Bollywood Sequins

I bought this tunic top in the Human Relief Foundation shop in New Cross, and if I remember correctly, I only paid £2 for it. It’s a stunning deep teal blue silk with gold trim, heavy embroidery and rather glamorous gold sequins! It looks like it could have been the top half of a shalwar kameez, sadly though there were no matching trousers to be had.

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I wanted to turn this into something that could be worn on a glamorous evening out, so I took some inspiration from Jennifer Lawrence. Her dress is Prabal Gurung. If you’re interested, you can buy this for a mere £1,683. I  actually had a close up look at this dress when I was snooping around Harvey Nicholls a few weeks ago; the colours are gorgeous, but I’m not terribly keen on the little pocket flap things, not sure what they are for, so think I’ll leave them out… there are some other details on this dress, like the bodice darts that were sewn wrong sides together, that I left out as well for various reasons. So this is more of an ‘inspired by’ project that a full-on ‘copycat’.

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I had to cut the whole piece in half to make the bodice which was a little nerve wracking. The inside edges were only partly finished and some of them were fraying out of control! As you can see, there were no darts in this at all, just a slight shaping at the side seams. The entire thing was underlined with a very loose-weave cotton fabric to give it stability and possibly add breathability.

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I removed the side seams and measured it against my bodice block. There wasn’t enough width to cut the darts where I had originally planned, so I had to go with the French dart again. Overall, I think it looks reasonable, and doesn’t interfere with the gold trim at the neckline, or the embroidered pattern.

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I cut the skirt half of the dress from my basic skirt block, tapered in a couple of centimetres at the hem. It’s a combination of black wool crepe and the blue and gold silk, joining at a straight line.

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The back of the original tunic was plain blue, so the back of the dress became plain blue as well (unlike Jennifer’s/Prabal’s version which is all black at the back).

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Here are a few close-ups of the finished dress.

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I kept the underlining in the bodice, and made small facings out of underlining scraps for my armholes. These were pressed to the inside and then hand stitched in place.

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Unfortunately I managed to underestimate my own height and cut the bottom sections far too short. To preserve length at the hem, I sewed a row of black lace to the right side with a tiny seam allowance, turned it to the inside and invisibly stitched it up. I really like this detail, although no-one can see it.

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There is a vent at the back to help me walk. I really like how the blue and black seamline passes through the vent.

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I wore this on a belated birthday celebration which began with drinks at the Anthologist. Here are a bazillion pictures…

One always selects a cocktail that matches one’s outfit, natch.

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Here are some full length shots of the dress in all its glory.

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After a cocktail or two we headed up to the Duck and Waffle, which is at the top of the Heron tower (40th floor!). It’s apparently the highest restaurant in the UK!

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The view from up there is incredible!

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The food wasn’t bad either…

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…and yes, we had the famous Duck and Waffle. It’s actually a crispy skinned duck leg served on a thick, chewy waffle with a fried duck’s egg. The sauce was maple syrup with (I think) Mustard seeds in it. Verdict: odd, but delicious.

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We were able to watch the sunset whilst sampling the cocktail menu. My cocktail, ‘Smoke’, was impressive. The waiter appeared with an upturned glass full of wood smoke, which he placed on the table right side up to let the smoke escape, before pouring the actual drink into it from another small glass jug. According to the menu it was a combination of “Grey Goose La Poire, artichoke amaro, Noilly Prat Ambre, cardamom and coriander bitters…” yum! P1120856

I would love to go back there to try out the bar, or even Sushi Samba which is two floors below. In the mean time here is a parting shot of the dress with the Gherkin in the background.

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Here’s my attempt to show you what the sunset was like from up there using the medium of an animated gif. Enjoy!
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84 comments

  1. Ingrid

    That turned out beautiful. I’m always so impressed with your “vision” of how you want to alter the garments.

  2. Cecilee

    Wow what a lovely remake! I think this is one of my recent favorites from you so far. The black part goes so well with the blue sequined part and really makes it pop. :)

    • charityshopchic

      Nicola, you’d be amazed what you can do with just the basics of sewing! Those skills can definitely be learned, unfortunately I don’t think it’s the same for patience ;-)

  3. MJ

    I’ve said it before and will say it again, you are absolutely amazing! And artist! I look forward to your projects. Wow!

  4. Julianne

    What a beautiful dress! You are very talented. I like your version of the dress better than the original couturier’s design.

  5. nolackofcolor

    What an elegant and gorgeous dress! You did a fantastic job remaking something not so fashionable (but beautiful) into something that looks like it cost $1000 :)

  6. Carissa

    This is fabulous! I’m always apprehensive about refashioning ethnic garments – afraid my paler than pale skin will contradict the intended fashion statement. But you’ve bridged cultures perfectly with this piece, creating a chic, modern look with just the right amount of hint at its previous life. I love it!

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much for the comment, Carissa. I’m fairly pale myself but just loved these colours! I think with the right attitude it should be possible to pull off any colour you like! I wanted to retain the tunic look of the neckline so I’m glad that worked out. The sleeves had gold piping on them which I wanted to reuse as well, but in the end I decided to keep it simple.

  7. tania@sewitanyway

    Ooh, I loved the Duck and Waffle too- though the lift is so fast you leave your stomach behind for a bit, don’t you!
    Love this dress too! Such beautiful fabric. I would have appreciated the fabric in the shop, but not thought what to do with it. But next time I see something similar…!

    • charityshopchic

      Yeah that lift was crazy – hang onto your stomach!! I’m a sucker for embellishment so I loved the embroidery and sequins on this piece. And it’s silk! What’s not to love!

  8. Lori

    Honey – you have outdone yourself with that dress! I thought the Stella McCarty was amazing but wow ! Absolutely stunning! X

  9. Kim Turner

    A belated happy birthday to you. Once again I don’t know whether to be more impressed by your imagination or by the finished product. You have (once again) produced a magnificent garment. Congratulations.

  10. Claire

    Another beautiful and inspired refashion. You certainly have no fear as far as sewing goes! My heart would be in my mouth, cutting that lovely garment in half like that, although you have ended up with a spectacular little dress! Well done!

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you so much for your comment, Claire. It was a bit nerve wracking, cutting into the sequin fabric, but I’m happy with how it turned out. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and get on with it!

  11. sewamysew

    Wow!! That cocktail and that view both sound amazeballs, you are one lucky lady. This dress is soooo lovely, it’s Bollywood goes elegant.

    I hate hate hate fake pockets!! There is so much corporate workwear out there that has fake welt pockets or useless flaps indicating a pocket with nothing under it. It gets me all mad just thinking about it, either make a pocket or don’t! I just don’t get it. Sorry for the rant.

  12. Ruth

    Hello! Just found your blog and I’m a fan already – this is a great transformation, the finished dress is gorgeous. I’m just getting into dressmaking/refashioning so looking forward to seeing more of your projects to inspire me!

  13. aem2

    Once again, you have taken an okay garment and refashioned it into something incredible. It really is inspirational. I can’t remember if you’ve answered this before, but most of the time do you go to charity shops with an idea in mind, looking for something particular, or do you see an item and say “Aha! I know what to do with that!”, or option c: you see an item and buy it for its as-yet unknown potential?

    • charityshopchic

      Hi aem2, it’s a combination of all three. These days though my stash is so large that I try not to buy things purely for their as-yet unknown potential – I am running out of space!

  14. Rebecca Corley

    i have been watching your pages for a while now. You are such a sweet looking lady, and your visions that you come up with for these “old” close are so impressive. Such a talented sewer also. I have not seen anything you set out to do that you did not accomplish. I love all of your sewing, and reuse, but this one had such vision for you to think to use it this way. Thanks, and please keep sharing, you are undoubtedly an inspiration to many.

    • charityshopchic

      Hello Rebecca and thank you for the supportive comment. Don’t worry, there is no end in sight for these projects. I have so many ideas that I haven’t got time to complete them all! Thanks for reading.

  15. Mariann

    Absolutely fabulous…….stumbled onto your site……so glad I did !!!!!!! Can’t wait for your next re-creation!!!!

  16. Kacie

    Wow – this is absolutely stunning! I’ve just discovered your blog and am beyond inspired by your creations! You’re so talented! This dress is just breath-taking – I love it!

  17. Jackie

    wow this is definetely one of my favourite remakes of yours. its so chic , and the indian fabric is divine.You are one clever ladee !

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