The turquoise dress might be my favorite from our feature in Sew Beautiful magazine (August/September 2013, issue #149). For this dress, we used View C of the Badminton Dress with a few modifications.
I was inspired by this gorgeous spring 2012 Valentino couture dress, with big organza flowers at the hem. I especially liked the ethereal quality of the dress, with the layers of sheer fabrics and the changing colors as they played off each other. I haven’t seen this dress in person (not being a regular client of Valentino’s couture house, I haven’t really had that opportunity I’m sorry to say), but from what I can tell, it’s made with a layer of tea-stained or pale apricot/yellow sheer organza over the grey fabric of the dress. A wide double layer of organza at the hem gradually lightens the color of the dress, and I just loved that effect. Plus, those big organza flowers at the hem are pretty great!
We selected a cross-dyed turquoise linen for the body of our Badminton Dress and added a pale turquoise silk organza for our sheer layer. We left the linen uncovered at the top edge of the dress at the bias binding for the darkest color in the dress. The body of the dress has an overlay of the paler organza, with a double organza hem to gradually lighten the color as your eye travels down. The petals are also organza.
We made just a few changes to the pattern itself for this dress. We eliminated the scalloped hem and added a seam allowance at the underarm so we could replace the bias binding with a bias facing that wouldn’t show. We also eliminated the ruffles at the yoke and replaced the drawstring casing at the front of the dress with some simple thread gathers for a dressier look.
The two layers of the dress body (linen and organza) were constructed separately, using French seams for a clean finish. We joined the layers at the top edges and at the underarm and used a strong thread to stitch three rows of gathering stitches in place of the drawstring casing. The thread tails of the gathering stitches were knotted together and stitched on the inside of the dress once they were gathered to the desired amount.
The organza layer has a 9″-wide hem facing applied to the outer side of the dress so the color of the dress lightens as you reach the hem. The linen dress has a narrow hem and is finished to be about 1/2″ shorter than the organza.
When the dress itself was completely finished, we added the petals. For that step we cut out lots (and lots!) of organza circles in two sizes (4″ and 2″ diameter). Then we folded and sort of scrunched the circles at their centers and pinned them to the dress. Some are double layers of the same size, some are a single layer, and some are two layers in different sizes. When we were satisfied with their placement, sort of cascading down the dress in a very random but vaguely diagonal direction, we stitched each petal to the organza layer by hand (which, surprisingly, didn’t take all that long considering the number of petals!).
You can see close-ups of a lot of these details in the magazine itself. I’m really pleased with the way each of these dresses turned out, and they were lots of fun to plan and create.
This dress with sewn by our beloved Giulia, who contributed a lot of her time and energy to this project. Giulia will be leaving us later this fall as she and her husband and two sons move to India. I’m missing her already!