I bought the fabric for this dress already a year ago with a clear image on my mind of what I wanted to do. However, I wanted to draft the pattern myself and it took some time to start the actual drafting. My inspiration was the lovely dresses by Son de flor that I have been drooling after online. I realised that the dresses themselves were actually quite simple and what made them special was the amazing photography presenting them.
The fabric I chose was rusty orange ramie fabric from Ompelino. I knew I needed a huge amount of fabric for the wide hem, so I ordered a total of 5 metres. I used it all.
Drafting the pattern
I started from the close-fitting bodice pattern that I had used to make the winter wool dress. I already knew that it fitted but the darts were in the wrong places and I needed a new sleeve.
This time I used Valentina as my pattern drafting program. However, there aren’t that many differences between Valentina and Seamly 2D that I have used previously.
I slashed my pattern at the bust dart position and closed the front shoulder dart. Then I shortened the resulting bust dart a bit to a more proper length. I also added the buttoning placket to the front bodice piece.
The sleeve drafting caused me problems. The last time I had used a two-piece sleeve and now I wanted just a basic one-piece sleeve. However, my drafting resulted in an awful wonky thing that obviously had something wrong with it. I just couldn’t find the mistake. I finally gave up and left the project for a while. Then one evening I took my pattern drafting books once more and went through the draft line by line. Finally, I spotted it! I had calculated the back armscye length wrong. How relieved I was!
I wanted a very full skirt with gathers at the waist. After some thought, I went with a half-circle skirt but drafted the pattern so that the waist was twice my actual waist measurement. And, of course, I needed pockets!
Since I had plenty of fabric and my pattern was sort-of once tested, I ditched the toile phase and cut directly into my fabric. (Yeah, do as I say, not as I actually do!) I cut my skirt 90 cm long and my sleeves to full length.
I tried on the bodice and it fitted pretty well. However, I did let out the side seams and the front darts a tiny bit. That was due to the fact that the size 36 was a bit too small at the waist for me according to the Aldrich size chart that I used as a base. (Yes, I know that I could draft the pattern to my exact measurements but I rather use the standard sizes so that it is easier to scale the pattern in the future.
I wanted a Peter Pan collar, so I drafted one using my front and back pieces as a base. The bottom collar was about 3 mm smaller at the outer edge so that the seam curved neatly under the collar.
This is what the dress looked like at this stage:
Now, I needed to shorten the hem and the sleeves to make this less heavy and better suitable for the summer. I did this in stages, first cutting out 10 cm (4″) and then another 10 cm from the hem.
With the sleeves, I finally decided on 3/4 length, so that I could continue to wear this dress in the autumn. Besides, it has been really cold and rainy in here and the extra warmth is something I currently need.
I made small cuffs with slits so that it would be easier to move my arms. For the hem, I cut about 12 cm wide facing using the skirt pattern as a base and finished the hem with it (I did straighten the hem before sewing the facing on.)
Making the fabric coloured buttons
I wasn’t able to find the buttons in the right shade of orange so I decided to make fabric covered buttons. If you haven’t done these before, here is a little tutorial:
You can buy coverable plastic and metal buttons. I personally prefer metal ones but I do use the plastic ones, too. The buttons come with a template that you can use to cut circular fabric pieces. I measured the circle size from the package and used this green circle stencil to draw circles on a piece of fabric.
The buttons have two parts. There is the smooth outer part with little saw-tooth edge inside to grab the fabric and the lid-part that is snapped on to hold the fabric.
S wanted to help me and here shows how the fabric is carefully wrapped around the outer part:
It would be tempting to use gathering stitches to gather the fabric around the button but, if you do that, you may have difficulty in inserting the lid-part. Doing this just with your fingers is pretty fiddly work but the result should look like this:
When the fabric is neatly wrapped around the button, the lid is snapped on and your button is ready!
The finished dress
With the buttons and buttonholes on, and the side-zipper inserted, I could finally enjoy my new dress!
The skirt has a lot of width to have a bit of a twirl and that makes the dress comfortable to wear. The pockets are hidden in the side seams where they are easy to access.
I am super happy with the sleeve fit, especially after I had so much trouble getting the pattern to work. Finally, the sleeve fits just right without no need for any adjustments.
The back has two small darts at the shoulders and two larger ones at the waist:
This ramie fabric resembles sturdy linen but it will get softer in use. Because ramie is a natural fibre, the dress is breathable and cool.
I think I should give this pattern a name. Hmm… Any good suggestions?
Do it for yourself
If you want to try to make this dress yourself, here is the pattern
The pattern is only in size 36 and it has been split into pages. The layout looks something like this (this is the A4 layout, but the letter layout is pretty similar):
Right now I am not into writing long instructions but an experienced sewist surely can figure out the pattern. Here are a few things you need to know:
The pattern has 1,5 cm seam allowance included. I didn’t draw the pocket pattern piece but added notches to the pocket position to help you with the placement. I have marked the shoulder seam point at the sleeve cap and marked the back sleeve cap with two notches. The front bodice has two vertical lines at the centre front. The inner one marks the centre front that is also the button/buttonhole placement line. The outer line is the fold line.
The collar in the pdf pattern is not the exact pattern piece that I used since I originally drew it on a piece of paper. However, it fits the neckline and has the same width and the approximate shape. I didn’t add any markings for the side zipper but mine starts about 5 cm (2″) below my armpit and goes all the way to the point where the pocket starts.
If you make a dress, please send me a picture and tell me what you think about the pattern!
What about you who are not size 36? If you are somewhere between 32 and hmm… 44 and swear that you are going to do some pattern testing and provide me constructive feedback, I can draft a pattern for you. However, I do not want to be doing a lot of work making free patterns for people that I never hear back from, so think before you volunteer! Right now I am not drafting patterns bigger than 44, since I want to get the pattern tested in the smaller sizes first before deviating too far from the original size.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading and come back soon to see more of my makes! Happy sewing!