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 Sloper of Pattern Block part 5.5: the Sleeve Muslin


As you can see my Suzy Furrer sleeve muslin looks pretty good but I had some trouble easing the sleeve cap in to the sloper so it may have to be adjusted slightly. The height looks good but just a little wide.


Here is the Madalynne sleeve.


Here are some cap sleeves I am trying to draft for this blouse I am making.


I didn’t even make a muslin of the weird one with all the darts at the elbow.  I just never thought I’d use it.  Overall I think the Madalynne sleeve fit the best and had the easiest instructions.  There was less ease that needed to be worked in and it fit together the easiest.

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block 4.5: the new Bodice Muslin


Here is the Suzy Furrer bodice in final form on the dress form! Now I have a great set of bodice blocks. I am going to finalize them by fusing with interfacing on the back so they can stand up to a lot of use.


So I learned that you make a moulage first. It is a sloper that has like a second skin fit to get the person’s exact body shape. Then she turns it in to a sloper by adding just a bit of ease to make a close fitting garmet. Suzy says you need to add this ease every time so if you do it once you have a good sloper to start all you designs from.


Here’s my sloper finally done on poster board (get 2 for $1.00 at Dollar Tree!) I hang mine on a clip pant hangar in the closet or on the wall to protect it. This was so good and so much fun that I think I will go back and make new skirt and pant slopers from her book that I bought or just buy the Craftsy Class for those too!

Full Circle Blouse Outfit

Circle blouse outfit

This blouse fabric is VF155-27 from Vogue Fabric Store. I love their swatch program and reasonable prices. I get 5 catalogs a year and usually make at least 3 outfits per year. My outfits usually cost $100 for 3 pieces in coordinated fabric. And they fit me perfectly! I don’t know where I would find that in a store! For this outfit, I made pants out of matching polyester fabric VF155-30, McCall’s pattern 5941 view E. I customized this wide leg pant pattern to my shape and I’m not giving it up since it is out of print. It has become my goto pant pattern because of the smooth wide waistband and flat fit with no darts or pleats. I usually add pockets to this pattern (look for my next tutorial on pocket drafting. I suggest finding a similar style and making a custom fitting. I paired this outfit with a sweater I had made previously out of a Vogue Fabrics knit VF111-39 in Vogue pattern 8780.

Classic Jacket Style

One of my favorite things to make are jackets. I love jackets and I love layered looks, plus I always get cold in offices with air conditioning. I need an outer layer. My favorite jackets are fitted and classic in styling. I am not a big fan of the boxy fit seen more today. I tend to stick with a pattern that works for me because once I have done all that altering and fitting work you can’t make just one!

My go to jacket pattern is the Simplicity 4954.  I see it is sadly out of print.  You might still be able to find it on ebay.  I love it for the variations you can make. It is also relatively easy because it has no lapels, which makes it easy to alter and design. The first one I made was probably 8 years ago out of this neat brown boucle (on the right).  It had too much stretch so I interfaced the whole thing.  I still get compliments on it.

 4954                                                  brown jacket

Next I made a spring jacket with new details like zippers in the sleeves and a bracelet clasp as the closure.

spring jacketspring jeacket sleeve detail                                                                       Springs jacket clasp detail

Next I started experimenting with peplums thanks to my Threads magazine. I wanted a gathered peplum so not only did I have to spread the hem to get the width I needed I also had to spread the patter at the back and at the front so I could gather in those two places. It came out pretty good in a light weight tropical wool from Vogue Fashion Fabrics (more on them later).

peplum jacket                                                            peplum jacket back

Then I got it into my head I wanted a traditional Chanel style jacket. So I bought Claire Schaffer’s guide book and followed it. I didn’t go all the way and do all the details but I did a lot and it was great. Too bad that was before I was blogging.   Her pattern is a Vogue Pattern 8804.

chanel jacket                        chanel jacket 2

I was browsing through the websites to see what else was out there and I didn’t find much in a classic princess seam style like I have so I’ll be hanging on to that one. There were a few nice ones on Vogue, 9093 and 8982. I might have to try the more modern unlined one!

V8804                                                        V8982