Right at the beginning of our course we were asked to draft an easy fitting dress block.
If you have already drafted a dress block, making it looser and easier to wear is very easy. You basically reduce the bust dart by half, and eliminate the waist and back darts. It’s as simple as that. Here are the instructions from Winifred Aldrich.
When I first started making clothes – in the early 1980s I made quite a few loose fitting dresses with my basic block. Some had a dropped waist, some had pleats (like a gym slip) and most of them were made from vintage curtains and other interesting fabrics I picked up in charity shops. The 1980s were all about volume and width and this style of dress suited my lifestyle.
I wore a similar style of dress when I was a young mum. Here is brown linen dress I got at Hobbs in the early 1990s.
I wore it over long sleeved T shirts when it was cooler and with nothing (much) underneath on warmer days. In the photograph I am with Esme, George and Gus at Euston station. We are off on a camping holiday. Well I have a feeling that it was John and the children who were doing the actual camping. Maybe I stayed with my Mum while they took off. The children were real troupers and John route marched them through the Derbyshire countryside, whatever the weather. Time has passed, and fashions have changed, and I have come to prefer a more fitted shape, especially for work wear. Because I have a shaped outline myself, and partly because of a preference for a tailored look. However I have been considering a casual wardrobe and my mind turned to this block and I thought I might try it. While shapeless isn’t my best look it is comfortable. Can it be elegant and stylish too?
Making the pattern
I just used the bodice block, created a nice neckline and new armhole, drew in the waist, measured 27″ down and flared it very gently towards the hem. I created a button band and facing, and a couple of patch pockets.
Fabric and materials
I bought a lovely piece of fairly heavy linen from Simply Fabrics for about £5 p/m. I used 1.2 metres. This dress needs to be made of something with a bit of weight. I guess a wool or heavier cotton would have done too. I didn’t use any interfacing as the buttons are just sewn on (no button holes). The dress is put on over the head with no fastenings. I had some lovely, mismatching buttons, given to me for Christmas by my sweet Daughter in Law Bianca. Their size and interesting deep grey mother of pearl colour makes the dress , I feel. I wore it with my pink Converse for a very casual look.
I did dither about the length. In some ways it would be more flattering shorter (knee length) but in summer, without tights, longer is a better length, practically speaking. So I have hemmed it long for now. I think this dress has potential however, and intend to make a second version that is shorter, and probably better for wearing with tights or over leggings in the cooler months. Then it becomes more of a shift dress.
Here are the side and back view. I shall wear this at weekends this summer and think about what changes I might make before designing the perfect casual dress.
I would welcome your feedback. Thank you.