Friday, September 13, 2013

Pattern Adjustments for a New Dress

Yes, it's National Sewing Month again in the US. September is a time to celebrate our passion, but we know the creative, therapeutic and calming effects of sewing are joys that we can celebrate throughout the entire year....from The American Sewing Guild website In my sewing space, however, it seems to be national pattern alteration least it feels like that's how long these alterations are taking me.
This dress is Vogue  8828, 

a plain Jane dress pattern but with great personality bones.  (Don't you hate the pocket flaps under her bust?!) It was one of three patterns that were the result of Sarah Veblen's fitting and sewing retreat in late June.  Sarah pinned and marked all 14 pieces of this dress.
Front of Vogue 8828
on my asymmetrical body and last week I took that marked up muslin and methodically transferred each adjustment to the paper pattern.  (14 pieces because I have to cut a right and left version for each of the seven pieces for a sleeveless version.) can barely make out the vertical and horizontal balances lines drawn on this mock-up
Different colored pencils were used to delineate new seam lines from old ones and new cutting lines from old ones.  Sometimes I had to add tissue to parts of a pattern pice, sometimes cut away excess tissue.  After each piece is adjusted I "walk" the seams to make sure they are the same length or have no more than 1/8 inch of a difference.  

Vertical and horizontal balance lines to be marked on the mock-up dress.

Yes, double the pattern pieces to mark and adjust
I finished the first revision by the end of the week and then cut out my second muslin over the weekend.  Earlier this week I sewed up that second muslin and made some more pattern adjustments.  (Yes, it's almost as boring to write about this process as it is to do it.)
Now I have a customized, fitted sheath dress but it's time to make some style changes.  I am planning on a simple sleeveless sheath for the first "real" version of the dress but I heartily dislike the jewel neckline on the pattern.  I've been auditioning some neckline ideas and decided on a simple scoop neckline for this dress.  Yesterday I traced the top seven pattern pieces and today I will draw the new neckline and new facings.  
Pattern work for a fitted dress like this is tedious to me but I know in the end I'll be happy with the result.  I would only spend this amount of time and energy on a fitted garment like a fitted jacket or sheath dress and only do this a few times a year.  It's not my favorite way to honor or celebrate "National Sewing Month" but I've learned the payoff for being careful and meticulous here is an easier to sew, fully personalized garment.
A much more engaging past time for the last week has been devouring this book on my Kindle:

The Warmth of Other Suns .....Amazon Reviews
Isabel Wilkerson, already a Pulitzer Award-winning journalist, has been acclaimed for this thoroughly researched and thoroughly readable account of the internal migration of more than 6 million African-Americans from the South to the North, mid-West and West Coast from the turn of the century to 1970.  She interviewed well over a thousand of these migrants to personalize the census and historic details of this enormous shift in population.  She focuses on the life stories of three of the individuals in particular so there is a wonderful blend of history and personal narrative, a technique that I enjoyed in Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken a few years back.  Highly, highly recommend and I am so glad that my book group decided to read it.


  1. All your hard work will pay off in the end with a dress you truly love.

  2. I applaud all your fitting work-you inspire me to be more careful :-) Thank you for the book recommendation. I have it on my "To Read" list on Goodreads.

  3. OHHHHH! You make me feel guilty for taking so little time to really fit my garments by making muslins. Good for you!

  4. Hehe, I'm not sure what the designer was thinking about, putting those pocket flaps right there?! But the bones of the pattern are great, and all your careful work perfecting the fit will pay marvellous dividends, I'm sure :)

  5. Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. I look forward to following your work.


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