This project was basically a repeat of last year’s. Except this year I actually started making the dresses early, up until a few days days ago when I decided to redesign the dresses and start over. So once again, I had four days to create two dresses.
I call it the curse of the Day and Night Dress Challenge…
My original design
At first, I had planned on making two dresses using lots and lots of soft tulle. Lots! Until I cut into a piece of the fabric and realised how much it misbehaved and how this misbehaviour was beyond my patience and ability.
I suddenly become daunted by the whole prospect of my designs. Then, I didn’t think I could do it, and so I procrastinated. I was no longer up for the challenge, and all the while I was feeling stressed and deflated, time was ticking away.
Time won’t wait for me so I decided I needed to focus on something I could do and do well in a short amount of time.
As with last year’s dresses, coherency was my goal. I had two dashiki fabrics at home that I could use, one pink and one blue, so it was only a matter of making two dresses that combined both fabrics.
With the release of the Black Panther movies, celebrating all thing Africa, showcasing the beauty and the bright colours of our many cultures and presenting an all round awesomeness of the continent was an opportunity that I would not miss out on.
Both my dresses featured a wrap bodice, where one was strapless and the other wasn’t. This helped add some consistency to my designs but was also a nod towards the African fabric-wrapping culture.
Although both dresses are similar in colours and style, I think with the simplicity of adding an A-line skirt to my day dresses versus the pleated skirt of the night dress, I was able to differentiate between the two.
The day dress I wouldn’t wear out to a party, but I would definitely meet up with some friends for a coffee in it and when the sun sets, I’ll change up my style and rock up to a soiree in that strapless beauty.
The night dress
I started making my night dress first. I had already drafted the bodice and put together a toile as I was going to use the draft for my initial design. So why recreate the wheel? Just use what I’ve already got.
Structure is really important in some designs. You want everything to stay up and not droop or wrinkle. Garments have a tendency of creasing up around the body and I wanted a dress that kept it’s elegance at all times. So between each seam of my bodice (centre front and side front, side front and side back, side back and centre back) I stitched in some flexible boning.
The boning is comfortable, you can’t even feel it’s there. It curves nicely around the shape of the bust, without giving it any weird angles or shapes allowing the dress to hug my body nicely.
Pleated skirts are something that I am good at doing but sometimes, it’s not about what the skirt is but rather how it looks. And this skirt looks amazing! The pattern placement is EVERYTHING! Perfectly symmetrical and the symmetry of the dashiki pattern just makes so much sense. Even I’m thinking, “wow! This didn’t turn out half bad, did it?” The back, the front, the pattern placement works everywhere. I think with such a busy fabric as this, pattern placement can make or break the design, luckily I did pay attention to the fabric and I’m really chuffed with how the whole dress turned out.
The day dress
The day dress was a little bit more problematic. Because I hadn’t had time to make a practice version, nor had I had time to even think about how I was going to construct the dress, I made mistakes.
The pattern placement on the bodice was great! Can’t fault it. In fact, the bodice looked all around well made. Except for the bust dart being a little too pointy! No one wants to walking around looking like they have erect nipples, it’s just not the look anyone goes for, ever. I tried to flatten it as best as I could with my tailor’s ham to no avail, but oh well!
It was around midnight on Friday evening when I had completed my day dress. Completed with a wrap skirt that I truly hated from the bottom of my heart. Really, the wrap skirt would have looked amazing had I thought about the pattern placement, but the placement sucked and it looked so disjointed I had to take off the skirt and start again.
I needed a simple skirt that I didn’t need to draft, something I could just cut out straight from my fabric and sew onto my bodice so I chose an A-line skirt. I got some chalk, drew a quick four sided shape consisting only of straight lines onto my dashiki and cut it out. At this point, it was getting late and I didn’t care whether it worked or not, I just need something. Anything.
Even though I rushed the skirt, I didn’t neglect to think about the fabric to use and the pattern placement. Although the bodice was made from the blue dashiki, I made the skirt using the pink one. The subtle link between the blue bodice and pink skirt via the blue circle below the waistband really tied the whole thing together wonderfully. Although it wasn’t my original design, it looks simple, yet lovely.
Many thanks and much appreciation to my photographer, the amazing Jehad Fadda. The pictures look gorgeous and I really do look like an African Princess.
The Day and Night Dress Challenge
WANT TO JOIN IN THE FUN YOURSELF?
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE DAY AND NIGHT DRESS CHALLENGE?
- Sew some dresses!
- Let other people know about it. Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
- Keep reading here to find out the latest. Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
- Post a picture of your day look (coffee) and your night look (cocktail) to Instagram to enter yourself. Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
- Grab a graphic and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram: