Pattern cutting 0.2 The dress with a high waistband into a pinafore dress

At my evening class Vanda gave us a drawing of a dress with sleeves, princess line bodice, a high waistband and flared skirt. Over the three hour class (and a very short break for me to eat a bowl of Nick’s green soup) we had to draft the pattern, produce clean pattern pieces, label each one, add notches and grain lines. I managed to achieve it all, except for the sleeve, in two and half hours. I didn’t want to use the size 12 sleeve block so I went home to draft my own, using my personal bodice block (of which more, later). We were allowed to put in our own variations so long as they “looked nice”. I left the neckline but dropped the waist further, closer to the true waist as with my Karen Millen dress I had already created an empire line dress.

When carrying out the exercise I realised that the button front would be inadequate to allow access to the dress as the waistband is pretty tight and close fitted. I imagine the assumption was that the fastening would be at the side but the instructions don’t mention it.

Dress with high waistband
Pattern cutting exercise “Dress with high waistband”

I put lots of flare into the skirt. Compared to draped flares, where the fabric is cut above the waist (or other seam line) and then dropped to produce a flare, in flat pattern cutting the dart is closed and the skirt (or other element) is sliced from the hem and swings out. But when I got the pattern home I didn’t want to make it up. Again the dated pattern books produce clothes that don’t suit me.

At the weekend I drafted more blocks – the easy fitting bodice and two piece dress, the sleeve and the skirt. I haven’t had time to fit any of these items yet and I intend to make up a batch of calico for a session with Pia fairly soon.

However I thought I might use my new straight tailored skirt block (from Aldrich) instead of the flared skirt and make a pinafore dress.  As it has been rather chilly (snowing and hailing between strong sunshine actually) I was drawn to a piece of purple-blue coating fabric remnant I had in my cupboard. Of course it is a bit thick for a dress but sometimes a thick wool dress is just the job. I love the colour of this fabric and it is a really nice quality. Also I bought some new tough shears and I so wanted to try them out.

New Fiskars Amplify scissors
New Fiskars Amplify shears

The shears worked well. The trouble was there are only 80cms of fabric. Omitting the button closure made sense.  I cut the front and back on the fold. As I was so short of fabric I had to cut the back side panels of the bodice on the cross (widthways) grain. Not great for testing the pattern but the skirt is cut correctly, with a tiny bit of flare (just 1cm) at the hem. I had to create 1cm seam allowances and just 3cm for the hem which isn’t really enough for this fabric, but we shall see.

Rather than make facings (no fabric left and also it is very thick) I decided to line the dress with some luxurious Chinese silk satin my friend Meddie kindly gave me for my birthday. You can see it peeking out at the armhole – I may understitch it by hand if that annoys me. The dress will go on over the head, and zip up at the side.

The lining fabric is interesting, printed in two distinct patterns. A soft, watercolour blue floral, next to a dogtooth print with spirogyra red detail. I use one full panel for the skirt and the half panel for the bodice, providing just the right amount of fabric and leaving the softer blue floral fabric for a blouse or second project.

I will finish it off and report back next week.

5 Responses

  1. Ooh, the Amplify Shears look interesting! And the ‘arms’, where did you get those arms baby?!

    It should make a very attractive dress. The purple wool is beautiful.

  2. Looks great. Lining to the edge makes sense with heavy fabric and the lining fabric is wonderful.

  3. Your fabric is a lovely colour, I can see why you wanted to squeeze a dress out of it.

  4. I echo Marianna! My hands get sore cutting heavy fabric now so I am interested in knowing if the shears are significantly easier to use.
    Well done squeezing a dress out of such a small amount of fabric.

  5. Can’t wait to see this finished.

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