Homage to Charles James

Homage to Charles James

 Once again that fabulous designer from the 1950’s, Charles James, is the subject of the #PatternPuzzle.  I believe the dresses photographed below are of the same design and at first the differences were a little confusing.  In the end I decided they were in fact, two different versions of the same design as the proportions in the garments vary a great deal.  Perhaps the same design made for two different clients.  My sketch and pattern are a reasonable facsimile of this design.

The puzzle below, posted on our Facebook Page on Saturday, is of the very full circle skirt and the front and back bodice.
We were really excited to see our new fans join in on the conversation on Saturday morning.  Huge thanks to everyone that turned up to solve the puzzle.  🙂
The colour coding in the image below helps explain the make-up of the dress and where we need to place the side seam (between the blue and green sections of the skirt) to split the skirt and allow for a side seam zip in the dress.
Using the fitted dress block, all the details are set out in the pattern plan below for the bodice and underskirt of the dress.
  1. Lift and extend the shoulder line for the cap sleeve – add rounded shape.
  2. Remove 1cm at the underarm for a sleeveless style.
  3. Mark in the new necklines (front & back) and the gape darting required.
  4. Mark in the dotted lines to show where the gathers will be distributed from the darting.
  5. Next, mark in your shaped waistlines and taper the side seams of the underskirt to the hemline.
  6. If a walking split is required in the pencil skirt I suggest placing it in the left side seam as that would be hidden from view by the longer part of the circle skirt.

For the bodice of the dress, all the darts (shoulder, bust, and waist) are folded out where possible and the fullness transferred into the shoulder line for the gathers.  The front neckline has a collar-like extension for the turn-back featured in the sketch.

The underskirt of the dress is a long pencil skirt taken from the lower half of the block including tapered side seams and the original dart from the dress block.
Below I have drafted a full circle skirt using the waistline of the dress block, then adding the waistline shapes afterwards.  The changing layers of the skirt have been marked with the front sections in red and the back sections in green.
Trace the full extent of the skirt and you will find you have one and a half full circles in total.  To be able to cut this skirt out you will need to split the shape and add a seam to the right side seam of the skirt.  This will allow you to place a zip in the right side seam of the dress.
All the main pattern pieces for the dress are laid out below.  For finishing this style, include neckline and armhole facings and full lining for the bodice and underskirt.  Lining of the circular overskirt is optional and will depend on the fabric you use for this style.  Looking at the original inspiration I believe a taffeta (silk or polyester) is possibly the best choice to achieve the crisp shape in the overskirt.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below.
Enjoy 🙂
Anita McAdam
  • Elizabeth Koomson
    Posted at 20:07h, 22 January Reply

    How can I join the Facebook page

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