Thursday, December 27, 2012

Elegant Escape Dress - Coming soon from The Heroine's Closet!

Inspired by the Andre Courréges' designed wardrobe
for Romy Schnieder

from the movie “La Piscine”

The Film, the Plot and the Dress: A young couple vacations in the South of France, mostly in the sun by the pool. By the end of the movie, our heroine has suspicions her Mr. Wonderful may not be the man she thought he was and decides to pack her bags. To make her quick escape, she has chosen a lovely, simple loose above-knee shift with mock pocket flaps. In true Courréges style, all seams are top-stitched, including the centered back zipper. Featuring a slightly scooped Bateau neckline, the dress moves around the body with easy grace and simple structure, not too loose, not too tailored. A perfect garment for a quick getaway.

Instructions Below
The tutorial dress is made from a washed silk basketweave, underlined in poly chiffon and lined with a vintage whisper light hankerchief linen.

A note about Mr. Courréges and top stitching:  A significant sign of a Courréges garment is the wide and deep perfect top stitching.  All edges and seams on this dress are top stitched at 3/8” from all edges/seam allowances in a long stitch (4cm - 5cm) with doubled-up or top stitching thread.

Pattern Notes & Skill Level:  This pattern is a size Medium on a 5’4” model, 36” bust.  Graded sizes are not available at this time.  Skill level assumes intermediate sewing construction knowledge, a centered back seam zipper and hand inserted lining cut from the same pattern.  Pattern layout is not included but the dress is cut on the straight grain. 

The armscye on this pattern has been reduced to allow the wearing of a bra.  The original dress armscye was cut more open and Romy did not wear a bra with it.  The pocket flaps are decorative only and are placed just below the natural hip bone. 

Suggested fabrics:  Summer-weight wools, linen, silk suiting, underlined lightweight cottons, silks; suitable lining fabrics.
Yardage needed:  44”-45”:  2 ½ yrds; 52”-54”: 2 yrds

Notions:  1 zipper (not invisible), thread(s) of choice, ¼” Washable Wonder Tape or ¼” Steam-a-Seam.
Top Tips:  
Wind up 2-3 bobbins prior to starting your dress. 
A can of spray stabilizer comes in handy on slippery fabric. Make the lining first - your project will go faster as it acts as a "practice" garment, and will be ready to insert when you are.
Use an elegant seam finish such as Hug Snug on fabrics that fray.

Assembly Instructions. 
All seams are 5/8” unless otherwise indicated.  All seam allowances are included in the pattern, you do not need to add them.
1.       Print, assemble and cut out all pattern pieces.  This pattern has 6 pattern pieces and uses 20 sheets of 8.5” x 11” paper to print. 

2.       Layout all pattern pieces on straight grain.  Cut fashion fabric, underling if using and lining.  Transfer all markings.

3.       Baste back-seam to notch (#1), switch to regular stitch length and finish seam to hem.  Baste in zipper in a centered application.  This garment does not use an invisible zipper.

4.       Sew center front seam (#2)

5.       Construct pocket flaps. 

a.       For the fashion fabric portion of the flap, baste a 1/4" and a 5/8” seam allowance on both flap sides and the bottom edge of the flap. The tutorial stitcher omitted the 1/4" basting.  She Will Be Dealt With . . .


To miter corners, fold in the corners wrong side to wrong side, press, open up again, turn right side up, fold corners in opposite direction matching basting stitches, and stitch in the ditch created by the first pressed fold.  


Clip corners, turn right side out and press. Top stitch at 3/8” from edge using a 4cm stitch. Press and place flaps wrong side up.

b. For the lining portion of the flap, baste a ¼”seam allowance down both flap sides and the bottom edge of flap. Using the ¼” washable Wonder Tape or Steam-a-Seam, press and fuse under the ¼” on the sides and bottom of flap lining. 

c. Place flap lining on fashion fabric flap – wrong side to wrong side – along the 1/4" basting line and hand stitch lining to flap, keeping stitches from showing through to right side of flap. Utilizing some Wonder Tape to fuse the lining to the flap in this step helps hold everything place while you stitch. 

Baste top edge of flap/lining together by rolling over your finger to assist in a top to bottom curve.  Your fashion fabric will be "shorter" than the lining.

 d.  On a pressing ham or fat rolled towel, place completed flaps right side up, and steam the flaps in a side-to-side curve.  Let cool.

e.    Place flaps, lining side up with bottom of flap pointing towards the neckline and sew flaps to dress front at markings. Roll flaps down and tack down at ¼” from top of flap, covering the raw edge under the roll of the flap. 

Top Tip:   Leave a long tail when you begin and end for use as the tack down. 

6.       Interface and sew shoulder piece (#3) to front and back pieces.

7.       Sew gusset (#4) to side front seams, stopping at large dot, easing where noted.  Baste remaining side seam and check fit.  Make any adjustments and finish.  Press all seams open.

8.       Baste stitch around neckline, armscyes and hem, all at 5/8”, clip just to but not through basting, turn to inside and press. 

9.  Baste same down again at ½” from edge of the garment.

10.      Check/mark hem. 

11.  Using either top stitching thread or doubled up thread (2 spools threaded as one through your machine and needle), increase stitch length to 4cm (or personal preference) and begin top stitching at 3/8” from turned edges/seams through all thicknesses. This tutorial used a Schmetz Microtex needle and a 5 cm three-thread for top-stitching.  A tested 4cm stitch length disappeared in the  basketweave of the fashion fabric.  

Top Tips
The tutorial sewing machine has an attachable quilter's edge guide - the guide plus the pressure foot width equaled 3/8ths inch, so served as the top stitching guide.

Leaving long thread tails when a stitching run is begun and/or completed is recommended to allow for pulling them through to the inside and tie off rather than to overlap your stitches at the beginning or end of a run.  This presents a cleaner continuous stitch presentation on the face of the garment. 

Recommended top-stitching sequence:
                           a.  Shoulder squares first.

b.      Second, beginning on one side of upper back at mid-neckline, stitch along back neck, across shoulder, down back of armscye around to front shoulder, pivot, along shoulder, pivot, front neckline, pivot at center front seam, continue down center front seam, pivot at hemline, across hem to side seam and up front gusset side seam and end at armscye topstitching.  Leave a long thread tail and pull it through to the wrong side.  Again leaving a long thread tail, insert needle where the armscye top stitching meets at the back gusset side seam, stitch down back gusset side seam, continue down side seam to hem, pivot, across back hem to center back seam, pivot and continue up to neck, stitching in the basted zipper, pivot at neckline and continue to where you started the first run at the back mid-neckline.  Leave a long thread tail and pull it through. 
c.       Check your work.  The beginning and end of runs should appear to be one continuous stitch line even if you’ve had to stop and start.  If you’re having trouble, place your needle down on top of 4 or 5 prior stitches, leave a long thread tail, match the stitch and begin sewing.  You can then go back and gently pull through to the inside the exact number of stitches to give the appearance of a continuous run.

d.      Complete top stitching in the same manner for the other side of the dress.

e.      Press all stitching, correct any puckers if needed.

10.   Sew lining pieces as in Steps 3 thru 6 above (omitting Step 5), leaving center back seam open from neck to zipper-bottom  notch.  The lining is sewn in by hand.  Baste stitch around neckline and armscyes at 5/8”, clip, turn and press. Insert lining and stitch in.

11.   Remove any basting, press. Et Voila, Fin!  C'est tres jolie, n'est pas?!

Complete the Look:
Well, first of all you’ll need an “I gotta get outa here” attitude.  To complete her travelling light look, our heroine has chosen groovy tortoise shell Ray Bans, carries only a neutral light camel toned French wallet, just her watch for jewelry and sensible 1” sling-back shoes (easier to make a run for it in).  Oh, and some peach lip gloss.  You never know who you’ll meet on the plane.  So make this dress and create your own Elegant Escape.


Savage Coco Patterns©


  1. Hi, I have just posted my version of the 'elegant escape dress' on my blog. I will also be posting a review on the pattern review website soon. I love this dress. Thank you so much for the opportunity to try this pattern.

    1. Megan, well done! Your Escape is truly Elegant! Thanks so much for testing the pattern. You've done the Heroine proud!

    2. Megan, your Escape is truly Elegant! Thanks so much for testing the pattern. You've done the Heroine proud!

  2. Divine, absolutely divine. Times like this I wish I was a different shape so that I could wear shifts

  3. Hi there, I downloaded this pattern a few weeks ago after seeing Meggipeg's review, and have finally managed to finish my version. I think I need to wear dresses more often! You can find details of my dress on my blog. Thanks so much for such a lovely pattern.

  4. What a brilliant post! I loved that film and find that style of dress so easy to wear, but phew sewing machines have always scared me, it must be great to be able to whisk up your own wardrobe.

  5. The tips you've provided is really good.It is obviously helpful.You may see also dress buying tips.