15 October 2017

Dressmaking starts with pattern making

It's been a mere two years since I sewed a garment - the still-unfinished ladybird dress - and for that I used a commercial pattern. This time I have garments that "just" need replicating. It's been a lot longer than two years since I copied a garment, and wow it's a steep learning curve, all over again!

So I jumped right in with both feet, heart in mouth, with an asymmetrical dress that needed a few little tweaks. ("Fear of making mistakes is the deathknell of creativity" (source)).

Whew, four hours later there is a pattern! If you want to try this at home, here's what I learned.

1. Use the largest surface you have.
 2. Check the pattern against the garment, especially after making changes - how likely are they to logically work the way you envisage?
Here, I've made the front smaller in the middle, and changed the neckline to be lower at centre front - this should(?) make it possible to use a facing rather than a stretchy knit band and still be able to get it over the head without needing zip or slit&button to enlarge the neck opening.

3. Make sure you've made all the pieces. Er, where did that left back get to ... oh ....
 Well, here it is now, adjusted a bit to make it smaller. Whether that will be better in a slightly thicker fabric ... we'll see ...

4. If you adjust the pattern and don't plan to make a trial in an unwanted fabric (to check pattern and fit), at least pin the pattern together to check the seam lengths match, and keep your eyes open for any other potential problems - eg, have you marked grainline? It's easy to forget things that seem obvious at the time (believe me....)
The back seems to fit together fine, even the long bit that
makes the tricky corner that has the front panel going round
to the back (ie, disrupting the side seam)

And the front, with compensation in the skirt for the decreases at the top,
also fits - in the paper version anyway...

The pocket needs moving closer to the side seam
 And finally, we're ready for the fun part - cutting and sewing.
I'm imagining this will take less time than making the pattern, once I decide whether to use the straight-stitch machine that's set up on the sewing table (which would need practice in stretching seams to just the right amount during stitching), or to dig out the fancy machine. This really would need digging - and moving other objects in the studio would probably lead to much distraction and/or disorder. 

Later that evening ...

It took about four hours to do the cutting and sewing - and it was lovely to have the entire day to devote to this project. 

Using a facing for the neck worked out well. First step was to overlap the centres on the bodice, then the facing was added to front and to back, and then the shoulders were sewn -
Sleeves were set in, and  one sleeve/bodice seam sewn (the "short side"). Then the skirt parts were overlapped and seamed, and the skirt fitted onto the bodice, with bodice overlapping skirt to make a nice visible diagonal line. Here you can see the pins and the "long side seam", which will be sewn once the skirt is on -
 After that it's a matter of the hem (which needed some careful adjustment and levelling) and the sleeve hems - both sewn with two parallel lines of straight stitch. In fact straight stitch was used throughout, with a longish stitch length. I stretched the fabric a bit during the sewing - though boiled and fairly solid, it still did have some of the knit/jersey "give", and the

The colours are a bit strange in the next photo ... the yellow is more golden than mustardy in the original, and the new one is definitely not pink!
Oops, still the pocket to put on ... a very important feature. 

My focus in making this today was the desire to wear it this evening. Just like in teenage days - needing something new to wear to a party (remember that?) and getting some fabric and a pattern, and whipping something up. Such a satisfaction, then and now.


irene macwilliam said...

congratulations. the difference between you doing it in your teenage years and the present is that you mentioned you bought a pattern and now you make the pattern. Many a Saturday I spent making a dress/outfit to go to the Saturday night hop. I have to admire you and your courage.

Stitchinscience said...

Great to see Margaret and the dress looks super.

The revival of dressmaking is fascinating to me and is leading to many conversations with my workmates who see me as some sort of sewing guru!

Plum Cox said...

Years since I did the 'make the clothes for the night' sort of project - but I'm happy to hear that you still experienced the same thrill that you got back then!
Dress looks amazing! Hope that you enjoyed wearing it!