Drafting a dress

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I was playing around with a bit of fabric from my collection a while back. I had just finished the showcase gown and wanted something on Evan, she seemed naked without the big white ball gown she’d been sporting for months, so I draped this red and blue stripped jersey over her and just fell in love with the idea of making a dress out of it.

The question was, how?

I don’t have a fantastic track record of making patterns up. A lot of what I do, sewing wise, is taking already made patterns and mixing and matching them to suit my desired project. I know the pattern pieces already fit me, so I use that to my own ends. But this project I was thinking about would be making a dress totally without pattern, or really, making up my own pattern.

At first, when I was putting the dress together in my head, the part I struggled with was how to make the arms. You know, without the dress looking like my midterm project from my Neo-Classical course during undergrad; the project was about the influence of Greek and Roman fashion throughout history. I made a Greek chiton for the presentation, over all I got a B+ on the project and paper. I also made a Greek peplos for my Ancient Drama class my senior year, we did a dramatic reading of ‘The Birds’ at the end of that semester.

While pondering out the intentions of my dress I decided that I wanted the dress to be long and to have a cowl style neckline. I love long dresses. But then I remembered what I usually ended up doing to long maxi-style-type of dress, and how it ended up becoming the subject of one of my early up-cycle posts.

So, bearing that fact in mind, I decided to go just above the knee. Its a good length on me, I think anyway, and allows for freedom of movement. With that, decided I needed to make a muslin pattern piece to ensure uniformity in the pieces I would cut.

The piece for the back was the easy piece as there was no cowl to draw out. The front with the cowl neck took a bit more thought to ponder out and draw up. As the above sketches are very rough bear with me. I found a tutorial from PoldaPop that was SO beneficial in helping me draft the cowl neck for this dress. Following that pattern I drew out the steps so I could wrap my head around what she was saying so I would be able to do it with my own pattern when I drew it out. This is how that went:

After figuring out the logistics of the pattern, I turned to a bigger challenge: horizontal or diagonal stripes?

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, both versions are solid options. But there is something about the diagonal stripes that just adds a visual interest that I love.

With all that decided, I started on the muslin pattern. I made two of the back pattern pieces, and used one to create the front with the cowl neck following what I had learned from PoldaPop‘s tutorial.

To make sure that the stripes would turn out how I wanted them to I used my fabric pen and traced the stripes onto my muslin pattern; one side with diagonal stripes and the other side with the horizontal. I am really glad that I did because the diagonal stripes looked terrible in the bodice!

With that determined, I began cutting out the pattern pieces.

When I lined the pieces up I was extra sure to make sure that the stripes would match up on the seams. The dress will look sloppy if you don’t.

I then proceeded to assemble the dress.

I finished the arm holes and the raw neck edge with scrap fabric. I cut a red stripe for each arm hole, and used a bit of the blue for the back of the neck edge.

And here you have it, the finished dress! I wore it to my brother’s Master’s of Engineering graduation ceremonies last weekend!


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