Sunday, April 11, 2010

Roses Are Red: The Ceil Chapman Tribute Dress

It's done! This is the dress inspired by a 1950s Ceil Chapman design. I used Vogue 1117, a current Michael Kors offering. I'm totally digging the way this turned out. To think I was originally planning to use this Liberty of London fabric for a simple shirt dress! I think its charms are much better taken advantage of in this draped sheath.

As others have blogged, this pattern is not for the faint of heart. The kind of crazy thing, though, is that what really makes it difficult are the side insets at the upper bodice front and back. Other than that, it's pretty straight forward. Well, besides the lining.

I used a bright white cotton/poly batiste to line with - I thought the white would brighten up the ivory of the fashion fabric a bit, and the cotton would be nice and cool for summer.

I'd like to make this pattern again (I'm thinking red gingham!) but it's going to need some serious simplifications. I'm thinking about re-jiggering the pattern to eliminate the insets on the back, and converting the front insets to simple princess lines. And then eliminating the lining, and just using facings. You have no idea how much faster it would be to sew up that way! I'd like to have another version, but it just seems silly to spend that much time futzing with a simple gingham summer dress, right?


From the back:

You can see the draping better here:

Here was the original inspiration, to refresh your memory:

Also, this is day three of my rag curl set. Crazy staying power, huh? Thank you, LottaBody! I'm sad that I have to wash it out tonight!


Now, for those interested, here are some more details on the tricky insets on this pattern. You have to cut a bias square to use for reinforcement at the pivot points. Erica B. suggested just using fusible squares, but I found I needed the squares as a sort of facing. Here's how it works. You cut a 2" bias square:

Center it over the pivot point on the outside of the dress, and stitch over the pivot point markings.

Slash to the pivot point.


Press the square down on each side.

Now. Here's the bit of info I felt was missing from the instructions. I turned the square to the inside of the fabric, like this.

Here's what the outside looks like.


It's almost like the bias square creates a facing, and it gives you something to grip onto when you're stitching in the inset, if that makes any sense. Anyway, a lot of work for a design detail that doesn't really show up in a print! But it was a learning experience and I'm all about those.

P.S. Thanks again to the Selfish Seamstress for her inspirational post on Ceil Chapman. You rule, lady!


78 comments:

  1. Wow, that is a gorgeous dress! It looks great on you.

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  2. I never got around to commenting on your muslin of this since I had no fitting advice--I just wanted to say how great it looked in draft form--so I will try to make up for it with a little extra punctuation:

    !!!!

    The pattern suits you so well and the fit is amazing. I can see why you want to make it up again in a gingham/different fabric.

    [Non-expert here but I do find linings make close-to-the body items drape sooooo much better...if you ditch that element for #2 I'll be curious to see what you think.]

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  3. This turned out so lovely! It's so good to have a gorgeous outcome on a dress, especially when you invested so much time into it making it look perfect. I have a feeling you'll get lots of wear out of this!!!!

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  4. Great job! I love the floral fabric and the you look wonderful in the dress!

    Rose in SV

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  5. Perfection!! Absolutely beautiful. You rock this dress!!!!!!!!

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  6. Oh. My. God. That is drop-dead gorgeous.

    Girl, you are one great draper!

    You'd better make Jeff take you out on a very special date, just so you can wear that dress.

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  7. Gertie - I love your dress and your bold fabric choice! What a winner. I can't believe you did such a perfect job with the lining on that difficult dress!!
    Congratulations - this may actually be my favorite item you've made - though you make so many great one!
    I am stuck on the walkaway dress - the tissue fit was crazy and I just can't make myself cut into the fashion fabric - I think it's a down deal - and I'm going to have to "walk-away" from the pattern as you suggested in a previous post.

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  8. Wow, this dress is stunning. I must say I'm a little awe-inspired. This fabric+ this pattern= winner.

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  9. You nailed this! It is such a wonderful tribute to the Ceil Chapman dress. Great job!

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  10. Great dress—feminine, figure-hugging, and incredibly flattering. Congratulations!

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  11. I have followed your progress with the muslin and the original inspiration for this dress and I just wanted to let you know that the end result is exquisite!

    ~Candice

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  12. Hellllllllllllloooooooooo! That is a hot hot dress! What are you doing tonight, hot stuff, and every night after that?

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  13. The dress is fabulous, you look gorgeous, well done. I have enjoyed the whole process.

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  14. For what it is worth, I think the effort for all those fiddly bits has paid off. I will be very interested to see, but I bet if you cut some corners for simplification the dress will lose a lot of it's punch and obviously fine tailored finish. Not that there's anything wrong with a simpler, less tailored summer dress, but if you feel you took a lot of trouble for not much effect, I think a simpler version will perfectly illustrate what all the extra effort achieves. This is a really stunning dress - beautifully made and expertly fitted. Very very impressive!

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  15. as usual, you've done a really beautiful and meticulous job.

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  16. The dress turned out fabulous! I love the print!

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  17. Love that frokc,love that print!You've done a wonderful job,and you look HOT in it!!:)

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  18. Great! I really found this pattern the closest in spirit to Ceil Chapman's dress. Wether you alter it or not, I'd love to see it in gingham (pretty trendy for 2010, thanks to C. Kane)... You rocked it!

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  19. Gorgeous! If you would want to make a dress like this but with a a simple construction, how about this one:
    http://www.simplicity.com/p-3251-misses-dress.aspx

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  20. Gertie, your dress is gorgeous!! It really looks lovely on you.

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  21. This is a very special dress indeed. Good work! Love it with the green shoes too...

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  22. That dress is the best thing I've ever seen! It's mesmerizingly beautiful.

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  23. Gertie, that dress is badass! and totally rock'n'roll... thanks for the heads-up on the inserts - do you think they give it a mroe professional feel (like the bound buttonholes) or are they just a waste, even from that point of view?

    @repurposedgirl x

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  24. Gorgeous -- what a great job!

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  25. Amazing dress. You look gorgeous in your new dress! I L-O-V-E it!

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  26. One day, Gertie. One day I will be able to sew as well as you do. And on that day, I will SEW THIS DRESS. And TAKE PICTURES. So THERE.

    Also, you are so rocking the styling. I think I need some green pumps. And tattoos.

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  27. What an incredibly beautiful dress! It fits perfectly and the print and style work together far better than I expected. I hope it gets lots of outings this summer.

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  28. Absolutely gorgeous, Gertie!

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  29. Wow Gertie! What a fabulous dress! It looks fab, I think you've outdone yourself with this one.

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  30. What an amazing dress! You look fantastic. Your hard work has paid off.

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  31. Beautiful dress and you are too clever.

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  32. Wow, that dress is absolutely stunning! And certainly worth all the muslins because it fits like a glove. Gorgeous!

    I have a fair bit of Liberty lawn, but often hesitate to use it because it is so thin. For some reason I never think to line it (doh! if someone doesn't spell it out for me...), but what you've done really works and looks fabulous. I would love to see a pic of the full lining of the dress and know how you made it.

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  33. I LOVE this dress, you look stunning! I love how the floral print compliments your rose tattoos! <3

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  34. Gertie, your dress is all kind of awesome!

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  35. Love the fabric! Thanks so much for posting the explanation and pics about the pivot too - I am dying to make this dress but as a relative beginner have been put off by the press it is getting re difficulty!

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  36. vavavavoom! All those muslins were worth it. You look lovely in this dress.

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  37. This is just beautiful gertie! great job, it was definetly worth taking your time with those muslins hey!
    :-) Ruby Slippers
    rubyslippersvintage.blogspot.com

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  38. Lovely dress! I made a bathing suit from the 70's that did that same trick with a 3" square at the v neck. Trying to follow those instructions warped my brain, but you've shown it quite clearly.

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  39. Drop dead gorgeous, Gertie! :D I am just loving the print with the shape of this dress--it's really a bombshell piece! You look so, so beautiful!

    I'm interested in seeing how your simplifications of the pattern work out in a gingham version. I think it's interesting to take a more complicated design (such as this pattern) and make it a little less labor intensive, but still keep the integrity of the design details. Can't wait to see what you work out!

    Bravo--another beautiful piece, Gertie! :)

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  40. Really, really stunning. I love that you've shown us the whole process, from having the fabric and finding the inspiration, through the fitting and sewing, and then modeling it. Great job!

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  41. oh it's PERFECT! you look amazing! I love seeing a dream dress come true, how inspiring!

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  42. I have to come out of Lurkdom to say that is one gorgeous dress on you. Your skills are so impressive. That's for taking the extra time to document and share your process.

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  43. Oh Gertie! Sigh.....simply stunning! I love the print on you! So gorgeous! So GORGEOUS!

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  44. Just to reiterate what everyone else is saying: gorgeous dress! And it is very flattering and well made.

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  45. Fabulous dress! I hardly ever buy envelope patterns, but I bought this one and I'm planning on making it up for the Fall.

    I prefer using interfacing squares for insets like those, but by far my biggest tip is thread-tracing the seamlines on all pieces. Honestly, it'll save you stitch-ripping time in the end and it makes SUCH a difference!

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  46. Stunning! You look absolutely gorgeous, and it's so much like your original inspiration dress. Excellent job!

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  47. You're a crazy fast seamstress -- I'm green-eyed with jealousy! Gorgeous job!

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  48. This dress is absolutely fantastic. What an inspiration!

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  49. Another gorgeous dress! Your speedy sewing is mind boggling!

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  50. Lovely lovely lovely! What a way to celebrate Spring! Hope it is warmer over there, here (Oxford UK) it is gone all Autumnal again...

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  51. You did it! Beautiful!

    I love the green shoes with it.

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  52. And I spent the whole weekend just thinking about the skirt I wanted to sew. I did go through my fabric stash for the first time in years, but nothing I already had worked with the picture in my mind, but it seemed wrong to buy MORE fabric for a spur of the moment project. I am missing some fabric I know I had and now can't find, but found some things I had totally forgotten about (like a dress that is 95% complete, my first bound button hole project, and just needs snaps, a hem and a button)

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  53. Wow. Super gorgeous dress. It looks amazing!

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  54. this looks beautiful! nice job, spot on with the inspiration too!

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  55. Your dress is absolutely beautiful!

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  56. I absolutely love that dress and that fabric!!! Where did you get the fabric?

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  57. Stunning! Absolutely stunning!

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  58. When I saw it I said out loud "Oh Oh Gertie that is spectacular"

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  59. I may have actually squealed when I saw the dress. It's stunning!

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  60. So beautiful!! Perfect pattern for the fabric, just so well done!!

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  61. beautiful as always. love that fabric! i wish you would do a tutorial on lining. its seems so scary!!

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  62. Hi Gertie

    Just wanted to say hi. I found your blog a few days ago and have been busily catching up. I am loving your style and incredibly easy to read instructions. I may be attempting my first tissue fitting thanks to you!

    Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful creations.

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  63. I'm not sure I can say anything that hasn't aleady been said ... but its a fabulous dress that looks really stunning on you.

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  64. thank you for explaining this part of the pattern in detail and the pictures! I have this pattern and really want to make it but was a bit concerned.

    I love the dress on you!

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  65. I am consumed with jealousy - I want this dress in *my* closet! I am so in love with it. It's beautiful - congrats.

    Huge thank you for the construction tips. I tried to make V1117 in the fall b/c I was so in love with the RTW versions. I got completely tripped up on inserting the side panels. Allison C. kindly posted a few pics of those steps on her blog. Thank you for posting the remnant reinforcement pictures. I could not wrap my head around that part (i.e. how did it get flipped to the inside?!). Your post explained it well.

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  66. Turned out awesome! It is great to see what patterned fabrics will look like in garments. I'm still in the complete newb phase where I'm looking at prints wondering if the pattern would overwhelm me in a garment or not.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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