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.

img_1045

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.

img_1024

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!

img_1050

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!

img_1021

 

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 Sloper or Pattern Block Part 3: Pants

So now that I have a skirt sloper, I need a perfect pant sloper. I am notoriously picky about my pants. If they fit in the waist they don’t fit my hips. If they fit my thighs they are too big in the waist. It’s just frustrating. Previously I custom fitted McCall’s 5941 to my shape and have a great go to pants pattern but I’d like a little variety.  So I wanted a standard pant to draft variations from.  I already have an idea of the first pattern to draft from these!

sewinghow to pantSo the first sample is from Sewing.Wonderhowto.com. These look pretty good but the first thing I noticed was that it didn’t account for thigh circumference and since that is one of my problem areas, I kind of wish it did. This tutorial was easy to follow and looks close to pants patterns I have used in the past. Also the darts aren’t very deep so I am not sure how it will fit around the rear. We will see!

burda cut pantThe next is from Burdastyle.com. This one has two back darts so I think it will fit the rear better. This one went together fairly easily, even when I had to go back and correct my measurement errors. This one didn’t account for thigh circumference either but it looks the closest to my current favorite pants pattern. It has nice straight from the knee legs that you could easily adjust to hang from the hip. The back has a curved hem which is different than any other pant I have done but it will probably make the pant hang better in the back. You have to excuse the typos in the tutorial, they call the crotch a “crutch” and a few other misspellings because I think the original designer may not have been a native English speaker.

pant cotoureThe last trial is InthemoodforCouture.com. It looks the most complicated of the three, with various fitting adjustments for different body types. With complications probably comes better fit. This one was a little more difficult to complete. It did not automatically put in the darts and I left them off to be added when fitting. It does not seem to take into account the curviness of the butt, hip, and waist but we will see when we get to the muslins.

Now for the muslin test!

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 2.5: the Skirt Muslin

So here is the Allspice Abounds skirt sloper. As you can see it doesn’t fit that well in the front or over the rear. A skirt must fit over the rear correctly or you won’t have a good hemline. This one came out so-so, probably because I did not have the full instructions.

Next was the LauraAfterMidnight version. Much better! I like the way it hangs flat in the front and smoothly over the rear. Somehow it ended up a little short on the waist and too big in the hips but those are easy alterations.

Here’s LauraAfterMidnight after a little alterations. I really like the placement of the front darts. They are placed a little farther apart than usual. The skirt fit my hip well that way.   I think I found my skirt sloper!

 

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 2: the Skirt

So drafting the skirt was WAY easier than the bodice. I should have started there. Most of the blogs and skirt drafting were very similar so I ended up doing two that had different dart placements.

The first was Lauraaftermidnight’s Blog. Hers is based on a drafting book called Metric Pattern Cutting by Winfred Aldrich. I have seen many posts on this book so it seems to be a favorite among pattern drafters. Might be time to buy it. So I whipped up a skirt sloper just by following the pictures.

IMG_0686

Next I found a drawing of a dart variation on Allspice Abounds’ Blog.   There were no instructions but based on the picture and the instructions on the other blog I could make an approximation in my measurements. Hers is based on the Handford drafting book. It is probably a good book but a bit pricey at over $100.

IMG_0689

I just guessed at the length because first through the hips is what matters in a skirt.  You can adjust from flare to pencil and vary the length as you want.  So these were pretty easy. Let’s see how they fit when translated to muslins.

Drafting a Sloper or Pattern Block Part 1: the Bodice

I figured that with my interest in modifying patterns to fit me it is about time I draft my own sloper or pattern block. A sloper or pattern block is a basic pattern custom fitted from which all other patterns can grow. I’ve never made one before but sure am going to try. I hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful pattern drafting journey.

Following my mantra of read several tutorials first, I found the following tutorials:

http://sewing.wonderhowto.com/how-to/draft-basic-bodice-pattern-0120717/

https://opensourcestitches.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/pattern-drafting-101-drafting-the-basic-bodice-block/

http://www.madalynne.com/how-to-draft-a-front-bodice-sloper-update

I will try each one and see if they come out the same. If I get really desperate then there are always the wonderful online classes at Cratsy.com to walk me through it.

So for my first draft I tried the Open Source Stiches sloper, which was supposed to end up with both a front and back sloper. Needless to say something went wrong.

open source stitches

I think it was somewhere around Step 11 and the shoulder length must be wrong.  I read the directions several times and followed them exactly but either the explanation for measuring is wrong or just plain confusing. I also note several other places where I had questions such as step 10 where at first I wondered if they were talking about armscye circumference or depth and step 14 where they ask for a measurement from armscye seam to armscye seam. I wasn’t sure if it was where the arm meets the body or under the arm at the side seam.

So this one didn’t even make it to the muslin stage.

Round 2 was the Madalynne sloper, front and back. The instructions looked pretty good with some measurement diagrams. Over all it was pretty easy but there are some confusing parts. On the front the diagram has a very exaggerated dart and no good description of where to place the dart. So mine didn’t look like the picture. There is also no dart to the shoulder as I often see in front slopers.

The back was pretty easy to follow as well but there was no instruction on where to start drawing on the paper. Also, there is a naming error from the measuring diagram (neck width) to the measurement list (back neck) so that was confusing. One of the letters “U” wasn’t on the drawing so I had to guess from the instructions where it was.

I had to measure twice because the measurement diagrams were a little confusing to my measurement helper (non-sewing husband). I recommend a sewing partner to take measurements.

Round 3 was the Sewing Wonder How To basic bodice pattern. This one I am not sure will work out as the armscye does not look right. It does not look deep enough on the front or the back. I also has some ease added at the waist on the front and back but no ease anywhere else. That seems odd to me. The sloper should be very form fitting with minimal ease and then the ease built in when it is turned into a pattern. They also have you make the neck measurements as a fraction of the waist measurement and I am not sure there is a proven ratio there at all.   My last and final criticism is that there are no clear measuring instructions which are critical to a sloper. I think I may have measured a few of mine wrong because they just didn’t make sense.

sewing wonder howto

So far the Madalynne instructions are in the lead but stay tuned for the muslins and fitting on the dress form to see who is the true winner.