Meet Gabi. Another very dear friend, fellow cat mama and plant lover, and the reason that a lot of my photographs look so beautiful.
I really wanted to make her something as she was already involved in the project as my photographer (and was my unofficial shoulder to cry/stress out on).
Our initial worry was - could we actually make her something to work with her style? The answer was yes, yes we could.
Thankfully we were both on the same page from the beginning - to make her a dress. The only problem was I didn't have any toiles for a dress at this point.
However, I managed to pull together 3 previous ideas to create this garment. Starting with the basic crop top toile (this was a good gauge for fit), then incorporating an old paper pattern (that previously inspired the wrap skirt) and also using a piece of inspiration with some great tie trickery for flexible fitting.
What at first seemed like the biggest challenge was actually my favourite to design and make.
This was partially because I had become much more comfortable and confident with the entire process at this point, but I also totally fell in love with garment almost instantly (a rare occurrence).
After whipping up a paper toile, we got down to colour and fabric business. Gabi loved the hemp and organic cotton fabric I use from Bysshe Partnership and wanted to use it for the entire dress. She didn't want the entire garment dyed, and this fabric is so beautiful undyed too -so it was a great choice.
When it came to colour the main aim was to get something that worked with her olive skin. She loved a lot of the dye colours but not many of them were suitable for her, apart from the woad blues.
Woad baths are unlike normal dye baths, in that you have to dip the fabric multiple times and let them develop in the air (I half understand the science of it). This also means I have an even smaller dyeing vat so I had to pre-cut all the pieces to be dyed. I then trimmed them with pinking sheers to help reduce fraying and dipped them all by hand, three times each.
Another key request from Gabi was that we quilt the top half of the dress so she could comfortably wear it without a bra. I loved this idea - and it really came in handy once we'd changed the dress pattern to be backless too!
The initial idea was to used woad dyed thread for the stitch too but we decided to match with the undyed fabric to keep it more subtle. This also meant the shape created by the dyed verses undyed pieces was kept crisp, and the quilted section just looked like a different texture.
The large triangle panels (also used in mine and Claire's skirt) proved very helpful in creating shape to help fit from waist to hip. For Gabi's dress, we had to leave these undyed due to my vat not being large enough to not cause patchy dye pieces. However, leaving them undyed does create a striking pattern and accentuates the crisp lines of the patchwork construction.
If you are interested in creating a similar garment with me, please do get in touch.