Ginger Made: The “Ladies Who Lunch… and Also Party” Two-Piece Dress!

Hi, guys! Long time no see! In the month since I’ve last posted, I’ve been busy as a bee working on a special project!  Over at the Mood Sewing Network this month, we were challenged to make a look inspired by a SS 2014 runway collection, and today I can finally show you mine!  Please pardon the photos- it was 21 degrees Fahrenheit and super windy, so I was freezing!

I’m not someone who really follows runway fashion, and, prior to this challenge, I had never even heard of the designers I’m drawing inspiration from.  But as I looked at many, many, MANY photos of runway shows, I kept coming back to Sea‘s spring RTW collection (seriously, check it out- there are some really cute looks here!).  The collection was split between looks that were tough, dark, and semi-androgynous and looks that were romantic and feminine. I especially liked the looks where the designers mixed up prim, proper textiles and silhouettes with modern details like cut-outs and exposed zippers.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I decided to make a traditional cocktail dress and help it to reverse age by turning it into a two-piece.  I wanted to use a fabric that felt classic and maybe even a little old-fashioned, so I selected black and pink cotton-poly tweed from Mood Fabrics NYC. It has a very loose weave, and looks like a something you might use for a French jacket or something similar.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I wanted to start with a sweet ’60’s vibe, so I used the skirt portion of my favorite vintage McCall’s 5995 pattern (here it is as a dress, and as a pencil skirt).  I changed the kick pleat to a slit and drafted a waistband with a finished width of 2″ and a 2″ overlap.  I wanted the silhouette to be neat and clean, but not too tight, so I was careful to fit the skirt but not go overboard.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

I liked the cut-outs in the inspiration photos, but decided to take the idea a little further and turn the dress into skin-baring separates.  My original plan was to make the top from the Named Patterns Vanamo dress, but after a failed muslin, I abandoned it and decided to draft my own.  I stole the neckline from the Deer & Doe Belladone pattern, and fudged my way through the rest of the patternmaking until I had something workable.  The top closes with a separating zipper that’s covered by an overlap.  The neckline and armholes are finished with an all-in-one facing, which I didn’t enjoy sewing one bit- I didn’t think through my construction and hand-stitching rapidly-fraying tweed wasn’t one of my happiest sewing moments! I finally enlisted Man Friend’s steady hands and cool head, and he helped me forge through when I was down to my last nerve! The waist is also faced, which helped to reduce bulk, too.  I’m not kidding when I say that thinking out how the zipper and facings needed to be installed kept me up at night! I literally laid in bed, unable to sleep, sorting out the construction order and plan of attack on more than one night! I didn’t come up with a perfect plan as I still had to do tons of seam-ripping and re-sewing, but everything came together eventually.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

…Did I mention the fabric has a very loose weave?  This makes it drapey and soft, but it was too drapey for my purposes, so I underlined every piece with black cotton shirting, basting the two layers together in the seam allowances and along the dart legs and centers. This made it much easier to handle. Unfortunately, it frayed like the dickens, so I also fused 1/2″ strips of interfacing to the seam allowances to help the fabric stay together.  This was a SLOW project!  By the time I’d underlined the fabric, things got pretty bulky, so I left off the planned linings altogether.  Instead I finished the seam allowances by zigzagging them and then stitching on rayon seam binding and wide ribbon inherited from my mom’s stash.

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Look how perfectly the dress matches my purple skin!

I wanted to be really careful with proportions and fit for this outfit since I knew I would feel really uncomfortable or worse, trashy, if there was too much skin on show. But I wanted to make sure that the top was cropped enough to top to give a youthful edge to the look, like belonged on Jackie O’s younger, hipper sister.  I finished the skirt first so I could make sure the top was the right length.  I’m really happy with the final proportions.  I feel bold and sassy in this outfit, but still remarkably put together.  One thing that worries me, though, is that I’m not 100% certain where I can wear it!  Any ideas?

Ginger Makes two-piece cocktail dress

Although it was a challenge to decide on a runway-inspired style and sew it up, it was fun to work in such a different way and to wear something that’s a bit of a departure from my usual style.  But what about you guys?  Do you draw inspiration from runway looks?  Are there any spring trends that you’re excited to try out?

I wanted to do a supermodel pose, but I’m not sure my expression is vacant enough.

172 responses

  1. Wow!!! This is one spectacular outfit. I like it better than most of the crop-top-pencil-skirt designer outfits I’ve been seeing all the celebrities in. You look stunning! You nailed this one!

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  2. Oh dear, you put in so much time and effort with this outift—I hope you visit the Met or go to some other fabulous art gallery with champagne in hand! It looks fabulous, sophisticated, and Chanel-esque with the tweed. Love it, perfect proportions on you. Absolutely my favorite “Ging” make. WELL DONE!

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  3. Oooh, I’m not normally a fan of the crop top, but this looks totally awesome! It looks like you should take it to a swanky cocktail bar. Or a cool party… aren’t they meant to happen in NYC all the time? 😉

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    • Thanks so much, Thea! Us New Yorkers are much more square than we let on- I suspect I’m not the only one who spends a good chunk of the weekend in sweatpants! 🙂 But I need to get a good party on the docket, I think, if only so I have a chance to wear this out and about! 🙂

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  4. Love it – and wow! A lot of work!
    If you are worried about where to wear it – wear them as individual items. Toughen up the skirt with boots? Layer to top with a jacket. Actually a cute look for a cold day would be a coat left open but cinched in at the waist with a belt – which would cover your middle if you are conscious about it

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  5. TUSH!! You look soooo smokin’ hot, my friend!!! I am totally copying you!! Then we can wear our outfits, together, at some swank bar that Marcy or Jennifer will refer us to (read=get us trashed at)!!

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    • Yes! Do it! Actually, I’m pretty sure you’re the first person I saw wearing the cropped-top-high-waisted-skirt combo! I never thought I could pull it off until I saw how cool you looked!

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  6. This looks so chic, it’s amazing! I love the high waisted pencil skirt with a cropped t shirt look – it’s smart but a bit more edgy and modern.

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  7. Classic with a twist! What a fabulous look & so beautifully fitted & constructed! I think you could wear this most places as you haven’t overdone the exposed skin…just a hint. Perfect!

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  8. SO COOL! I think you got the proportions just right. I hope you get a chance to wear it somewhere fun – cocktail party? art gallery opening? These aren’t things I attend but I imagine other people must!

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  9. Yeaha! This is cool. I’m so glad you’ve broken the ice and now we can all bring out our print on print clothes. You totally rock this look, and that skirt is a great fit without like you said, being too tight.

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  10. Wow! I’d never heard of Sea either (and they have some BEAUTIFUL clothes!), but your ensemble seems very true to their aesthetic! So well fitted that I am very very envious of your skills! You look awesome!

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    • Aren’t they lovely designs? I really, really liked this collection! I cheated a little and used a pattern I’d already fitted to save some time… I should do that more often instead of battling with fit issues every time I sew!

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  11. Pretty damn cool, Sonja! As to where to wear it? Well, out for cocktails, for sure. Grab some pals and head out to swanky NYC bar for some martinis. Or, you could wear it to Paris. This outfit would look really good in Paris!

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  12. It’s SO cute, but you must be FREEZING! I think you could wear that outfit anywhere…you live in NYC after all which seems like such a glamorous place to me (thanks to SATC I’m thinking).

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    • Thank you so much, Melanie! It’s less SATC around here and more “Taxi Driver”! OK, that’s not true at all… it’s more Netflix-on-the-couch-wearing-sweatpants than either of those scenarios!

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  13. I adore this! So sleek, high fashion, chic and fun! One of my favorite makes to date! I have wanted to make something like this for quite a while. Now (in the nicest possible way) I have major sewing envy, so I will have to get on it.
    I love how you put your own spin on the look by adding the trainers too!

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  14. Major points to Man Friend for helping you through on this one. I love that it’s such a funky pairing, but each item will work fantastically on it’s own. It looks like such a perfect outfit for a wrap party or some such where you want to look fabulous but still classy.

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  15. Such a great outfit! It really does look like a Jackie o’s younger sister kinda vibe. I say it was worth the epic time suck of figuring it all out. I’ve been trying to watch/pay attention to/stop pausing to look at Instagram this free video on craftsy that shoes how to insert zippers in various ways. One is the method for a lined garment, which boggles my mind when I try to see the spatial plane for it on my own. Lol

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    • It’s ridiculously confusing trying to sort out zippers and linings! I got hung up on this one trying to figure out what order to put it together since I had a separating zipper that I wanted to cover with an overlap, and I was dealing with neckline and waist facings. Ay caramba! Too much thinking!

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  16. That is fantastic! It totally grabs a 60s vibe with a little bit of a modern edge, but not too much. I could totally see it working with for a cocktail party or nice gallery opening or anything like that! It’s awesome and the fit is spot on. And it sounds like a hell of a construction, but well worth all that effort! It hurt my brain just reading about it. lol

    And props on braving the cold, I’ve done that a few times recently and it’s sooo not fun. (I love when you can see the progression of your freezing extremities when you look at all the photos that were taken, too. :P)

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  17. Babes! I love it! You are totes Jackie’s younger and hipper sister. She’d be totally watching out for you as an an up and coming. I think you should wear it for cocktails. Also kudos to you for not throwing in the towel with the fraying fabric 🙂

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  18. Wowzers – look at you! The whole outfit looks fabulous – a little Carrie Bradshaw even? Though you had a few construction issues, the finished garments look amazing and the fit looks spot on too!

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  19. Very, very cool. Something about this whole outfit really looks YOU. Dyeing over those sneakers, too. But 21°? Seriously? Spring needs to arrive in NY, already.

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  20. I wouldn’t have imagined you is this kindo of outfit, but damn, you look soooo good ! The dress looks like a million bucks !
    I like that it looks classy but with a bit of a edge with the bare waist.
    I think it’s awesome really…

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  23. Really love this!!! And bravo on the self drafting, you clever girl!! I’m planning a Vanamo in the near future so it was super helpful to read this, particularly your note about thinking ahead on the relationship between skirt waist height and top length. It seems so obvious, but it’s one of those things I totally wouldn’t have thought of until it was too late! You may well have helped save a very special piece of fabric from a terrible fate! 🙂

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    • I’m so glad that was helpful, yay! The Vanamo is way cute- I’m excited to see yours! I tend to puff up in my lower abdomen and that’s the first place I gain weight, so I knew I wanted to have that covered up by my skirt or I’d feel too self-conscious! You will look so fab- I’m really glad you’re making the pattern!

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