Progress Update: The Cocktail Dress Project

Posted by Suzanne Gutierrez on

This week was bonkers! As you may know, we've been working on a secret project that brought our booth into the dining room. We've finished that project, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you, but it's not quite ready. We also gave away a Trinity Necklace to celebrate our 600th Instagram post. With so many things going on, I didn't spend as much time working on the dress as I would have liked.

This week I managed to add about 1,300 more rings to the bodice, focusing on shaping the sleeve on the right side and completing the bodice's sides. I also did some work on the neckline and back of the dress. The entire piece is taking shape, and I'm pleased with the progress to this point.

Unfinished violet colored chainmaille top on white dress form

As the bodice wraps up, it's time to think about color transitions. I've been studying the photo of the Dior dress that I'm referencing for the project. The color transitions are entirely smooth, avoiding harsh lines with no color blocking. From the beginning of this project, I was hoping to mimic those color transitions. Unfortunately, metal jump rings do not behave the same as fabric and sequins. I was getting frustrated with my attempts because the swatches weren't coming out as expected, then I had an idea, graph paper!

Using one of the chainmaille community websites, I was able to find graph paper in the weave pattern I'm using for the project. It took a few tries, but I think I've worked out a useable transition. I'll make a swatch to be sure it will work out the way I've envisioned, but I feel like this has been a good solution.

Chainmaille graph paper. Some of the rings are filled in with gray and violet ink.

I'm planning to finish the bodice this week and move on to the skirt. The skirt will be both the most straightforward and most tedious part of the project as it's just round after round of rings with no shaping. If I were making this dress for a client, I would include a kick-pleat (opening) in the skirt's back to allow the client to walk. I'm waffling on whether to have the kick-pleat here, though. It's a great design detail but unnecessary on a mannequin; fortunately, I have time to think about it.

While I consider the merits of a kick-pleat, here are this week's stats for The Cocktail Dress Project:

  • Total Weight (in ounces): 21.2
  • Number of Rings: 4812
  • Total Number of Hours: 12
  • Project Costs: $336.87
  • Retail Project Costs: $842.17

I'll be back next week with another project progress update. Be well!




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