Monday, May 20, 2013

Dior Spring Dress Part 1

Christian Dior Spring 2013 Couture
I discovered this dress while viewing the Spring 2013 Couture collection of Christian Dior (available at  The dress is great for dressy day events such as bridal showers, weddings, Mothers Day, graduations etc.  The floral dress is somewhat modest with the high neck, long sleeves, and knee length hem.  A younger look could be achieved by shortening the hem, removing the sleeves, and changing the floral print to a strong solid color.  What takes the dress off the style chart is the strapless overdress with sculptured bust detail.  The intricate seaming defines the bust so attractively.  The dress is still modest but the overdress give the outfit an edge.  I plan to sew two separate garments to create this look.  Comfort is at the top of my goal list.  I have sewn many strapless dresses that ended up quite snug in the chest and waist.  I want to be comfortable so I will fit the strapless dress looser than normal.
silk charmeuse in champagne, blush and red
I found this Italian floral silk charmeuse recently at  While the fabric was pricey, the fabric was wide for a silk, maybe 50", and the extra width will make for a good fabric layout for the under dress.   I haven't sewn a floral dress in more than a decade as my husband is not fond of prints, but I love the blush and red tones of this charmeuse.  The dress will be unlined.
strapless dress fabrics
The strapless overdress will be made from materials purchased at  Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.  You can purchase online from them at  The left fabric is a black and red brocade corseting, or coutil.  This fabric will provide the structure for the overdress, and will not be visible in the completed garment.  Coutil is expensive, $33 per half yard.  For the overdress I purchased 1 1/2 yards of coutil.  Once you try coutil, you will no longer be satisfied with cheaper alternatives such as duck cloth.  The middle fabric is a red polyester duchess satin which was $9 per yard.  Interesting that my fashion fabric is so much cheaper than my support fabric.  The duchess is a lovely color and is matte.  I see little reason to purchase a silk duchess for this project.  The right most fabric is a polyester charmeuse, $6 per yard, to line the overdress.

Vogue 8894 view A is a perfect pattern for the floral dress.  I just need to change the neckline, remove the Bodice Front center seam, and reshape the skirt hem.
alter the Bodice Front pattern tissue
First, I change the V neckline to a wide crew neckline.  I taped tissue paper to the Bodice Front, and used a french curve to redraw the neckline.  The V neckline is attractive but it will distract from the over dress design lines.  Second, I remove the 5/8" seamallowance from the Bodice center front.  Now the pattern piece is on a fold and there will be no center front bodice seam.  There are no changes to the Bodice Back.  These drawings illustrate the bodice pattern changes.
Since the hem is asymmetrical, there will be separate cutting lines for the right front, left front,right back, and left back skirt pattern pieces.  
Skirt Front pattern tissue
For the Left Front Skirt, I lengthened center front 3" and the side seam 3" so the dress would cover my knee.  I used a curved ruler to shape the hem.  The original pattern piece is square shaped.
Closeup of Left Front Skirt
The Right Front Skirt is lengthened 3" at center front, and 9" at the side seam.
Skirt Back pattern tissue
The Right Back Skirt is lengthened 3" at center back, and 9" at the side seam.  The Left Back skirt is lengthened 3" at center back and 3" at the side seam.  These illustrations should help you understand the skirt pattern changes. 

Here is the floral dress made up in muslin.
Vogue 8894 basted together in unbleached cotton muslin
I'm happy with the design, though I take in the side seams 3/4" (1 1/2" each side).  There should be a greater difference between the left and right hem line lengths.  I will correct this in the finished garment as silk charmeuse drapes differently than cotton muslin.
both dresses are fit and design corrected in muslin
The over dress pattern laid on top of the floral dress muslin.  I will fine tune the design and fit later.  For now I decide I like the design and proceed to sew the floral dress.  I lay the four skirt pattern pieces on the fabric, overlapping the seam allowances to eliminate the side seams and center front seam. If you have enough fabric, you do not need to cut the skirt as one.
The skirt is a circle whether it has side and center seams or not
Before installing the zipper, I apply 1/2" fusible tapes (from Emma Seabrooke) to the zipper seam allowances.
Bodice Back
A silk organza press cloth is important when pressing fine fabrics on the right side.  It is very easy to see through the organza.
Since the floral dress neckline is simple, I want to be sure it doesn't stretch out during sewing.  When I stitch the neckline facing to the neckline of the dress, I begin at the shoulder and stitch down to center front.  Then I stitch from the other shoulder down to center front, overlapping the two seams 1".

The skirt hem stretches out of shape as much of it is on the bias.  The center front is shortest as it is cut exactly on the cross grain.  The left side seam should be the same length as center front so I pin mark the changes.  On the right side, the side seam should be the longest point, and it isn't so I pin changes to the affected panels.  I don't cut off the hem with the dress on the form; I lay the dress on a table and mark a new hem with chalk and a curved ruler.
the circle skirt stretched out of shape as soon as it was cut out of fashion fabric
The finished floral dress.  So pretty and elegant with wonderful movement when I walk.  Sometimes simple lines do the job best.  This dress can definitely be worn alone without the strapless overdress.  Since the skirt is my favorite part of the design, I could take the skirt pattern pieces and join them to other bodices in my stash.
Vogue 8894 in silk charmeuse
Next I need to work on the strapless overdress!


  1. That is stunning. I love that hem, what a unique skirt. I like that better than the high-low front to back that you see which was so popular during the 80's or 90's. I really like the floral, very stylish and perfect for spring.

  2. I too, love this print. Great project, Ann!