Red Carpet Copycat: Olivia Munn in Peter Pilotto

Greetings, refashioners! Another installment of the never-ending series ‘Red Carpet Copycat’ today.

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This is Olivia Munn wearing Peter Pilotto at the Courage in Journalism Awards 2012. The dress originally retailed for USD $1845.

I’m making my version out of… this:

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Yes, it’s horrible, isn’t it?

This is a kind of house-dress made out of teal/green velour. There are variations in the nap to give it a slight crushed velvet thing going on – not quite the same as Olivia’s textured velvet look, but it will do.

I bought it in the Shelter shop in Bolton and I paid £3.

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First thing to do was to draft a pattern for this stretchy knit Peter Pilotto-inspired dress. I started with my trusty jersey block:

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Then I drew on the style lines. This was pretty easy actually:

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The dress has seams at centre front and centre back as well as both sides. The front side parts at the waist (in between the bars of the X, left and right) were added onto the back sections so there isn’t a side seam at waist level. The back style lines meet the relevant front lines at the side seams.

The penultimate step was to approximate the hem – you can see below what I did. It’s only a rough approximation – I haven’t quite got it spot on. I just drew the hemline I wanted and extended the style lines down. I didn’t bother with the sleeves.

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The final step in drafting this was to cut all the pieces apart and laboriously add the relevant seam allowances.

For the stripy sections, after many, many weeks searching for the right quantity of stripy jersey fabric (it needed to be a lot for the diagonal stripes after all), I gave in and bought some stripy jersey in a reasonably complementary colour. The stripes are around 1.5cm.

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Cutting into the green velvet wasn’t really a big deal. I just cut around my paper pieces carefully; there was quite a lot left over.

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Cutting the stripy sections was really, really hard by comparison. The stripes are directional – they have to form the required V shape in the middle. I used my patternmaster (it has a set square) to align the centre back (straight edge) of the pattern piece at 45 degrees to the stripes. I had to cut each piece out twice as they are not symmetrical (stripes have to go in the other direction).

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Now, I thought I had laid out my material very carefully without stretching it on the floor, but either it’s stretched, or the stripes are really badly printed. Either way I was left with this mess:

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Not good! I’m ashamed to say that I just cut the two ends level – since the stripes matched and all – and it was the longer piece that was wrong.

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For the other pieces I used the first piece that had already been cut, to make sure the stripes matched up, by laying it on the fabric right side down (above).

Here’s the sum total of my pieces.

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There isn’t really much to note on the construction of this one, I just overlocked the pieces together with the stripes matching where necessary. I left the neck and armholes unhemmed – I liked the slight overhang of the velvet shoulder piece at the armscye too much to cut it off. I trimmed the hem with scissors where necessary to even it up.

It looks terrible on the dressform, but you get the idea. Part of the problem is the stripy jersey is cut on the bias, which is doing weird things to the direction of stretch. But where does one buy jersey printed with 45-degree stripes?!

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You can see looking at the side view below that I made a mistake with my drafting – at the front, below the X, the stripy section shouldn’t meet the side seam at a point. The velvet section below should extend all the way up to the X (compare with side pic of Olivia above) but I don’t think it’s a catastrophe.

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I’m reasonably happy with the finished dress – it is certainly a lot of fun to wear. I’ve worn it with black tights and black (textured!) velvet platforms.

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60 comments

  1. Erinn Jackson

    When I saw the fabrics you were using prior to finishing the dress I was thinking no way that is going to work. I was shocked by the finished product! It looks great! What a surprising refashion. I love it!! Great job.

  2. Sheila

    Think your version is far more flattering. Would hate to have paid full price and finish up looking dumpy with no waist.

  3. Gjeometry

    Wow! I need to pass out at how well this came out! Looks gorgeous and you executed it perfectly! Question: Did you use Adobe Illustrator to make up your pattern? Or a specific fashion design software?

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much! I used a pencil and tissue paper (and some glue) to draft my pattern. You can see some of my paper pieces above. I just made a quick sketch on the computer for you to see how the style lines worked.

  4. TaraLee

    Wow, I seriously thought this was a disaster in the making! I’m so glad you could see the bigger pictures because it looks fabulous on!

  5. jenny_o

    I think Marilyn had the perfect word: ingenious! And that necklace sets it off beautifully.

  6. Nay

    Meh, who cares what it looks like on the dress form – looks fantastic on you! Most of my stuff looks wonky on the dress form too.

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