Monday, February 28, 2011

In which I dabble in pattern drafting and well, yay!

Here it is, the last day of February, and finally I have a dress to show!  This one took the full month, both because I've been busy with other stuff (mainly work) and because I started out to make a different pattern, failed (or it failed me ... a little of both, perhaps?) and had to go back to the drawing board.

Here's the pattern I set out to make.  Looks innocent enough, right?  Well, it turned out to be "teen" sized, which is vintage code for "designed for someone way shorter than me".  There was also something weird about the way it was drafted.  I got the bodice together, but it did not look like the picture.  The bottom neckline slanted a a weird angle.  The fit was poor.  It was just bad news all around.  (Expect to see this pattern on Etsy sometime in the near future.  Caveat emptor.)

I really, really loved the styling, though, and I might have pouted a bit to my husband about it.  "Couldn't you draft that?" he asked.    Well not from scratch ... but what if I took a pattern that does work for me as a starting point?   That seemed achievable, so I got out Butterick 6149 and went to work.

Here's what I ended up with.  And can I say, it really wasn't so hard?   What was I afraid of?

I made the following changes to the bodice (the skirt remained unchanged):

1.  Altered the left and right front bodice pieces so that one was a few inches longer, and the other a few inches shorter, in order to get the asymmetric placing of the buttons.

2.  Figured out how big a scallop I wanted, and drafted a half-circle piece to trace.  I started off thinking I wanted four scallops, but it looked too busy, so I tried three and that works for me.   I accounted for the seam allowance as I measured, so that the bottom scallop wouldn't disappear into the waist seam.

3.  I liked the neckline from Butterick 6149, but didn't want it to be so dramatic on this dress, so I relaxed the angle a bit.

That's it!   For some reason, it came out a bit loose in the waist, which is probably a sewing rather than drafting error.  But I like it, and heck, I find a looser fit more comfy anyhow.  (And I'm afraid style loses to comfort every time with me.  Sad but true.)

The fabric is some sort of cotton with a subtle stripe to it, probably purchased from the clearance section at High Fashion Fabrics, but I don't remember for sure.   Weight-wise, it's probably not that different than quilting fabric, but it has a different hand to it -- hard to explain.  The lining is aqua voile that matches the buttons, plus I used the last of my red polka-dot fabric from Butterick 6149 to the bodice front facings.  So yes, what looks like a whimsical combination of aqua buttons and red stitching is actually anal-retentively color coordinated with the inside of the dress.   :)

Still no pictures of any dresses on me, but here's a final dress-in-the-garden shot.  The dog even got in on this one -- it's almost like I'm there, right?

I'm not sure what I want to make next.  Maybe it's time to make some skirts, which arguably I wear a lot more than dresses.  I could add some fun decorative elements to otherwise simply-shaped skirts, like a pleated hem, or more scalloped edges.    On the other hand, I have a 1930s pyjamas pattern with a top that I think would make a cute blouse.  And my vintage dress patterns always beckon.   Argh, I really need to sew faster or find some more free time!


  1. Awesome! I love your contrast facing!

  2. Very cute, I love the contrasting colour combos and the scalloped edge.

  3. This is such a unique dress both in color and in style. I really like it! You did a remarkable job changing the bodice to your liking! I also like bright colors with neutrals, so the lining and buttons are winners in my book!

  4. This is gorgeous Angela! The colour is so different and I love anything with scallops...your contrasting facing is too cute as well. Well done on the draftng front, it sounds like a scary process, but you made it sound easy ;o)

  5. Wow, I'm really impressed! I wouldn't know where to begin drafting changes like that yet. It came out really cute, love the scallops and the little peek of polka dots in the facing!

  6. I LOVE this - the scalloped edge, the contrast of the buttons, the red facing with polka dots. Well done, this is a beautiful dress :-)

  7. Love the contrast. I posted a comment about the red button holes in Sew Retro stopping here shows it off more.

    Love it! You did a fantastic job