Carrie Bradshaw Month: Part 4 (Grand Finale!)

Here at Charity Shop Chic, April has been renamed ‘Carrie Bradshaw Month’ and I have been attempting a series of remakes in tribute to everyone’s favourite fictional fashionista. This is the final part of the series.

For the Grand Finale of Carrie Bradshaw Month, I wanted to do something a bit special. I picked out this pink Oscar De La Renta dress from season 6 as a beautiful inspiration picture and set off to trawl the charity shops of East London for something large and pink to be turned into it.

I found a sheet with my name all over it – it’s a single fitted sheet in a dusky pink rather than the De La Renta ‘hot’ pink, but it will do nicely..

What’s that you say? Copying high end designer with a £2 sheet? Ambitious, moi?!

Prepare yourselves for an epic picture-heavy post, peops. This dress was a long project and I’m going to go into some detail.

First though, about the inspiration dress….

Here it is on the catwalk. You can see it has a boat neck, no sleeves, and it’s styled as Carrie does with black belt, plus black shoes and what looks like black gloves. The skirt is really interesting. It looks a bit like a circular section joined to the waist, then a gathered or ruffled section with loads of volume.

Here’s the back. The back is better than the front, in my opinion. Check out those armholes! Very cute. It looks like there is a seam line up the bodice, coming from the waist, joining the back corner of the armhole and then up to the shoulder. A centre back zip. It’s more obvious now that the top section of the skirt is circle-esque, too. And the lower section of skirt is shorter at the back than the front. Just beautiful.

And the drafting begins! First, the skirt, which is divided into the ‘circle section’ (below waist) and ‘gathered section’ (between circle section and hem).

Now, how to draft a circle skirt which is longer at the back than the front?! Get ready for some maths!

The green circle below is the bottom edge of the circle section. The blue circle is the waist line. I measured my waist, let’s call it 75 cm, so I could work out the diameter and radius of the blue circle. The blue and green circles are not concentric (their centres are different). This top part of the skirt is longer at the back than at the front, let’s call it 10 cm at the front and 20 cm at the back. This plus the diameter of the blue circle gives us the diameter of the green circle: 10 + 24 + 20 = 54 cm. Also, R – (r+10) = distance between the centres. And the circumference of the green circle = finished length of the gathered section = pi * D = 170 cm.

Here’s how I transferred this to muslin. I am using black muslin to show up the white chalk. First I folded a piece of muslin in quarters and marked some points each R centimetres (27cm) from the centre. Joined to form a circular arc. Did the same at 28.5cm for a seam allowance and cut it out.

Then, I folded the circle into four again, but this time, (10cm + r) from the edge, for the centre of the blue circle. Drew another set of points at r centimetres (12cm) from the centre, and another at 10.5cm for a seam allowance, and cut that circle out…. and bingo, the circle section of the skirt.

This is what it looks like (but this is the fashion fabric version).

Next up, the bodice. I draped this part rather than drafting it. Here’s a quick (OK, epic) description.

First I made up a basic bodice using my custom-fitted block, joined it to the circle section to see how it looked, and put it on my dressform.Then I could draw the style lines on it in chalk.

This is the front…. you can see the boat neckline and armholes…

…back, with vertical lines down the back bodice which incorporate the back armscyes….

….and in this side view you can see how I drew the armholes.

Then I cut along my neck and armhole chalk lines….

…detatched the skirt and cut down those chalk lines at the back (NOT down the side seams – I don’t think there is a seam there in the inspiration dress). I was left with three pieces: front, left back and right back (see below). To make this muslin into a pattern I had to cut some darts into it so that it would lay flat. I actually cut one large bust dart in the front piece and two small darts in the back.

Still reading? Good.

Since the pink sheet was pretty flimsy, I underlined it with another charity shop old sheet (it was a double white sheet which I have used throughout this Carrie series – there isn’t much of it left).

Here’s how the final bodice and circle section looked.


And finally! The gathered section (lower skirt).

It’s a tube of material, gathered in some way, with 10cm cut off the top at the back. I had enough material left to cut a strip about 3.5 metres long, and I knew the circumference of the circle section to which it’s joined is 170cm, so the gathering ratio has to be no more than 2:1. Here’s what I came up with after making some samples. Six 1cm inverted pleats, spaced 6cm apart. The inverted pleats look a bit strange until you push their centre up and out from behind, so it looks a bit more like the inspiration picture.

Here are the pinned pleats. In case you’re wondering, this took a really long time. You can see the front (left of the image) is longer than the back (right hand side of the image).

They look a bit sad (left) before pushing them inside out (right) which makes them look great!

The final step was to make facings for the arm and neck holes – I used bias binding again, pinning right sides together, pressing it to the inside and catchstitching it down on the inside of the bodice.

Here’s the final result… phew! I styled this with a thin black belt from my wardrobe (but there’s a good tutorial here if you want to make one) and a refashioned cropped jacket, plus black shoes as per the catwalk look, rather than the Carrie look.

Hope you have enjoyed Carrie Bradshaw Month as much as I have. What did you think of this first ‘theme month’ for Charity Shop Chic? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

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72 comments

  1. keshling

    You are really talented! How long did this dress take you? Are you fashion trained at all? Brilliant job, well done!!

    K xxx

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you! This project did take a while, though I didn’t keep track of how many hours. Once I got the drafting right, it was pinning those pleats for the lower skirt that took for EVER. I am happy with the outcome though! And no, I am not fashion trained at all.

  2. Marie

    You seriously are a drafting genius, I would never have known where to even begin with something as challenging as this. And it looks absolutely stunning, amazing, brilliant and so on! As a newcomer to your blog, I’ve found your themed month fantastic and cannot wait to see what you make next!

  3. Nicole

    I think you are amazingly talented, so I have to ask, what do you do for a living??? Please tell me fashion designer. Anything less and you are completely under utilised.

  4. Anna Dorthea Aasbjerg

    Thanks for a great theme-month! You’ve made some amazing garments and even inspired me to maybe take a closer look at the girls wardrobes and make something a little out of the ordinary for myself. I look forward to seeing what your next project/theme will be! :-)

    • charityshopchic

      Yeah I was going to underline the bottom skirt too to make it a bit stiffer… but those tiny pleats were just to thick for my machine. It worked out OK in the end. And the length was decided by how much was left of the sheet ;-)

  5. Rob Parkinson

    Hey csc you have done a wonderful job throughout from theme concept to each of the executions. It must have been a monster amount of work but it is seriously good and you should be proud of all the lovely comments!

  6. Alison

    Oh my goodness, that is amazing! You have totally inspired me to make a block bodice instead of starting from scratch every time I make anything!
    Alison
    x

  7. Katharina

    I LOVE your tutorial (and the dress, too, of course!) – you make it look so easy and logical. Thank you!

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks Katharina… Well, it was quite straightforward once you figure out how each section is cut. I am glad you found my words and maths so easy to follow!

  8. Jannapy

    You saved the best for last! I look forward to seeing more of your creations and a new theme!

  9. poet

    I am So. Deeply. Impressed. Wow!!!! A great dress, and a neat description of the drafting process. If I ever acquire a fitted sewing doll in my life, your blog will be an awesome resource…

    • charityshopchic

      Glad you liked it poet, thank you for the lovely comment. The doll isn’t strictly necessary, though it might be tricky drawing the chalk lines on yourself in the mirror… but it does make it easy to take photos of the work so I can show it to you :)

  10. Shelley

    Loved the theme concept this month–you did an amazing job from conception to execution. I have no idea how you managed that much work in the time frame. What a great refashion and tutorial–the dress looks ready for a night on the town! Your explanations are so clear and the photos lead the reader through from design phase to completion of the project. Kudos! So happy I found your blog.

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks for the feeback, Shelley. It was a lot of work but I really enjoyed the theme month! Glad you could follow the explanation, I was worried it was a bit long winded….

  11. liz

    wow! gorgeous dress and hand drafted to boot. love the arm holes and the tutorial is excellent!

    the bodice and upper circle skirt would make a lovely peplum top as well

  12. Claudia

    That dress is AMAZING !!! Thank you so much for the detailed process. It really helps to visualize and understand the steps. And if you are looking for inspiration for your next series, may I suggest Glee’s wardrobe ? I am partial to Emma Pillsbury (there is a site dedicated to her: http://www.wwepw.com/) and Rachel’s nerdy chic !

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Claudia, thanks for the feedback, I am glad you enjoyed CB Month and my extremely detailed descriptions in particular! Excellent suggestion for a next topic, I will have a think and see what I can come up with.

  13. Helle Zetterberg

    Hi! I fell over your blog by coinsidence which means that you have at least one follower in Sweden;-) But you will have more: I just gave my friend’s fifthteen year old daugther an old and ugly garment from a flea market in the style as the one you remodelled in http://charityshopchic.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/its-all-greek-to-me/. It was in some “golden material” and I gave £3,5. And then I gave her a copy of “its-all-greek-to-me” to be inspired, and of course the address to your blog. She became very interested and so did her mum, her grandmother and her mums friends!
    I’m so impressed by your skills. Did you go to study fashion?
    Best regards // Helle
    PS. As an “old” engineer I also apreciated all that math:-)

    • charityshopchic

      Hej Helle and thanks for commenting! I love to hear about it when someone’s made something inspired by one of my makes. I hope she can follow the description OK. Be careful though, it’s addictive! Soon your friend’s daughter will have a room piled full of old clothes that need cutting up!
      I didn’t study fashion; I’m just an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ :)

  14. liveseygirl

    Hi just stumbled accross your blog and am already hooked. This dress is AMAZING. My level of sewing is not that advanced yet but you have inspired me! You look fab in the final outfit too

    • charityshopchic

      Well, thank you! Most of my projects so far only require basic sewing skills, but pattern-making is more complicated. You could try something like my ‘Eastern Influence’ dress to get started. Have fun!

  15. Jo

    Wow just found your blog last night and am really impressed! I’d love to learn how to sew properly and make and use patterns. Did you teach yourself or can you recommend any books? I am attempting to turn a charity shop dress into a rock n roll skirt for my daughters school play at the moment but that stretches my abilities to their limits!

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you Jo! I taught myself. I usually recommend Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich, or the Pattern Magic books, but these might be a bit too much for a beginner. I have heard good things about DIY Couture by Rosie Martin which might be better, though I do not own that book. Good luck!

  16. David Preston

    Just found your blog and am soo impressed with your work! This dress is so cute! Can’t wait to scroll through the entire site!!

    • Helle Zetterberg

      You are not alone. Sweden is also scrolling down:-) I’m so in to this that I will look for a “charity shop chic sewing course”! And if there isn’t any, maybe they can set up one for me?

  17. V.E.G.

    Sarah Jessica Parker is a direct descendant of Nathaniel Foote and Elizabeth Deming! Believe it or not, she is the extremely distant cousin of a hero who gave his life saving a young girl in Florida, Alan Burton Hall! Hall is also the direct descendant of Nathaniel Foote and Elizabeth Deming! “Uncle” Alan Hall is watching over Sarah Jessica Parker!

  18. syphie

    Awesome! I’ve always wanted to make this dress, but never knew where to begin. Your post really helped me get a grip on this fabulous frock. I made the dress slightly longer and also put pleats in the peplum at the back and the skirt is different, but I had a lot more fabric to play with. About ten years ago I bought 5 metres for something I never made, and found it in a bag in a box in a corner… Kinda a miracle I found it at all. Didn’t even know I had it. Mines purple :) and I love it.

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Syphie, I am so glad you found this useful. This CB outfit is one of my all-time favourites and I was so happy to be able to make a tribute to it. I think this could look great in purple! I would love to see a picture of your version.

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