May 14, 2012

The Vienna Gala Evening Dress: The Muslin

I will be attending a congress in June, together with some colleagues (who are also my friends). The congress will take part in Vienna, and there will be also a gala evening as a part of it. So I need a dress for it.
After discussing the topic with my colleagues, it was quite clear that it had to be a long evening dress, as highly recommended by those who know the event dresscodes. Being a short person, I usually prefer knee length dresses, I just think they work better for me. But of course I don't want to be the only person wearing a short dress among all the other women in long gowns. And then I thought, when it has to be a long dress anyway, then it should be a really great one.

And the most classy, elegant and stylish long evening dress of all times is certainly:

Photo from Valeria Manferto de Fabianis: "A Matter of style - Intimate portraits of 10 women who changed fashion"
Photo from Valeria Manferto de Fabianis: "A Matter of style - Intimate portraits of 10 women who changed fashion"
The long black Givenchy evening dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". A real classic that might also work for a short person.

And I don't even have to search a lot for a pattern, nor do I have to draft the pattern myself. There was a  quite similar pattern in the Burdastyle magazine 8/2010:

It is quite similar at the back, although not totally the same, but I have to say that I like it a bit better with the bowy thing in the back.

I made some alterations to the pattern before even making the muslin: I altered the front neckline to be a bit more boat neck like, and instead of the Burda skirt I made my own, long skirt, basically from two rectangles that are gathered at the waistline. And I shortened the bodice so that the skirt sits right at the waistline instead of 2 cm below.

This is how the muslin came out (already worn with high heels):

The front neckline is gaping (it usually does, no surprise here), and the bodice is a bit too long.
Here it is after pinning out the excess fabric:

Yes, I am really that short waisted! The neckline looks better, at least at my left side. There isn't anyone to help me with fitting, so the pinned out lines are often crooked. This is also the reason why I put a zipper in all my muslins.

This is the muslin seen from the back. You can see that I left the bottom of the skirt open to make a vent in the real dress, which the original movie dress doesn't have. I just think it might be easier for walking or climbing into a car.

I also decided to bone the bodice, because I wanted to try boning since a while and because I think it might help with getting a nice and snug bodice without wrinkling, but of course I know that boning isn't essential in a dress like this. To check the result, sewed the pinned out alterations and added boning to the muslin. I also took out a bit of the fulness of the skirt in the front, and took in at the side seams to have it tapering down.

So, that's it. I am okay with this, as I think it is the closest to the original I can get, as of course Audrey Hepburn was a very slim person, and not a short and stocky one like me. But I think that it will also look different made up in a black, sturdier fabric instead of an old bedsheet! I'm off to transfer my changes to the pattern and cutting out!


  1. This is certainly going to look amazing, you've put so much thought in it!


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