I’m SO excited to feature a dress today that was commissioned by one of my nearest and dearest friends: Tina. When Tina came to me wanting a dress I was thrilled. Not only do I enjoy collaborating with Tina on a variety of projects (we’ve had some adventures doing everything from dumpster diving to fixing car batteries in the rain, to many cooking adventures) , but I also love creating clothing for people that I know and spend a lot of time with. It’s a magical experience to see what they want come together and to reflect on them while creating.
Tina is genderqueer and loves dresses, and I love to make dresses and deconstruct gender! It was only a matter of time that we entered into collaboration together. Tina enjoys feminine clothes, but I’ve never seen Tina restrict their personal style in any way, and this is one of my favorite things about how they get dressed. That said, they do have some favorites. We had a few meetings before I got to work and we explored garments in Tina’s closet that they liked. Winning items mostly included soft knit dresses in solid colors with some drape, bell sleeves, loose and comfortable, but still chic and sexy. I really wanted to make a dress that reflected all of these concepts.
I was heavily influenced by the My Dress Pattern by Debbie Brooks and use the pattern to create the darts in the bodice of the dress. From there, however, I went rogue. Because a lot of dress patterns are constructed with a particular body type in mind (protruding bust, wide hips, round tush, hourglass torso) I didn’t want to limit myself to a pattern that wasn’t in right for Tina’s body type. The My Dress Pattern is great because the bodice doesn’t force the wearer to have a protruding bust because of how the darts are placed. I’m sure Debbie Brooks didn’t think about this when she designed the pattern, but she accomplished something pretty impressive. Unfortunately, I also decided part way through cutting the pieces of this pattern out that I didn’t actually like it the pattern itself. To me personally, it was trying to accomplish too much: you can sew it with knits, you can sew it with wovens…but somehow I just wasn’t jiving with it. Maybe it was the zipper. I can understand adding a zipper to a dress made of ponte, but lightweight polyester rayon….uh no. So I abandoned the pattern and kept going. In our first fitting I took a considerable amount of material away from the sides, and brought shoulders up by about 1.5 inches to bring the neckline up and cover Tina’s chest. I also drafted a skirt that I knew Tina would like: simple, nearly A-line, but still sleek. I also drafted my own sleeves as I knew Tina would want something that flows.
One of the best parts about this project was that Tina gave me complete creative control after we agreed on a style that would suit them. I didn’t veer too far away from our original vision, but I liked that Tina wasn’t concerned with some of the stylistic details beyond like or dislike, as it allowed me to really think about them and what they were looking for and take as many routes as I wanted to get there. Tina trusted me to create a dress that they liked, and I trusted Tina to be excited about my creative whims.
I really like how this dress turned out and that Tina loves it as well. It fits great, is the perfect length, and I hope it’s something that they’ll be able to wear for many years to come. I had to include the picture below of Tina being a tiger. It was too adorable not to.