In Progress: A Poiret Inspired “One Thousand and Second Night” Dress

The next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is “Fairytale.”  I was originally thinking that I would finish my Edwardian tea gown and do “Sleeping Beauty”, but then I got totally uninspired and realized I made some mistakes in construction when I started it last year.  That, and I had about a million pieces of insertion lace to cut the back out of and finish, and I don’t like the fabric.

So my second thought was “The Midas Touch”, and making a gold 1920’s evening dress and cape.  But the event I was going to make it for was last night, and we didn’t go, and I obviously didn’t make the dress in time.

So then, I looked on this lovely Indian imported dupatta shawl (bought at Queens Club on Etsy).  I had bought it to make a 19-teens evening dress for, but when it arrived I wasn’t enthralled with the poly content and little painted gold dots on it.  But the trim on the edges is GORGEOUS, and, the next idea that popped into my head was more costumey, which would allow a little more wiggle room for authenticity than my original plan I had purchased it for, so it was sort of serendipity.

One of my fashion design icons of all time is Paul Poiret, and he had lavish parties themed “One Thousand and Second Night”.  PERFECT theme for the HSF challenge!


Denise Poiret, 1911, at one of the “One Thousand and Second Night” parties (found via Pinterest).

Did I mention I love roses, so I bought it for the rose pattern and then realized not only did Poiret LOVE textiles of this sort, but his signature rose was similar in design to the one on my dupatta.  Serendipity!  Meant to be!  And it’s coming together SO quickly.  Love when that happens.


Poiret Dress from FIT (found via Pinterest)

One of my main inspirations are the “lampshade” dresses that Paul Poiret was incredibly well known for.  This one is a classic.  Katherine of The Fashionable Past actually made a great 19-teens evening gown inspired by the existing black and white version of this dress.


I started with an original vintage pattern, circa 1912, but changed it quite a bit in the muslin mock up stage to accommodate a bodice that would cross in front and in back and have a slightly different sleeve than the original, which was tighter fitting and had gussets.


I pinned the bodice and skirt to the dress form to get an idea of the length of the lampshade skirt.  I did end up shortening it, and decided I wanted it to have a slightly longer length in back than in front.


The dress it’s over is the dress I made for the Cordelia skirt pattern sample of the evening train.  I have never worn it, so chopped off the sleeves, removed the trim, and am making it work as an underdress for this outfit.  I also will have to let out some of the seams, since I’m not the same size I was a few years ago.  But still, better than starting from scratch!

I have decided to make the underdress and overdress separate, so that I have the option to make harem trousers for this at a later time.


After I cut the right length, I assembled the underarm seams, the back seam, and decided on a center back closure.  The original was most likely a front closure, as is normal with period gowns, but I decided the back closure would be easier to construct (though it means I’ll need help getting into it).  After a little thinking, and remembering how period dresses are made that I have, I decided on the inner waistband, with the skirt and bodice gathered to it.  All seams are now encased between the inner waistband and the rayon seam tape.  It will lap over at center back and fasten with hooks and bars and snaps.

IMG_4059 And on the form, ready for the next step!  I will have a waist sash cover the waist where the tape is visible, and I have to sew the inside casing for the hoop wire next.  It’s coming together quite quickly, considering I only started it yesterday afternoon!

I have a board on Pinterest I started as inspiration for this project, with Poiret images, examples from the Ballet Russes, and other period inspirations.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

13 Comments on In Progress: A Poiret Inspired “One Thousand and Second Night” Dress

  1. ette
    March 24, 2014 at 2:10 am (8 years ago)

    Wow, this is so beautiful and you caught the distinct Poiret-look perfectly, I would hav totally believed you if you had said it was an original. Can’t wait to see the final result, but I already love it.
    And stunning how timeless his style is. This overdress paired with simple black trousers and nobody would suggest it being a historical pattern.

  2. Mistress of Disguise
    March 24, 2014 at 12:06 pm (8 years ago)

    That fabric from the shawl is absolutely fabulous! It’s already looking lovely, I can’t wait to see the finished dress!

  3. Black Tulip
    March 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow, this is going to look amazing!

  4. quinnmburgess
    March 24, 2014 at 4:26 pm (8 years ago)

    Beautiful fabric and inspiration. I look forward to seeing it completed!


  5. WendyBee
    March 24, 2014 at 5:09 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow! This outfit is stunning. I was not familiar with Poirot designs, so simple and yet sophisticated. I believe I had seen that silhouette on old magazine covers, but I can’t think which magazine. Maybe New Yorker? I’m going to get over to Pinterest to see your Inspiration Board.

  6. Laura Mae
    March 24, 2014 at 11:46 pm (8 years ago)

    Simply stunning – can’t wait to see this on you!

  7. ThirtiesLady
    March 25, 2014 at 9:46 am (8 years ago)

    This is going to be gorgeous! I love all things Poiret-inspired, and this is a great use for the sari. Appreciate the construction notes, too.

    I think you may need a fancy turban to go with it. :)

  8. Hazelhills
    March 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm (8 years ago)

    Beautiful dress! And I cannot thank you enough for the link. I’m planning a 1912 dress myself, and similar shawls go for a lot more around my area.

  9. Gina White
    March 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm (8 years ago)

    Squee!! This is going to be stunning!! I cannot wait to see the finished product! I love the color and the spangley-ness of it!! Awesome sauce!!


  10. thevintagetraveler
    March 26, 2014 at 7:12 am (8 years ago)

    What a great project. I’ve been following your progress on Instagram and just fell in love with it.

  11. brocadegoddess
    March 27, 2014 at 6:49 am (8 years ago)

    This is so beautiful, it’s going to be just amazing when it’s finished! I made a lampshade dress-inspired costume myself some years ago when doing summer sewing for a living history museum and it was such fun to do (even though the costume was not for me). We went with the harem pants underneath and man, were those great! I would highly recommend making a pair in the future for this, you wouldn’t regret it! Which, of course, is not to say that the black dress does not look fantastic ;o)

  12. Emileigh
    March 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow, this is stunning! Now you just need to find a giant feather to put on the front like the lovely lady pictured above! ;)

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