Designin’ December vs. Little Red Dress Project – Xmas 2022

It’s time for my favourite end-of-year challenge. Linda Maki’s Designin’ December is a sewing challenge to recreate or take inspiration from a designer item that you love. I spent a few years on the sidelines before jumping into this challenge and now this is my third entry. This year I might be able to kill two challenge birds with one stone, sew to speak if this comes off. 

I’ve been looking at the Little Red Dress Project challenge for a few years since it was launched by YouTuber Renata – The Twilight Stitcher. I’ve never been at the right point in my sewing scheme to enter this; either away from home or involved in another challenge. This year, my choice of project will fit both challenges.

While thinking about this project I came across this Donna Karan RTW. I’ve been a long-time lover of Donna Karan and satisfied that love by collecting and sometimes sewing patterns from her Vogue collection. Sadly, Donna Karan stopped licensing patterns to Vogue in 2014 after she retired, however, Donna Karan Retail seems to have revived the Seven Easy Pieces concept and this twist front, this faux wrap dress is one of the key looks.

I have some red stretch velvet in the stash from a bulk-buying experiment a few years back and I have had my eye/mind on making another twist front dress with the Eilidh Dress pattern from Pipe Dream Patterns (an indie pattern brand that sadly seems to be no more).

I saw that the Eilidh dress would do the trick with a slight adjustment. I’m totally into pattern hacks at the moment, so this piqued my creative interest. I’d need to extend the front of the dress to give a wrap and add a collar. I also decided that I wanted full sleeves and a cuff as I’m enjoying that look.

I sketched out my idea of what it will look like. I’m playing with Affinity Designer and love learning about masks and gradients in this picture.

The original dress is a pattern puzzle created by slashing and spreading a standard dress block to create the fullness required to twist the piece into shape. The original is joined at the centre front all the way down, but I want the faux wrap look of the DK inspiration. To achieve this I added an extra amount to the right front which will be underneath. In the diagram below, the first shape is the left front from the original pattern piece, the pink area on the second piece shows how I added a panel to the right front to create the faux wrap front.

I added enough to give an overlap which will prevent the skirt from flapping open too far, I don’t want it quite as scandalous as the inspiration. At the waist, I’ve extended it to reach the side seam which secures it in place. 

I used the slash and spread technique to open the sleeve to a bishop shape and added some simple rectangles doubled over to form cuffs. The collar was also improvised to lie on the neckline just forward of the shoulder. I started making a stand collar but the wriggly nature of this fabric made me change my mind and opt for a basic collar.

I finished the edges by overlocking but you could leave this velvet unfinished, it doesn’t fray and the edge looks quite neat as it is.

Et voila! A slinky seasonally appropriate dress which I’m wearing for both Christmas dinner at home and New Year at our friend’s place.

Even though I’ve made this dress before, I was delighted with how good it looked. I’m really pleased with how it came out and can’t wait to wear it for my holiday celebrations and beyond. I love the silhouette it gives. The twist creates a lovely illusion of a nipped-in waist on my apple-shaped torso. I think it looks elegant, sexy and in this fabric, it’s also really cosy and comfortable. I’m imagining this in a maxi length. This could become a TNT pattern for me.

Did you make a Christmas dress/outfit? How did it turn out?

Thanks for dropping by,

Little Red Dress Project reveal up to 24th December 2022

Designin’ December reveal up to 31st December 2022 – Voting early January (You can vote for me!)

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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