Not a Choli Dress
While I was doing General Skills, I got a second hand Choli Dress from a friend, and Carolena herself helped me into it for the first time. I like it, and I’ve used it often, but it’s very obviously patterned for a straight or hourglass figure. The cut is great for moving in, but with my very wide hips and a narrow ribcage, the shape has room for improvement if I’m going just on the looks. So after I did my own choli pattern back in 2020, I started thinking of expanding it into my own take on the choli dress.
I wasn’t dancing for nearly a year so it took a while for my brain to filter what I wanted. The construction of the choli dress I have is already complex with the inner bra and long ties, no point in reinventing the wheel and recreating it. I think the asking price is fair, and if I’m after another I would probably buy directly from Mama C herself. So I wanted to try a reimagining, not a remake.
What I knew I wanted:
- a longer, A-line body to accommodate my wider hips in a more flattering manner
- an underbust/waistline again, to help with the shaping
- no inner bra: I know one of the big selling points of the original choli dress is the inner bra, but while ingenious, the support is not enough for my comfort; I might as well get rid of it
- allowance to cover a standard supportive bra
- a hankie or waterfall type of hem, to do double duty and remove the need of a shawl
I started with the original pattern, only to find it was now too big as I’d lost some body mass since drafting it. I decided to go with an adjustment version of my original pattern, I went with a thicker under bust band that would still extend on the back to be the main ties. I added another tie identical to the underbust tie. This would face the under bust tie as a kind of “lining”, reinforcing, and of course proper finishing on the visible are. All my cholis have a double-layered tie, so I know it adds stability; I normally just use a wide band and fold it. But as I was adding the bottom pieces, this time it was split. I finally took my measurements and drafted the “apron” to go sandwiched in between these two.
It’s not perfect, but it does the job. When doing this again I would probably refine the apron shape into something a bit more flowy, and probably use cotton jersey with some more lycra content to help with mobility.
So, how can you do one for yourself if you want to give it a try? I cannot share my own pattern as it would probably not fit you. I would suggest you start with a fitted tshirt pattern or tunic in the general lines you want the finished garment to have. Split the pattern under your bust line and add a dart under the middle bust or to help shape the bust line if needed. For the back, at the same point as the front piece, open up either as a V line or parallel lines. Add two long thin pieces as ties.
I know the instructions are rather vague but how you make these will depend a lot on what pattern you are using to start with. But it should be easy to figure out once you have the pieces laid out in front of you. If it helps, take a look at the rough outline below to help you figure it out. This is not made to scale, of course, but if you start with a pattern that fits you it should be relatively easy to modify as needed.
Another option of course is to start with Carolena’s own Choli pattern, and just add big rectangles or trapeziums at the bottom. I have said in the past that I am not a fan of the pattern, but if it works for you and you know it fits, there’s no reason to not use it.
Is this something you would want to try making for yourself? Let me know in the comments!