Wedding Dress Wednesday: origami edition

Last week I finally found the designer behind the dress I love so much. Her name is Leanne Marshall, and she won season 5 of Project Runway (a show I’ve sadly never had a chance to watch). You can check out more of her work here. I love the way her wedding dresses have such a natural feel, almost embracing the Japanese ethos of wabi-sabi – the appreciation of imperfection. It’s a refreshing change from the structured flawlessness of so many other wedding dresses.

I was also fortunate enough to find a full-length image of the Julietta dress, which shows the hem of the skirt.

These discoveries meant I was extra inspired when my copy of Drape Drape turned up unexpectedly early on Friday. As soon as I had a chance I sequestered myself in my sewing room and started examining the pattern. If you look at the view in the header, you’ll not be surprised to hear that I was a little daunted. All those lines, and not a change in weight, colour or style to distinguish one from another!

At first I thought I’d trace the design directly onto some spare satin I had lying around, but I quickly realised that was a road to insanity. Instead I traced it onto infinitely easier-to-manage tracing paper, where I was left with a crazy, confusing piece – and this was only a quarter of the skirt!

I was still utterly perplexed, so I set to a little origami. A few folds and pins later, and I had a piece I could pin to my dressmaker’s dummy. Suddenly it all became much clearer:

That big, jagged curve down the left-hand side of the skirt pleats together to form the lovely draped shape – it’s the big pleat closest to the side (which you might be able to make out sitting behind the smaller pleats) that swings the fabric around to form the drapes across the hips.

To get the shape I want, I think I need to move the pleats closer to the centre, and change those small pleats to gathers – this should move the drapes further down the skirt, and provide a softer shape.

I also know I need to bring that centre front line closer to vertical, otherwise I’ll never be able to cut the skirt pieces out of a single piece of fabric. I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to get the lovely soft fall down the front of the skirt. I can foresee more origami in the coming weeks!

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6 Comments on “Wedding Dress Wednesday: origami edition”

  1. Kathrin says:

    Love that you’re making your own wedding dress. If I wasn’t married already and were about to tie the knot, I’d sew my own dress as well, but much simpler than what you have in mind – I just don’t have the necessary skills. I’m a big fan of draping, specifically of Madeleine Vionnet’s dresses from the 20’s. The skirt reminds me of her work. What a wonderful blog you’re creating!

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks so much Kathrin! I’m not entirely convinced I have the necessary skills either, but I figure the only way I can find out is if I go ahead and do it. I hadn’t thought of Madeleine Vionnet’s dresses as being an inspiration, but I think perhaps they were subconsciously, as I do think her work was amazing.

  3. Becky says:

    Leann was my favorite in her season of Project Runway– I was so happy that she won! Years later, I still want to copy one of the skirts she made for the show. I can see why you like her design!

    What type of fabric are you using for the skirt? I’m sure that will have a big impact on the drape!

  4. Jess, that dress is stunning – and so you! Ok, I admit it, I am hooked and now awaiting the next chapter in this amazingly fabulous and slightly crazy adventure of yours. Anna

  5. Carolyn says:

    Your dress is going to be absolutely lovely 🙂


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