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.