Purple minidress

It’s been a while because this dress took an age to make. It’s the first one of a set of garments inspired by recent Saint Laurent collections, in this case the orange minidress from Spring 2022.

A woman walks down a catwalk. She wears an orange minidress with a v neck, 3/4 length sleeves pushed up, very strong shoulders and a brown underlayer at the hem. Her accessories are large sunglasses, platform sandals, a short chunky necklace and large earrings
Saint Laurent Spring 2022 look 44, vogue.com

I’ve been drawn to this particular dress since I first saw it, in an advert in Vogue. It’s currently selling for an eyewatering £1795 at Matches, so the only way I could ever scratch the itch was to make my own version.

Orange does not love me, hence the switch to purple fabric. The fabric also had to be relatively inexpensive because realistically this is a stunt dress. I don’t have the Saint Laurent lifestyle. And yes, I should be only be adding things to my wardrobe that are going to get at least 30 wears, and this one seems rather unlikely to meet that target. I’ll have to count the entertainment value of making it and taking silly photos as something instead.

So my fabric is Croft Mill’s BB viscose ponte roma, rather than the luxurious wool woven the original was made in. I went for a knit for comfort and a bit of help with getting a good fit. This particular ponte turned out to be excellent value. I’ve had far pricier ones that weren’t as nice. Sadly the purple is now sold out but Croft Mill have it in other colours.

Having found the fabric I then needed a pattern. After studying every picture of the original I could find online I started with a Burda pattern for a knit jumpsuit which had the same strong shoulder line, and turned that into the basic dress shape with centre front and back seams and a v neck. That centre front seam isn’t just for decoration but turns out to be essential to getting the dress shaping right; it curves in just below the waist. There’s similar shaping in the centre back seam plus two dart tucks at the back. My original pattern turned out much too baggy and there was a lot of adjusting needed after I’d sewed it together. I’d added side seam pockets which made that more difficult. Pockets do bad things to the line, but any outfit that doesn’t have them generally gets worn only once. I ended up taking in the centre front and centre back seams and fiddling with the tucks. Taking in the centre back seam was sad because I’d done a brilliant invisible zip insertion. I couldn’t face ripping the whole zip out and redoing it so it’s a bodge job: I ripped out the lower half of the zip and shortened the zip to end just below where I’d unpicked it to, and then took in the seam below the new end of the zip.

The sleeve on the Burda pattern was one piece, and the Saint Laurent dress has a two piece sleeve with buttoned cuffs. I found a Threads tutorial for turning a one piece sleeve into a two piece but a lot of trial and error was involved. My first attempt was pretty sad: it didn’t have enough volume and the cuffs were too loose and too short. Luckily I had enough fabric to recut the sleeves after updating the pattern. After much agonising I used tortoisehell effect plastic buttons on the cuffs. I was very torn between those and some rather fine metal shank buttons in a dull shade of silver. But on the day I was doing the cuffs I was convinced the whole thing was going to be a disaster and fancy buttons would be a waste, so it got the plastic ones.

And here it is in all its glory.

The cuffs are still a bit too loose and the finishing and fabric don’t remotely compare to the designer dress, but I think it’s come out as something at least adjacent to it. But will I wear it? I did wear it to the pub straight after we took the photos, with my enormous purple Issey Miyake coat over the top which tones the look down considerably. I’m glad to have tried it out but I doubt this will be a wardrobe staple.

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

28 thoughts on “Purple minidress

  1. I think the dress looks great on and you’ve done a great job with the copy. I think it deserves the fancy buttons too. I hope it gets lots of wear because it’s great.

  2. This looks so wonderful on. I can see it would not be a good choice for an occasion where you wanted to be inconspicuous, but otherwise why not wear the hell out of it?


  3. You look fabulous in that dress. It looks like a staple to me. If it were mine, I’d be wearing it every chance I could get. You are an inspiration and I might make something similar because it’s right up my alley. I hope you wear it a lot and I also hope you’ll show us some pix of you wearing it with the Issey Miyake coat. What a stunning combination. Thanks also for the link to Croft Mill. What a great resource.

    1. I would also wear it quite regularly to go to work. I love the shape, it seems comfortable and not over fussy. An easy way to be a bit smart but not too much at the office. Also, the purple does love you!

  4. I would also wear it without second thoughts for work. It looks comfortable but also quite chic and not over the top at all. Easy to wear and the purple loves you!

  5. Definitely looks more wearable in an everyday sense to me, than the designer “look-at-me orange” version! I think it looks good in the Ponte too – dramatic still, but a little softer. I love the shape of the sleeves.

  6. It looks fabulous….a knock out for an interview or a room where there are too many intimidating men …..kick arse!

  7. You’ve done a great job on the fitting, and I do love the shape of your sleeves. Big shoulders are supposed to be all the rage now, and I haven’t seen any home sewing patterns jump on that trend yet. You’re on the bleeding edge of fashion!

      1. Oh, yeah, now I do! I think I only glanced at it because it wasn’t going to be available in digital format. There is a fabulous silver make of it on the Russian site–the woman made it for a futuristic costume party, actually!

      2. I just checked her notes for that make, and they are pretty detailed. She says she made her jumpsuit out of a woven, not a knit–there was sufficient ease in the pattern. The one difficulty she encountered (which she thinks is a woven/knit issue) is that the collar in the original pattern is a straight rectangle, which didn’t curve well with her difficult-to-press woven fabric. She says just take a curved collar from another pattern and it should all work out.

  8. Brava! It’s fabulous and you look amazing in it. I think it makes a very good dupe and the fitting is great. I hope you do decide to wear it a lot as it’s a great dress.

  9. Love it! The dress looks amazing on you and it’s such a cool way to turn an inspiration into something that you can enjoy having in your wardrobe.

  10. Oh so gorgeous! Color, shape, style are perfect for you. So flattering. And you look the St. Laurent lifestyle! Great adaptation.

Comments are closed.