I was so impressed by the entries for our first ever Single Fabric Challenge! A big thank you to the wonderful folks who agreed to be judgmental with me: Leah “Lamia” Lloyd, and Christopher Michaela!
This challenge was different in that in addition to considering execution, idea, creativity and overall aesthetic, we also had to consider the use of the Challenge Fabric in the design.
And here are the winners:
Third Place: ”Liberte!” by Lisa Hansen!
Lisa says: “Here is my single fabric challenge entry. Apologies in advance for some of the pictures. By the time my hair was dry it was nearly dark.
It’s a 1780-ish jacket when red white and blue were popular in French fashion reflect the US revolution. It is liberty. And it harks back, for me, to a funny travel story.
In addition to the jacket and skirt, I made a hat that is a bluebird escaping from a golden cage, carrying a banner that declaims ‘Liberte’. I started with a pattern that was nothing like the result. I suffered the hell of cutting so the birds be exactly where I wanted them in the finished jacket. And I mostly had a lot of fun doing it.”
“ Lisa always has such fantastic ideas and accessories. I love the gilded cage hat! I like the use of red, white and blue in the design. The fit is very good, and the pattern matching is excellent.”
“DAT HAT THO. I love the jacket. Like the stark elegance of the plain skirt. Excellent use of Liberte colors and accessories. Whimsical. ”
“A creative and well made implementation of the theme. Fun and creative, it should appear in Les Miserables”
Second Place: ”Victorian Gown” by Stephani Sprong!
Stephanie says: “Inspiration: I live in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where we take great pride in our Victorian heritage and host several events each year where everyone dresses up in Victorian gear. I made a dress nearly two years ago, an 1880s ball gown with steampunk detailing, which I wore at every possible occasion until the camera-brandishing editor of our local newspaper asked me if I did not possess another dress. Crushed, I realized I needed a new frock. I saw the single fabric challenge, and the rest was history. So inspiration for period is broadly Victorian and more specifically the 1880s (when Leadville was founded).
This was the height of the bustle revival, when the slim front and narrow sides were backed by a mighty bustle extending into the next county. To further refine this general silhouette, I decided on a summer “walking dress” silhouette, both to match the lightweight fabric and because heavy fabric ball gowns are HOT to wander around in at festivals and cons. See my pinterest for a walking dress collection:https://www.pinterest.com/stephaniespo…/1880s-walking-dress/
Design Concept: I liked the fabric when I saw it on the computer back when we voted, but I was shocked at the large size of the birds when my ten yards of challenge fabric showed up, plus three yards each of white, light blue, medium blue and dark blue fabric of similar weight and behavior as the challenge fabric. Big! These birds were big! This would not be a subtle background fabric with pattern that added interest but didn’t take over. These birds were large and in charge. I had to deal with the birds. After many false starts, I decided to let those enormous birds dictate the details of the design. The dress itself would be birdlike, with a feathery soft front breast, feathery wing-like trimmings, and soft color gradations like the colors of a bird, all topped with a magnificent bird plumage tail of the challenge fabric bold and unadorned.
Patterns: With this general concept in mind—late bustle period plus honor the giant birds—I set out looking for patterns. Truly Victorian, as usual, came to the rescue. The underskirt, of white cotton interlined with white silk organza, is the TV261-R 1885 Four-Gore Underskirt from the late bustle era 1883-1889, which I made up using the “additional poofs” form, my motto with bustles being “go big or go home.” The underskirt rests over the TV101 Bustle Petticoat, which features a petticoat with built-in bustle, which I made up in plain muslin. The bodice is the TV462 1883 Tail Bodice, which I made up with the short tails and keyhole neckline and wore over the TV 1880s Late Victorian Corset, which I made up in a white corset coutil lined with the challenge fabric.
Trimmings: Once the basic structure was in place, it was time to figure out the details. Once more, into the research… For the “feathery breast,” I went with a leaf-pattern smocking technique on the front of the skirt, using gradations of color from the lightest to darkest blue to imitate the similar shading in the challenge fabric as well as the color gradations found all over town on Leadville’s Victorian homes’ gingerbread facades. Then in Ruth Singer’s Fabric Manipulation: 150 Creative Sewing Techniques, I found the idea of edged pleats, for my base row of box pleats, each pleat topped by a thin ribbon of the challenge fabric, to keep the challenge fabric prominent but add some interest and motion with the dark blue underfabric. Then a row of giant box pleats, featuring those damned birds and narrowing the silhouette to accentuate the flare of the bottom ruffle. Then three rows of pleats on pleats, in a technique from Francis Gimble’s Bustle Fashions 1885-1887 with the under fabric moving from dark to lightest blue, topped by pleated fans of the challenge fabric, again echoing the color gradations of the challenge fabric and providing a contrast with the challenge fabric. Finally, the tail, with swooping folds of the challenge fabric, beginning with gathered panniers in front and then cascading down the back over the trimmed underskirt. Buttons on the bodice are blue Swarovski crystals and trimmings from the skirt are echoed at wrist and neck.
“ I am really impressed with this. The fit is good, it has a metric ton of ruffles/pleats, the birds are well placed and coordinating, and I like the coordinating fabrics. The smocking on the front piece is particularly nice. I also like that she implemented the idea of the birds into the entire design, and that she was inspired by her town.”
“Lots of work went into it both before and during, the backstory is good, her lines are clean, I love her research. That apron was a ton of work. You have this wonderful china-like fabric, with shaded ruffles and cuffs, everything is light and airy.”
“It’s truly spectacular and obviously very well made. A ton of skilled work.”
First Place: ”Walk-Away Dress” by Artemisia Moltabocca!
Arte says: “Laura of Shear Madness called on the masses to create a costume using Michael Miller Blue & White Bird on the Vine Azure fabric.
Thankfully I had a little help from this great walkaway dress tutorial by Edelweiss Patterns.
I was inspired by the style of this dress because it was a perfect way to display the challenge fabric in its glory.
The petticoat was a bit of a challenge. Edelweiss has a tutorial on how to make a petticoat for this dress. The petticoat needed to be flat in the front, and full in the back. Call it the mullet of petticoats.
This dress is notorious for having too much ease, and a large armhole. I was able to adjust the pattern to my figure (A FIRST!), but my 50s style longline bra still peeks through. I’ll wear a white slip underneath the dress next time.
Close-ups of butt bow, cat corsage, and neckline embroidery. I fit and sewed the petticoat and dress in 12 hours. All in all, I am satisfied with this dress, and feel so pretty in it.”
“Oh my god I can’t even. This is ADORABLE. Despite the apparent simplicity of the dress, it’s clear that it’s a complex, fitted, and fiddly garment. She has a period silhouette, the petticoat fluffs out the hem well, the back is smooth, the seams are tidy. Good accessories and little touches.”
“It’s all about this. The little flower brooch with the kitty, the hat, shoes, fit, make, the entire look. She obviously has a lot of experience and knows how to fit a dress. A very well put together outfit.”
“I love the use of this fabric in this dress. I also know this is an incredibly difficult dress to fit, and the fit is really quite good on her. Bonus points for cuteness.”
And a big round of applause to our honorable mentions:
Honorable Mention for Best Period Look and Accessories to “Dutch Print Madness” by Prentice Wilson!
Honorable Mention for Best Theme Idea to “1950’s Teacup Dress” by Tia McCurdy!