I explained how the Contour Guide pattern works. I have a few requests for a better explanation – I will put that right soon. But for now I am going to try it out.
We were given the opportunity to create patterns for a “classic empire line” dress. I am a sucker for the word “classic”. The original Empire line (named after the first French Empire) is so pretty – an elegant look with a softly gathered skirt falling from just beneath the bust, forming a high waist, and an elegant, elongated silhouette, especially when combined with short, puffed sleeves that create width at the shoulder. The 1960s versions are also very beautiful. I love this beaded version by Valentino. The Fabiani fascinates me too as a marvellous wedding dress. Although there is a lot of fullness over the midriff it is so sophisticated with its high neck, subtle trimming and flared back with a slight train.
So although the pattern making was (according to Vanda our teacher) “easier” than the surplice design that was our alternative project, I decided to give it a go. Actually, dear reader, I found it quite challenging.
Design and pattern cutting
Here is the description from Joseph-Armstrong:
The midriff styleline of the Classic Empire cross and contours under the bust. The styline slopes gently downward to the CB. The garment fits closer to the figure than does the basic garment. Darts (or gathers) are controlled by the midriff under the bust.
Taking my new Contour Guide pattern I included the guidelines for the underbust (guideline 4) and one on the back (guideline 7). I then drew in the style line that defines the empire line – one that sits below the bust. As Vanda explained to me later, when I was not entirely happy with my design, this line slightly cuts across the lower part of the bust, a fact that helps with minimising a larger bust. The instructions require all the bust darting to be placed under the bust with additional fullness removed to create the close fit in the midriff area.
The key factors in creating this pattern was that some additional length was allowed in the bodice section for fitting under the bust.
The darts are closed in the midriff section the create a shaped piece. I used my standard tailored skirt block for the skirt.
I tried to create that dart – as shown on the picture and in the description. It was such a short dart with such a large take up that it just looked like a little pyramid! It had a very definite point. I tried to sew it with a curved seam. I tried a range of bust points – higher and lower. I placed it against my nice, round bust and felt I was wearing a horrendous 1950s bra. I didn’t take pictures. I should have but they were embarrassing. I unpicked my ridiculous darts and decided to try the gathers.
Ah. That’s better.
I explained on MMM16 that I don’t like the navy version as much as the white version – possibly because white looks better with my lighter colouring. I quite like navy for work and I wore this dress with navy tights and trainers and a striped T-shirt. But I am not very happy with this dress. The largish floral pattern is chopped up by too many seams and I didn’t have anything like enough fabric for pattern matching. The style has a very simple silhouette (I am still relying on my straight skirt block), has the right neckline and a good armhole shape. I think the length is appropriate. But I still don’t love this dress. I wonder what it is?