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 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 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.

Pattern Review: Style Arc Erin Culottes

Since I started seeing culottes on the fashion pages I figured I needed a pair. I was hoping to make a nice light pair for summer to go with my silk cowl blouse. Since I haven’t completed my pant sloper yet, I thought I’d try the Style Arc pattern Erin Culottes. Of course they must be made for me if they have my name!

The nice thing about Style Arc is they often give you free patterns. Each pattern is one size so you tell them your size, they print it up and send it to you. They are printed on very nice heavy paper, not tissue. The down side is the instructions are very simple and have no pictures. I think they would be hard for beginners and may be hard for a visual person like me. I am going to give it a go.

I made a good test muslin like any good designer should do, so I could adjust fit before cutting my fashion fabric. It also let me practice following the instructions to make the final project easier.  The waist ended up being too long so it had to be shortened a bit to fit correctly. These are so loose fitting that they do not need much fitting. I forgot to take a picture of the muslin before cutting it for another project so no picture, sorry.

My fashion fabric is not very expensive but I was glad to practice anyway. It is a simple linen-look polyester from Joann’s. I usually pick a higher quality fabric for my clothes but I got tired of looking for the perfect fabric and settled on this.

Another new thing for me was the seam allowances, they are only 3/8”, which is smaller than I am used to but they worked just fine. All in all, the pattern went together very easily and came out great. I can’t wait to try another Style Arc pattern. They are a nice company and send you a free pattern when you buy one. What a deal!

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These are my own opinions and I have not been compensated for this review, nor are the links affiliate links. I merely like to share my experiences with others.

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.

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 5: the Sleeves

 

I decided to try a couple of sleeve tutorials as I always have Suzy Furrer and Craftsy to fall back on!

So I drafted a basic sleeve from Suzy Furrer’s book because she drafts a sleeve off the basic bodice sloper. It is a very custom sloper where the armhole curve for the back and front are often different for someone like me that has somewhat forward sloping shoulders.

Then I drafted a sleeve from Madalynne. Her tutorials are well written and thoughtful. The sloper went together easily and the back of the armhole measurement is slightly longer than the front. The only issue may be that that is doesn’t fit my bodice sloper because it is not drafted off those measurements.   It was drafted off my commercial size for the sleeve cap and then incorporated my bicep measurement and sleeve length. The layout of the blog could have been a little better as I had to constantly scroll back up to the pictures to follow the instructions.

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Next was a sleeve from Trantanphat. It was a totally different type of sleeve with these interesting darts at the elbow. What was unique about this tutorial, other than the darts was the fact that you enter your measurements in the first page and they calculator figures out all the other measurements for you. (It does a lot of the math!) This is kind of handy and speeds up the process immensely.   Again, this one is not based on the sloper measurements so it will be interesting to see how they fits.

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These should be interesting to fit into the sloper that I have from my Craftsy class.  I did use Clothing Patterns 101 tutorial for my cap sleeve. The easiest sleeve yet! We’ll see how they turn out.  There are also some good tutorials from Threads and Craftstylish.  I read those but didn’t draft them.

Now to test fit these into my sloper bodice!