Carolina Herrera Brocade Dress

When I first laid eyes on this brocade at Mood, I thought it was very striking but had no idea what to do with it. I didn’t want an entire dress made from it because that would be too fancy for my lifestyle. While perusing some design magazines on vacation, I ran across a dress with a bunch of folds around the neckline that I wanted to copy, but then couldn’t find the right pattern in my stash. Enter this Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern. It had the fitted bodice that I find most flattering on my small bust, and the cut up design I wanted to show off the metallic bits of the fabric.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

I made a muslin of the bodice only as I planned to make the full skirt from the pattern and never muslin full skirts. I only had to make a few tweaks to the pattern to get a good fit. (This design is definitely for the small busted!) The pieces were carefully cut out from a single layer of fabric and I tried to balance the colors all the way around. I used a black wool crepe for the flat piping and skirt.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

Sometimes I do not cut out all the fabric for a garment I’m working on in a single session. I do this because if the outer fabric turns into a wadder, at least I can save my lining. Also, cutting out is tiresome. For this dress, I cut the black wool in strips for the flat piping but did not cut it for the skirt right away. However, after I’d finished the bodice I found that I did not have enough black to do the full skirt that I wanted. Oh, did I mention I began this project in January? I set it aside in order to get more of the black with next month’s Mood money, and scrambled to make the lace dress previously posted.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

When another yard of the black wool showed up on my doorstep this month, I quickly cut out the full skirt and stitched it up. Remember when I wrote I never muslin full skirts? Not such a good idea this time around. It’s unique but peculiar shape (see pattern picture below) looked lumpy and bumpy. SO, I ripped off that skirt, threw it in the trash, and cut a straight skirt from my TNT (that’s tried-and-true) straight skirt pattern, McCall’s 3830. For a little interest at the hemline I included small slits. This wool crepe is a little stretchy, so I added 1/2 inch to the center front and back of my skirt lining to maintain the slightly looser fit.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

I just love all the piping on this design! It was time consuming to get it all the same width but definitely worth it. The neckline is also a beautiful feature that I really like. The line drawing on the pattern didn’t really register with me, so when it turned out to be a little plunging in the back I was pleasantly surprised.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress
Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

Dressform pictures:

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress
Carolina Herrera Brocade dress
Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

This pattern directed a lining for the top portion, and I added the lining for the skirt. It is black Ambiance from my stash.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

The neckline was finished with bias tape, as were the armhole seams.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

I’ve taught myself mitered corners. You can see them at the bottom of the black wool. They are those diagonal seams coming off the slit corners. I have some RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts that utilize this technique and have always thought it very smart looking. The lining was slip-stitched down around the slits so it wouldn’t show while I’m wearing it.

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress

These are the patterns I used:

Carolina Herrera Brocade dress
Carolina Herrera Brocade dress
McCall’s 3830

 

This dress was A LOT of work but I’m thrilled with the outcome. I am not producing nearly as much as I had in previous years but rather am slowing down and really taking my time with things. I want to build a wardrobe of pieces I love and will cherish for years to come.

 

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Comments


  • Carolyn
    February 19, 2013

    Amanda – you make the prettiest dresses full of amazing details that are sewn so well. This one is no exception! It is just stunning!

  • Manju
    February 19, 2013

    Amanda that is beautiful. The brocade is gorgeous and looks perfect with the crepe. I think you did the right thing going with your TNT pattern for the skirt. I would not even have looked at this pattern but the piping really makes it.

    • Amanda S.
      February 19, 2013

      Thanks Manju! That skirt pattern is worth its weight in gold! Which isn’t much since patterns are so light but you get my point. ;)

  • Kristine
    February 19, 2013

    I’ve always admired that fabric, but never knew how I could use it in a garment that would fit my lifestyle. Your interpretation is spot on! I love the piping and think that it’s a fabulous dress. Job well done!!!

    • Amanda S.
      February 19, 2013

      Thanks Kristine! Thinking up uses for fancy fabrics/patterns can be challenging, I definitely agree with you there. I always wish I had somewhere to wear the pretty Vogue gowns that I drool over in the pattern catalogs. Alas, I do not.

  • oonaballoona
    February 19, 2013

    i’m speechless. and suddenly i have even LESS courage to tackle that CR pattern! beautiful!

    • Amanda S.
      February 19, 2013

      It is kind of a challenging pattern. However, if you had your heart set on making it, I hope I have not scared you off!!!

  • Erica B
    February 19, 2013

    That dress looks gorgeous on you Amanda. You’re right about this style of bodice looking best for a smaller bust. I knew it wasn’t for me. But you’re working it to death!

    • Amanda S.
      February 19, 2013

      Thanks Erica! I’m so happy to have FINALLY figured out what works on my figure and what doesn’t. There are plenty of patterns that I think are beautiful but that I have to walk away from. Good for you for knowing your body so well! I only wish other women had that figured out.

  • Cissie
    February 19, 2013

    Love the flat piping detail! Really takes the dress to another level! Beautiful job, as always, Amanda!

  • Amy
    February 19, 2013

    This dress is gorgeous! Bravo, Amanda! You always come to impress! I love the piping details, and the fit is spectacular. I’m glad you were able to put together an amazing dress!

  • Candice Maroney
    February 20, 2013

    I have admired this pattern for a long time. You did a terrific job and I love, love the brocade material. Wow:-)

    • Amanda S.
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you Candice!

  • Lauren
    February 20, 2013

    GORGEOUS!!

    • Amanda S.
      February 20, 2013

      Thank you Lauren!

  • Lori
    February 20, 2013

    Your dress is stunning, all your attention to detail made the finished garment perfect.

  • Karen Helm
    February 20, 2013

    What a winner! This dress is lovely, inside as well as out! I think you are so smart to take the time to produce such quality – you will enjoy this dress for many years.

    • Amanda S.
      February 20, 2013

      Hi Karen! Thanks for your comment!

  • Sarah Gunn
    February 20, 2013

    This is such a beautiful and creative use of this fabric, Amanda! You look fabulous in the dress – as always!

  • Heidi
    February 22, 2013

    I am so excited about finding this site, I am retired now and do alot of sewing for the grandchildren but now I just might try to make myself something nice to wear. Love the dress.

    • Amanda S.
      February 23, 2013

      Thanks Heidi! Oh to be retired and be able to sew all the time. That sounds heavenly to me!

  • Becky
    February 22, 2013

    Amanda, you knock me out! I want everything you make, but I could hurt you for this one. This is inspiring use of material and design. One of the most beautiful dresses I have seen in a while.

  • Fiona
    February 23, 2013

    Amanda, this is a stunning dress, well done. Each month I look forward to seeing what item you make. Was there a trick in getting the piping so even, I can never seem to get it right.

    • Amanda S.
      February 23, 2013

      Thank you, Fiona! The trick to even piping is to measure every inch or so to make sure the piping is equal distance from the selvage. I always sew the piping to one piece, make sure it is even, and then sew the seam of the two pieces together. I also use a humongous amount of pins. You have to be willing to rip out some stitches if it doesn’t look perfect when you complete a seam. If you do the work little by little and try to be as precise as possible, you will have something to be proud of. This kind of tedious attention to detail gives me a lot of pleasure and I think it’s a lot of fun. If it’s not for you, make sure to take a bunch of breaks!

  • Ginger
    February 27, 2013

    This is stunning! What a great combination of fabric and pattern! Absolutely amazing.

  • Migdalia Y.
    February 28, 2013

    I love, love, love your work. The dress is absolutely stunning and it fits so well. I so looking forward to dusting off my sewing machine, well, actually praying that my hubby buys me a new one…so that I can start sewing once again. Thank you for sharing.

    Migdalia Y.

  • LynneW
    March 7, 2013

    OMG! What a stunner! Worthy of the Runway… Keep up the great work.