Happy Saturday morning folks! Hope you’ve got great plans for the day. The summer is winding down around here, so get out and do something fun, (right after you bookmark this blog, lol!)
Today I’ll be working an a Marilyn Monroe 7 Year Itch dress. You know the one, the subway grate scene on that hot night in the film? The pleated one? Yup, that one…..
I have made doll versions of this dress before, but this time is a little different. This time it will be for a sculpture, not a doll. My client is having a sculpture made. She’ll be 19 inches tall and will be proportional to Marilyn’s actual measurements.
I researched Marilyn’s measurements and although they changed over the years a little, and there seems to be a tiny discrepancy with regard to her actual height, I was able to find them online in a couple of different places. I also have a few books about Marilyn and the her designers. There is a lot of literature on that “silly little dress” as Travilla (the designer) called it.
His dress, he can call it whatever he wants!
As a point of interest, the dress isn’t even white, it’s bone, or cream. White didn’t really appear white so well on film. Apparently, white looked grey and dingy, so the bone coloured dress gave a more pleasing white on film, which is what they were going for. This version is white, but not bright white, just a soft neutral white. I have chosen a silk/cotton light semi sheer fabric for this as it will pleat beautifully. (I discovered that the designer had fabric specially made for this dress. He specifically wanted some man-made fiber content, which he didn’t normally use much, so that the pleats would stay.)
So, I’ve begun the work on pure math and numbers to this point because I don’t have the sculpture in hand, she may not be finished yet even. New size, so new pattern. The sculptor is crafting the figure to have Marilyn’s real proportions. So I’ve taken her actual height and the height of the sculpture and gotten a percentage which I then applied to her bust, waist and hip measurements. Because this dress has the pleated flared skirt, the hip measurement isn’t all that critical. The most important is the waist because that’s where the dress fits closely. Even the bust cups have ore leeway in terms of size because they will be gathered along the bottom edge and the tied at the back neck, so that affords some size flexibility as well.
All of this is important because I don’t yet have confirmation of the position, the stance, of the sculpture. Are her hands down? or up? Are her legs together? or apart? This will have an impact on how much of the dress can be closed at the back and how it fastens. So I will do what can be done without that knowledge and go from there.
So here is the pleated skirt section in process. I’m doing it by hand with my trusty iron. Note that I have already hemmed this. prior to pleating
I have done this pleated skirt in an arc before, but it’s tricky that way because the grainline doesn’t arc (of course) so parts of the pleating are more difficult to pleat perfectly. I’m going with a straighter pattern piece here for a better pleat. The fabric is semi sheer and I don’t want to line it, as that would interfere with the pleated look (even if I pleated the lining), so I want a fair amount of pleat overlap. The real dress is three layers everywhere, except the skirt, which is two. My version will be lined everywhere except the skirt and have an extra layer in the pleated bust to waist section.
Here it is all pleated….
The other little gotcha is that the client wants the hem to appear to be blowing up around her as if she’s on that subway grate. But we’ll get to that when the time is right. I have a couple of ideas
I’ve gone ahead and pleated a piece for the bodice between bust and waist as well.
I have also drafted and cut the bust pieces and the back bodice bits. There is a little more that I can do before the final size confirmation, so I’ll go and do those things while I’m waiting. (Gathering the bust cups and lining, prepping the waist tie…)
That is all for now. I’ll get back to work so there’s more to show next time!
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!