to get a visual of how they would look. AND... It was OK. Just OK. Not amazing and it felt a little flat to me. Which totally bummed me out since I was really excited about the entire project. SO I left it on the dress form for a while just to let it marinate and speak to me. Thankfully I had an ‘aha’ moment and pinned in strips of the printed wool challis to see what that would look like and it was perfect to my eye! It was just missing that pizzazz. I cut bias strips out of the leftover wool challis and used rat tail cording to create beautiful piped princess seams and piped neckline. This detail really brought the design together and made it cohesive.

The dress was done in time for the Haute Couture Club of Chicago Autumn colors challenge, was worn to a Broadway in Chicago Musical and to the Opera over the winter and also worn in The Haute Couture Club of Chicago annual fashion show. For the fashion show, I paired it with a beautiful fascinator that was made by another member of the club for the raffle. It was so much fun wearing the fascinator on the runway!

Designing, sewing and wearing this dress really ticked off a bunch of boxes for me!
- I let the fabric ‘speak’ to me and adjusted my design to what the fabric would be best in doing.
- This led me to drafting dolman sleeves
- Dolman sleeves are out of my normal fashion box, let me push my boundaries.
- Took the time to assess my design midway through the process.
- Sewing piping into princess sleeves using mohair as the fashion fabric required accuracy and patience!
- I had FUN

Happy Sewing!!

The Princess turned 5 in June and we celebrated her birthday on the beach with a bunch of her friends and had a lovely day!! I can't believe my grand baby is 5...


  1. Hi Steph! That dress is amazing! The whole design process sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after going through
    a few of the articles I realized it's new to me. Regardless, I'm certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


comments, thoughts, idea? Please share!