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TR Origami Dress

Added Oct 2, 2013

by The Tropical...

Singapore, Singa...






The most complicated dress I’ve ever dared to attempt!

I don’t live the sort of life that normally requires floor-length gowns, so when I found that I had not one, but TWO formal dinners coming up, I had to make something. It took me 2 whole months to make this dress, though that includes the time I spent dreaming and researching and conceptualizing (my draft dresses in the last picture), and procrastinating through the difficult bits! Also I didn’t have much free time these months :)

I drafted this dress from scratch, modifying my standard shift dress sloper. The very interesting diamond-shaped pleat in the centre was drafted using a few YouTube tutorials (by Arif Khan who uses Shingo Sato’s Transformational Reconstruction techniques, here). Basically you just put on the muslin, and draw the pattern onto yourself directly with a marker – that’s me in my green muslin with a diamond drawn across my chest, it was the first time I made such a well-fitting muslin! Then you cut apart the fabric bits and insert the pleats on paper (that’s the second-last picture), and translate the whole thing onto the fabric.

My favourite details:
1. I like how the diamond wraps around to the back, though that caused me a good deal of grief since I had to insert a zip through it!
2. I lined the diamond part with one of my husband’s old business shirts – love the idea of closeness to him!
3. I closed the bodice back with an odd button from my grandma’s old button box.
4. My brother who is an architect was researching on Pamukkale around the time I was dreaming about this dress. I had visited Turkey on my honeymoon, and the lovely memories came rushing back when I saw his images. This lovely blue colour is almost exactly how Pamukkale appears in my mind.

It wasn’t actually crazy difficult to sew up, you only have to be precise about sewing the corners together. I was a bit lazy with that! It was quite a tedious job doing all the piecing though. I’m not very pleased with the back – the interface between the sheer and the satin looks funny….oh well, I must just be sure to stand more against the wall when I wear it!

I’m awfully, awfully glad that I decided to spend money on very nice fabric – I used crepe-backed satin for this, and at $18/m it’s the most I’ve ever paid for fabric! It was a dream to sew though – it looks so lovely and slinky yet it didn’t move around at all on my machine, and cutting it was a breeze. Imagine how horrible it would have been sewing all those pleats on satin or silk! The fabric also holds the pleats very well, and hides all the hundreds of pinholes I made!

I don’t think I will make such a complicated dress again in a hurry, though I think a simpler version in a sturdier fabric would be interesting for everyday wear. I’m glad this one turned out fairly well, and I’ve already worn it to the first of the events it was intended for. It held up!! Yay!

Material Notes

4 metres of medium blue crepe-backed satin for the main body of the dress (60in wide)
1 metre of slightly sheer polyester heavy weight chiffon for the back
3 metres of medium weight polyester lining (42in wide)




Garment Type

15 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Charlie-deeshadows1_large

    Nov 22, 2013, 05.25 AMby smallone

    wowza girl! this is so totally individual and completely awesome!!! i love everything about it from the pleats to the two fabrics you’ve used front and back … bet you absolutely stunned ’em at those 2 formal events!!!

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    Oct 7, 2013, 09.28 AMby Mbaliyethu

    Wow!! This is truly work of art. Hats off to you.

    1 Reply
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    Oct 7, 2013, 07.27 AMby bethmaryharley

    Wowsa! This is SO awesome! And how great that the dress is the same colour as Pamukkale! (I worked on a dig near there and it’s such a beautiful place!) I actually really like the dress with the design drawn on it – it looks so unusual, I would have been tempted to leave it like that! :-)

    3 Replies
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      Oct 8, 2013, 10.44 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      Oh my! You’re one cool lady to have worked in so many interesting places! I would love to stay for a longer time in Turkey.
      Haha, I never thought that way about my toile dress :) you’ve given me an idea!

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      Oct 9, 2013, 07.53 AMby bethmaryharley

      I LOVED Turkey! I specialised in the Middle East and (used to, but I think I’ve forgotten a lot now!) speak Turkish so I worked there quite a bit! Such tasty food and friendly people! What a great place to honeymoon! Where did you go to?

      Excited to see the results of this idea! I’m sure it’ll be awesome (as always!)! :-)
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      Oct 11, 2013, 05.47 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      It was our first time in the region so we took a pretty standard tour – Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadocia, and we saw Constantinople from a distance. Such a beautiful place with so much to see and do, and so little time to do it in! I’m envious of you!

      I have lots of projects piled up in my mind :) don’t we all? Let’s see where you little idea brings me!

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    Oct 3, 2013, 11.35 AMby pambox

    Fantastic work! Love the colour, too.

    1 Reply
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      Oct 5, 2013, 03.58 PMby The Tropical Sewist

      Thank you! My brother was researching on Pamukkale while I was conceptualiing this dress, and this colour matched my memories of that amazing place!

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    Oct 3, 2013, 11.32 AMby Innamc

    Wow, fantastic dress, looks great!!!!!!!

    1 Reply
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    Oct 3, 2013, 09.56 AMby liliv-1

    Amazing design!!! A lot of work put here and the result pays off!!

    1 Reply
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      Oct 5, 2013, 03.55 PMby The Tropical Sewist

      Thank you! From someone as experienced as you it’s a mighty fine compliment!

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    Oct 2, 2013, 08.36 PMby marlalalalere

    You definitly should get an award for your patience!!!! Great job

    1 Reply
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    Oct 2, 2013, 08.36 PMby marlalalalere

    You definitly should get an award for your patience!!!! Great job

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    Oct 2, 2013, 04.42 PMby kisses

    Love the details and you did on amazing job. This technique is beautiful wouldn’t mine learning it at all

    1 Reply
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      Oct 3, 2013, 06.38 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      Give it a try! People have made very amazing things with the TR technique, but at its most basic it can be simple enough even for home seamstresses like me.

      Try this for starters, it’s quite a simple tutorial to make a very beautiful pocket feature:

      The tutorial I used for my dress is this one:

      The author Arif Khan also has a few other fascinating tutorials on YouTube.

      Be sure to post what you make!

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    Oct 2, 2013, 02.57 PMby MojoHollz

    It is quite obvious you spent a TON of time on this dress! So much love and care, fabulous job! I love that you jumped right in with a technique you ’ve never tried before, it was definitely a success. Now you have a gorgeous one of a kind dress, great job!

    1 Reply
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      Oct 3, 2013, 07.10 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      Oh! Now that you say it, it sounds like I took a big risk! Especially with my expensive fabric. I never thought about it like that though!

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    Oct 2, 2013, 02.31 PMby Ellen Hatteland

    Fantastic dress! It’s just amazing how you managed to make this dress – Fabulous job :-)

    1 Reply
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    Oct 2, 2013, 12.29 PMby Brahdelt

    What an amazing dress dresing! No wonder it took you so much time to plan, draw, try out and sew, the result is spectacular! I love the color and it suits you so well. Great job! :-)

    1 Reply
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      Oct 3, 2013, 07.13 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      Thank you for your kind words! It would have taken significantly less total time if I had a regular sewing slot, but unfortunately I have to snatch bits of free time here and there! But a project always stretches out to whatever time we have for it, doesn’t it ;)

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    Oct 2, 2013, 11.43 AMby b. boop

    waouh !!! very great job!!!! fabulous dress ;)

    1 Reply
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    Oct 2, 2013, 11.31 AMby skeeler

    I’m in awe! Amazing dress, well done.

    1 Reply
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    Oct 2, 2013, 10.50 AMby schnui

    WOW!!!! This dress is amazing and you look fabulous in it. You are so clever and to do this all by following a Youtube video. Why are you stalling making a jersey dress when you can create something as beautiful as this dress. Well done.

    1 Reply
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      Oct 3, 2013, 07.17 AMby The Tropical Sewist

      It was a very well made video, and easy to follow. I quite like youtube, it’s amazing what you can learn on it these days! Thank you for your kind words!

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