Design it: Sew a Balmain Inspired Dress

In this post I am going to explain the process I went through when designing my version of a Balmain dress that I spotted on a trip to Selfridges, see See It: Inspiration from Alexander McQueen, Balmain and Givenchy. Although I liked the dress there were a few changes I wanted to make so it suited my style.

Balmain - Ribbed stretch-knit mini dress
Balmain: ribbed stretch-knit mini dress

The first adaptation was the neckline. I personally am not a fan of a high neck as I don’t think it is flattering for my body shape. Therefore, I am going to change it to a scoop neck. I also want to add ¾ length sleeves to keep off the chill in the miserable English weather. Additionally, I am going to swap the asymmetry with symmetry by having button plackets on both shoulders and running down both sides of the body.

Sew a Balmain dress - technical sketches
Technical drawing for my Balmain inspired dress.


The Fabric

The next thing I had to do was chose my fabric. I wanted to use a light-mid weight fabric, as ideally I would like to be able to wear it in both the summer and winter by changing the styling. Furthermore, I wanted to find a ribbed knit fabric as it provides texture and a degree of interest to what could otherwise be a plain dress. Here are a selection of the fabrics that I ordered samples for:

Sew a Balmain dress - Fabric
1) Girl Charlee peanut wide wale ribbbing ( Girl Charlee ), 2) Neotrims soft brick ribbing ( Neotrims ), 3) Neotrims sage green ribbing ( Neotrims )

Firstly, I decided against the use of the peanut brown fabric by Girl Charlee as I didn’t think the colour suited my pale skin tone. Additionally, I wanted to use a knit with a more pronounced rib. I quite liked the colour of the soft brick fabric by Neotrims, however, I didn’t think it was a colour that would suit me as it was rather bright. As a  result, I opted for the sage green fabric with the zig zag patterned rib from Neotrims. This was because the colour is quite versatile as it is not strictly associated with summer or winter. Moreover, I believe it creates a military look which suits the design.  The fabric costs £7.85/m and is made from 100% acrylic. This is the first time I have sewn with acrylic so it will present me with some new challenges.

The Buttons

The final thing I had to source were the buttons. Due to the colour of the fabric I knew I wanted some which had an antique brass look . However, I didn’t realise how many shapes, sizes and varieties were available. I finally opted for one with a military theme from The Button Company.

Sew Balmain Dress - buttons
Military shank antique brass button ( Button Company )

The Final Design

Here is my final design! As you can see there are similarities in style between my dress and that by Balmain, however, they are not identical. I have put my own spin on it.

In the next post I will go through how I took the idea for a Balmain inspired dress from design to reality. It was the first time I drafted my own pattern to make clothing so I learnt a lot!!!

Sew a Balmain inspired dress
Hand sketch of my Balmain inspired dress

To see how I made this dress visit : Make it: Sew a Balmain Inspired Knit Dress