Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011 Designer Inspiration

Pattern Review's Knock Off contest will run in May, so it's time to get inspired!

I am not wowed by the selection of dresses online at Saks and Neiman Marcus this year. As usual, it is almost entirely neutral (aka drab and boring) colors with few prints. That's a hurdle I can overcome, but there is also a lot of unshaped clothing that is fitted with belts. As the old SNL sketch goes, "Just cinch it!" While I do enjoy loose, airy pieces in the heat of summer, a belt is actually way more sweaty than a dress that has shape at the waist with several inches of ease.

That said, there were some unshaped pieces that appealed to me. At least they have full skirts for biking. It is very inconvenient, this lifestyle change of bicycle commuting. Last year I put a lot of effort into sewing fitted and pencil skirts but I cannot bike to work in them! It's okay for skirts, I guess, because theoretically I could wear a biking skirt to commute and then change at work. But I just hate carrying extra clothes around for no reason and I don't want to walk into the building in the same raggedy skirt every day. Not that such a skirt is raggedy because it doesn't even exist yet (I'm thinking black A line knit). And for dresses, just no. I don't want to wear an entirely different outfit to commute in.

In the land of knock-offs this summer, Simplicity is the clear winner. Other than my vintage Stretch & Sew peasant blouse, *all* the matching patterns are Simplicity (including one New Look).

Patterson J. Kincaid Marilyn Printed Dress Marilyn Dress - Back

I like the features on this dress: the back yoke with gathered lower back; the pleated neckline, and the pseudo-raglan sleeves formed by the yoke.

When I saw it, I immediately thought of Simplicity 2594 (which is the same as lower priced It's So Easy 2418). It has the yoke and the gathered back below the yoke. The yoke would need to be extended in both directions and the front redrafted into pleats instead of a cowl, but I think these changes would actually be less complicated than they sound.

I have been trying to decide what fabric I have that would work for this! - Derek Lam - Printed Silk Gathered Dress

Now, the gorgeous silk fabric in this Derek Lam would set you back a pretty penny. The description says only "silk" with no information on the weave. It doesn't look like charmeuse, but it also doesn't look sheer enough for voile. Possibly a lightweight twill weave?

I can really see this working with a silk cotton, one of my favorite blends. I am lusting after this one, only $22.74 per yard! Maybe when I have sewn up my entire stash I can justify that purchase. Give me about 15 years.... Or maybe I can get it for my birthday. That's a little closer in time, but I suspect the fabric will be gone in 4 months. Thinking about it, I have a lightweight gray rayon with a small print in stash that would work.

Although the fabric is unattainable, the pattern is a good match for Simplicity 2615. The only difference I can tell based on the level of detail available is that in the Simplicity the ties are threaded through a long casing/belt loop in the front and tied in the back and the Derek Lam has a separate sash tied in the front.

Exact same pattern.
Sash tied in back=Becky Homecky.
Sash tied in front=high end designer.

Very simple equation. - Teri Jon - Floral Piqué Roll-Neck Dress

A fitted dress! Here we have the classic sheath with a roll neck collar. Where have I seen that before? Oh yes, New Look 6968. Here the pattern is somewhat different, as the designer version appears to have princess seams and the New Look has bust and waist darts in the bodice. I can't tell whether the Teri Jon has a waist seam because of the belt, but I think it does as you can see princess lines breaking the print in the bodice but the print on the skirt appears continuous.

The standout feature here is the collar. The New Look roll collar has a little extra flip thingy, but I have the pattern and from my perusal of the directions a while back the flip thingy is not an integral part of the collar and can be left off. Too bad my floral print pique is already spoken for! - Fendi - Silk Slit Bodice Dress

For some reason this dress really grabbed me when I was browsing. It is entirely impractical for my life so I kept going. But I had to go back and snap it. I don't know what it is I love here. I am not really into the 70s Studio 54 vibe, which this has in spades, and it really REALLY does not fit into my lifestyle. There is no conceivable event, place, or occasion for me to wear a dress like this. The only place I can even picture it is for dinner at an expensive beach resort in Ibiza or on a yacht. Believe me, nobody has invited me onto their yacht lately.

It actually would not be hard to make, barring the difficult fabric. My trusty vintage Stretch & Sew 1582 Peasant blouse, pattern source for 3 knockoffs so far, could be adapted to it with the sole change being the deep V back, though I wouldn't go that low; lightweight flowy silk without a bra would be vulgar in real life, even on a IBTC founding member like me. I suppose that's why I picture it in a bathing suit situation; it wouldn't matter if your bikini band showed in the back and through the low front slit, so it would solve the bra problem.

If anyone wants to invite me to their mansion on the French Riviera to party with Brad and Angelina, I'll get right on this project. I will warn you that I would probably use the wrong fork at some point.

I had been planning to make the Michael Kors striped shift I discussed here for the knock-off contest, but it doesn't have much of a wow factor *and* looking at it more closely I see that it has studded ribbon trim on the shoulder and side seams. I am not a studded ribbon trim kind of gal, so my "knock off" would not be faithful to the original. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking Derek Lam.

Of course, all this depends on how tired and sewn out I'll be after my bike trip! I get back on May 15 and the contest ends the 31st. I started this week with 7 things on my to-sew list. Only one of them was somewhat complicated and it is done! (Well, done-ish; an hour or so of hand-sewing remains.) I'm down to six things to sew: two skirts (one zip, one elastic waist), a top, a shrug, and two scarves.

T minus 15 days--I leave two weeks from tomorrow!

All my inspiration photos are here.

Are you joining the knock off contest? What are you sewing?


Nikki said...

OK, now I want to make that dress as a cover up. But I already had a knockoff half planned! Drat. ;)

Reethi said...

I'm super tempted to join, there's a Jason Wu dress I want to make - v-neck bodice, full sleeves, draped skirt. However, the draped skirt is a lot of look, and I'm trying to decide - would I actually ever wear it? But I'm oh-so-tempted.

Summer said...

I have the perfect Ibiza dress, so invite me too if you're invited? lol
Love the knockoff ideas--you have the best clothes!

Anonymous said...

Those are all great options, I too am getting excited for this contest, I have a few options I am mulling over but I have to finish my jacket before I let myself start anything new.

Mrs. Micawber said...

I will happily make all of these as soon as my legs grow 18 inches longer.
There is something about that purple dress....

fangaroni said...

Great options, but I love the Ibiza one! (even though it is the least practical, maybe because i love the multicolored belt there?)... it kind of reminds me of Butterick 5491

Amy said...

I have yet to commit to a contest and again I'm not sure if this will be a contest for me. I love the thought you put into this! My inspiration pieces are pretty basic pieces.

Anonymous said...

Am lovin' the Fendi dress and despite all the impracticals it's great so have to make an 'event' for it - too good to miss some of the others are just drab they are nondescript and not worth the effort of sewing as uninspired - cheers La Sewista Sally

Shannon said...

All of these are great- I love the floral sheath and have that NL pattern on my to-do list. I can't wait to see what you make!

Big in Japan said...

The right fabric can make even the most simple piece a fantastic creation, sadly, such fabric is often unavailable for reasons of price or location.

Just wanted to chime in with an "I feel yer pain" regarding sewing garments that are suitable for biking. For seven years my main mode of transport has been bicycle, sometimes the bicycle-train combo, and it is one of the main factors in determining my wardrobe choices. For better or worse.

Clio said...

Wow, I couldn't agree more - neutrals (yawn), cinched (sigh), sash in the front (chichi), Derek Lam dress (yum) and Ibiza (in my next life)... Good luck with the final push of sewing for your vacation!

sewing spots said...

I love that last dress, too. Maybe lounge wear? Or how would it be as a belted top?

Irene Bullock said...

The Teri Jon dress looks very much like Simplicity's 2337 (only with short sleeves). Actually I made it last winter and the roll collar is just a rectangle, really easy!

McVal said...

I would LOVE to do a knock off contest!!! I'm SOO wanting to do a knock off of a couture wedding gown for my daughters next prom dress... but that won't be until next window before I start on that.

Jessica W said...

Simplicity 2615 is one of my favorites right now. I sewed it up in linen for Easter and it turned out great--with a few caveats, of course. The sleeves are very wide, if you do not go the elastic route. I added a pleat at the edge and topped with a button. Also, the tie is sewed on at the front. I disliked that feature at first, but after I adjusted to my natural waist, I found it to be flattering and went ahead and sewed in place.