A piece of fabric practically jumped into my hands a little while ago while all I was supposed to be getting was a zip… On the remnants table at Fred Winter was this 60cm piece of ex-Missoni knit fabric. I couldn’t leave it there, could I??
You can just make out the cutting lines in this picture, I halved daughter no 2’s measurements and took 10% off the bust. As this is a stretch knit we didn’t want anything to fall down! Then I added to the hip measurement so the top/dress would flare out nicely toward the hem. Next I cut along the fold and overlocked the sides together. The top edge was overlocked too and then I turned under a casing for the elastic. This I used a twin needle to do, not having mastered the coverstitch on my overlocker just yet… Then I cut the straps off an old bra that had a matching colour to the stripes and sewed them on, daughter no 2 didn’t fancy any wardrobe malfunctions! I used the zigzag selvage for the hem, it just needed some tidying up, but I think it looks great!
What a hectic week it’s been! Summer holidays are here and between that and getting our house ready to put on the market I have been away from my sewing machine far too much! Daughter no 1 needed a dress to wear to a wedding reception this weekend. We had planned to alter a dress she already had, but I did a foolish thing.
I made the toile of the dress pattern based on this dress, and she fell in love with the shape. “This would look great in that fabric with the brown roses….. Can I have that for the reception??” Needless to say there was much fluttering of eyelashes going on and puppy-dog eyes. Of course I gave in!
The fabric is a decent weight cotton with a very slight stretch. I used a cotton poplin for the lining of the bodice, and an acetate for the skirt as I wanted it to be light and not stick to stockings, if she wore them. We wanted more of a 50’s silhouette to go with the pattern on the fabric, so I added width to the skirt and gathered more. The lining skirt is much fuller, with a layer of fine tulle to hold the outer skirt out.
The pattern itself was quick to adapt. I started with a fitted bodice block and converted it to the lingerie block. I drew on the lines for the midriff and skirt and cut these off. I closed the darts and blended the upper and lower seamlines. For the skirt I lengthened it first, then added side flare from the hem to the hip. Then I divided each skirt into 3 and cut and spread on these lines. The straps were rectangles that I double turned on the sides and pleated at the ends to make them prettier.
I have cut out the Liberty fabric this dress was going to be in first, so that will be the next finished project, and you can compare the two finished items.
Here we go, the Knot Dress has a new image! Imagine the difference there would be if this were made in a plain linen… Perhaps that’s the next job. So, here it is – made up in the Liberty Tana Lawn I bought yesterday at Fred Winter in Stratford. What do we think??
I used French seams throughout, there is an invisible zip in the centre back seam and I bound the neck and armhole edges with self-bias. I turned in 5mm on the hem before turning up 3cm, and machine stitched. It was actually easier making this version than the toile, simply because the fabric was so much less bulky. I like the little tucks in the back. There are two 5cm long tucks to catch in the bulk of the fabric and stop it from being too tent-like. I am glad I removed the extra fullness in the centre front, it definitely wasn’t needed.
I encourage you to give it a go if you are so inclined, the pattern wasn’t hard to draft. There are lots of little things to do on it, so just keep focus otherwise you will lose your place! Overall, I am really pleased, as is daughter no 2!
So there I was, waiting for the sewing repair man to open, and I thought I’d check out a little fabric shop in Kenilworth. Linda Harper’s is on the High St (opposite Sainsbury’s), nothing to shout about from the outside. I hadn’t been there in years, and wasn’t even sure if it was still there. Once inside I realised I had made a terrible mistake! There was no way I was getting out without buying something!! They have their cotton fabrics all grouped in colour order, then the linens, then the silks, you get where I am going… Wool and fleeces are in a different room. The temptation was ENORMOUS!!
So this is what I absolutely had to have before leaving. I was still looking for something for the Knot Dress, wouldn’t you know it, but nothing in my stash was right. I am not going to use any of these for the dress either, but I know they will come in handy one day! I figure they will make perfect vintage garments, they have that vibe.
Fixed sewing machine and overlocker in the boot, I head home, via Stratford. I have run out of calico, so headed to Fred Winter. Once again, a very dangerous maneuver! I added to the calico some vibrant red batik, which will be perfect for a 60’s dress pattern I got from Etsy last month, and a rather interesting Liberty print – which I think is the fabric for the Knot Dress.
I have finally got the bodice blocks drafted and adjusted. This morning, with the damp and dreary conditions outside, I decided would be the day – the Magic day! I have adapted bodice blocks drafted from Winnifred Aldrich to the style of the block in Pattern Magic. Now I am having a brilliant an interesting time playing with the adaptations. I really want to get the toile finished by school pick up time!! Here are some pics of the patternwork in progress today.
Front is marked up with the pleat and the slash lines, just needs the skirt for the dress.
Skirt added, lines slashed and armhole dart closed. There is an 8cm gap between all the slash points.
Just look at the size of that monster! I recon this is going to take quite a bit of calico.
So now I just need to figure out how it all goes together. Hopefully the toile plays ball and there will be more photos later.
*** UPDATE ***
Toile complete! I altered the pattern slightly, leaving off the pleat in the front, and adding a 6cm flare instead. I think I might just leave this off too, as the front is wide enough!
Daughter no 2 likes the style, but wants it more fitted in this weight fabric. So I was thinking of making it in linen… I will have to make it more fitted to the waist if I do it in linen, but apparently it won’t “be so bad” if I use a floaty fabric. I just may have something in my stash.
I guess I am off to source some suitable fabric now!
Here’s the problem, and it is just the very beginning of the problem. This is the fabric that doesn’t fit into the sewing cupboard, therefore it needs to be made up! Thing is finding the time. Time to decide the pattern, time to make the pattern, toile, etc! OMG!! I don’t have all this time! I am a really impatient person, just incase you didn’t catch that! I apologise for not updating quite as regularly as some other people do, but behind the scenes, I am paddling like mad!
I am in the process of making the pattern for the Liberty dress, and I will be using the Pattern Magic books to develop a dress in one of those lovely fabrics next.
The finished skirts look great and daughter no 1 is very pleased with the new additions to her wardrobe. I made the beige linen first. The weave is quite loose on this, so I decided to use a Hong Kong finish on all the seams. Great idea when you have 24 seams to bind!! I was regretting my choice after completing the front, just because it was taking so long! But, if this project is all about doing the right thing, and not about speed, then it has worked! The facing edge was bound too, but I did not bind the hem. The cotton binding would have altered the hang of the skirt, the linen falls so softly that it would have been a shame to lose that with a stiff hem finish. Instead I overlocked the bottom edge and used a twin needle on the hem. Fabric is from Fred Winter in Stratford-upon-Avon. Interfacing is a polyester fine sheer fusible from Gill Arnold.
The second skirt is made from a retro print John Kaldor cotton I bought about 3-4 years ago. The seam finish on this one is a welt, but instead of topstitching 5mm or so away from the seam line I just went 2mm. I used a contrast green thread that picked up on the green in the print because I thought going for white or black would just have been too boring. The outer edge of the facing has been turned under and topstitched, and the hem has had the same treatment. I turned under 5mm and stitched it in place before turning up the remainder of the hem and machining into place. Fabric is from Fred Winter in Stratford-upon-Avon. Interfacing is a polyester fine sheer fusible from Gill Arnold.
Despite finding that lovely Liberty fabric last week and wanting to make the dress, I have stuck it out and made a skirt. I used Winnie’s Tailored Skirt block. When I drafted the block I was aware that the hip curve might be a little poofy – something that Winnie’s skirts tend to do on some people. I made a note to check this when I did the fitting.
The block actually fits well, apart from the poofy bit on the side. The side seams hang perpendicular to the floor, there is no pulling and no baggy bit at the back. All I needed to do was to adjust the hipline curve where I pinned on the toile.
Once the adjustment was marked on the pattern I started the adaptation for a 12 gore skirt. I had decided to make a skater skirt without a gathered waist. I wanted something fitted to the hip and flaring out gently. I divided the front and back along the hipline into 3 and moved the darts on the back to line up with the panel lines, the darts were made a little bigger and to compensate for this I moved the side seam out from the hip to the waist by 1cm. I did the same on the front and added a 2nd dart to go onto the 2nd panel. I marked the grainlines on the centre of each piece, labeled them and cut them up. I added 4cm flare to the hemline of each piece, on each side, tapering to a point 14cm below the waist on the panel seam. I am not going to have a separate waistband, but will draft a facing. The zip will go in the centre back seam.
The toile of the skirt fits really well, I love the line of the flare. I have 2 different fabrics to make this in, one a lightweight beige linen with a white pinstripe, and the other a retro print cotton sateen. It will be interesting to see how different the skirt looks with these two different fabrics.
Ok, you know how I said this blog was to chart the progress of pattern cutting? Well, I also warned you it would end up being about fabric – well, why not! I have my first project, and it isn’t what I expected it would be! I was going to make a skirt, but I took a neighbour to Fred Winter in Stratford today because she needed something, and I ended up succombing to some Liberty Tana Lawn. I had seen this dress on Pinterest a while ago and thought it would be cool to make, so when the fabric practically sat up and demanded to be purchased, who was I to say “no”??? So project no. 1 is going to be this dress.
What do you think??
Just as a matter of interest, if you are a sucker for Liberty’s Veruna Wool, Fred Winter have a limited selection right now for £30 per metre. They will post samples and are quite happy to pop lengths in the post!
Boy has this taken some thinking about! I wasn’t sure how to begin, so here I am, diving into the deep end.
Ok, here’s the thing. There is no way of doing this without some cash outlay in getting the right equipment. If you are going to make your own patterns you will need certain things. Morplan is pretty much a one-stop-shop. You will need:
paper, good quality
a grader set square and flexicurve or a patternmaster
mechanical pencil – either a 0.5mm or 0.3mm
coloured fine-liners, these from Staedtler are pretty good
scissors for cutting PAPER
glue stick and magic tape – not sellotape.
Those are the basics, and we can add to them as we go along, but you will struggle to do things properly without those.
The next step is to take measurements. I do not take every body measurement. There are size tables in the books, which are refered to as “standard” sizes. Now, while everyone of us is different, there are certain uniformities. I take 6 crucial measurements and compare those to the tables in the book to ascertain a “non-standard” size. The measurements needed are:
Bust; Measure around the fullest part of the bust, make sure the tape is level around the body.
Underbust; The tape needs to be right under the bust, along the bra-line. Keep the tape taut. Add 12cm to this measurement to get a “standard” bust size for your frame.
Waist; the narrowest part, usually, but not always in line with the elbows.
Hip; This is the fullest part of the seat, so measure around your bum, not at the top of the hip bones.
Chest; This one requires an extra pair of hands. Measure across the chest, above the bust, from where the arms meet the body at the armpit area.
Back; As for chest, across the shoulder blades from arm to arm.
Armed with this information you now need to get the remainder of the measurements from the size tables.
The size for the young lady I have measured is a Non-Standard UK size 8. Armed with this information I can now start drafting the basic patterns from which everything else will be developed. These are called “blocks” and the test garments made from them are “toiles,” also known as “muslins”.
The next post will be how to draft the skirt block and make and fit the toile. Please leave feedback, I can only improve the posts if you do! 😀