Saturday, 4 May 2019

Gwen dress - 2019 Make Nine #3

This is the third of my 2019 Make Nine makes, and is number 8 on my grid.  It's my interpretation of the gorgeous dress Gwen Stefani wears in the video for Don't Speak by No Doubt.  

I was accidently inspired to make this dress after I bought 3 metres of this navy and white polka dot viscose fabric from The Textile Centre, and when I got the fabric in my hands, Gwen's dress popped into my head. 




To be honest, I'm not particularly fond of that song, but my goodness, I love that dress!  So I've watched that video loads of times (with the volume down) to try and get a good idea of the design of the dress.  Naturally I also googled it, but the only images I could find where from the video, and they're on my Pinterest Board here, which is where the below photos are from.

Here are my conclusions:

Original dress
  • Bodice is shaped with gathers at the waist.
  • It's tricky to get a good look at the neckline, which is frustrating as it's a crucial part of the dress.  Annoyingly, Gwen keeps holding her microphone up, which is getting in the way - along with her hair!!
  • It seems to be a V-neck with a small, narrow collar.  The right front has rouleau loops, and the left front has buttons.
  • It must have a side zip, as it's obvious that there's no zip in the centre back.
  • A-line style skirt.
  • Plain fitted sleeves to a few inches above the elbow.

My dress

This is actually my second go at drafting this, the first got used as the foundation for my Evelyn dress
  • Bodice is shaped with princess seams.  I need (and wanted) more shaping in the bust.
  • My collar is a partial roll collar, and I drafted it using the Craftsy/Blu Print class "Pattern Making and Design: Collars and Closures".
  • My skirt is my self-drafted A-line skirt.


The trickiest bit (no, that's not true), one of the two trickiest bits was drafting the centre front.  I'll try and explain what I did wrong in the hope someone else doesn't make the same mistake!

I initally thought the centre of the buttons would be the centre front (as on any button fronted garment), which meant that the edge of the front right would have to be slightly to the right of centre to allow for the rouleau loops.  I tried to draft this, I spent soooo much time on this; and - long story short - it didn't work.

So I did what I should have done to begin with, and googled "dresses with rouleau buttons".  The "ha-ha" moment came when I saw this dress (unfortunately I can't find a source for it). 

I zoomed in on it on my phone, and took the below screenshot.  It's a bit fuzzy, but hopefully you can see the detail.

There's an angled yoke below the bust, and the crucial point is that the top of yoke lines up with what must be the centre front of the bodice.  So, therefore, the buttons are off-set to the left of the bodice.  Clearly I was looking at my bodice all wrong, and when I drafted it like this, it worked perfectly.

On the above dress it looks like both bodice fronts are exactly the same, but I made mine with the left side having a button extension to act as a modesty panel behind the loops.  Here are my two bodice pieces.  This meant that each bodice piece has a slightly different facing.



The second tricky bit was the rouleau loops.  Spoiler: me and rouleau loops will never be friends!  I tried a loop turner, needle and thread, sewing the fabric strip together with cord inside, and a chop stick - nothing worked!!  I. Could. Not. Turn. Them. Out!!!!

In the end I put my 1 inch bias strips through a bias tape maker, folded them in half, and stitched it together.  And we're calling that good, and shall never speak of it again!!!! 

To sew them on I marked the right front edge with chalk, and used wonder clips to hold the loops in place.  Then I sewed them on inside the seam allowance using my zipper foot with the needle moved to the right. 

This is what the loops look like sewn in place, and I made sure that they were still lying flat like this when I attached the facing.

The sleeves are hemmed with a rolled hem, which is fiddly and not my best work.  They are also a faff to iron. 

I love how this dress turned out, even if drafting and loops were a bit of a mare, and it's another one off my Make Nine list.

Have a great weekend, especially if you're off for the Bank Holiday on Monday.  More time for sewing!!



  1. Oh my, that is fabulous. It is a stunning make and you look gorgeous in it.

  2. I've been looking forward to seeing this dress since you mentioned it in your Make Nine plans and it doesn't disappoint - it looks fab! I particularly like the petal sleeves, they're very pretty. And don't worry, you're not the only one who doesn't get on with rouleau loops - I've never had much luck with them either!

    1. Thanks Ruth!! I wish I'd hemmed the sleeves with bias tape, the rolled hem isn't my best work. And yeah, those loop turner's are pants!


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