Drafting a Ballroom Dance Dress: Smooth

I haven’t been writing very much because I have been sewing like 20 different projects it feels like.  I have been working on a ballroom dance dress and this is my 1st attempt at something this intricate and difficult.  But once I had a new pattern for myself, all I had to do was draft the ballroom dress off my original sloper and some pictures.  Thank you Pinterest!

To start, I made a mesh bodysuit to which I could attach the dance shorts.  Treating it kind of like a leotard with snaps at the crotch.  So you can see from this picture that was the foundation for everything.  You can find several good videos on YouTube regarding making dancewear from “Creative Genie”.

I drafted the dress much like the body suit but lengthening the pieces and leaving space for the godets.  Once it was done I realized that chiffon I had was too transparent so then I made under skirt of a darker red organza.  Even with both of those it still was too transparent so I made a 3rd skirt to go in the middle.  My goal was to have 3 layers with the darkest being on the bottom then the orange in the middle and then the top skirt was made of 2 colors, red and yellow orange.  I didn’t start out with three layers but ended up there.  It sure was a lesson in creative problem solving.  I also hemmed each skirt with fishing line in the rolled hem to help it flare.  Adding a few drapery weights in the middle skirt helped it stay down and swing well. (sorry I didn’t get any good skirt pictures).

Then I had to do all the rhinestoning, or bedazzleing, because I wanted to look like flames.  I had made arms for the bodysuit because I wanted to stone those as well.

It was an interesting project. I learned a lot about working with Lycra and sewing it to woven materials.  It was much harder than I thought it would be.  There are many places where I am dissatisfied with the construction but it made it through a dance competition so now I can make my rhythm dress and learn a bit more.  I have plenty of more pictures saved so I can make another one for when I move up a level in completion.  I sure didn’t spend the thousands it takes to buy them new but I probably spent about $150-200 on supplies.  Not a bad deal.

Drafting a Faux Wrap Dress Part 2

Now that I have my custom pattern drafted, I will draft the sleeves after I do the final fitting in the sample fabric. I chose a Nicole Miller knit from Joann’s. I like the pattern but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the first run. Plus if it turns out all right I can wear it. I don’t always finalize my patterns in tag or other stabilizer unless I really love them and use them over again several times. I don’t usually add seam allowances on the first draft because I might want to make changes and then I retrace with seam allowances if I am going to keep it. So I usually have to trace out the seam allowances and I found the greatest little tool to help with this.  Plus you can use it on paper too!

I slightly shortened the armhole by raising the shoulder seam. This brought the bust up a little and made it fit better. I thought I was going to have to add ease for the next dress but it looks great and skims the body well.

Now that the armhole is finalized, I can draft the sleeve. I want a ¾ length sleeve for this dress. I start with my sleeve sloper and take out all the ease. I want the sleeve cap to match the armhole. I measured all the pieces of the dress and drafter the sleeve cap to match.

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I love it when the sample turns out so wearable!  I get a lot of compliments on this dress. I am also making a knit dress out of an ITY knit from Vogue fabrics. It will be part of my travel collection for professional conferences.

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Drafting a Faux Wrap Dress Part 1

So now that I have a bodice sloper, I really wanted to make a wrap knit dress. I found a sample on Pinterest that I really liked. It was New Look 6429, which was out of print but I think I can mimic it pretty easily.

So first I trace my bodice sloper front, drawing in the princess seam style line to the cross front through the waist darts. I flipped over the front to extend it across the center. The center front is going to be a wrapped cross front, tying into the princess seams. I redrafted the neckline to slope across. I moved the shoulder line out from the high neck point ½ inch. I added notches to aid in matching the pieces.

Next I trace the back sloper and draw in the princess style lines and open the neckline out by ½ inch just like the front. I also eliminated the back shaping.

Then I manipulate out the shoulder darts. Suzy Furrer, in her pattern drafting book, describes doing these steps first before removing the ease and adjusting the pattern for a knit. I also manipulate out the bust darts and the waist shaping.

I flipped the front centerpiece over and traced it. Then I slashed and spread between the notch just below the bust and the notch just below the waist. The right front will be gathered into the princess seam. The left front will be underneath and only go to just below the waist.

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Then I draw out the skirt on each piece by drawing out 24 inches from the waist. I wanted the hemline just below the knees. I also selected a point 2 inches below the low hipline where the skirt starts to angle out. I wanted it to skim the waist and hips then flare out at the bottom. I made the final hemline width twice the waist width on each piece. I may have to adjust this some for more flare.

Now I have to remove the ease on the side seams.  Plus I checked the shoulder seams to make sure it matched.  Now on to the sample!

Pyramid Dress Pattern

I have been eye balling this pattern for over a year and I finally got it for Christmas. It is the Center for Pattern Design’s Pyramid Dress, which I had seen in a Threads magazine article.   I loved it but was reluctant in my ability to work with bias cut fabric and afraid to spend $28 on a pattern that I was going to mess up. I kept looking for the perfect fabric and finally found some I think will work. My husband bought me the pattern for Christmas and I am ready to go.

I chose Vogue Fabrics Linaire in Sand. It has a nice loose weave that should collapse nicely on the bias. It is a polyester that is washable. I like most fabrics that come in contact with the skin to be washable, leaving the dry clean only fabrics to the jackets. This pattern went together pretty easily. I serged the edges of the fabric to prevent raveling.  The instructions were relatively simplistic and written for someone with experience. It did not have pictures for the steps as some others do. For someone who is visual like me, it can make it harder to not have a visual cue. It is also a good pattern to practice putting sleeve gussets in. The dress ended up being pretty long on me but that’s okay. If I make another one I can always shorten the square.

To go with my dress I made a slip of stretch charmuese with a pattern from Lekala. I haven’t worn a slip in years and didn’t own one. Since my fabric tended to be see-through I wanted a little extra layer. I made it out of a bright contrasting color so it could be seen at the neckline. This company has a ton of nice patterns but I have never bought a custom pattern that I had to piece together before. It is pretty easy to order the custom pattern online but I had some problems with the email delivery. Despite the problems with getting a confirmation number and the emailed pattern, the company was very responsive, found my order and resent it.

IMG_0815The pattern seems to have worked out well. It is like the pyramid dress pattern in that the instructions are simple and without pictures. Good for experienced sewers or people that are good at visualizing how to put things together.  I did not like and could not figure out how to put together the straps they had so I used some nice ribbon that I had instead.  It won’t be seen much any way. I bought another pattern from them as well that I hope to complete.

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Details for Inspiration

So I am an idea stealer. I admit it. I read magazines, look in couture shops, drool over pinterest, and surf the web to look for inspiration for sewing. I rarely find something I just love and it’s perfect. It usually has great detail but wrong color. Good color but wrong size. You get what I mean. So if I can get away with it I take pictures of the items that I find and note what I like so I may borrow it someday. Since about 10 years BP (Before Pinterest) I had binders and folders full of clippings and pictures. You remember those scrapbooks? Now I have folders of photos on my computer, phone, and pinterest just for inspiration. Often I just find a pattern to die for but can’t find the right fabric so I must wait.

So I was in store last spring and saw this cute dress and Chanel style jacket with great detail so I snapped a few pictures. Now I don’t wear pink and haven’t found the perfect fabric for this yet but I patiently wait. I’ll know it when I see it.

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Here’s the dress with the waist and hem detail.

This would look great in a loose tweed or boucle.   Any one tried this detail yet?