Drafting Sewing Patterns

Another sewing blog, with an emphasis on making patterns for garments.

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Sleevy dress

I made this dress a couple of weeks before Christmas 2017.  Making it threw up so many possible design variations. Was this ok or just a stage on the route to something better?

The following days were busy with the usual pre Christmas blitz on the house, shopping, card writing, presents, but each time I had occasion to pop into the studio I liked it more and more. So pass judgement friends!

Silk Dress

Dress in Shot Silk

Hanger shots only I’m afraid, it’s too small for my smallest dress form.

It’s made in silk duppion, blue shot with red giving purple tones, and trimmed with red duppion.

It is not for me, as you will have gathered by the shortness of the skirt, and the wideness of the neckline.

The sleeve in this dress is based on something Rhonda Buss dreamt up . Ijust had to try it.  The draft of mine differs in a couple of ways but essentially it’s a straight crib. It’s fun to do. Someday I’m going to see how it turns out with the point in line with the little finger.

Crib of Rhonda’s Sleeve

I wanted  these sleeves to be detachable. None of the detachable sleeve ideas I’ve used up to now worked with this fabric so I started playing around with rouleau and figuring how loops might be fastened round the armhole. This is where multiple ideas started shooting off at tangents. I plumped for using bias strips, unhemmed and frayed to show the red warp threads. These are inserted into the seam between the facing and the bodice.

Feathery Ties

The rouleau is similarly inserted into the seam between the sleeve and a sleeve head facing.

Rouleau Loops

This arrangement gives a few possible ways of wearing the dress.

Without sleeves the bias strips can just be left open, a feathery mini sleeve around the armhole. They can also be knotted which gives the look of bows round the armhole.

Knotted Ties

The sleeve can be tied in completely, or the top of the cap can be folded down – cold shoulder anyone?

Sleeve Tied in

Cold Shoulder

The dress structure is otherwise standard – side bust darts, waist darts, back zip, all in one facing for the neck and armholes, set in sleeves.

Next post  the dirty details of construction.




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Stash has become pathological and so, for better or for worse, I’ve set myself the task of sewing up all of the unspecial fabrics in stash before the end of August. To this end, patterns at the reliable unexciting end of possibilities will be put in service. Quickish makes, standard wear.

I used a long held length of fabric to make a wrap dress for one daughter. The fabric is light grey, the weight similar to lawn, embroidered with dragonflies in white thread. I remembered it as cotton, but an accident with the iron put paid to that. By the rapidity of melt, I’d give it acrylic or viscose.

For the pattern, I intended to use one in a magazine ‘Fashion Style’ purchased in the papeterie whilst waiting for dh in physio. Once traced I found the bodice fit bore little resemblance to the block I’d drafted last time I was in London, so it was better to start from scratch. My draft has no waist seam, back waist darts, side bust dart, and inseam pockets and a wide sash, but otherwise closely resembles the magazine one.  Sorry about the fuzzy pictures, these are in the post so I can’t reshoot.

As the fabric was so light, I wanted to avoid any change in weight in the flared pieces and collar, so cut these singly and edged them with one of the stitches on my new machine (more about that in another post). As so often happens when you hang on to fabric for years, this wasn’t how I remembered, and may turn out to be too flimsy to be useful. I’ll think of it as a pattern test!

The second wrap dress/tunic used a length of satin backed crepe which was an online disappointment. That too was flimsier than I’d imagined placing the order and not suitable for its intended purpose. I made it reversible, cutting two fronts and backs, sewing one satin side out, one crepe side out, sandwiching bell shaped lace sleeves between the layers, keeping a small opening in each side seam at the waist and attaching long narrow ties at each front waist. The pattern is similar, but the fronts are shaped with a deeper curve so that they preserve decency when wrapped. Apologies for the fuzzy photos, garments were in the post before I uploaded them, so I can’t reshoot.

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Revised Plans

My thought, last October, was to reboot this blog in the first week of March. Plans were roughed out, but hey, that mice and men thing.  Family illness took me away for five weeks. I travelled back on 1st March, but, literally before getting the unpacking done I missed my footing on the cellar steps, fell, and broke my hip. So frustrating!

Right now I literally can’t get into the sewing room clattering the paraphernalia of a walking frame with me, but have hopes that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to organise some kind of embroidery or crochet to mix up with the reading I’m doing to pass the time.

Meanwhile, I’m slowly looking in on my favourite blogs and checking out what you’ve all been up to.

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Last Gasp

I’m not completely throwing in the sewing towel. I’ll probably still churn out a few garments. I am putting blogging out to grass for the immediate future, recognising that I don’t have the time left from commitments to do things well. Many thanks to my readers for passing by, commenting and encouraging. Happy stitching!

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Fabric Wiles

OK. So we all know that fabric can cast a spell on you. One moment you’re idly browsing, with no intention of adding anything to that guilt producing pile of stashed cloth. Just looking.

Then fabric starts whispering your name. “Hey, looky here. I would make a lovely, cosy winter sweater dress.”

Tempting Remnant!

“And Me, so flippin’ cheap . A fair amount of wool in me, three metres is plenty for almost anything.”

les-coupons-de-saint-pierre.fr 3m for 12 euro

But fabric knows how to play hard to get. Try designing just the right garment in the colour dream that would complement your wardrobe with added zing. Then start looking for the fabric. Suddenly, the perfect wool velour in taupe, mustard, dirty pink, sand has ducked right out of sight. Most likely New York has it all with eye watering postage and customs charges. We’ve got it in grey, green, red and half a metre of black.

Yes, fabric can shout out to you, conjuring up half a dozen tantalising designs, but the instant you slap down your credit card the teasing starts. “Can’t make a decision can you? Maybe I’m too crisp, too floppy, a colour that drains your face. I could be a dress, or shorts, or a shirt, perhaps a cape? But you can’t find the right pattern can you? That one’s perfect, but you got stingy and bought a metre short. Too bad.”

But just once in a while, as you hesitatingly cut the pieces for the garment you’re unsure about, hit on in desperation,  a last ditch bid to make a small dent in the stash, fabric sues for peace. “OK,” it says. “This could work.  I’m so nice to work with, fine but tough. Like a flower petal in beaten metal. I press nicely. I don’t stretch out of shape. I glisten, but subtly. My slubby texture stops me being too upfront with the glitzy. You win”

In short I liked working with the shot silk, it’s surprisingly forgiving. It’s had to be, as a distracted day had me ripping out wrongly assembled pieces like a crazy woman. An artistically frayed self trim looked naff with the new mauve on black zip and had to go. The first collar didn’t cut it. Mrs Mole’s brilliant new-to-me zipper insertion came out too stiff to let the blouson blouse. The silk recovered from this onslaught. The unpicking didn’t leave guilty traces. I got it finished.

Blouson in Shot Silk




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Last post I asked for opinions on finding the right zip fastener dilemma. Overwhelmingly the response was to go with the closer colour match and lighter weight. Many thanks to contributors for their thoughts. Morgan summed up the problem neatly

“Perhaps it’s all about the ‘look’ you want and how much of a feature you want the zip closure to be. eg. swish/elegant with a lightweight gold metal zip with an interesting feature zip pull, or everyday sporty casual with a semi-chunky nylon/plastic zip, etc.”

Exposed zippers inevitably draw the eye. I decided to face facts – neither of my Myrtille buys cut the mustard. I hate folding work and putting it away, but this time it had to go on hold while I tried online. I’ve used Rascol before, they’re not mega cheap for haberdashery, but are quick and reliable. A matching purple or mauve could only be had in a similarly plasticky chunky looking zip, there was a diamente job (one of Morgan’s suggestions), on black, very tempting. They had a lightweight black separable, a metal one also on black with a nicer pull and a mauve spiral on black. I ordered all three, but lean to the mauve on black.

Mauve on Black Left

I now need to change the design details  to work with this plan alteration – probably black lining and black trim round the pockets.

While waiting I struck off a smaller size in a pattern I’ve used to death, and made up yet another pair of fairly wide leg trousers in black poly crepe – not very special, but we need to determine if the new size is right for a recently shrunk daughter before splashing out on better cloth.

Yet Another Vogue2981

Also ongoing is an alteration to a dress for another daughter. She bought this from an East London shop but wanted the central panels changing from the print of old cars to black needlecord. It’s basically a simple style – princess line with the side panels cut longer in the skirt and pleated up. I think the shop does one off designs on the premises, must check it out next time I’m in London.

Dress from Recycled Pieces

Unfortunately she’d begun unpicking before yelling help, and didn’t mark the pleats first. Not a huge difficulty, but it took a bit longer. The lining is facing back the neckline, so that had to come out too.

With Black Panels

It’s smaller than my stand and the back won’t zip up, but you can see how the style works. The needlecord is unusually fine and light, this came from tissus net. I like the exaggerated curves in the centre panel,  you can see these nicely in black. DD has plans for further embellishment.

Rascol sent my stuff quickly, but domestic issues put everything on hold. There are three in my immediate family with fluctuating medical conditions, the sort that go from routine care to needing urgent attention at the drop of a hat. At times like these I wonder if I’m completely mad to plan making anything trickier than lunch. Panic is over now, I should be able to assemble the blouson jacket in the next week.



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Catherine posted about the difficulty of matching a grey wool for her Oxford Bags.  Descending on Myrtille looking for a deep purple open ended zip with metallic teeth and if possible something not boring for a zip pull was an act of hope bordering on idiocy.

I came away with these two:-

Purple Plasticky Zip

Navy Metal Zip

My fabric is a slubby silk duppion in a deep violet shot with viridian. You can see how it’s woven in this bit which has been snagged.

Viridian Warp Purple Weft

These two colours make for an exciting bit of shading, deep purple in some lights, more subdued and fading to green in others.

I’m making it up into a blouson style jacket, with raglan sleeves. Pattern is part drafted though I was very tempted by this pattern. That needs some matching, or at any rate toning ribbing to carry it off , which suggests that making it in black is the way to go, so I’ll keep it in mind for another day. Experience tells me that difficulties in zip matching can be multiplied tenfold when looking for ribbing.

Annoyingly I can’t reach a decision on the zip. The purple one is lighter weight, not a perfect match but at least in the colour ballpark. Lighter weight could be a better match for the fabric, but still, it looks a bit anorakky. No open ended nylon zip was on the rails, so going delicately invisible wasn’t an option. Then there’s the metal zip, which has a more authentic look but could be too heavy and is on a navy tape.

Last resort, scrub the zip, put in a fly front and use buttons or snaps. Any thoughts fellow stitchers?


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