Dress with midriff yoke

I think I am finally finished with lesson 4 of my craftsy darts and seamlines drafting course.  This part of the lesson was to draft "bust gathers with yoke".  I have had Vogue 1183, a Kay Unger dress with beautiful seamlines, in my pattern stash for a long time now, but the thought of fitting the pattern has put me off sewing it up (that and all the other dress patterns in my collection).  It is easier for me to draft to fit than to modify a commercial pattern to fit...all that twisting in the mirror...so I decided to use this pattern as my inspiration for a dress with yoke.

My pattern is not exactly  the same as the Kay Unger pattern.  I have less seam lines in the bodice.  I continued the vertical seaming into the front skirt.  I did not cross my fronts as much as the dress on the model, as I wanted to make more of a feature of the crossover.  My yoke stops at the natural waist, rather than dip down below it.  This sounds like a long list of differences, but I did copy the elements I wanted and am happy with the outcome.

The fabric is a cotton sateen from Spotlight.  I bought it as a backup for my daughter's primary school graduation last year, but she did not like it.  Now that I have made it up, I think she is wishing that she had bagged this fabric for something, even if not for her dress.  Never mind, I have quite a sizable remnant that I am sure she will find a use for.  The colours in the print are especially fun, even if the fabric quality is not so great.

With these large scale prints, I always have difficulty deciding where to place my pattern pieces at the cutting out stage (especially as I am normally quite stingy with my fabric purchases and don't have a lot of room for maneuver).  For this one, it would have been better not to have that white area cross my belly...it looks much worse in some of the photos that I have decided not to share!  I did re-cut the yoke so that it wasn't white as well.

I did a pretty good job of pattern matching through the skirt seams.  This is great from a pattern matching point of view, but it means that the seam lines do not feature as much as they would in a plain fabric.

I am really pleased that there is no gaping at the front.  I have not pinned or tacked the cross-over in place.  I wore this to work last week, and had no problems

I did go to try a belt on with this dress, as per the model on the pattern cover, but I could not find a belt.  I must have got rid of them all in my Kon Marie moment.


Cowl dress

Symmetrical prints are always fun.  Risky, but fun.  I mean, there is always the possibility that you might end up with a big white white dot over the top of your pubis. 

Sometimes, I like to keep the symmetrical prints centred, other times, off-centre seems the best approach.  This time I went with centred, as I have enjoyed the symmetrical, digitally printed skirts that have popped up in recent years.  The symmetry gives them a powerful look, with a kind of totemic vibe.  So in my mind, this a fertility goddess sort of dress.

I drafted this dress for my craftsy lesson on cowl necklines.  Even though the dress is a knit fabric, I started with my woven sloper (as directed in the class), and rotated the bust darts to create the cowl neckline.  I have loved cowl necklines in the past, and sewn quite a few of them, but do not feel the love for them so much at the moment.  For this reason, I only wanted a bit of a cowl, not an exaggerated drape.  I did not rotate the waist dart into the cowl, just left it where it was, and ignored it when it came to sewing the dress (my waist darts are pretty small anyway).

The fabric is an Italian ponti from Tessuti.  It is so lovely to wear (which make a vastly different experience from my Spotlight ponti).

The fabric is quite amazing.  It has lots of different colours throughout.  Changing the background in my photographs changes the colours that are emphasised.  As well as the obvious reds and oranges, there are sublte greens, greys and mauves on a black background.

I wanted to play down the reds and oranges, and put the greens up near my face, which is how I ended up with a big white dot amid a pulsing red circle right in the middle of the skirt.  Now that I have pointed it out, you probably can't stop noticing it, but I wore this out and about the other day and did not feel self conscious about it.  I didn't notice any snickers as I was walking the grocery aisle.

The other interesting thing about the fabric was that it had mirror images both horizontally and vertically.  The pattern repeat must be quite large however, as I could not see a mirror image for the whole print.  Either that, or just sections of the print were mirrored.  It was hard to work out after I started cutting, and it appears to be sold out, so I can't find the original pictures on the Tessuti shop site.  

I cut the front of the dress down the length of the fabric, and then cut the back skirt horizontally to get it to appear symmetrical as well.  The fabric stretches pretty evenly in both directions, so this did not matter.  The upper back is cut separately from the back skirt, and has a centre back seam, so I just found two matching section of print to use.  I was a bit cheeky, and extended the centre back seam down into the top section of the skirt, without actually cutting a CB skirt seam...sort of a seam ending in a dart?

Overall, I really like this dress, even though I was hesitant to draft a cowl design.  I am considering this one a win!


Knit Sloper

At the end of my craftsy course on drafting a bodice sloper, there is a lesson on using this sloper to draft a knit sloper.  I watched the lesson, but admit, I did not like the technique presented.  I am pretty happy with my bodice sloper though, and thought it was a good idea to use this as a basis for a knit sloper, only using a different method.  I used several resources to draft my knit sloper

1.  Craftsy class "Patternmaking basics:  the bodice sloper with Suzy Furrer"

2.  "Patternmaking for Underwear Design", by Kristina Shin

3.  "Designing and patternmaking for stretch fabrics" by Keith Richardson

4.   The now defunct website "Pattern school" by Stuart Anderson

Both the Shin book and the Richardson book outline methods for a t-shirt sloper, both of which I have tried.  Back in 2009, I drafted the Richardson t-shirt.  This pattern was okay, but I never got the shoulder / armhole shaping right.  I think this was mostly due to measurement error...whilst doing the craftsy course, I found out that my shoulder point was in a different place than I had always thought.  I used the Shin method to draft a t-shirt a couple of years ago, but I can't find a record on my blog, so maybe I never blogged about it.  It was a close fitting t-shirt.  I was pretty happy with it, but I never got the waist shaping spot on, and always meant to go back to it.

To get my knit sloper this time around, I started with the back bodice (zero ease) that I drafted in the craftsy class.  I followed Suzy Furrer's method to get the back knit sloper.

I then followed steps 9 to 11 in the Shin method for the basic t-shirt block pattern, which derives the front block from the back.  In the Shin method, the front is 1/4" wider than the back, compared to 1/2" in the Furrer method.  When I was deciding whether to use 1/4" or 1/2", I found that I made an error when tracing the last rendition of my woven sloper, and it's front was only 1/4" wider than the back, so I went with the 1/4".  The front armhole shaping comes in more than the back, and the front shoulder is lower than the back.

The Furrer method reduces the length of the block, to account for vertical stretch.  For the basic adult swimwear block, Anderson advised 88% horizontal ease (12% negative ease) and no vertical negative ease (going off memory here...the site is no longer available for me to refer to).  I decided to go with no vertical negative ease.  Knits vary greatly in their vertical stretch, so I think I will just have to accommodate this on project by project basis.

The Furrer method uses 1/2" negative ease horizontally.  The Shin method uses 10% negative ease horizontally.  The Richardson method assesses the stretch ratio of the fabric and adjusts the block accordingly; stable knits are given 0% negative ease, moderate knits 2% negative ease, stretchy knits 3% negative ease, super stretch 5% negative ease and rib knits 10% negative ease.  For 4 way stretch knits, he advises 5% horizontal negative ease and 10% lengthwise negative ease.  This approach makes sense to me, so when I am happy with my knit sloper, I will mark lines for the different amount of negative ease, for different fabric stretchiness.

The Furrer method transfers waist shaping to the shoulder.  I didn't do this, but have left the waist shaping marked on my block to remind me that I haven't done it.  On my first garment using this sloper, I tried both with and without the waist shaping transferred to the shoulder and I didn't like the feel of the garment when I transferred it.  I think this will depend on fabric choice also.

So, how did it all turn out?  Well, here is a dress I made up using the sloper.  The dress has a front seam, just because I was combining this lesson with another lesson on craftsy for a knit dress with an asymmetrical neckline.  The gathers were my input, but I think they would look better if I moved that horizontal seam over towards the ungathered side a little bit more.

The fabric is a ponte from Spotlight.  I don't like the feel of this fabric, and don't go in much for body con dresses, so I will never wear this dress out...I just sewed it to test out my draft.  The fabric is a stable knit, so I used 0 ease both horizontally and vertically.  I sewed in the waist shaping on the back.

In terms of the knit sloper
- the back torso length looks a little too long, but it is in my woven sloper also, and I don't really know how to correct this and keep everything else the same.
- the back also looks a bit tight, but there  wasn't much give in this knit fabric, so I am not too worried about it.
- I think the draft is basically okay, but I will test it out for some simple designs, such as a tank top or camisole, in different fabrics.

Of course, if you have any advice regarding the sloper, chime in.  Fitting is such a tortuous activity to undertake on our own!


Party in the back

I really enjoy my annual leotard sew for my daughter.  This year, we took our inspiration from this flow with elegance leotard.

Flow With Elegance Leotard PGB 14:

Here is our version.

Party in the back.

Plain in the front.

To make this, I started with her latest swimsuit pattern, based on Jalie 3134, which was modified to combine the front panels, and to lower the legline, as well as adjusted a little for her fit.  Further modifications for this leotard included
  • lowering the neckline
  • raising the back scoop, to cover the waistband of her tights
  • changing the angle where the front armhole meets the side seam
  • adding straps, as per the photograph below.  The straps are sewn as tubes.

There are some pull lines on the front neckline, so I probably need to adjust the front strap extensions a little, if I make this again

I used a matt nylon lycra.  She feels that this is too much like swimwear, but I don't know where I can buy the tactel lycras that are used in modern leotards.

The shorts are made from Jalie 3247.  I usually go up one size for Jalie leggings, but this time I went up 2 sizes, because this mystique lycra is very firm.  I think I actually should have gone up another couple of sizes. 


Dress with horizontal waist gathers

I am back on track with my craftsy course for this dress.  This is from the :Patternmaking + Design: creative darts and seamlines" course.  The class showed transferring the bust and waist darts to gathers in the waist dart.  I decided to do the same with the skirt hip darts, and I made the dress into a V-neck, both front and back.

I'm not sure that this is the most flattering design for me, or if maybe I need to fix up my pattern a little, but it seems all a bit droopy at the bottom of the bust, and it is a bit tight at the top of bust, which is why my facings are showing through.  The fabric is a lightweight sateen, which probably contributes to the show through.

The fabric is a much lighter colour than I normally wear.  It was an online buy, and I was drawn to the red in the print.  This is one of those cases where the closeup photo does not really show what the fabric looks like from a distance, as the overall effect is more pink than red.

So, the overall dress is okay, but I don't love either the design or the fabric.  Onto the next lesson...