Friday, 13 June 2014

For my next trick, I'm going to (attempt to) make this dress...

I'm going to regret posting this when you see the effort I manage to serve up next week (ha ha).

For my next trick, I'm going to attempt to make a knock-off of this knock-off.  I can't find a picture of the original dress, but Kathleen at Grosgrain Fabulous made her own copy of a maternity dress which looked like this (her version):

I really love the combination of cascading ruffles around a v-neck with the blue pinstripe fabric, and I used to have a top from H&M that had a similar look.  (Yes, I wore it with a mustard cardigan.)

I'm not actually expecting a baby (before you ask) - so I'll be making a non-maternity version of this dress.  Nevertheless, I'm keeping the front box pleat to hide my saggy post-baby tummy...!

I'm pretty sure my dress is not going to turn out nearly so nicely, but here goes.


I'm making my own from scratch, using a copy of "Dress Pattern Designing" by Natalie Bray.  I've never drafted a pattern for myself before (only for the toddler), so it's an adventure.  I've made two muslins so far: one of my basic sloper, and one of the dress bodice (minus ruffle explosion).  I've no idea how Kathleen has done her skirt (other than her comment that it is bias cut), so I've opted for a half-circle skirt with a 6cm box pleat, divided into 4 panels to align with the four waist darts.  Unlike the dress I'm copying, I'll be adding cap sleeves and a side zipper.

I draft my patterns on the computer in Inkscape, because it has several features that take the tedium out of drafting by hand on paper:
  • Ability to make lots of copies quickly to test changes and keep old versions
  • Easy to measure curve lengths (a few mouse clicks) rather than faffing with a tape-measure held on it's edge
  • Super quick to add seam allowances before printing
The disadvantage is that like most CAD systems, you get a really skewed idea of the size of the object from working on the screen.  It's hard to have an intuitive feel of the feature sizes.

My bodice pattern... uh oh!


I picked up some navy and white stripy chiffon-y stuff for 50p/m in Walthamstow, and some pale grey chiffon-y lining.  Who knows if I'll have enough, but at least it was cheap!  I've never made an entire garment from such light fabric either, to I'm setting myself both a pattern drafting and a sewing challenge.  You can see why I'm not confident in the results.  ARGH!

I'm planning a overlocker-based rolled hem on the raw edges of the fabric, and I'll probably have to french-seam it up in most places.  I'll go for a single layer of chiffon for the sleeves, but I think I'll need three layers of fabric in most other places to stop the dress being transparent.  (Nice!)

I wanted to do some shearing in the back bodice to allow more freedom for heaving the toddler around, but I think that's a challenge too far at this stage: both for the pattern drafting and the chiffon-sewing.

Now I've posted this, I'll clearly be forced into actually cutting the thing out now.  This may be a record for impulse-fabric-purchase-into-dress time, but I'll hold onto that thought for now just in case it's a "straight-to-bin" project.  It'll certainly be a challenge.

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