Brown dress
June 1, 2020
Green velvet skirt
November 7, 2019

Resource and idea

I gave this dress the name Coast path because that is what I instantly saw by looking at this fabric. It’s an old, exceptional textile with a silky touch and exactly the right amount of stiffness. As I was gathering and wrinkling it, the blue and beige lines perfectly resembled the blue waves on the sand of the beach embellished with a little white foam. I wanted my dress to have the simplicity and beauty of the coast, I wanted it to be romantic, dreamy, and nostalgic. For me, the seashore doesn’t necessarily mean burning hot weather with intense sunshine, colorful umbrellas, swimming suits, and cocktails. Here, in Denmark, where I live, we are surrounded by the sea everywhere, but that doesn’t come with a tropical mood.

This dress represents another, more Nordic face of the beach: a lonely path which leads to the sea surrounded by large bushes, flowers and trees, and then a silent sea shore where you are only listening to the sound of the waves, where you walk on the edge of the water and it washes your feet. The skirt and the ruffles dances with the wind, bends and twists and the stripes start living their own life.

It's hard to take decisions

This was the image in my head. I started pinning the fabric on my dress-form in different shapes. I realized that the direction of the stripes can change the whole look of the dress. I tried out a great many silhouettes and it made me very sad, because I had a certain amount of this vintage fabric, so I could only create one single dress. But what about the other ideas? I drew all of them, took 100 pictures of my drapings and I started eliminating some options. I was dying to have a bias skirt, but that eats so much fabric that I would have needed to give up on sleeves. A gathered skirt instead doesn’t fall so nicely, but it’s fuller and lets me make some sleeves. So, should the lines go upwards or downwards? Or shall they be vertical? That makes it more Victorian. Oh, a sweetheart neckline is so feminine… But then how can I have sleeves? They will never stay on my shoulders. I could let the sleeves fall off but then it’s just a summer dress. I want to make it more timeless, classical, I want to start wearing it from early spring with beige boots (I don’t own them yet) and a white cardigan, tied on my waist. Or a huge cozy brown sweater maybe as I’m sitting in the library…. Way too many fantasies for one single dress, right?

The dress takes shape

After all, I started to cut it, and assemble it, making my design decisions along the way. I decided that I will go with a slightly curved V neckline because that will elongate my upper body. Then, accidentally I cut the bodice pieces inversely, so as you can see in the final result my stripes are going downwards, as the branches of a pine tree. I was struggling with the decision: should I make it right and waste some fabric or should I stick with my ‘wrong cut’? As I used cross-grained fabric for the top part it was stretching so I decided that it’s way too much work to change it.

I’m happy with the outcome because this way I had some leftover fabric and I could create the ruffle on the bottom. I put an invisible zipper on the back, and as the dress is tight I always need someone’s help to zip me up. This makes me think of women in old times who always needed someone’s help to dress up and at least an hour to put on all the corsets, petticoats, and other different layers. I often wish to go back in time and try out their life form, but this dress was kind of a wake-up call to stay in present and appreciate the simplicity and quickness of modern fashion.

The final result: