We just back from Mexico and I wanted to share a few of the looks that I made for this once in a lifetime trip! First up is my blue print strapless dress with contrast piping. This dress is a bit of a love letter to some of my favorite fabrics and trims that I have been stashing away until I had the perfect design for them. Going on a family trip to Cabo San Lucas finally seemed like the perfect time to make something beautiful, and for this design, I really let the fabric and trim shine.
The blue and white pattern on this cotton sateen is unlike anything I have ever seen before. I bought this fabric almost a decade ago in the remnant section of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, not having a plan for it. It was only 1 3/4 yards! Over the years, I have used it as a backdrop for photos and as a table cloth, but never wanted to cut into it for fear I would make something and hate it.
Fast forward to COVID and finally being able to travel… and it just felt like it was time! For 18 months I have been trying to move through my fabric stash, making some designs I love and some I hate. Along the way I realized that the mental weight of holding onto each fabric (I have moved 3 times since I bought this!) was worse than making something I hated, so the time was ripe to use it.
I also have been hoarding one of my favorite trims from East Coast Trimming in NYC. I discovered this trim years ago, and the perfect black and white woven jacquard chevron is so beautiful, it pairs and elevates any design. BUT- at $12 a yard you can bet I use it sparingly and wisely!
Since I had very little fabric to work with, my design needed to be relatively close-fitting, and devoid of too many seams. I decided that I wanted to make something a bit dressier, because the fabric is so statement-making and I would enjoy wearing it for special occasions. There are lots of unique necklines on runway designs lately, most likely driven by the increase of “waist up” dressing from Zoom calls, so I wanted to try my hand at a more angular one. The trim does double duty then- highlighting the square neckline, and adding an unexpected detail.
I let the rest of the silhouette stay classic, with a simple pleat front and back skirt allowing room for in-seam pockets, and as long of a length as I could manage with my fabric yardage. The zipper running down the front is the closure to the garment, which helped to lengthen the lines of the dress.
This dress was more difficult to construct than you would have expected. The bodice contains 3 forms of structure: mid-weight interfacing to give weight to the fabric, bust cups to give shape to the squared out bust, and boning at the side seams and center front to hold up the bodice.
I would give myself a C+ on the inner construction. I designed the dress with very few seams, which didn’t allow many places to insert boning, making it difficult to add in shape. Because of this, I had to add boning to the center front seams, which made me lose my bust shape, and was difficult to sew because of the zipper.
There was a lot of hand sewing with the trim which came out beautifully, but was a time suck. In the end, I never regret hand-sewing because the result is so much more beautiful, but I do have to plan out when I’m going to fit in the time accordingly!
The Final Blue Print Strapless Dress With Contrast Piping
This dress is nothing if not a head-turner, and one of my most popular designs to date. I felt amazing and beautiful wearing it, and felt I was wearing a work of art. There are so many learnings from the making and hoarding of this dress fabric, but one of them is that if you love something, it’s worth the cost, and it’s also worth the wait. In the end, the result will be better when you truly love the ingredients.