Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, Drafting Patterns, Draping, Dress Forms, Uncategorized

A Designer Skirt and Family Wedding

So much had happened since my last post; all of it good.  My son and daughter-in-law welcomed baby Milena. Her arrival coincided with my construction and installation of draperies in their new home. Needless to say, it was a very, very busy time.


After helping the new family get settled, it was time to head home and prepare for my dear sister-in law’s wedding, held in our backyard. When you’re the resident family dressmaker, weddings mean loads of sewing; all of it fun and leading up to a happy celebration.

The rehearsal dinner was an informal gathering and I chose to replicate a designer skirt I had seen.  This Oscar de la Renta skirt, from his “paint splatter” collection was white denim with applied sequins and priced at a mere $1900.

Inspiration Skirt

I had a length of white denim with a bit of lycra in the stash.  The skirt front was drafted by using a jeans pattern, lapping the right over left front, and tapering to a mid-calf length straight skirt. The back was slightly more complicated. My jeans pattern back wouldn’t cooperate and produce a well fitting rear.  Draping on my custom dress form solved the problem.

Skirt Drape 1 Skirt Drape 2

I placed style lines for the back yoke, waistband and side seam.  The waistband is slightly lowered at center front. I used flat felled seams and the only problem was my machine didn’t like the bulk of multiple fabric layers and the thicker thread I was using for topstitching.  I found that hammering (use a clean regular carpenters hammer) the seams, especially at points where seams intersected, made a huge difference. Hammering the fabric prior to sewing seems to soften and compress the fibers. A heavy duty jeans needle also helped. The long, sharp point pierced the denim much easier preventing skipped stitches and thread nests.

TopstitchingSequin Closeup

Now for the fun part. I gathered sequins, beads and started drawing. An air erasable marker lets you preview the placement and size of the “paint blobs.”
The large yellow sequins had holes in the center but I decided they would be better if the holes were closer to one edge. Joanns Fabric carries this punch in the leatherworking department. It’s pricey at about $40 (great time to use the discount coupon), but makes the tiniest holes and was perfect for the task.

Hole Punch

Completed and on to the more wedding sewing.

Close-up Finished skirt

Next post (and I promise it will be soon) will detail the design and construction of the bride’s dress, little girls’ dresses, mother-in-law’s dress and (as if I didn’t have enough going on) a Chanel style tunic constructed from a wonderful fabric from Mendel Goldberg. Here’s a few preview shots:

Casey Mia

Sage Chanel Dress Preview

I also want to mention that my friend, Kate Davies, has published a book, Making Life More Beautiful, about sewing, crafting, knitting and life. I met Kate while on a trip to London and immensely enjoyed the time with her. She is doing a sew-along emulating the style of Frida Kahlo, so hop over to her site and check it out.

Kate book

Also, I’ve written another article for Threads Magazine detailing the draft and construction of a designer skirt.  The skirt was based an Yves St. Laurent style straight skirt and I’ve explained many of the details that take an ordinary style into the designer realm.  There is also a web extra explaining a few adaptations which are helpful when using a heavier fabric, such as a designer boucle.

Threads Cover

Thanks for reading!!!

25 thoughts on “A Designer Skirt and Family Wedding”

  1. Great skirt Mary! I remember ODLR’s paint splatter collection and your skirt is a fab knockoff! I look forward to reading your Threads article… now….. did you say your next post will feature the bride’s dress, little girls’ dresses, mother-in-law’s dress and a Chanel style tunic ???????

    1. Thank you Sarah. Isn’t knocking off designer looks for a fraction of the price fun? Upcoming posts will be filled with dresses for the entire family.

  2. First of all, I loved your article in Threads! And second, I can’t wait to see the rest of your sewing for the family wedding. Your Oscar de la Renta-inspired skirt is so chic, so clever and certain to be worn frequently! Another granddaughter is the icing on the cake! Such a lucky little girl with you for a grandmother!

    1. Thanks Karen. The girls are such fun to sew for. Our family went through 53 years of only boys and now we’re getting out girls. Glad you enjoyed the article in Threads.

  3. Fabulous posting as always. I love all the details you give and I will hop over to Threads to take a look at your article. So much family excitement at the moment. Have a fantastic time and enjoy after all your hard work!

  4. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes are a few of my favorite
    Things 🎵🎶 Beautiful little baby. Congrats!

  5. Fabulous skirt! I’m looking forward to reading your article in Threads and very excited to read the details of that gorgeous Chanel style tunic. Congratulations on the new baby granddaughter!

  6. Mary, thanks again for another wonderful blog post packed full of couture sewing inspiration! Your article in Threads was fabulous. So looking forward to your next post about wedding sewing; I am sure it will not disappoint! Sharon

    1. Thanks Sharon. Glad you enjoyed the article in Threads magazine and I’m looking forward to sharing the construction details of the other dresses.

  7. Thanks for mentioning my book dear Mary! And how I love this skirt. I think colour on white is such a stunning look and it’s classic but fun. Beautiful baby too. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  8. Your skirt article was wonderful and now you come up with a designer copy denim skirt but better than the original. I never knew JoAnn’s had such a practical punch! Guess the only thing I would assume is that you can’t wear the skirt around anyone wearing tulle for catching on anything delicate. Love the topstitching and bashing with a NEW hammer! You never cease to amaze me!

    1. Thank you Mrs Mole. I’ve actually worn the skirt several times since the wedding, most recently to my grand-daughter’s first BD party, and surprised the sequins didn’t catch on anything. I love your dressmaking tales also.

  9. Thank you for the Threads article; I use Susan Khalje’s skirt pattern for all my skirts and, apart from the direction of the darts, it embraces all the points you mention. I usually add vertical ease to the CB of the lining, but was wondering if the couture skirt you were working from had a zipper guard.. I missed the web extra (and now my subscription has expired!)

    1. Thanks for asking. The skirt I worked from didn’t have a zipper guard but I often add them. Quite a few designer garments I’ve seen use petersham ribbon as a zipper guard. I’m actually working on the next post about couture details and will be sure to include zipper guards.

  10. It’s been nearly 2 years since your Threads article on skirts. I still go back to it again and again for all the great little tips. It makes tweaking the fit and look so easy. The finish, of course, falls on me!

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know. Glad the article is helpful. Please let the editors at Threads know. I’m frequently contacted to write for Threads and it’s nice to know which topics interest the readers.

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