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.
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.