Sunday, October 19, 2014

A new dress for the colder months

Greetings! It's been nearly two months since my last post (why does this feel like a confession?). It's not that I haven't wanted to sew; it's just that other aspects of my life (house, job, family) have eaten into my sewing time and kept me from sequestering myself in my sewing room to actually complete a project.

But I did finish a project this morning!! A few days ago, Wild Ginger released the new version of their wonderful pattern drafting software packages. I immediately upgraded my PatternMaster Boutique, and will upgrade the remaining programs as finances allow.

In the meantime, I decided I had to make a dress with the new version to test it out.

First of all, the Upgrade Wizard in the new Version 6 makes importing my existing patterns and charts a breeze! With one click, everything migrated automatically, so I had all my old charts and saved patterns all ready to go.

Since I realized a few days ago that I don't have any cool-weather dresses in my current wardrobe, I would make a corduroy shirtwaist dress using my favorite draft: the kimono bodice. This style has the sleeves and bodice in a single piece, so there is no armscye seam. I call this style my "Peterman Dress" as it is a copy of a dress I got from the J. Peterman catalog ten or so years ago.

This is what the pattern pieces look like. The dress has a shawl collar, standout cuffs, and a gored skirt. The closure is a single-breasted button front.

See that diamond-shaped piece? That's the underarm gusset. This draft is called the Square Kimono, and in order to be able to lift your arm higher than horizontal, you need a little extra fabric. The underarm is slashed along the line, and the gusset piece inserted. It's really amazing how well this design works!!

Front view of the dress:

I'm going to make a self-fabric belt for it eventually, but for now this purchased leather belt would have to do. The dress is actually just a bit too loose; I didn't check my circumferences prior to drafting the pattern (shame on me!) so it's possible they have changed a little. However, it's very comfy!

Back view:

The bodice has four small darts at the waist. I'm not really sure where the bust darts get rotated to on this draft; will have to investigate that. So there are a few more wrinkles in the kimono draft than I would like, but it's still a very nice style.

Here's a close-up shot of the gusset:

To insert the gusset, I sewed the underarm and side seams but left the overarm/shoulder seam open. Then I matched the gusset to the two seam lines and pinned them in place. Sewing them was a challenge, but I'm happy with how they came out. I honestly don't think I've ever done gussets before.

The collar lays nice and flat; I will attribute that to the small darts in the undercollar:

Kind of hard to see in this picture, but there's a long, narrow dart right on the fold line of the undercollar, which pretty much forces the collar to lay flat where it's supposed to. Shawl collars are a bit of a challenge to sew, but I love the results.

Oh, and see that headband? That was a last-minute project to wear to my PMB Users Group meeting today. My hair's been getting long enough to get into my eyes all the time, so I'm going to make some hair bands to help keep it under control (I'm growing it out for a while). I plan to make matching headbands for every outfit I make! It's basically two layers of the corduroy, about 2" finished width tapering to 1" at the ends, 16" long, sewn together on the long edges and turned, and a piece of elastic inserted into the ends to hold it snug.Took about 15 minutes to make... but ten of those minutes were spent searching for my stupid Fasturn tube set so I could turn the thing right side out!!

Of course, I put pockets in the dress. Can't have anything without pockets anymore.

I love this draft, and plan on making a few more of these dresses to get me through the colder months. I might try a version out of a heavy flannel. Depends upon what strikes my fancy at the fabric store.


  1. I love the gusset and under colar dart, wonderful details that make this dress fit so nicely.

  2. I think your dress fits great. I appreciate the construction details and the info on the PMB6 upgrade. I too use PMB but have not had time to upgrade and glad to hear it is easy. I found your blog via your MAGAM post. Since last month, I am a lurker there (receive emails only), hoping to sponge motivation and inspiration from other sewers who actually finish projects :-)

  3. This dress looks great on you. Love the deep green color and I'm sure the corduroy is very comfy. Interesting dart at the shoulder too.

  4. It is a great dress, I can see why you like it - and the underarm gussets are great - so rarely seen nowadays, but so useful, especially in fitted dresses.

  5. deborahcrabill@hotmail.comOctober 26, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    The dress looks so comfy! If it's too big, you could wear a turtleneck under it with matching tights when it gets really cold! I love the metal buttons! Green is so hard to match buttons to, but your metal ones are perfect! Very vintage without looking dated! Great job!


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