Martin Margiela S/S97 Dress Form Top Wannabe

After weeks of cajoling, the Photographer-In-Me finally reluctantly put down her cocktails for a sec to help out. So here’s the first of a few recent project posts I’ve queued up earlier…

With fitting over, the Fitting Muslin for my Fitted Top Block can now finish her Cinderella story. Let’s let her have her moment of glory first shall we?

Style Shots & Mug Shots

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The Inspiration & Design

Considering that she started life as a sloper fitting muslin (so wasn’t made up with due care), then was repeatedly manhandled as the bodice for my three fitted sleeve / gusset experiments, I’m lucky that her make-over inspiration was the deconstructed aesthetic of Maison Martin Margiela Spring-Summer 1997 collection:
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PHOTOS: found at Dusty Burrito blog…

I’ve always loved the look of old fashion dress forms, and have a thing for shabby chic potato sack aesthetic (hello burlap Louis chairs!). So this is right up my alley.

The sleeve in the left photo is meant to look like dress form arms, which you can make for your own dress form. A few tutorials I like: Pandemic Apparel blog’s free tutorial, “Make an Arm for your Dress Form” in Threads issue 90 p57-59 (available via online subscription or on DVD), Connie Crawford’s commercial pattern for dress form arm. I haven’t made one for Q (my paper tape dress form) yet. But when I do I will probably base the pattern on plastic wrapping the Duct Tape arm that MR helped me make ages ago.

As I have fitting muslin for the bodice and the sleeve already, I went for the one with the sleeve. And as it’s pre-existing pieces, the neckline & sleeve cap / shoulder area deviates from the designer original. Mine is also slightly more finished than the original, which judging from the photo seem to have raw edges for bodice armholes.

Being the indecisive type I also made my sleeves detachable so the top can be worn as a sleeveless or a sleeved top.

Now, that funky armpit ventilation design detail isn’t entirely new to me. My designer idol of yore COMME des GARÇONS incorporated armpit ventilation into a few collections in the early 90’s. In fact, at one point I owned a CdG jacket with this detail.

Very handy for a sweaty gal like me! 😉 I also vaguely recall reading about detachable sleeves in European garments of the Renaissance. So while it looks strange and avant-garde to modern eyes, it’s nothing new nor always on the edge.

Now the best bit about me-made designer wannabes…I can customize it to my own taste, do a mash up of details I like from different designers & inspiration sources, add in those silly little insider jokes & Easter Eggs that keeps me chuckling to myself through the days I wear my me-mades! 🙂

  • So the back, I added a decorative hanging tab on the outside in homage to tongue-in-cheek Jean-Paul Gaultier. I had a JPG skirt once with this detail and I’ve been adding it to my me-mades here & there.
  • And instead of pretending to be “semi-couture” I paid homage to sewing with my “Woof Form” spoof on Wolf Forms, credit Q, my current dress form on which this pattern is based with “Model 2014Q”, and wore my age “43” proudly.
  • Finally, for an emphatic “I’m definitely a Dress Form” look, I machine stitched all the fitting guidelines with contrasting threads so they’re visible on the outside.

The Pattern

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Block Used:

Fitted Top / Dress Block + Fitted Sleeve Block (minus cut-on gusset)
Both are based on instruction in Kenneth King’s CD books (Moulage, Basic Sleeve) with body variation alteration tweaks.

Original Top Sloper MuslinAs I was turning the Fitted Top Block muslin (pictured here) into this top, I decided to tweak the waist ease placement to give me a tinsy bit more waist definition. Originally the waist ease was added at the side seam per instruction. But because I’m fairly straight up & down at the sides, following my natural shape at the side would give me no visible waist. So I moved the waist ease to the front princess waist darts while keeping the bust & hip ease at the side seams. This gives me a tiny bit more nipped in look at the side.

So to summarize, here’s the ease I added to my skin-tight 0″-ease Moulage to get my Fitted Top Block…

0″ ease moulage + horizontal ease
(total) + vertical ease
Neck-CF down 1/2″
Neck-CB down 1/8″
Neck-side out 1/4″
Shoulder out 1/4″ up 1/8″
Cross-front out 0″ (0″)
Cross-back out 3/8″ (3/4″)
Armpit out 1/2″ (2″) down 3/8″
Bust out 1/2″ (2″)
Under-bust out 1/4″ + F waist dart width reduced 1/4″ (1-1/2″)
Waist out 0″ + F waist dart width reduced 3/8″ (3/4″)
High Hip out 1/4″ (1″)
Hip out 1/2″ (2″)

Design Changes Made

  • 2-sleeve-1Added the shoulder pad shaped pieces for attaching the removable sleeves. And I guess I was trying to (unsuccessfully) approximate the original shoulder line by adding wadding & pad stitching to these shoulder pieces.
  • Left short wrist slits in the sleeve seams so I can get my relatively large hand through the slim sleeve’s wrist opening.
  • Made it hip length…because that’s what I’ve already cut out for the muslin fitting.
  • Cut CF with seam allowances (but no overlap) for a butted CF opening with hook & eye closure.
  • Left the horizontal CF bust level dart unsewn.
  • Shrink 1/4″ ease in the back armholes at shoulder blade level to reduce sleeveless armhole gaping while accommodating the blade curvature. This is something I picked up from two of my tailoring books: Classic Tailoring Techniques: Men’s Wear & Vintage Couture Tailoring.

What I should have also done is to add a bit more bust & waist ease to account for the extra layers of fabric involved! The fitting muslin wrinkle easily. So to get the “I’m a Dress Form” look I interface all pieces with fusible woven interfacing. This make the inside ugly, so lining was called for as well.

These extra layers & their respective seam allowance layers at the 8 vertical seams ate up a big chunk of those vainly spartan breathing / wearing ease I added. If you reckon each interface seam fold lose 1/32 – 1/16″, then that’s a whopping 1/2 – 1″ less ease then I bargained for. Without the extra layers the Fitted Top Block is slouch happy. With the layers and it’s only fit for the straitlaced I-Can-Hold-My-Breath days. Oops. Live & learn.

The lining is edge to edge because…well, the shell seam allowances were a bit tatty from the manhandling to serve as hem allowances. So I picked a contrasting lining for that erm, “intentional” two sided look. This way, the top can be worn as a fitted jacket over camisoles hooked only at the waist & the reverse A side peeking out from time to time.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Construction order wasn’t efficient because of the gusset experiment detour. So I had to hand fell-stitch the lining in place at the armhole & CF hook & eye tape.
  • 2-sleeve-2How to attach the removable sleeves was a conundrum. I considered solid skirt / trouser hooks, velcro, before deciding on the buttons & elastic option. I think this might be best for an area that will move a bit as I raise my arm sideways & forward. The button at the peak of the shoulder piece / shoulder seam near the neckline is on sewn the underside of the sleeve shoulder piece, with a slit left in the shoulder seam as button hole. Two additional buttons are sewn just inside the bodice armhole at the cross-front & cross-back level, with corresponding elastic buttonhole  loops sewn into the sleeves. I originally had these two buttons on the sleeve & the elastics on the bodice, but found the elastic peeking out after a day’s wear & stretch. Reversing this allows the attachment mechanism to remain hidden sleeveless or sleeved.
  • And the other Oops along the way…
    • That funky alternate side shading…As this was originally a fitting muslin, I didn’t pay attention to which side of the fabric I used. It seems like the fabric, which was an used bed skirt, have faded on one side from exposure to sunlight over the years, so not reversible anymore. Thankfully my random cutting followed a pattern of alternating side (LF & RB, RF & LB). So I can just about pretend the funky shading was erm, “intentional” & part of the “deconstructed look”!
    • Fusing bubbles…It could be my poor fusing technique. Or it could be the fact that the interfacing has been laying around for over 20 years and the adhesive has disintegrated. Again, thank to the “deconstructed” design I can try to pass this off as “erm, it’s intentional”! :-p

The Verdict

Considering this fitting muslin would have gone to fabric recycling purgatory, I’m  pleased as Punch with the result.

It’s a top to be worn with attitude (aka confidence). No shrinking violet here. Not with all the Oops that one has to spin as “all part of the Deconstructed Look”!

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0 comments on “Martin Margiela S/S97 Dress Form Top Wannabe

  1. Absolutely love it and I think it demonstrates the huge steps you are taking… green with envy. The fit looks GREAT, and really, breathing is over rated! Guess II need to spend less time reading inspiring blogs like yours and more time actually sewing.

    • Oh yes, pass the smelling salt! But did I also mention no gourmet feast in this? Not unless one wants a popped hook! 😉 And yes, get thee to your sewing table! But a spot of vicarious living through other people’s sewing projects from time to time ain’t verbotten. After all, everyone does it!

  2. Sanna T says:

    Stunning! So incredibly cool and inspiring! And the fit is perfect of course 🙂 I guess I’d better get into the “block-creating-perfect-fitting-mood” right away before my skin turns permanently green of envy! Keep at it 😀

    • Thank you! It only took me years to get here. But if you can find a helper for a day to saran wrap you, you might get to your perfect fit a lot quicker!

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