Category Archives: adventures in patterndrafting

Adventures in drafting // christmas dress 2016

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

velvet xmas dress

OHAI. It’s been a while.

I realized the other day that while I’ve alluded to certain things, I haven’t actually talked about anything life-related in a while. So here’s a life update in a  nutshell:

Last year I decided that my old career was not exactly panning out to be what I wanted (a lot of this had to do with licensing regulations in California, but that’s boring and not sewing-related).  At the same time, I had signed up for a flat pattern class at the local CC just to have something to do while I looked for a new job after moving from Boston back to California. Pretty much by week 3 of the class I decided I was going to need to switch careers.  The next semester I signed up for a full class load. Now I’m finishing up my last semester (well, technically I’ll have one last class next semester) while interning as a pattern maker for a local designer.

So, lots of changes going on in the last year! Spoiler alert: I love it.

Anyway, full time school + internship + part time job means not so much time for blogging, which I really miss. I have a whole pile of clothes I’ve sewn in the last six months that need to be photographed. I keep being hesitant to do it because it’s too cold outside. And then I remember I used to do this in Boston, in the snow, in 30 degree weather. I’m shivering just thinking about it. -_-

ANYWAY, now that we’re all caught up, meet this year’s Christmas dress.

The backstory is that my friend kept buying these gorgeous velvet dresses from Anthropologie, and then we planned a weekend holiday trip and decided one evening we would wear velvet dresses. So I got on Pinterest and looked for velvet dresses and found this lovely one by Holly Willoughby.

Making the pattern was pretty straightforward. Move bust darts to waist and turn them into gathers, neckline yoke thing, V-front cutout that meets in the middle, puffed sleeve with gathers that don’t go all the way to the armhole. Since I was using velvet and didn’t want to bother with a separate lining, I made facings for the front and yoke to make it easier.

I used a cheapy stretch velvet from Fabrics ‘r Us because this was kind of an experiment. We’ll call it a Christmas muslin. It actually wasn’t that hard to sew together. I basted the tricky bits but other than that the pile of the velvet sort of acted like velcro and it mostly stayed put. I used stitch witchery for the hem and sleeve edge to avoid having a row of stitching. It stays put and I just think it looks nicer.

The beading was super fun and so quick now that I have a beading needle. I didn’t even bother buying new beads. I’ve done so many beading projects in the last few years that I have an assortment of extra beads and the original dress didn’t seem to have any distinct beading pattern so I just used what I had.

Anyway, I do kind of wish the insides were a little prettier (I was kind of rushed because this was one of two finals week procrastination projects) but I’m in love. It’s one of the comfiest fancy dresses I own and I’ve already worn it twice. The velvet makes it look dressy but the stretchy means more room for feasting.

Maybe I need one in green too..

 

 

Adventures in drafting // linen dragons

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This top completely unintentionally reminds me of Daenerys from Game of Thrones. I originally set out to copycat this top from Urban Outfitters and decided to use the leftover linen from my Mystery Fabric Contest dress. Somehow I ended up with a cute summery top that totally looks like something Khaleesi would wear if she were summering in modern day California.

This top, along with my off-the-shoulder tops, has basically been my uniform this summer, and I’ve been experimenting with different fabrics. The problem is that I feel like this linen is a little too stiff and sort of sticks out awkwardly from certain angles. But then I tried a much drapier fabric and it was too lightweight to hold its shape. I’ll have to keep playing. I did have to make a special bra to wear underneath which is basically a nude halter the same shape as the front.

Drafting was pretty simple. I drew lines, then contoured. The one thing I did differently that helped with fit was before I added the bias binding and straps, I put it on the dress form and pinned the straps and pleats into shape rather than trusting the lines. It ended up fitting pretty much perfectly that way.

Now back to fabric experiments.

Adventures in patterndrafting // mystery fabric contest

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

Mystery Fabric Contest dress

My school hosts a mystery fabric contest every year. This year participants received a bundle of mystery fabric, each one marked only with a number and the general color scheme of the fabric inside. You have from October to April to put together a garment using at least 50% of each piece of fabric included. Some people received several yards of the same fabric. Other people (ahem, me) received mostly tiny samples, with nothing bigger than a fat quarter. You can add as much fabric as you want too!

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I was pretty stumped for a while after getting my bundle. At first I was thinking of doing something big and dramatic a la Regina from Once Upon A Time (season 1-2), with one side done in a cool patchwork pattern and the other side in a solid or floral print, but I kept coming back to a fear of it coming out looking like a quilt so I nixed that idea. Then one day when I was working on Cinderella’s ball gown while simultaneously daydreaming about doing Cinderella’s wedding gown (I am a crazy person, yes.), I had a lightbulb moment. Why not do a modernized party dress version of Cinderella’s wedding dress, but with the same floral/mesh/gauzy look?

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I started off drafting a pattern for a dress with an upper yoke in a sweetheart neckline shape. Since I knew I wanted to sew the upper yoke in mesh and since I wanted it to have a more formal party dress kind of look, I did a lot of contouring around the princess lines and sweetheart neckline to make it more form-fitting. Then I just used the same skirt pattern as my Christmas dress. Since a lot of the fabrics in my bundle were linens in earthy colors, I went for a similarly earthy (but still somewhat fancy-looking) linen from Joanns in ivory.

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Construction-wise, I started off by taking the three identical pieces of sheer gauzy curtain fabric and sewing them together as a dirndl underskirt. Then I tore off all of the sample rectangles and cut up the backing fabric into similarly sized rectangles and sewed them together into a long piece (similar to what I did for my Cinderella ball gown). I then pleated  those and attached them in two tiers to the underskirt so they would peek out a bit under the main dress.

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I’d had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with all of the thicker embroidered fabrics (especially ones where the background fabric clashed) so I decided to cut the embroidery out of the fabric and sew it onto my dress.

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One of them was some kind of burlap-ish canvas and had a floral vine pattern so I cut out the vines and used them as the base for the hand-stitched design. Then I cut the background fabric into little flower shapes and folded them slightly and stitched them all over the garment.

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You may also have noticed the gorgeous colorful embroidered flowers on the horrid mustard background up there. Since the mustard really didn’t fit with anything, I decided to cut out all those little designs too and sewed them all over the dress for little hidden bits of color. Some of the bigger pieces ended up on the side of the skirt too.

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The end!

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You can check out some of the other submissions here. Tiny spoiler alert: my dress won first place!

 

 

Adventures in drafting // red wedding

Red dress

Red dress

Red dress

Red dress

Red dress

Red dresspattern: self-drafted // shoes: Cathy Jean

Haha just kidding. My friends’ wedding was lovely! No murderous musicians.

Anyway, I made this dress because a day before hopping on a plane to DC, I realized that every dress I owned was either black, white, one of the wedding colors, or more appropriate for winter.  So, I took a break from the Epic Peacoat Copycat of July to draft a quick pattern and then made an extremely panicked trip to Joann’s.

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I had found this photo somewhere on Pinterest (not sure where the original is from!) and wanted to do kind of a high-ish front, low-ish back sort of thing. I basically just lowered the neckline ~2″ and drew a new flatter neckline, did a sleeveless adjustment (bring armholes up 1/2″ and in 1/2″), then drew connecting curves from the new armhole up to the corner of the new neckline. Then I contoured the crap out of all it and moved the bust darts up and turned them into princess lines. The back was easy, I just repeated the sleeveless adjustment, closed the waist dart, and drew a line from from the armhole dipping lower at center back.

I didn’t have much time for tweaking but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! We were going through a bit of a heat wave last week so I was way too hot and miserable (and lacking in time) to deal with figuring out a bra for this one so I decided to just go bra-les. Eh, it worked out I think.

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How cool is this fabric though?? I briefly considered adding trim or some other detailing to the dress but a) no time, and b) it really didn’t need it because of the cool texturing. Also, thank you Great British Sewing Bee for teaching me that even more subtle patterns should really be centered.

(Yes, it’s still bothering me that I was totally off on this dress but I feel slightly redeemed after getting it right this time.)

In other news, all this red is making me miss my red hair.

Adventures in patterndrafting // tent labeling

Tent dress

Tent dress

Tent dress

Tent dress

Tent dress
dress: self-drafted // shoes: Seychelles

Dutch Label Shop sent me custom labels to try out free of charge, and all opinions, drafting errors, and leg injuries are my own.

I have a bit of a ridiculous obsession with tent dresses. I blame Lauren and 90% of Keiko Lynn‘s wardrobe. Anyway, when we reached the “dresses without waistline seam” part of my flat pattern class, I pounced on the tent dress draft for my homework garment.

My first idea was to go absolutely nuts and make something super flowy out of chiffon. But I decided to dial it back so I could see what the basic tent draft looks like, and so I could be responsible and use up some peachskin I had in my stash.

It’s a pretty basic draft. I started with a torso sloper (drafted using the method in Nora MacDonald’s Principles of Flat Pattern Design book). For the front, I left the waist darts alone but transferred the side bust dart to the waist as flare. Then I added a bit more flare by going out at the side seam. I did the same thing on the back except by transferring the shoulder dart to flare. Then you mark the point halfway between the armhole and waist line and blend a line about 1/2″ inward there. Lastly, I put the front and back pieces on top of each other to make sure the side curves matched up.

What you don’t want to do at this point is mistake your new indent that’s halfway up from the waist as the actual waist, and measure your skirt length from there. I didn’t realize I’d done this until I’d already cut the fabric and therefore ended up with a dress that ended mid-vagina. Not attractive. I thought about making it into a tunic but it just didn’t quite look right in this fabric. I ended up drafting a 3″ panel at the bottom which I think looks kind of cool. Another thing you probably don’t want to do is forget that you meant to have an upper back yoke and therefore don’t need a center back seam on the bottom piece. For the next one I will definitely cut that lower back piece on the fold.

Dutch Label Shop

Andd the best part is that inside the neckline is a lovely professional looking garment label! My Bernina does letters so I’d tried my hand at making my own labels on twill tape before. They turned out pretty cute actually, but a bit too rustic for fancier clothes. These labels from the Dutch Label Shop are much more polished and will go on absolutely everything, especially since I ordered them in both black and white. These ones are the basic woven labels. You pick from a few fonts and colors, and they even have some themed clip art you can add. They also offer a “double white” option for white labels with dark lettering, to prevent the black from being too visible. It doesn’t make it completely opaque though, so you can still kind of see the shadow/outline of the black threads behind it.

They also have another option where you can send them an image of your logo/graphic and they’ll do custom woven labels in all kinds of shapes/sizes with it. It’s a bit more pricey but their example labels look really cool! I don’t actually have a logo for my blog so I just went with the simpler option.

Shipping was a bit tricky; my first order was actually misplaced in the mail. But once they discovered it had gone missing they immediately sent out a replacement and I received it within a few days. And now I can’t wait to put these guys on everything! If you want to order your own custom labels, Dutch Label Shop is offering Peneloping readers a 15% discount on your order from now until July 21st with the code PENELOPING. — CODE IS WORKING AGAIN – yay!

Anyway, no joke guys, this is officially my Indian lunch buffet/all-you-can-eat-sushi/Thanksgiving dress. Next I want to make one out of something a little drapier with no sleeves and cutaway armholes. And one out of linen. And one with double the amount of flare and made in chiffon, possibly with three layers. (Imightbecrazy.)

*Ignore the weird attempt at photoshopping out the giant bruise on my leg. I was mauled by two adorable puppies who were very excited to see me.

**I still haven’t heard from Leigh-Anne about receiving the Mood giveaway prize! If you could shoot me an email by Sunday, that’d be great! After that I’ll be randomly selecting an alternate winner.  Thanks! :]