Runway-Inspired Two-Piece Dress

I’m not someone who really follows runway fashion, and, prior to this challenge, I had never even heard of the designers I’m drawing inspiration from. But as I looked at many, many photos of runway shows, I kept coming back to Sea‘s spring RTW collection. The collection was split between looks that were tough, dark, and androgynous and looks that were romantic and feminine. I especially liked the looks where the designers used elements that usually look prim and proper and gave them a youthful edge by combining them with modern details like cut-outs and exposed zippers.

image courtesy of Sea

I decided to make a traditional cocktail dress and give it a little bit of reverse aging! I wanted to use a fabric that felt classic and maybe even a little old-fashioned, so I selected this black and pink cotton-poly tweed from Mood Fabrics NYC (this carnation pink Marc Jacobs wool tweed is a super cute choice, if you’re looking for something in a similar vein!). It has a very loose weave, and looks like a good choice for a French jacket or something similar.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

…Did I mention the fabric has a very loose weave? This makes it drapey and soft, but it was too drapey for my purposes, so I underlined every piece with black cotton shirting, basting the two layers together in the seam allowances and along the dart legs and centers. This made it much easier to handle. Unfortunately, it frayed like the dickens, so I also fused 1/2″ strips of interfacing to the seam allowances to help the fabric stay together. This was a SLOW project!

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

 

This fabric is pretty hefty, so by the time I underlined it, things got pretty bulky, so I left off the planned linings altogether! I finished the seam allowances by zigzagging them and then stitching on rayon seam binding and wide ribbon inherited from my mom’s stash.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I knew I wanted to start with a sweet ’60′s vibe, so I used the skirt portion of my vintage McCall’s 5995 pattern. I changed the kick pleat to a slit and drafted a waistband with a finished width of 2″ and a 2″ overlap. I wanted the silhouette to be neat and clean, but not tight, so I was careful to fit the skirt but not go overboard.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I liked the cut-outs in the inspiration photos, but I felt like they’re really ubiquitous right now, so I decided to take the idea a little further and turn the dress into skin-baring separates. I downloaded a crop top pattern, but after a few failed muslins, I abandoned it and decided to draft my own. I stole the neckline from the Deer & Doe Belladone pattern, and fudged my way through a little self-drafting to make the rest. The neckline and armholes are finished with an all-in-one facing, which I didn’t enjoy sewing one bit- I didn’t think through my construction and hand-stitching rapidly-fraying tweed isn’t one of my happiest sewing moments! I even enlisted Man Friend’s steady hands and cool head for some hand-stitching help, and he helped me forge through when I was down to my last nerve! The waist is also finished with a facing, and the separating zipper is covered by an overlap at the center back. I’m not kidding when I say that thinking out how the zipper and facings needed to be installed kept me up at night! I literally laid in bed, unable to sleep, sorting out the construction order and plan of attack on more than one occasion! I didn’t come up with a perfect plan as I still had to do tons of seam-ripping and re-sewing, but everything came together eventually.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

 

I wanted to be really careful with proportions and fit for this outfit since I knew I would feel really uncomfortable and possibly trashy if there was too much skin on show. But I wanted the cropped top to give a youthful edge to the look, like it was the love child of Jackie O and Punky Brewster (makes sense, no?). I feel bold and sassy in this outfit, but still remarkably put together. One thing that worries me, though, is that I’m not 100% certain where I can wear it! Any ideas?

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Although it was a challenge to decide on a runway-inspired style and sew it up, it was fun to work in such a different way and to wear something that’s a bit of a departure from my usual style. But what about you guys? Do you draw inspiration from runway looks? Are there any spring trends that you’re excited to try out?

Here’s my super happy super model post! Heeheehee…

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Comments


  • katie
    March 25, 2014

    So chic, Ginger! The proportions are perfect and I love that you teamed it with high-tops. You look super cool.

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thank you so much, Katie!

  • Liza jane
    March 25, 2014

    Super cool and tres chic! Got any spring weddings to go to?

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Ooh, good idea! I don’t think I do, actually… lots of spring baby showers, instead! :)

  • Jet Set Sewing
    March 25, 2014

    Very cute! Vintage and edgy at the same time. I bet you’ll get a lot of wear out of both pieces, together and separately.

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thank you so very much! I really like the idea of wearing more separates- it sure helps your wardrobe to stretch!

  • Kimberly
    March 25, 2014

    Now THAT’S Cute!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thank you, Kimberly! :)

  • Cennetta
    March 25, 2014

    Ginger,
    This is certainly not your grandma’s dress. Your outfit is fresh and youthful. I also saw cropped tops on the Chanel runway. You captured the trend and the look.

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thanks, Cennetta! I hadn’t seen the Chanel slideshow, but oddly enough, we were filming this morning outside of a Chanel display in the Saks window and the outfit was a nubbly pink boucle crop top and skirt! Funny!

  • Manju
    March 25, 2014

    This is such a pretty cute trendy outfit which suits you perfectly. Great job all round!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thank you, Manju! :)

  • Lori
    March 25, 2014

    I love your outfit, Ginger, a great interpretation of the runway look. It sounds like a challenge to make but your hard work paid off in a big way. I did see in one of the magazines, they were showing a tshirt or blouse under the crop tops.

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Ooh, I love the idea of layering! You’re so good at styling outfits- thank you, as always, for your great advice!

  • Jenny
    March 25, 2014

    That is super cool and you pull it off with aplomb!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thank you, Jenny! :)

  • Jenny
    March 25, 2014

    Oh – and for next time you’re using fraying fabric and are underlining it, I really recommend this new technique I learned – the tutorial is up on my blog:
    http://cashmerette.blogspot.com/2014/03/tutorial-finish-underlining-and-seams.html

  • Fiona
    March 25, 2014

    You look so great in this Sonja! I’m totally in love with it! There’s just the right amount of skin on show and the combination of classy fabric and subtle colour with the modern twist of the style is so great. If you’re stuck with where to wear it you need to start planning a trip to London for some Spoolette cocktails!
    P.S. Loving those shoes!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Yes! Spoolettes cocktails, please!!!!!!!!!!

  • Peter
    March 25, 2014

    I love this outfit! It’s classic, chic, and sexy. You can wear it out to dinner on a summer evening, to an event, anywhere. It’s a beautiful color and the fit looks perfect. Great job on this!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thanks, Peter! Just the thought of a summer evening fills me with glee! I can’t wait!

  • oonaballoona
    March 25, 2014

    dammit girl you wear it all the time. YOU WEAR IT ALL THE TIME!! especially with those kicks!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Let’s do this thing!!!!!

  • Lauren
    March 25, 2014

    Whoa, girl! This was not at all was I was expecting, but I LIKE it. I like it a lot! You know I love me some crop tops, I can’t help myself. Color me biased, but I think it’s an awesome look on you, especially in that fabric with the matching skirt. Work it!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Hahahaha, there were at least three different plans for this- a little short toggle coat with sporty shorts, a track jacket with a skirt, a similar design as this, but with cut-outs outlined in black trim… let’s just say I had a hard time deciding (and now I have a huge pile of unused piping, ribbon, and other assorted trims in various sizes and shades of pink and black that I don’t know what to do with! But sometimes less is more!

  • Heather Lou
    March 26, 2014

    I’m so in love with this I don’t know what to do with myself. Holy crapballs is this KILLING ME SOFTLY. First off, “split between looks that were tough, dark, and androgynous and looks that were romantic and feminine” is basically the most perfect description of your style ever. So this look is perfect cuz it’s sweet and cool and with the addition of those AMAZING I WANT THEM SNEAKERS totally badass. In a word? SONJA.

    What you’ve go there is the perfect outfit for cocktails,dude. ie. meet up with Jennifer “Party till the sun comes up” Wiese and Oona “I’ve never met a gin I don’t like” Balloona and PAINT THE TOWN RED. Or pink, as it were. I loved my little twosie outfit from last summer cuz I could break it up too. I wore the skirt constantly. Now you’re making me want to make another one.

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Dude, THANK YOU! The two styles really are the opposite sides of my li’l ol’ me coin! I have to say, I thought so long and hard about your style post a few weeks ago, and it really helped me to think about the reasons why I wear what I wear and defining my own style. So thank you for your amazing post!

      Also, my dude HATED these shoes. HATED them. So I knew all you cool gals would love them, hahahahaha! He’s like a weird fashion weather vane!

  • Angela
    March 26, 2014

    This outfit is so cool Sonja!! Right down to your shoes!! I love your runway inspiration, you have put a twist on a trend and kept it from looking like a costume from Girls. Very chic, I say wear it to brunch, or cocktails? So well done, can’t tell you had to battle the fabric at all!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      Thanks so much lady! Don’t look too closely at my seams or you’ll see all the lumps, bumps, and battle scars! ;)

  • Sallie
    March 26, 2014

    Dang girl!!! You nailed it!! I love this look on you!! I think it shows just the perfect amount of skin – and those kicks!!! Get outta here! Pleeasse Pleeeaaassseee wear this out for cocktails with the girlzzz!!!
    Also, I think there must be something in the water (or the runways?) because I’ve got a very similar look planned for this month too. Perhaps this season is the crop top’s zeitgeist!

    • Ginger
      March 26, 2014

      OMG, I can’t wait to see what you made!!!!! I never thought I would get into a crop top (dude, it’s been at least a decade since I was confident enough to do that!) but I’m loving the cropped-top-high-waisted-something-else look these days!

  • Diana
    April 2, 2014

    Really, really sweet and so edgy with that footwear.{I can’t tell if they are shoes or boots ?!?! but they are great looking.

    • Ginger
      April 5, 2014

      Thanks, Diana! They’re wedge, high-top sneakers… sort of in between boots and regular gym shoes!