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Inspiration

Runway Sewn Your Way: Marcy Harriell’s Technicolor Minidress and Jacket

Garment construction detours led to surprising results
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There was a lot of big talk on my part for this Runway Sewn Your Way Challenge, lofty goals of stepping outside my comfort zone, and pushing myself to plan and execute a project. That all went merrily by the wayside when it came time to sew.

Bodice

It started well enough: I decided to go with my favorite strapless bodice, a self-drafted pattern I frequently tweak at the neckline. The intention was to join it to balloon pants or to a maxi-length, sequined mesh pencil skirt. But with the bodice underlined (learn how I did this) and patiently awaiting its lower half, I looked at my work and was stymied. Right out of the gate, I couldn’t see going forward with any of my sketched visions of this runway reinterpretation. It just all seemed like too much fabric.

I was frozen in my tracks for a solid hour. The challenge was to follow a path, but I was out of gas.

Then my ever-observant (and ever-determined-to-keep-me-sane) husband, Rob, spied me frowning at my dress form. “You don’t sew in a straight line,” he said. Truth. I barrel forward, zigzag, backtrack, and jump all over the place. It’s sort of a “we’ll fix it in post” vibe.

“You need to sew how you sew,” he advised. Wise man, that Rob.

I threw away my map and got back on the road.

Skirt

The bodice’s curved neckline needed a reflection at the hemline. I underlined a miniskirt with a hem that mirrored the shape and drape of the bodice.

A curved hemline on technicolor minidress reflects the curved neckline

Admittedly, I got overexcited about attaching that lower half, and did it before realizing I needed more support in the bodice.

Left turn at Albuquerque.

Out came the neon coral thread and a zigzag stitch. I attached Rigilene boning through the fashion fabric, and used the glowing thread as a design element, a.k.a. “fixing it in post”.

Zigzag stitching holds boning in place on bodice of technicolor minidress

Trim and zipper

That gave me the idea of using the trim to make a blueprint of sorts following the boning from the outside. I began covering sections of zigzagged thread by topstitching the trim along either side of each boned seam. When I ran out of trim, I decided those remaining neon stitches added a nice design element. Maybe highlighting all of those lines took it too far into Circus Land.

Side view of upper bodice on technicolor minidress

 

Front bodice on technicolor minidress

I take things like that as a sign from the sewing gods—much like having the correct zipper in my stash to finish a project. If you’re me, and you have a deep plum zipper with gold metal teeth, you have the correct zipper in your stash. It was even the perfect size for this dress. No pulling of zipper teeth was needed. I went for a centered, exposed zip since the denim underlining made this a substantial little dress.

An exposed, gold teeth zipper is attached to the technicolor minidress with zigzag stitches

Exposed zipper partially open on the technicolor minidress

Jacket

Teetering over to the mirror in my mini, I did a little dance. It was a happy dress, but it needed something to offset all that leg. I draped the sequin mesh originally intended for a maxi pencil skirt over my shoulders and boom.

Close-up of sequined and fringed fabric

Course correction to Jacket Town.

I use the descriptor “jacket” lightly. It’s really a rectangle positioned and whipstitched together at a few strategic points.

Concealed whipstitching joins a pink sequined section of the mesh fabric, creating one of the two armholes for my pink and red fringed jacket/shrug.

 

The pattern dictated where and how the rectangle would hang, and because the mesh doesn’t fray, I could cut away to reveal a fun hemline of sequin and fringe.

 

The back of a red and pink sequined and fringed jacket on a dress form

Technicolor minidress mood board

When my ensemble was done, it hit me: In going off the planned route, I had derived inspiration from my Romance was Born mood board without realizing it.

Marcy Harriell's mood board featuring Romance Was Born designs
Photos: from the Romance Was Born collection via the Vogue Runway app.

In the end, I had been inspired by my designer choice. Now I have two pieces in my closet that would not exist without this challenge. The technicolor minidress and jacket are a reminder that even when you live off the beaten path, it’s good to go off your own beaten path.

Finished strapless technicolor minidress and jacket on a dress form

You can find out more about the Runway Sewn Your Way Challenge here.


Photos: Mike Yamin, except where noted.

 

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