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Monday, August 3, 2015

Romancing my Summery Irish Laurel Dress- Pattern Blue Sky (Part 1)

It's fun looking back at what led to the creation of Fiona, my newly finished Irish Laurel dress. I'm going to talk about this new frock over the course of several blog postings, as I recall what led to the pattern draft, pattern choice, and spirit of the dress. I also plan to dedicate a podcast to Fiona. I'm not sure if I'll produce that 'cast as my August or September show. You can signup at to get email notification when new podcasts are released.

I began work on Fiona using a quarter scale sloper pattern, which I traced from a sewing book. There are a lot of slopers on the web that I could have printed out as well.

 My sloper has a bust dart and fisheye front dart like this one.

I wanted Fiona to be empire waisted, but I didn't want to simply gather a high-waited skirt under the bust. 

Design Goals
1) Sleeveless
2) Empire waist
3) One-piece front (and back).
4) Very fitted bodice
5) Pattern with very simple lines
6)  A light, floating and easy feeling summery dress

It really helped working in quarter scale. 

a) Initially I cut apart the bodice below the bust, creating a second, separate torso piece. Then I cut another line at the waist.

b) Notice that I pinned in the bust dart (goal 4) and put some padding under it to give me the sense of a three-dimensional garment. That also shows where a skirt would attach to the stitching line, so I know how long to make the seam line for any pattern piece that might be separate would need to be. 

In this case, as you can see from the curved line I extended the pattern at this below-the-bust point, so that was not an issue. If I were cutting a separate skirt piece, it would be.

c) I then cut apart the skirt as though I were creating a flared skirt pattern. I blogged about making a flared skirt from a sloper shortly after I finished my "French Pattern Drafting" class with Lynda Maynard. This is the first chance I've had to actually make a flared skirt. Of course this flared skirt will not hang from the waist, but I figured it was the same idea.

d) After I taped up the flared skirt - by closing the waist dart and pulling the skirt apart to accommodate that - I graded down from just below the bust (where I cut the pattern apart) to the side seam of the skirt in the area of the full hip. That's the slightly curved line you see drawn in.

Later on, when I created the actual full-sized pattern based on my sloper. I didn't cut apart the bodice, though I did cut away the skirt at the natural waistline, reforming the full front by judicious taping and pattern paper insertion. I did cut several lines to accommodate dart movement however.

Another thought, if this were a really complex pattern, would be to use some kind of small dress form just to do the pattern work without the fit. I'm not sure if this quarter-size would fit a large doll, but it might. Or you could rework this mini-sloper to fit a large doll. Madeline Vionnet used to drape patterns on a fashion doll. 

If the doll represented a child, I'd need to pad it out to represent a more womanly figure. It would be fun to try - if life were only all about sewing!

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