January 11, 2014

A 1960's Dior Inspired Project to Challenge Myself

Dior 1966
Have you been sewing or following along with The Monthly Stitch? For January the theme is New Year, New Skill. I was at a loss for project inspiration and found myself searching in the book, Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer. I stumbled across this image of a 1966 coat dress by Marc Bohan for Dior. 

I was smitten and struck with inspiration and was hell bent on making a variation of the dress using a stitchless zipper. Then I attempted to search the web to find more pics of the Dior dress; I found myriad Dior treasures but I could not find an image of my dress. So I drew my variation: 
At this point I am thinking the project was relatively still simple. I would draft the following pattern pieces: 
  •  Dress front
  • Front zipper facing
  • Dress back
  • Sleeve
  • Pocket bags
  • Welt
  • Collar 
  • Button tab
  • Sleeve band 
But then to add to the challenge I recalled a lovely grey pinstripe wool in my stash and decided to change the project to a masculine suit inspired coat dress. Plus I had been dying to play with welt pockets. Back to the drawing board.
I decided to add additional tailoring to the inner workings of my wool coat dress. I wanted to implement a back stay and hem bands to keep the shape of my skirt and sleeves. Also what wool sleeve would not be complete without a sleeve head. Basically I just doubled my pattern drafting list. 
When my patterning was complete I actually made a muslin to test my shoulders and bust. I refrained from taking pics as it was a sad sight of me in rags with sharpie marks all over my bust line.

Next I set out to cut my wool and naturally the next challenge presented itself. I only had two yards of 72" wide wool with crosswise stretch and my pinstripes ran parallel to the stretch. Why is this fabric in my stash? Why did I think vertically striped stretch suiting would ever be useful?! At this point I am just asking for this project to give me grey hair. I decided to just go with my pinstripe suit inspiration plans and elect to ignore the vertical stretch. Doing this would present a challenge keeping the seam lines from stretching out under my my sewing machine feed dogs so all the side seams would have to be basted. fine problem solved. Next to align my pinstripes I had to cut each piece and layer individually marking and planning the stripes. You can see all my little markings in the photo above. 
To carry the pinstripes across the center front on the collar tab I had to amend my collar pattern and create a pinstripe chevron at the center back neck. The pocket welts also had to be cut to match each placement of of the front dress pieces, this meant a lot of stripe placement lines on my pattern piece for the mirrored direction of the welts. 
As if I had not put in enough work for this project, I also added bound button holes. I had not attempted one in quite some time. 
Now on to those welts: 
 I hand basted my darts and markings for the welt and pocket.
Next the welt flap is hand basted to guarantee the stripe alignment. 
Looking good!!
 The pocket facing is added and stitched with a small stitch per inch. Then slashed and turned to the inside.
Pocket opening, view from the wrong side.
 Pocket right side. As the pocket facing is turned to the inside the welt flap turns up.
The welt flap is hand stitched to the garment. 
Finally on the reverse side the pocket back is finished. I drafted my pocket bag to catch in the side seam. 
The upper welt is much easier, it is just stitched at the marking line, seam allowance trimmed, and the welt flap turned up and hand stitched to the garment. 
Now I am moving on to the sleeve heads... maybe one day I will actually put this project together.


  1. Wow, this should be fun! Lots of work going on there. Do you always hand-baste your welt pockets. etc.? I usually don't but I also don't really work with stripes all that much.

    1. Yes, the work load keeps growing! Typically in my regularly scheduled instant gratification sewing I avoid hand sewing at all costs so no hand basting. For this project I really want everything to line up just right so I am hand basting to ensure all parts are in their place. Thank you Nicole!

  2. Wow, it is looking good so far - I'm looking forward to seeing the final master piece!

    1. Thank you Sandra. I will keep working away and hopefully be complete prior to the end of the month!

  3. Oh wow. Am in awe of your welt pocket stripe matching. Dress looks great so far.

  4. Great job and super techniques! Amazing work so far.

  5. This is going to be one amazing outfit. Love how you took the time to make sure everything is align. Great work.

    1. I am trying to hold in there and keep my alignments in check it is a lot of work! Thank you kindly, Ann.

  6. Lordy that is a lot of work - and it looks gorgeous!

  7. Ha ha, it's like dominoes, isn't it? Once you start one thing new.....I can't wait to see the end result!!! I am sure it will be fabulous.

    1. Oh my, is is certainly like dominoes! I am just checking off one little step at a time. Thank you

  8. Wow. This is going to be amazing! Totally in awe of your skills and cant wait to see end result!

  9. I love construction posts! Thank you for sharing your project, it looks great so far! I've been lurking TMS for a while, so many talented sewists on there. I am just waiting for the 'right theme' ;)
    Looking forward to seeing your coat dress finished!

    1. I hope a theme inspires you soon, it is so much fun to sew along with so many other talented sewists. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for sharing the entire process. I love that you made the welt bags big enough to sew into the side pockets so they aren't just flapping around inside the dress. Have to remember that! Also have to put on my big girl panties and try sewing welt pockets again. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I too hate loosey goosey pockets!? That was my intent with securing them in the seam and now I am hoping all ends well with the design. Thank you Carolyn. Get on those welt pockets!

  11. impressive! I love the detail shots of your welt pocket progression. Can't wait to see the final garment!


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Happy sewing!

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