Taking on Topshop
What do I need? A new dress, a posh one. And if the colour could match the stripes on my graduation gown, as well as be flattering, the right length, comfortable, cheap as chips and also suitable for Christmas Day, that’d be great. Not too much to ask you say? Ha!
I must confess that this is a bit of a humble brag on two accounts. Firstly because I only went and got myself a bloomin Distinction in my Masters (!!!) and secondly because I took on this super intimdating pattern all by myself and made a right good job of it. If I say so myself.
Ahem. Anyway, the old dress that I turn to when I need a smart girly look (or just a bit of pink on a seriously dull day) is this gorgeous crepe skater skirt from Topshop in a rather lairy highlighter pink.
It retailed at £46, and even though I’ve definitely had my monies worth, sadly a measly postgraduate grant refuses to stretch to that kind of money anymore – I didn’t even bother to hit the shops.
My Dupe – Pattern, Progress and Problems!
Instead I spent A LOT of time chosing between these three different patterns that incorporated some of my favourite aspects of the dress: the full skater skirt, the waistline box pleats, the princess seams of the body and the cap sleeves…Again, not too much to ask right?!
I eventually settled on the Burda pattern 6744 – They had a sale on, plus I decided that it was the princess seams and pleats that I loved the most about my original dress and this one is practically identical (I think it helped that the model was wearing a similar bright colour too).
The fabric is a lovely heavy crepe in royal blue and I had to buy 2.2m for this pattern on account of the full skirt (from Abakhans, as usual!). But after cutting, I had approximately 30cm of untouched fabric, and after a fitting I could definitely afford to lose and 5cm off the hem allowance on each dress piece – I’ll only be buying 2m next time!
The pattern was, at a first glance, terrifying. I took my time with the cutting and marking – as a habit I mark all tailors tacks with sticky spots (reasons twofold: to strengthen and to make them strikingly obvious). I colour coded these ones as the pattern called for a lot of seam-marker-matching and so I marked corresponding points with a few different colours of thread. My most inspired idea to date. This saved me so much time and hassle for a first make, although now I’ve got to grips with it I may not go to so much effort again.
Does anyone have any tailors tack hacks? I could do with learning a few shortcuts for pattern marking!
Here are some progress shots I took along the way.
I cut an American size 8 after looking at the finished garmet measurements and it fits really nicely with no adjustments, although I would sew narrower seams in future if the fabric didn’t have a stretch to it like this one does. It went together really easily as long as I took it slowly, and only when I wasn’t tired. Until. The sleeves. The facings. Oh god! These held me up for about a week and I caved in and called my mum. I had to take the dress with me back to Manchester, where of course she figured it out in five minutes flat. I also had a little go on her fancy new overlocker to achieve a really nice neat and not bulky hem – I unpicked my original effort as the fabric is too spongy (not the technical term!) for a doubled over hem and it spoiled the way the pleats hung when I tried it on.
The only alteration I made was to put in an exposed contrast zip a-la-Topshop rather than the instructed invisible zipper (I haven’t done those and I’m scared to try!). I think I’ve ticked off all those things I mentioned I needed this dress to have!
Overall cost – fabric @ £14.96 for 2.2m (£8.80 p/m), one 24″ exposed zip @ £3.06 and thread. One off cost for the pattern – £5.26
Total – £23.28
Possible saving compared to Topshop – £22.72 (Half price!)
So what do you think? I’m really really pleased with this, it’s definitely my most complicated but also successful make, dare I say, ever and I can see this getting just as much wear as my Topshop old faithful, maybe even more given that it isn’t quite so offensively bright!