Designing a dress (part 2)
I have had this wool dress fabric for about two years. It was originally meant for my second Butterick 5813 but then I decided that the pattern required something a bit flashier and stored the fabric for something else. Then I decided that the masculine wool might look interesting when combined with ruffles as it seemed to work so nicely with this summer dress.
I finally decided to add pleated ruffles as my checked fabric was ideal for the purpose. I cut long lengthwise strips that I folded lengthwise in two. Then I started making small pleats:
After pinning the pleats I machine basted them in place. Then I carefully pressed the pleats to make them really sharp.
I pinned the pleated strips onto the centre front piece and fastened the pleat strips to the centre front before sewing the actual princess seams.
Rather than using a zipper at the centre back I cut the back on
My skirt was very wide and my pattern pieces were too large to fit onto the folded fabric. Rather than cutting my pieces sideways (that had distorted the rectangular check pattern) I cut my skirt pieces
The pins in the picture above show where
I lined the whole dress with black lining fabric that Jenna gave me when she purged her sewing fabric stash. Thanks, Jenna!
I twiddled with the sleeves for quite some time. I had left them slightly too wide and I had to take them in a bit. Then I noticed that I had forgot to mark my shoulder seam position to the sleeve cap so that I needed to adjust the sleeve pitch a few times to make it work properly.
Still, I wanted my sleeves comfortable so that I could move my hands with ease. However, there was something missing with the sleeves and I wasn’t happy with them. Only after the rest of the dress was finished I came up with these inverted pleats that pull in the extra width at the wrists. As an extra feature, I covered two buttons with fabric and added them to decorate the pleats.
The finished wool dress
Today I ventured outside when the heaviest snowfall stopped. The forest next to our house looked like a scene from the Narnia films. I hoped there was enough light despite it being almost mid-winter. So, excuse the slight blurriness in the photos!
Here is the dress from the front. After turning the hem, the finished dress is knee-length.
At the side view, you can see how the skirt flares out because of all the volume created by the pleats. I was debating with myself whether to add a belt or to take the waist in a bit. The waist has a bit of extra ease that makes my waist look a bit larger than it naturally is. Finally, I decided not do anything. I want this to be an easy-fitting dress in which I can move and sit comfortably and a tight waist would not be ideal for it.
From the back the dress looks almost like a coat:
Perhaps I will use this dress as a basis for some future coat… Must keep this in mind!
And of course I had to try some twirling!
The temperature was just +1 degrees Celsius but I didn’t feel much cold in this warm wool dress. It helped that I had been vacuuming inside just before and was feeling hot because of that!
I am really happy with this result and feel encouraged to do some more sewing pattern design for myself. Already I could use the pieces from this dress to make a skirt, a jacket or a coat!
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You nailed it! Thank you for this series on dress designing. I hadn’t heard of Valentina (or Seamly), and am very glad to see a good open-source option for pattern drafting.
Your blog is wonderful; I just started following you after your excellent bra-making posts on patternreview.
Thank you! I’m so glad you like my blog!
I love the dress! And I loved reading and seeing your process.
Really nice dress. I like how it resembles a coat. Great job!
This is a beautiful dress! I think the ruffles were an excellent choice with your wool fabric and I can see how making the pattern yourself has helped to nail the fit.
Thank you! I think I love making feminine dresses out of masculine fabrics. There’s this interesting contrast between the fabric and the style. And the frills I add don’t make it too girly when the fabric balances out the ruffled.
Just beautiful, feminine and classy. I enjoyed your process and look forward to seeing your next experiment / venture.. congratulations
Thank you, Kim! I loved making it!