Design It: An Alexander McQueen Inspired Dress

Here I will go through how I designed my own version of an Alexander McQueen dress. It instantly attracted my attention as I was browsing Selfridges as it was a little unusual with the Fair Isle pattern and the flounce in the skirt ( See It: Inspiration from Alexander McQueen, Balmain and Givenchy ) .

Alexander McQueen: Fair Isle jacquard-knit silk-blend mini dress
Alexander McQueen: Fair Isle jacquard-knit silk-blend mini dress (pictures taken from http://www.net-a-porter.com )

The shape and fit:

I really liked the shape and fit of the dress but there were still a few tweaks I want to make:

  • In my design I wanted to use the scoop neckline but I will make it a little deeper.
  • I incorporated the contrasting ribbing at the cuff and the neckline as it provides a relief from the busy pattern.
  • Additionally, I would add the flounce by gathering the fabric.
  • I made it longer so I would be able to bend over without flashing my underwear.
  • I swapped the sleeve for a ¾ length bishop sleeve so there won’t be any fullness around the shoulder.
  • I was debating whether or not I should add welt pockets to the front of the dress. I was planning to finish the pocket opening with the ribbing used at the cuffs and the neckline. However, I realised that as I wanted to use a highly patterned fabric simplicity would be important. Adding pockets would make the look too busy.
Sew an alexander McQueen inspired dress.
Technical sketch of my Alexander McQueen inspired dress

The fabric:

The major challenge I faced when coming up with this design was finding the fabric. The Alexander McQueen dress was made using a jacquard Fair Isle fabric, which I knew would be impossible to find. As a result, I took to scanning the internet for a range of knit fabrics that would work. I visited http://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/ as they always have a great range of colourful printed fabrics in different patterns. I ordered a selection of cotton jersey, hacci sweater, ponte de roma, cotton lycra etc. to see what would work.

The “vintage washed ethnic diamonds” cotton jersey blend knit looked promising in the picture online, although when the swatch arrived the pattern was much fainter than what I expected. The description did say it had a washed out vintage look but in my opinion the RS of the fabric looked like it should be the WS. There was not enough colour there for it to work for my purpose.

vintage washed ethnic diamonds cotton jersey blend knit
Vintage washed ethnic diamond cotton jersey blend knit. Fabric available from http://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/

I liked the floral and paisley design of the “navy bandana diamond” cotton spandex blend. However, it was not quite right for the dress I wanted to make. I wanted a pattern that went in rows across the body. Also, I would prefer a fabric with a little more weight to it.

navy bandana diamond cotton spandex blend
Navy bandana diamond cotton spandex blend. Fabric available from http://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/

I also ordered a swatch of the “blue red ethnic diamond rows” ponte de roma. This fabric was far too busy for my taste. I liked the shapes that make up the pattern but that combined with the bright reds, oranges, and blues would be too much on me.

blue red ethnic diamond rows ponte de roma
Blue red ethnic diamond rows ponte de roma. Fabric available from http://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/

I did find two fabrics that would be perfect for my purpose and both were hacci sweaters. Hacci is lighter than what you would expect a sweater to be, it is not like a thick hoody or a cable knit jumper. They have a more loopy, open knit texture than other cotton knits and tend to be made from cotton and wool, polyester or spandex blends. Both have a nice drape which would be perfect for the flounce and bishop sleeve elements. The mint green fabric is slightly more lightweight at 220g/m2 vs the blue fabric at 270 g/m2.

Hacci sweater
Left: Grey Mint Green Navajo Stripe Hacci Sweater Knit, Right: Royal Blue Heather Grey Ethnic Stripe Hacci Sweate. Fabric available from http://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/

I finally decided upon the blue fabric as I thought the colour would suit me more than the mint green and brown. I found contrasting blue ribbing at https://www.myfabrics.co.uk/ . It is not a perfect match to the blue in the fabric but it will do.

ribbing from myfabrics.co.uk
Royal blue ribbing available from https://www.myfabrics.co.uk/

The final design:

So these are the final designs. I will be making a dress from a blue hacci sweater with bishop sleeves and a flounce. The scoop neckline and cuffs will be finished with a blue ribbing fabric.

Sew an alexander Mcqueen dress
Final design of my Alexander McQueen inspired dress.

To see how I made this dress visit: Make it: Sew an Alexander McQueen Inspired Dress