Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Year : New Challenges

January may almost be over (nearly) but last weekend I started my first sewing project for the new year - and its a doozie!

I decided to push myself and my skills to a new level (hopefully) by trying something new.  I've decided to try and create a dress using just the pattern envelope, and not the pattern.  The beauty of doing this is that the back of the pattern envelopes have, in the very least, line drawings of the garment, or, if you're lucky, outlines of the pattern pieces.  So you have a pretty good idea of the shapes that make up the garment.  I'm hoping to use this as a stepping stone between using patterns, and being able to make reproductions from photographs and illustrations.

This is the pattern I picked:

The other reason I didn't just buy the pattern is:
a) its incredibly rare; and 
b) therefore very expensive.

The dress is an actual wrap dress, not a faux one, so it ties on - which means no zipper!  I'm also going to make the bolero, but not the shorts and bra - no-one needs to see that!

I have little to no experience pattern making, but what better way to learn something than to just having a go at it!

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step One
First up, I took out a pattern that I've done a full bust adjustment on so I know it fits me really well and really closely to my body.  I made it up in some cheap-ass lilac cotton that I bought specifically for making muslins out of and proceeded to cut it and pin it and draw lines on it:

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step Two
Then I layed the piece on my work table, and before removing the pins, I marked the pleat lines, and darts, and any adjustments I had made, and then I cut the centres out of the darts:

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step Three
Then I recreated these fabric pieces on paper:

I had some issues drawing in the pleat lines but didn't have any liquid paper... just ignore that bit!

While I was playing around with paper, I also made the skirt pieces.  I used the skirt pattern from a wiggle dress pattern that fits well.  Then for the front wrap piece with the drape bit on one side, I traced one side of the skirt pattern, then traced one of the pattern pieces from my four-gored circle skirt pattern so I would get the curve and the drape.

So that was it, my pattern was done!

Then I cut it all out of more lilac coloured fabric and sewed it up so I could see how it went.  This is the end result:

Now there is no point undertaking a project like this if you aren't going to be critical of what you've done.

As I see it there are three things that need to be fixed:
  1. The folded drapey bit under the bust.  This has been created because the pleats I put in the bodice are in the wrong spot - they should go to the side rather than to the waist...
  2. The pleats in the front skirt.  I thought with the pleats from the bust coming to the waist that they should meet at the waist seam, but that doesn't give the right effect.  The front wrap piece needs to be bigger to accommodate a larger pleat AND they need to be much closer to the swag on the side.
  3. I think the swag should be bigger, but that might be taken care of when I make the above adjustments.  If not, the contrasting fabric I'm going to line the front wrap piece with will make it stand out more.
This all means that this coming weekend I'm going to redraft the front bodice piece and the front wrap skirt piece.  It shouldn't take too long, and I'll reassess how the muslin looks when I'm done!

Oh, I didn't show you the fabric!!!!

A gorgeous rayon covered in parrots, and flowers - LOVE!

Isn't it beautiful!  One of the people that follow me on my Facebook Page asked me if I could send her some, which of course I did!  And guess what - she's making a wrap dress too, but one from the 1940s!!!  Won't it be fun to compare the decades???  You can follow her blog here.

So, any comments, hints or tips on my progress so far?  I'm looking forward to getting right into it this coming weekend!



  1. Yours is going to be so awesome! I wish I had your drafting skills! I've never really had a go. You could do all sorts of things with all that knowledge - if you only need the drawings of the pattern pieces, you could look at the back of every expensive pattern on etsy and figure out a dress!

  2. Thanks Esz! I've never had a real go at drafting either - this is my first attempt at this kind of thing. Seems pretty straightforward so far! You should have a go :) And that's pretty much why I'm trying to learn - so I don't have to spend a fortune on patterns anymore!!! :D

  3. Everything is so pretty. I love all the colors in the fabric. I feel like my wardrobe is clearly lacking in print and color. :(

    The Fictionista

    1. I think all thats IN my wardrobe is prints and colour Sean! :) It definitely makes it a bright and colourful experience to get dressed in the morning!!

  4. That fabric is soooo pretty! And I am glad you are challenging yourself! I think you are really talented and very capable and bc you are detailed oriented the dress is going to come out to be amazing! I just know it! xox

    1. Thanks Bunny! I'm looking forward to this process and seeing what I get at the other end :)

  5. ok...now i'm more than my usual amazed when i see your sewing genious. this is sewing genious over the top! cannot wait to see how this turns out!

    1. Its coming along really well Rebecca, I'm so happy with it! I'll be sharing more this week!! (And if you can't wait, check out my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SewRetroRose

  6. Wow! Thank you for showing your draping process! I want to make a dress like this for myself but I have this pattern: http://www.evadress.com/108.html
    I'm planning on adding boning to my bodice and a waist stay to the waist seam. I'm going to fully line it, too. I'm WAY bigger than a B cup (closer to the middle of the alphabet, actually) and need all the help I can get with support.