Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Adventures of the Six Napoleons


“It’s the Napoleon bust business again,” said Lestrade. “You seemed interested last night, Mr. Holmes, so I thought perhaps you would be glad to be present now that the affair has taken a very much graver turn.”

It’s the finale of the Six Napoleon dress challenge, set by (used to be sewing friend) Marianna of Sew2Pro. About six of us intrepid and quite possibly over-confident sewers decided to take on Sew2Pro’s challenge to make a Six Napoleon dress. None of us challengers met the first deadline of Bastille Day and I have to admit that I was one of those who requested an extension. But here it is, in all it’s Great British Sewing Bee scrappy state – my interpretation and version of Dogstar’s Six Napoleon dress……

It might look OK but truly believe me, the insides and the finish is crap (that’s an official technical sewing term just in case you are unaware of it).


The bodice is Alabama Chanin’d down one side only with reverse applique. The skirt is 4m of a fine jersey mesh pleated and sewn to the bodice. There’s a white half circle underskirt  which I left on show at the shortest part of the skirt. All fabrics are from Fabworks.

Styling accessories include opera length fingerless gloves and a plaited neckband with intertwined pearls. My nod to the black pearl of the Borgias.

DSCN6538 The hem of the skirt is faced with a 4″ band of red jersey and (lazy girl) just serged the edge. The red peeks out as the skirt drapes and moves.


The good news, I suppose, is that I can actually get into the dress and it fits well. I am not proud of this dress – well maybe just a wee bit pleased that I got it started, figured out, finished and worn.


This challenge turned out to be much more difficult than any of us thought. A little bit of tedium was creeping in.



When did I wear this dress?



In the kitchen of course! I made a chicken curry for dinner although I did remove the gloves for that part. Then reclined on the sofa to watch the Olympic weightlifting on TV. A totally fascinating sport – a mix of strength, concentration, psychological mind games and sheer impressiveness.


And Marianna – maybe the next time you set a challenge it could be a shift dress………….?


“Well, well, we can’t expect to have it all our own way, Watson,” he said, at last. “We must come back in the afternoon if Mr. Harding will not be here until then. I am, as you have no doubt surmised, endeavouring to trace these busts to their source, in order to find if there is not something peculiar which may account for their remarkable fate.”

The Adventures of the Six Napoleons by Arthur Conan Doyle



47 thoughts on “The Adventures of the Six Napoleons

  1. I love it! What a great interpretation of the original- and who cares if the finish is crappy? [Apart from you, and that doesn’t count of course…]
    Love the mad styling and ferocious pout at the start!

  2. Bravo! You’ve done it and it’s both a Napoleon and a Ruth! The initial styling is appropriately bonkers but I was, I admit, relieved to see you revert to colour and not-so-intimidating, smiling Ruth!! The pictures on the bench are fabulous (how do you look so relaxed? camera on tripod? or human?) and I loved the comment about having to remove the gloves for the curry. Watch out for turmeric stains!

    (BTW, I still haven’t booked my visit to my dad in October half-term so if it doesn’t happen which I will explain, I would love to meet up with the dresses donned!)

    As for the construction, I love the bias hemming and the splash of red on the inside. But I have questions. You say you used 4m for the skirt. Did you use on the lengthgrain or crossgrain (i.e. sideways, which I guess is quicker). I don’t suppose it makes much of a difference with jersey. Also did you have leftovers?

    Thanks so much for taking part 🙂

    • Teenage son gifted me a tripod for a birthday pressie but I think that was not so much as thoughtful but to save him having to venture into the garden to take ridiculous photos of his mother!

      The skirt has only one seam. I folded the 4m and ‘shaped’ it then cut and pleated. I suppose the selvedges are in the seam so that makes it a lengthwise cut. Doesn’t it? I got so caught up in just making a skirt that I didn’t really pay attention to what I was doing.

      Lots of off-cuts which will eventually be made into matching knickers!

      You’re mad! But thanks for posing such an awkward and thought provoking challenge. Are we more mad for taking part?

  3. A fabulous post to read with my morning coffee! I am so impressed with your talent in so many areas; creativity, determination, sewing skills, writing and photography. I feel quite dull in comparison! Although I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, I must go back to the beginning and follow your adventures. Thanks so much for all the time and effort you have put in to these posts! I would love to see what you would do with a simple shift dress!!!

  4. You are awesome. Not only did your make this dress. You wore it to make curry. My hero!

  5. I am personally well acquainted with the technical sewing term “crap ” – but in your case it does not apply. Your dress looks gorgeous and you carry it off beautifully . ( And what happens in the inside stays in the inside ! )

  6. Hope the dress sees more than the kitchen!!!

  7. That’s awesome Ruth! Good on you!
    Joyce from Sudbury

  8. Wow! That is just great. It’s a brilliant interpretation Ruth and it really, really suits you. The styling is good fun and I am tempted to vamp it up myself now as well as showing my dress (which I will finish this weekend, I hope) in a more relaxed version. I imagine it is very comfortable and I hope you will wear it for a summer party, or just at home. It’s dramatic, but not too OOT. I imagine with some sandals or bare feet it would be happy at a garden party. Anyway I think you are very clever and I love what you have done (and never admit to crap happening on the inside – it looks perfect to me).

    • Thanks Kate. I am absolutely sure that your version will blow all others out of the water.
      It is surprisingly comfortable but that’s due to the cotton jersey. I’ll have to organise that summer garden party……..

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  10. Talk about seductive clothing…WOW…you hit a home run with this dress! Who would think to combine AC top with floral skirts and gloves? Dynamite, Ruth! Hope you don’t mind but these Napoleon dresses remind me of the dancing witches who also have quite fabulous outfits:

  11. Hilarious poses–and a relief to see you pout-less. This must be worn outside of the kitchen!

    • Thanks Elle, I had fun. When DH saw me he asked what I was doing – Dressing up I replied. I used to love doing that when I was a child. You can be someone else for just a little while.

  12. This is so fun! I love all the hamming around for the camera.

  13. Magnificent. Napoleon and Ruth. You nailed it – and who gets to see the innards anyway?
    Enjoy your dress (and I hope you didn’t get curry stains on it 😉)

  14. Well done! I love the reverse appliqué on the bodice and am really impressed with how well you managed to recreate the skirt

  15. “Excellent I cried, elementary said he”. Well obviously not elementary but very complicated! Love it, and really hope you get to wear it not only in the kitchen. Love the two points of assymitary. X

  16. Brilliant, and that’s the dress and the photos

  17. Hey, Ruth! I know you think I have fallen off the edge of the earth, but the reality is that my computer died and I got a job that consumes all of my energy. I am no longer working in Alaska, but instead in the lower 48, in Ohio. I looked back for a few pages, it seems you have done some fine sewing in my absence. Keep up the good work! I hope that since I have a little bit better handle on my job, I can do some sewing and some blog reading for a change.

    Take care,
    Chris (Alaskapsych)

  18. Absolutely, spectacularly fabulous. (Couldn’t help smiling at the contrast of this post with your previous “grey” post.)

  19. Pingback: Six Napoleon, the work begins… – thedementedfairy

  20. Oh I love you styling and your model poses and the red is fabulous!

  21. It’s brilliant!! And the skirt would work well with another top and those boots. Also, I bumped into Evelyn on Monday (outside your work – which was random!). She was off on her hols on Tue, but we were chatting about another meet up when she gets home. Also, Suzie had emailed me about the same thing, so hope to see you soon!

  22. Just wow!!! What a fun and fabulously funny post, pout and all. Dress is grand, hope an occasion calls for it sometime, aside from the kitchen curry, that is. 😉

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  24. I’m a bit behind on my blog reading – just catching up now. Love all the layers – this looks lovely and completely impractical. Love it!

  25. Pingback: 6Nap and Next Up – thedementedfairy

  26. Fabulous jaunty 6 Nap version – congratulations Ruth. I pass the Dogstar shop every Saturday and still have never ventured within!

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  28. Pingback: Beautiful Life | corecouture

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