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!

Drafting a Knit Pencil Skirt

 

I think pencil skirts are very cute and my mom bought me one a while back. Every time I wear it I am reminded how uncomfortable they can be. I like to walk fast and they just don’t allow much movement. Forget going up stairs. So now that I have my new skirt block I wanted to draft a pencil skirt pattern and make one out of a heavy scuba double knit to mimic the firmness of a woven fabric. The knit will make it so much easier to walk in.

First I trace my block onto new paper in red pen.  I got so excited about my drafting that I forgot to take pictures of each step.  Sorry!

Then I make my first set of alterations in orange. I learned a trick some years ago about using the colors of the rainbow to determine what set of alterations I was on. It was hard to keep track of what the most recent alteration was so now I just look for the color the furthest down the rainbow! The next set of alterations includes marking the potential yoke and taper to the hem.

Then I cut out the pieces and tape the dart closed on the yoke. Next, I trace the pieces again to their final shape and  add the seam allowances, hem allowance, and the kick pleat extension on the back.  Next time I think I will do the final seam allowance and marker addition in black so when I am digging through all my paper copies I can tell which one is the final version.  I tend to not throw anything away until the project is finished, just in case.  But, then I find myself looking at all the versions trying to figure out what one I am on!

Notice I did not do a seam allowance at the center front as it will be cut on the fabric fold as will the yoke front. Now I am ready to cut my fabric. I chose a heavy scuba knit from Vogue Fabric Store in black.

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I assembled the skirt as if it were a woven fabric including a zipper in the back, seam stabilizer at the waist, and interfacing on the inner set of yokes.

The final skirt!

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Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 6: Summary of Lessons Learned

 

Wow, what an extensive project this was. It took a lot of time and a lot of trial and error to finally draft and fit a basic block pattern for myself. Once I got them all where I liked them I traced them on to poster board for durability. For the most part they will be traced on to paper and then altered to get the ease needed for the fabric.

The best bodice directions were: Suzy Furrer class in Craftsy

The best sleeve directions were: Madalynne

The best skirt directions were: Laura After Midnight

The best pant directions were: Burda Style

I am so excited to try and start drafting my own patterns!  I still have a few more blocks to make.  Suzy Furrer had several basic pant slopers she recommends and several sleeve slopers.  The thing with sleeves is they draft from the bodice so they probably have to be drafted every time.

If you read my post on the cowl blouse, then you probably saw my first pattern draft attempt.  My next step is to draft a knit pencil skirt.  Then I have a dress in mind I want to try.

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.

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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.

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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!

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 4: the Bodice take 2

I was not happy with how either of the blocks had turned out so I talked to a few people about moving on to a Craftsy class. The reviews for their classes were great so I will schedule the bodice drafting class.  I happened to find out they were offering a $30 credit towards a class and my class was free! I chose Pattern Drafting by Suzy Furrer. She has a bunch of classes on there for pattern drafting and I might just take them all.

I have been loving this class. I take my time and watch the videos sometimes twice before I started drafting. I developed my bodice blocks from the videos and finalized them with marker for cutting lines. I put the darts in a different color so I could visualize them easily. I love that this block has 3 darts for the bust outline to really make it form fitting. She has another class on dart manipulation that teaches you how to play with these.

Suzy has great instructions on how to transfer the blocks to the muslin as well. She has you trace and cut out the pieces in a princess seam and allows for proper fitting.

Now I am ready for the test fit!