My projects,  Sewing

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

My wool fabric.

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:

Making the pleated bodice details for my wool dress.

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 fold and put the zipper to the side seam where it is easier to zip and unzip. I only had to make sure that my neckline was large enough for me to slip my head through it.

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 sligthly over the selvedge. I figured that the bias-cut side seams would stretch enough to compensate the missing corners at the skirt pieces. I was correct!

It didn't matter that my pattern didn't fit onto the folded fabric. The fabric stretched.

The pins in the picture above show where hemline sits after the hem has been evened out.

I lined the whole dress with black lining fabric that Jenna gave me when she purged her sewing fabric stash. Thanks, Jenna! 

My wool dress sleeve details.

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.

The front view of my wool dress.

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.

The wool dress, side view.

From the back the dress looks almost like a coat:

My wool dress from the back.

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!

Twirling in my new wool dress that I designed.

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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I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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