So when I got home from my pattern drafting, I was keen to try out my new skills. I had enough fabric for three pairs of trousers, and some dress fabric I’ve had lying around for a while. I had master patterns for trousers and a bodice. And I was keen to fly solo with my new skills, and make sure I’d understood everything correctly. So on Friday night, I cut my first pair of trousers out of a rather lovely polyester/viscose pinstripe flannel I’d got from Abakhan. It’s lovely, soft fabric. I cut the inner waistband and pocket bag out of some cotton left over from a quilting project, and went to bed.
When I came downstairs, I discovered that the Tailor of Gloucester was just a fairy tale, and no mice had visited in the night to sew my trousers. Which was good, because I was looking forward to sewing them myself. They went together quickly and fitted beautifully, as I expected. But the waistband didn’t sit right. In the past, this would have given rise to a tantrum and abandoning the project, but this time… oh no! I calmly took the waistband off, re-drafted the pattern with the correct angle at the back waist, put it back together and put the new waistband on the trousers. Bada bing! Perfect.
See how they fit at my waist? And are delightfully loose and casual while being smart and pinstripey and perfect for work?? Perfect.
So I cut another pair from some purple cotton moleskin from Croft Mill. These flew together without waistband troubles, and by the time I went to bed on Saturday I had two new pairs of lovely, wearable trousers. I also had forgotten to eat anything at all, or drink any water all day. So I was knackered and headachey, but happy.
On Sunday morning, I found myself browsing Pinterest, looking for ideas for simple, A Line dresses. I wanted to see if I could work out how to extend my simple fitted bodice into a dress. I found something I liked very much. A simple wool-like dress with long sleeves that looked as though it could be adapted from my bodice realistically.
I thought about it while I ate my breakfast – evidence of learning, Vicki, well done – and got my dot and cross paper out. I found the measurement I needed to take the bodice to knee length, and remembered Jules’ advice not to extend the side seams out more than about 4-5cm from the centre line, as that risks looking weird – any more flare than that would need to be added in the volume of the skirt. And I didn’t want a waist seam.
After a bit of calculating, drawing, and measuring lines with my big ruler and dressmaker’s curve ruler, I was sure I had something with the right points of symmetry that might look credibly dress-like. I decided to make a toile in lining fabric, on the basis that if it worked I would have a lining ready to put into an eventual dress. Well, I made the calico and went to show Freya. Who said something along the lines of “Did you make that?? Wow! It fits really brilliantly!”. It did, in all the places that matter – it lay flat across my shoulders, fitted perfectly over my bust and was exactly the right back waist length. But the neckline needed deepening (it was a little chokey) and the sleeve head needed making a little smaller. So I chalked the lines I wanted onto the toile while I was wearing it, and set about making the adjustments to the pattern. A silly slip with the scissors meant I needed to actually make a fresh lining for the actual dress, but once again it flew together. These are truly dreadful photos, because they were taken by a teenager in a hurry to leave the house, but please note that it fits well, and I did a bloody amazing job of pattern matching (which, as everybody knows, is technically a cutting skill rather than a sewing skill, but still…)
I have some learning from this dress. I made full lining, which was necessary for the fabric which is a very light wool, but really I should have hung the lining off a buddy facing. Because the dress fabric is so light, it doesn’t pull at the neckline, but in a heavier weight fabric it would and the lining would be visible. It also really needs the structure of interfacing which a buddy lining would allow me to have. So next time I make it… Also. Lining fabric is sweaty as hell. So I might consider whether the sleeves really need lining, and if they do perhaps a cotton lining might be kinder!
So that was a productive weekend… next, I want to play with trouser widths. I want some wide legged linen pants for smart casual type use, and I’d like to figure out turn-ups. I also want to narrow the leg for some chino type pants. And there will be infinite dress variations to consider…
So I’m having lots of fun playing with my new skill!