Vivienne Westwood t-shirt dress knockoff

14Jul13

This is a dress inspired entirely by a piece of fabric; it’s a silver and black striped jersey that Amy from Almond Rock kindly gave me at a swap. As soon as I saw it I knew it was destined for a copy of a Vivienne Westwood style I’ve been admiring for years. The original is a boat-necked kimono-sleeved t-shirt dress that plays with the grain of the fabric. There’s a gathered section at the waist and that’s about the only place the stripes are horizontal. The reason it’s taken a while to sew this up is having to make the pattern. Here it is.



Making the pattern didn’t go entirely smoothly. I started with the close-fitting jersey block from Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich and turned that into a kimono-sleeved t-shirt dress. Adding the gathers was just a case of slicing and spreading, but when I sewed the final pattern up it was quite a bit too large. I had to cut the side and shoulder seams down a lot. Easily done with the overlocker!

The back’s practically the same pattern piece as the front, just with a higher neckline. I should have spread the pattern a bit more and done more gathers; the grain changing effect is more subtle than I’d intended. There is a separate piece for the right front and left back sleeve which is cut on the regular grain. This adds some interest and also saves quite a lot of fabric! I had 2m of 150cm wide fabric, but there’s a piece left over.



I finished the neck and sleeves with bands. I’m coming to prefer that to twin needle hems; it’s easier to sew and produces a better effect with my machine. Twin needle hems always seem to tunnel. I should have made the neck band shorter than I did because it stands up a little at the back.

So this hasn’t turned out exactly as I intended but it’s certainly a wearable dress. And in some of my favourite colours too – thanks, Amy!





28 Responses to “Vivienne Westwood t-shirt dress knockoff”

  1. I really like it, especially the waist gathers. If you aren’t 100% happy have another try, I did that with my Maria Denmark Day-to-night cowl neck dress, version 2 is perfect.
    It’s a great fun challenge, isn’t it? I’m starting to think I can make some of my own basic patterns…

  2. 2 Marie

    What a clever design Catherine, you’re a genius! Maybe a second attempt will produce a less subtle look, but I love how you have to look a little more closely at this to appreciate it’s brilliance!

  3. I love it! But then again you have a knack for those dresses with interesting, edgy details. Can’t help but wonder what shoes you are wearing, though.
    IIRC there are one or two vogue batwing dresses that could be used by someone with fewer drafting skills to make something similar.

  4. It’s great Catherine, I love that you took the time to draft it!

  5. I love the way the gathers and one cut on sleeve breaks up the pattern of the stripes and makes my eyes say “Hey, something interesting is happening here!” It looks like a very fun and comfortable dress.

  6. Well done with your pattern drafting, it looks great on – and Westwood wasn’t built in a day! Reminds me too of a recent D&G dress that I have a crush on (which is longer than yours, but stripey, made from a knit fabric, and with a boatneck and kimono sleeves!) Oh and I totally agree with the twin needle issue – that tunnelling is really irritating, and bands look so much neater! Not that I always remember in time…

  7. Oh it’s gorgeous. I love the stripes manipulation, very cool indeed. As are all your makes :)

  8. very cool, looks good on you.

  9. What an interesting dresses (in a very good way!). Do you have a picture of the Vivienne Westwood original?

  10. 11 Shams

    You look so beautiful and chic!

  11. I love this, it looks fabulous on you and the different slants of the stripes make it really interesting. I remember seeing something similar but with one big batwing sleeve and one really skinny in the Burdastyle free patterns on their website a couple of years ago. I like yours a lot more though.

  12. Oooh yay this looks great. Very chic. I’m so glad you gave this fabric a good home and made something so lovely! :-)

  13. I think it looks great on you! But, I know what you mean about twin needle hems. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong since mine never looked like the pics. They tunnel so much that they are 3 dimensional and not a good look. I wonder if it’s a setting that is wrong, too tight of tension in the bobbin thread? as other folks seem to not have theirs look like that.

  14. 15 coco

    So pretty – you did a great job drafting the pattern!

  15. 16 Joy

    Fabulous looking dress! I’ve found Aldrich’s blocks to end up with quite a lot of ease…(at least for the bodice, not so much for the bottoms I’ve made).

  16. Very cool! You should totally try it again and get more angle to your stripes

  17. 18 Gail

    Your new dress is ridiculously nice! I’ve been offline for a while so congrats on the Alexander McQueen jacket. I’ve had that download stored in my computer for years. I really want to make it now.

  18. V. cool – and perfect for summer :)

  19. Great dress – perfect for summer :)

  20. 21 Hannah

    This is incredible! I could stare at the stripes all day. You might consider putting a picture of it on Kollabora for the community to swoon over.

  21. I like it lots! And it’s perfect for wearing in summer too – well done :)

  22. lovely! re the twin needle hems – have you tried reducing your top tension? i put mine down from 5 (the middle normal setting) down to 2 or even 1 on recommendation from steph at 3 hours past and it works!

  23. Awesome! I’ve always admired Vivienne Westwood’s ‘askew’ designs— wish she’d share a pattern or two with Vogue or SHOWstudio, for those without your drafting skills :)

  24. Wow! Yes the grain change even with stripes is maybe more subtle than you thought it would be, but what a fab dress. Can’t believe you drafted this….the sleeves are interesting with one being treated differently from the other. Love it!!

  25. I love it! The effect of the grain change is great, and the dress is so flattering and looks so comfy.

  26. ^Sorry for the zillions of duplicated comments from myself above… seems my Chrome browser had problems with WordPress and kept showing me as if the comments had not been left :(

  27. Wow, this paragraph is nice, my younger sister is analyzing
    such things, so I am going to tell her.



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