Stingray Magic

Third post about drafting from Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics by Tomoko Nakamichi with passing reference to several other pattern making gurus.

Stingray, drafting directions on page 100, is a little wonder. I put the half scale on my cute little PGM dress form and was pondering a few design developments, wool jersey dress with tight sleeves and wide belt and long skirt coming up as favourites, when another member of the tribe poked her head round the door and placed an order. ” I want one exactly like that!”. So, there you have it, broadly appealing, and with plenty of options. Here it is.

Basically, a dress with side cowls, of which you can find a whole bunch in patterns and books. Here’s an old designer Vogue, a Christian Dior, from the 80s I think. Forget the jacket and it could be ripe for resurrection. I’d sew up that wrap over a bit too.

The cowl here has a much more fluid look and fits closer, not all down to the fabric differences. The pattern pieces are quite a different shape. Vogue below.

The Pattern Magic pattern is obtained with direct drafting. You end up with a piece at the side which forms a kind of pocket, reminiscent of the pocket effect of kimono sleeves.

The front is drafted and the back copied from it, with only the neckline tweaked. If you read my last post, you’ll know how I feel about identical front and back bodice patterns, but it would be easy enough to draft the top with a darted block and marry it up to a skirt part per the book directions. The bodice is princess seamed, so lots of scope for getting a decent fit. The English translation is a little weird – you get told to ‘create a mountain fold … to give three dimensional space to the sides’. No need to worry, the construction is really straightforward and quick, and the folds fall where intended.

I like the emphasis of this cowl version, it comes out looking less serious and more fun than  conventional skirt cowl drafts.

Quick run down of examples in some of my pattern cutting books, sort of cowl history.

Hillhouse and Mansfield. Not just side long cowls in the skirt sides, but sleeve cowls too.


M.Rohr. Cowls running from high on the hipline, placed on the front skirt at about the position of the dart on the block.


Natalie Bray, very smart and crisp looking cowls running from panel lines – the office dress approach?


Winifred Aldrich, cowl lines running between the dart placement on front and back.


And finally “The Art of Dress Modelling” by Lily Silberberg and Martin Shoben has a fair few examples of fluid side and side front cowls. This one has been lurking in my UFO drawer for a few seasons, after I got cold feet about actually wearing the droopy crotch look.


About jay

I design and draft patterns
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8 Responses to Stingray Magic

  1. bela s. says:

    Another great post. I’m slim hipped so the cowl emphasis on the hip is really a look that works for me. Burda has a current, similar style as the pants you posted, but the crotch is not low ( I’m not a fan of the crotch to the knees either.) Your half scale stingray is already looking like a beautiful evening wear piece in progress.


  2. Me too, slim hipped that is and as I have no waist cowl at the hips is perfect for me on that count too. I wonder if you’re going to make this one up, with tweaks, full sized ….


  3. Pingback: Stingray launch | Pattern Pandemonium

  4. I am trying to make a cowl skirt and I am having a hard time, I dont understand how to make the pattern 😦 Any advise how to do it? any link? thanks. Greetings from Norway. I must mention that I am just a novice in sewing.


  5. Pella says:

    Hi Livo, there are a lot of different kinds of cowl skirt. I wonder if you are new to sewing you would find it easier to buy a pattern than try to draft one. I am working through reviews of my pattern drafting books – more recent posts. If you want to learn to draft and can’t get to classes, a good book is a big help.


  6. Pingback: Prepping | Sew 2 Pro

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