So you’re back for part 2! The drawing, cutting and pinning stage.
In our last post about the dress, I talked about taking your measurements to make sure the size of the material you ended up with was right. I’ll start by correcting myself now with the estimates I put on the size of the material required – I previously said I should only need 1m of fabric. This would have been true if I had actually been working in cm’s, but I took all my measurements in inches and so ended up needing almost all the fabric I had bought. Make sure you measure your fabric by the same increments you measure yourself.
The drawing stage
For this part, you’re going to want a large solid surface to work on – I used my dining table and that turned out to be perfect, provided I moved the fabric along every so often to draw the next panel. You’ll need:
- Measuring tape
- Tailor’s chalk
All you need to do is take your notes from the measurements you’ve already taken, and convert these into pattern lines. I turned my fabric to the inside-side (the part no-one will see) and marked a border along the cut edge of the fabric to make sure my reference lines would be straight. I started with the bottom hem line along the bottom edge of the fabric (giving myself an inch of ‘hem space’ between the fabric edge and what would be the visible part of the hem). I marked the line incrementally so I could keep track of how far from the actual edge of the fabric my bottom line would be, and used a piece of cardboard to make sure the line was absolutely straight between my mark points. It’s also important to mark the increments of each skirt panel – so for me, that meant a big cross-mark at 36″ increments.
From there, I used the measurement I had taken to determine how long I wanted the skirt part to be, and made another line across the fabric as my second reference point. From here, I measured 18″ (half my skirt width) in from the side border, made a mark, then made two extra marks 9″ either side of the 18″ mark. This is to set up the bottom part of the bodice.
Measuring up from each of my 9″ marks with the measurement I had taken for underarm-bust, I made two more marks farther up the fabric (toward the top edge), then drew a rectangle between all four of the 9″ marks. This created the first bodice panel.
The next step proved to be a little bit tricky, but what I did was pinched the edge of the fabric at the outside waist-hem marking and at the outside bottom-hem marking, and folded the fabric along that line (with the marked side facing out).This allowed me to rub my tailor’s chalk along the fold to create the A-line of the skirt. I then repeated the step on the other edges of the fabric – and the first panel was completed.
Once you’ve done these steps, you repeat them twice more to create the other two panels of the dress – only keep in mind that from centre bodice to centre bodice (where I used my first 18″ marking) is the full width of your skirt hem (so in my case, 36″). The gaps between each skirt is what will create the gores of the skirt.
The cutting stage
Once you’ve got all your measurements and you’re confident they’re correct, measure them all again. It’s too late to double check once you’ve started cutting.
If you’re confident you’re ready after your double-check, then start cutting. I cut my side edge off first (to make sure my split gore would be the right width), then cut out each dress panel, marking each dress panel and gore panel as I went with “bodice 1 / gore 1 / bodice 2 / gore 2 / bodice 3 / gore 1/2 / gore 1/2).
The pinning stage
With all the pieces cut out, I pinned my bodice together (creating a seam about 3/4″ deep) and tried the outfit on as an additional check measure.
I liked the way it fit so I then pinned in the two whole gores, pinned together the two half-gore pieces and pinned them in as well. I then tried the dress on a second time (very, very carefully) to make sure I was still satisfied.
At this point, I decided to deviate slightly from ‘tradition’ and pinned a zipper into the back bodice of the dress because I knew I was going to want to take in sections of the bodice to make it a little more form-fitting (I have a big difference between my bust and my waist – you may not find this step necessary).
In my next post, I’ll go into the sewing stage – which will include the style of hem I used, as well as how I pinned and sewed the dress trim and straps.