Drafting a pattern

I used to do a lot of pattern cutting in my youth. 

I’m talking 30+ years ago here, so remembering what to do means trying to retrieve the information from deep storage in my already fairly wonky memory. Accordingly, I’m starting with a quick and easy job: drafting off an existing garment. Depending on the success of this mission, I may have to dust off my old skills.

Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 6.06.50 PMHere’s the dress I’m copying. The armholes are generous, the neckline is good on me. The dress itself is very comfortable, since it scarcely touches me when it’s on. There’s nothing remotely tricky about it, except the binding around the neckline and neck opening/button loop, and since the neckhole is large enough to get my head through without the opening and button, I’m going to ignore them.

Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 6.07.45 PMI’m taking the pattern off this by folding the dress in half down the centre, and drawing around the outline on a large piece of butcher’s paper, also folded in half. That way, you only have to draw half the lines before you cut it out, still folded, to get the whole thing. This is helpful if you want to do something fancy and asymmetrical later on. If you’re confident you won’t, you could get away with cutting just half the block. You then repeat with the back.

Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 6.08.07 PM Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 6.08.42 PMThere’s obviously a difference between the armhole and neckline shapes on front and back, and if you can’t get the fabric out of the way to get a true outline, you prick out the line through the layers using a pin and then follow the line of holes with your pencil. This task is easier if you do it with a blanket or some batting under the pattern paper – but just for this part of the job. With this style of dress, you may also find that the front is longer than the back when you lay it flat, which is to accommodate one’s personal endowments, such as they are…

Screen shot 2015-01-30 at 6.09.04 PMI mark on this outline notches for matching shoulder and side seams. At this point, the pattern is a block, or template, and I don’t add seam allowances, since I’d have to take them off or work round them if I want to manipulate the pattern later. It’s easy enough to remember to add 10mm (3/8″) all round when you cut out. I also mark on the block where I will want side seam pockets to go, and I make a pattern for these pockets too. I mark the centre back and centre front of each piece, where the natural waist and bust point fall, and the direction of the straight grain of the material from which it will be cut.

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Butcher’s paper, sticky tape, sharp pencil and eraser, paper scissors, a tape measure, a long ruler and some batting. All you need….

Once I have this pattern sorted out, I can play with it. I can make the skirt longer, I can shorten it and turn it into a flared tunic or make it asymmetrical. I can slash through from hem to neckline, and open it out to add extra fullness in the skirt. I can use those slashes as seams and cut each panel on the straight grain or on the bias, which will give the garment a different hang. I can shape the bodice a little by putting in bust darts, either from the side seam or set into one of the slashes. I can add sleeves, or change the back fastening to a zipper. I can stitch wide elastic in at waist level, and create a waist for the dress, with a gently bloused top above and a full skirt below. I can create a neck and armhole facing instead of bias binding, add a collar, change the shape of the neckline or cut the dress in two parts and two colours to give a completely different look. Hmm. It’s all coming back to me…

Somewhere still packed away in one of many, many boxes waiting for bookshelves is my pair of pattern cutting textbooks. I think I’d better go and dig them out….

… I’m hijacking this post… Happy Birthday Wife of Chiconia…XXXX… with Love HoC… 


Spot the detail

Sorry about that.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 5.16.12 PM Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 5.16.38 PMEveryone who knows me even slightly knows that I have a serious penchant for puns, making use of even the most feeble excuse to employ one.

So, yes, I’ve cranked out some more dress-making. One top cut out, in a rather vivid floral with blue, another completed, both using scraps. This one’s bits of the Tana lawn I used to make one of my nighties, and a co-ordinating(ish) scrap of spot. Should be nice and cool.

Tie all that together with green bias binding and green topstitching detail, and I couldn’t resist.

As I said, sorry… I can’t promise I won’t do it again.

The Gardens of Chiconia: The Frangipani’s Tale

Once upon a time in the Gardens of Chiconia, there was a dead stick.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.39.15 AMIt had been cut off the old frangipani tree at the gate of old Chiconia before the tree was cut down by the evil neighbours because they wanted a nice concrete slab in its place.

The stick lay on a bench in the Gardens and dried out, its leaves dropped off and the cut sealed over. One day, it was stuck  hopefully into a nice blue ceramic tub with some nice potting soil and compost. It got a lot of encouraging chat, good drainage, worm tea and plenty of water

All around it, other plants were springing joyfully out of the ground.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.37.21 AMDays, weeks and months passed. The dead stick watched the sun rise and set, watched weather dry and wet. Nothing much happened. Until one day, at the ends of the dead stick’s branches appeared little dark red pointy leaf buds. Great excitement ensued in the Kingdom of Chiconia.

The leaves came out… and fell off again when winter came. Once more, it was a dead stick.

Chiconia itself moved, and the stick in its blue ceramic tub came too. It travelled on the back of the trailer, its few leaves flapping in the wind, and there was some concern that it would not like the change or the bumpy ride, or the flapping.

But the stick loved its new home. It put out more and more leaves, bigger, shinier and better leaves. And one day, there were Other Buds.

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And they grew.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.30.30 AMAnd they grew.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.30.46 AMAnd the dead stick was transformed into a beautiful frangipani, with fabulous pink and gold flowers and a marvellous scent.

And the moral of this tale is: if you have a frangipani dead stick, don’t lose hope. It’s just waiting for the time to be right.

Shades of grey

I finished the dress today.

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 4.16.43 PM To be honest, I made life hard for myself by fiddling around with the pattern. I didn’t have enough of the Riley Blake Grey Damask print, so it had to be eked out with some nice french grey homespun. I didn’t think a couple of things through, with the result that the seams don’t quite line up at the side. But probably only I would notice that. I did indulge my passion for detail with topstitching and making the inner facings out of bits of the print fabric.

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I’m quite proud of how the pattern sort of lines up despite being desperately short of fabric!

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Sneaky facings and tidy topstitching

I looked around for other patterns that wouldn’t need carving up, but to no avail. I am a shortish person and have no waist. So dresses that have a fitted waist  aren’t much good to me. And I’m a bit too well-upholstered to look good in a slender shift dress. Something A-line that swings from the shoulders is usually best. I never thought I’d voluntarily wear anything A-line… My eternal perception is that it’s so, well, middle aged!

I had a wonderful dress once, which suited me beautifully, but it’s long gone. It was styled after the beautiful dress worn by the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman, the one she wears to the races with a straw hat. It has a waist, but it’s not fitted, the neckline is becoming and the skirt is gently flared and skims the hips.

I’d love that pattern, but it’s no good, no one has anything like it. What’s everywhere right now is the 1950s New Look, with closely fitted princess line bodices and wide gathered skirts and little detailed flaps, bows, collars or pockets. Doesn’t work on my body….

Anyway, this is a nice, simple, comfortable dress. You can dress it up with black accessories or down with flipflops. And best of all, it’s done.

Aimée 8: on its way

I finished hemming down the binding last night.

We had a beautiful (if hot and steamy) sunny morning, so I got out there at 7.30am to take a few photos. Now, it’s folded up around a note, waiting for me to be able to get out to the post office and send it on its way to France. With luck, she’ll have it by mid-February – I find that mail from and to Europe tends to take two weeks.

Now, on with the next thing. I’m going to be housebound today, waiting for someone to come and fix the ride on mower, so I’ve got a great chance to get cracking on my grey and white summer dress, or whatever I have enough fabric to make. And my sewing room is beautifully air conditioned, so it’s not at all hard spending hours and hours in there! Who knows, I may emerge with more than one garment….

Have a good day, everyone. More soon.

Stitch Along 8: time for something new

It’s Stitch Along time again. And this is obviously not the Anzac piece I promised the Husband….

I needed something a bit smaller and less intimidating to work on, as I have so many large projects on the go. This new piece doesn’t require endless changing of colour, or even that much counting. It’s hard to lose my place, and easy to mark off the lines of stitching as I work them.

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It’s going to be a Kowhaiwhai, a traditional Maori decorative design, and its meaning is Protection. It’s a gift for someone who will understand its significance, who cares for and protects many others, and can use all the help she can get. I sourced a suitable image, edited and simplified it a bit, and then uploaded it to Myphotostitch.com and made a cross stitch pattern from it. It’s not a very sophisticated program, but you can specify size and number of colours you want to use, etc. The simpler the original image, the better the result; colour photos tend to generate a lot of background ‘noise’ in the pattern.

What you see here is a bit less than a quarter of the pattern, so I should have it done in about 4 more SALs.

In the meantime, the other stitchers will also be publishing their progress today. I think my post goes up first, as I’m in the earliest time zone, so give them all a chance to wake up before you go looking!

Avis at http://sewingbesidethesea.wordpress.com

Claire at http://claire93.wordpress.com

Gun at http://rutigt.wordpress.com

Carole at http://aslightobsessionwithbooks.wordpress.com

Alison at http://minervahandmade.wordpress.com

Jule at http://fromtheboudoir.wordpress.com

Elizabeth at http://stitch4therapy.wordpress.com

Wendy at http://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.co.uk

Lucy at https://lucyannluna.wordpress.com

Aimée 7: in the home stretch

I was lucky, I got 5 solid hours on it on Saturday, so I was able to finish up all the quilting.

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Just the binding to do, and then it’s finished. The photo was taken in the hot midday sun, and all the colours look a bit bleached.

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The back shows the quilting better. I’m quite proud of the invisible join in the two pieces of fabric!

Still to do: make the binding strip and sew it on, hem it down all round and attach the label. I enjoy doing the binding, so that’s not going to be too painful. Monday should see it finished, and then I can trot it down to the post office and mail it off. I must remember to take a shot for the Chiconian Quilts gallery….

I think the next thing I’m going to make is a garment of some sort. The gorgeous grey and white Riley Blake damask print I bought with a gift voucher from Hawthorne Threads in the US has arrived, and I’ve bought a metre of matching grey homespun, as it’s not quite enough on its own. I think a little summer dress is called for.

After that, I have another big quilt to work on as well as Worldwide Friends, but that’s a story for another post.