Drafting a Bodice Sloper for Knits

 

At the end of Suzy’s class for a bodice sloper, she tells you how to take your woven sloper and design a knit sloper. Two slopers for the price of one!

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Here’s my drafted knit bodice sloper. It’s very curvy and should be tight fitting. She suggests tracing it onto colored tag (I use poster board) so that you can easily see that it is a knit sloper.

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So I did up a practice garment for a knit top because I want to make a knit flare dress. I have to check the fit first of course.

Drafting a Short Sleeve Cowl Blouse

 

I was so excited to have a sloper block so I could start drafting my own patterns! I also want to learn how to use my block to help alter readymade patterns to fit better.

I wanted to draft this cowl blouse for this lovely silk I bought at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco.   I traced my sloper and followed the directions in Suzy Furrer’s pattern drafting book to make the cowl blouse. I altered it by making the hem 1.5 inches below the waist. The rest I did by following the directions.

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Here’s the first pass that I whipped up in muslin. It won’t have the same drape but it give me a good start. I felt it was a little loose in the back so I think I will do the darts.

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Before cutting that beautiful silk, I’ll make one more sample out of less expensive fabric but one that I might still wear. I am going to drop the hemline another inch and then add a 1.5 inch hem allowance.

Not bad for the first sample.  I am going to do another one that includes the cap sleeve pattern that I will draft for it.  This process has helped me discover where there were challenges in construction as well.

I decided the hem needed to be longer and I added cap sleeves.

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Cute so far.  The final silk blouse had some challenges.  It was harder to sew than the polyester.  I used a tissue stabilizer to help feed the fabric.  I also has some problems with the hems  I have such a hard time with hems on bias cut fabric.  I think i need to just do a narrow hem and leave it at that.  I used french seams for all of the side seams except where the zipper is.  I used two layers of fabric for the sleeves so folded back on each other there is no hem.  I also added a small pleat into the cap sleeve for a little mote room.  You can’t even tell its there really but it helps with movement.  I tacked down all the facings so they didn’t flap.

 

Over all for a first drafting project this pattern turned out really nice!  I am so excited to wear it with my Style Arc Erin Culottes.

Half Circle Blouse Tutorial

I saw this great sleeveless blouse on Pinterest based on a circle skirt pattern.  It was so cute and looked pretty easy but I couldn’t find any tutorials or even another example.  There are other shirts based on a circle skirt but few like this.  So I will attempt to write my process so others can try it too.

Need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • At least 3 yds of fabric, should drape well 45”
  • Package of matching bias tape
  • Matching thread
  • Paper if you want to draft a pattern
  • Snaps, Velcro, or button
  1. Pattern Drafting:

I sketched my pattern out on a piece of paper first.  I measured my neck and then added an inch of overlap for fastening, then added seam allowances (I use 5/8” but use whatever you are used to).  That was my length for the neck band.  For finished width I decided on 2.5 inches so I doubled it and added seam allowances so my total was 17.5 inches long X 5 inches wide.  That was my neck band pattern.

Then I drafted the blouse pattern on a piece of paper.  I knew my fabric was going to be 58” which is 29” folded.  I then assumed I would fold the fabric over from the end to form a square 29” by 29”.  Now I had to do some fancy figuring (remember the geometry!) to figure out the rest of the measurements.  I know I wanted to gather the neck into the neck band to I wanted the neck opening to be double my neck size so for me that was about 30 inches.  In order to figure out how to mark my circle I needed the radius of the neck opening.  For those of you who have forgotten your geometry, radius = circumference/3.14.  So with a 30” circumference my radius was 4.77 inches.  The radius for your hem circle is as wide as your fabric will allow, which for me is 29”.

circle blouse pattern

  1. Cutting the circle:

So I wanted to do a practice mock up before cutting into my favorite fabric to I went to Joann’s with my coupons and got some nice fabric for a trial run.  When I got home I realized the fabric I liked was only 41” wide.  I want to keep my original pattern and make the next one like that.  I modified the original pattern to be only a half circle. So I folded the fabric in half and drafted my circle.  I had to adjust the neck radius because I still wanted the circumference for my neck to be approximately 30” on the half circle.  All I did was double the radius (about 10 inches) I found for my full circle measurement and there was my new neckline.  For the hemline I just used the rest of the fabric and made it as wide as possible; I can always shorten it.

half circle cut           draft with sleeves cut

  1. Estimating the armholes:

Once I have the half circle draped on the dress form, I pin the seam up to under the arm.  Then I estimate the length of the armholes.  I cut the non-seam side down to match where I pinned the seam so I had two slits on each side.  Then I wanted to round the armholes for a better fit and face them with bias tape.  I used a cup to give some shape and cut a teardrop shape.

armhole 1                                armhole 2armhole 3                      armhole on dressform

I think the arm holes are a little low so I will take the neckline down an inch after I do the facing since I have plenty of length and a little more fabric gathered into the neck won’t hurt.  Now I know I need to start with shorter armholes.

  1. Face the armholes:

I wanted to practice using bias tape facing for my armholes so I made bias tape out of a fat quarter that complimented the fabric.  I followed this bias tape tutorial and found it easy.  I used the Scientific Seamstress’ bias tape maker to fold it instead of buying one.

armhole facing

  1. Gather the neck and finish the neckband:

The neckband is interfaced with a light facing.  Press it right sides together and sew the sides.  Turn and press again and then turn the hem under and press. I marked the sides of the neckband with a little over lap for snaps.  Gather the front between the armholes so it fits in the front half of the neckband.  Right sides together and sew, keeping the other layers free.  Do the same with the back.  Fold the neckband down so the gathered part is between the two layers and the hem is turned under.  If you made the back or inside of the neck band a little longer than the front you can stitch in the ditch to secure the inside of the neckband to the front.  Sew on snaps at neck side.

sewing into neckband                                stitching in the ditch

  1. Hem:

I wanted to face the hem with the same as the armholes but didn’t have quite enough to do it so I settled for a narrow hem using my narrow hem foot.  I have a hard time keeping it lined up right so it is not as neat as I’d like.  I have to keep practicing.

hem

  1. Make a belt (optional):

I didn’t have much fabric left so I just made a bias strip, folded it in half and sew.  Turn it so the right side is out and iron.  Sew ends close.  Or you can skip the belt for a maternity shirt or use a store bought belt.  You could also make a coordinating belt out of a men’s tie!

final                                    final back

Clothing from Scarves: the Top

So I saw this beautiful over shirt in a window in Las Vegas.

1 Scarf poncho inspiration

I just had to go into the store and inspect it closer to see if it was easy to copy.  It looked so easy, like two of the same scarves attached together with a few buttons.  They showed it worn as in the picture or you could turn it to have the buttons go down the front and back and the sides short.   Very cool.

I searched and search and could not find 2 scarves with the great border detailing that would look so good like this.  I settled on a scarf for $11 in a souvenir shop that I could at least try something similar with.  I will keep looking for scarves like these!

So I had a long scarf that I folded in half length-wise and creased.  I found the center by folding it again in half width-wise so I knew where to start my neck hole.  I measured my dress form to estimate how wide I wanted the neck hole to be and cut it.  Tried it on and it fit great, so I used the serger to bind (with a rolled hem) the neck hole with a little stabilizer for support.  You could also use seam binding sewn on if you don’t have a serger.  I put it back on and realized the sleeves (sides) were just too long so I measured to my wrist and shortened them accordingly, again using a rolled hem to finish all four sides.

After trying it on again I thought it would work better if it didn’t fly around so much so I put it on the dress form and sewed 2 seams up the sides with a loose fit.  Ta Da!  Instant (well almost) shirt.

scarf poncho on form

I saw that crop shirts are back in but if you are like most of us, wearing one is just not that flattering.  I got the look of the crop without being too obvious by layering a crop turtle neck under my overshirt.  Paired with a pair of black pants and fun shoes and I am all set!  I received 3 compliments on the first day I wore it!  Some from strangers approaching me in the mall!

Clothing from Scarves: the Vest

I have been playing around with making clothes from scarves.  I love scarves and I have quite a few big ones from traveling to different countries.  It’s a great way to bring home a little fabric from a beautiful place.  And I love fabric!  The size doesn’t really matter but ideally you want the width to be at least as much as or greater than twice your arm length for the best drape.  The total over all height should be at least 3 times your armhole size, roughly 30 inches.

So here’s the final product and if you play with it you can wear it different ways.

final outfit                                                   open vest

It was so easy to make too.  First you find the middle by folding in half, width wise. Iron it so you have a crease to help you stay oriented.  Figure out how wide you are from shoulder to shoulder by having a friend help you measure or try your dress form.  Divide this number in half and you will use that number as your measurement from the middle to the arm hole.

2 scarf vest folded

Now in order to figure out how far from the edge you put the armholes, you fold the scarf in half lengthwise twice, so your arm holes will start a quarter (1/4) of the total width of the scarf from the edge.  Press the fold to mark it for you.  Lay the scarf flat and measure from the middle crease, half your back width, mark with a pin on your quarter crease.

How long your armholes are is personal preference. Mine are usually 10-12 inches. So once you’ve got the starting point for your arm holes, cut them open using a pin to mark where to end.  Start by cutting smaller and try it on.  You can always cut more but you can never cut less!  I then use my serger and some thin (1/4) inch stabilizer to do a rolled hem on the edge of the arm hole.  A final pressing to bond the stabilizer and iron out the folds and you are ready to wear.

shoulder binding

You can see I made a knit top that has a wrap neck to mimic the vest.  I chose Vogue 7799 View C, which is sadly out of print.  I am glad I kept that pattern.  A good alternative is McCall’s 6513.  Or Kwik Sew 3915.  Hello stay tape, where have you been all my life.  I started using stay tape after watching an episode of Sewing with Nancy.  She explained all the different stay tapes and how to use them to help your knits.  Now I was using a nice, light rayon knit for my top and I used woven stay tape on the shoulders.  I wanted some support on the top of the armcycle seam as well and I couldn’t find any knit stay tape at Joann’s so I made my own out of some knit iron-on interfacing, putting it from notch to notch.  I left the bottom without interfacing because the seam has to give somewhere.  I love the results and will never go with out stay tape on knits again!

shirt to go withsupported shoulder seam