Monday, January 30, 2012

DIY Anthropologie: The Dulcie Dress

Last week's Sew Weekly Challenge was Make This Look. My first attempt at another MTL was a disaster, so for my second try I figured I should probably choose a dress where I actually liked the entire look. Well, I think this is the best knock-off I've ever done. Unlike previous dresses which were merely Anthropologie inspired, this is a straight up copy, with only a few modifications.

Medium was too big.
The Dulcie Dress, originally $158, was definitely out of my price range, but due to some fortuitous fabric and trim finds, I think I was able to recreate it fairly accurately, at least for a home seamstress. I actually had the dress in my Pinterest sewing inspiration folder for quite some time, and I even liked the dress enough that I went to Anthro to try it on and study it; this definitely made it easier to copy.
Not bad for a dressing room iPhone pic.
Instead of the thicker, scratchy lace lined with sweater knit of the original, I ordered the closest thing I could find, a soft stretchy nylon lace from I'm thrilled that it actually has the floral+chevron thing going on! It was a blinding white, so I dyed it with tea to get this nice creamy color that suited my complexion and the pink of the skirt much better. I didn't underline it since I wasn't sure about underlining a stretchy material with another stretchy material that might stretch at a different rate. Also I didn't have any appropriate color knits in my stash and I didn't want to go buy any. This means I need to wear a camisole underneath for decency, but things could be worse.

Front view.

Back view.

The hem of the skirt.

The original dress has a tulle skirt with a bit of a crinoline underneath, but again, I found that scratchy. As luck would have it, my trip to the fabric district last year yielded this dusty rose chiffon with tiny silver threads running through it. At $2/lb, I doubt if it even cost me fifty cents. I didn't want a super puffy skirt, so I left out the sewn in crinoline of the original. The trimmings were a bit more tricky; I got a stretchy velvet ribbon attached to ruffled organza and pale pink grosgrain ribbon for the tie belt, as well as some pale pink silk dupioni bias binding for the neck and armholes from F&S Fabrics. My trims are all lighter than the more grayish-burgundyish colors of the original, but I think I captured the overall look pretty well.

Silk dupioni bias tape and the belt trims.

Besides the obvious fabric and trim differences, I also made my dress silhouette a little differently. I didn't like the crew neck, sleeveless top of the original, so I made mine a scoop neck with more cap-like kimono sleeves. The larger neck hole meant that I could also omit the keyhole detail in the back, which is good because I forgot to buy a tiny pearly button to close it.

Actually putting the dress together was pretty simple; you can totally make your own if you have fitted T-shirt to trace and a sewing machine that does a zigzag stitch. No serger or other fancy stitches needed! Apologies if this quick fake-torial is hard to understand; it was sketched very quickly.

Right click and choose "Open Link in a New Tab" to get the larger image. This assumes you know how to sew fabric to elastic and use bias binding and do a narrow hem.

Close-up of the inside of the waist.
Again with the forgetting to wash out the marker.

Fabric: 0.75 yards of 100% nylon stretch lace, dyed with tea, 1 yard of some kind of synthetic chiffon with metallic threads and a little bit of stretch, both about 54" wide
Notions: elastic for the waist, silk dupioni bias strips that I ironed into double fold binding (most annoying part of the project because it was the wrong size for my Clover bias tape maker!), stretch velvet ribbon with ruffled organza attached, grosgrain ribbon
Hours: 8? I swear, one hour was just the bias binding ironing. And then trying to pin it to the neckline and armholes was another fiddly hour.
Techniques used: Bias binding edges? zigzag stitching knits to elastic?
Will you make this again? Maybe in less fiddly fabrics? Sewing with the lace and the chiffon wasn't as bad as I was afraid of (I made sure to use a needle meant for sheers when doing the chiffon, and a ballpoint for the lace), but I'm still not in a hurry to repeat the experience. I like the general silhouette of the dress, and the elastic makes it really comfortable to wear, so maybe when I have more stable, casual knits to work with.
Total cost: The lace cost $10.47, but I used only half, and the trimmings were quite expensive at F&S ($11.51!). With the elastic and everything, the cost of this dress was probably around $20. About four times my normal, but considering that none of the fabrics were thrifted, and that I was trying to recreate a specific dress, I'd say it was not too shabby! I saved $138!
Final thoughts: I love how dreamy and floaty this dress is! It's going to be perfect to wear to one of the several spring weddings we're supposed to go to this year.

So floaty and swishy! And I clearly need to work on holding my arms less like a robot when I walk.

I'm also really enjoying these nude estate sale gloves that I got for $3 at F&S! Normal gloves at department stores have super long fingers, but my short stubby hobbit hands fit nicely into these vintage ones. I love the little bow at the wrists, too.


  1. This is utterly amazing. I am awestruck at your abilities. :)

    I think I may actually prefer yours, too!

  2. I like all the trim details, it looks really great AND comfortable!

  3. Nice work, Cindy! It's stunning! I love the color of the lace paired with the dusty rose chiffon. It's similar to the original Anthro dress, only better!

  4. This is really adorable!

    Also, I wanted to say, I agree about the gloves always having too long of fingers, especially the pinky! Whoever decided my pinky should be almost as long as my middle finger needs to see an anatomy chart. :)

  5. the gloves are a brilliant finishing touch to a super-fun garment. love it!

  6. Oh-my-gawd! WOW! This dress looks AMAZING... does not look like it was made by a home seamstress! So pretty <3

  7. =O

    Gorgeous dress! Gorgeous hair! Gorgeous earrings, gorgeous gloves, gorgeous shoes!! Aaaaahh!

  8. Such a pretty dress! You do sew the loveliest things and this one looks do-able by a novice sew-er like me - it has no zipper :) Thanks for your tutorial!

  9. That's the dress that you were making when I was visiting!! I have seen that anthro dress in all its glory (in store)! Super impressed that you made this dress! It's beautiful. And you only worked on this for 8 hours?!!

  10. BRILLIANT! And the fit is just perfect! I like your version better than the Anthro one!

  11. This dress is completely adorable and suits you so dreamily! Love your mini tutorial... as soon as I get a spare moment...!

    My pattern also arrived this morning and I couldn't be more thrilled, especially for the thoughtful addition of the buttons and hem tape. And the kitty?? Adorable!! My son is smitten with his kitten! Thank you so very much!! I'll be writing it up shortly.


  12. OK, I had to keep looking at the pictures to figure out which one was yours and which was Anthros! Wow - this is amazing! And yep, I prefer yours too!

  13. Wow this dress looks absolutely amazing and way better then the really expensive one! Its great how you've adapted it to your own preference! You should be so proud of yourself, this dress is beautiful! It looks so well made inside too! XxxX

  14. Really, really sweet! Great job!

  15. Love love love! I'm inspired :)

  16. It turned out great and looks way better than the one in the store on you!

  17. Your dress is full of lovely details! I also like very much your shoes, they are great!!!!

  18. I loooove this dress! Thank so much for the tutorial! I think I'm going to have to try this one out.

  19. So many things I love about this! Really starting to pinterest the crap out of dresses I love and think about how to make them at home. Our hobby is the best hobby (also I think we have the same theme, he he).

  20. Your work is soooo beautiful, and incredibly inspiring! :)

  21. You explained it so well, I feel like I might actually be able to do something like this, great work! looks beautiful!

  22. I wish I know could sew. It's betterthan the original!

  23. I am not quite certain how I got here, but have just wasted a long long time looking at many of your projects - from the t-shirts to the Dior New look all the way back to the superhero kid's sheet dresses... ( I just remembered- it was following a lead for a qipao pattern that I'll never use that pulled me down this rabbit hole. Your quipao came out beautifully) You look great in anything; and I am so impressed by your superb seam finishing - even when you cover them with old pink flannel (How soft! what a lot of work!) I think you are a marvelous at deconstructing old patterns and garments, and reconstructing them in a modern way. And you are fast!

    Note I am a pathetically crude and lazy seamstress, and barely that anymore, which hardly matters since I wear jeans and polarfleece a lot. But my mom was superb - and I learned to appreciate the seam, closure or lining done with finesse.
    This blog is really entertaining for sewing geeks! This particular dress is absolutely elegant, on its own and more so with you modeling it.
    So - great work!

  24. I think the colours and different material of the skirt actually made your dress a lot nicer than the original, also the neckline and sleeves are nicer! Great job! It's nice to be able to make an item you like for cheaper and improve it too!

  25. First off, I love your blog--it's so inspiring! Secondly, I was wondering what bias tape you used to finish off the neck and sleeves. Is it stretchy? I'm just trying to imagine pulling something over your head that wasn't stretchy. I am thinking about making a similar top/dress and was just wondering what exactly you used.
    Thank you so much for your time and incredible tutorials!


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