Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Mom, can you copy this dress?" --The umpteenth edition

I love sewing clothes for my daughter. She has an eye for color and a thirst for style, and has a keen eye about what looks good on her. What she doesn't have is the discretionary income to indulge all her sartorial desires. That's where I come in.
She will often send me pictures of clothes she finds online and asks if I can copy them. And, most often, they're not hard to copy. She is fond of simple lines, so it's pretty easy to look at the pictures and figure out what the crucial details are. Of course, she likes to inject her own style onto them, and asks for necklines to be changed, or hemlines altered, or things like that. And I can usually accommodate her alterations.
So, a few weeks ago she sent me this picture of a Ralph Lauren knit dress.
Okay, nothing too difficult here. Looks like a t-shirt lengthened into a sheath. But what about that inset?
I started with a plain sheath in PatternMaster Knits, set to floor length. Then I brought it into Pattern Editor and drew the curved lines for the insert. After some cogitating, I realized that the insert was simply a half-circle, with the diameter sewn into the insert seamline. Once I measured the seam line for the insert (38"), I had the information I needed to draft the insert. It ended up being a half-circle, 76" wide, with a 38" radius.
The problem was, my fabric was only 60" wide. No problem; I just cut the inserts on the crossgrain.
Oops. Big problem. The fabric only had stretch on the crossgrain. So my inserts sagged terribly and just didn't hang right. Here's the first dress with the cross-grain insert.
This is prior to any finishing work, so the neck, cuffs and hem are raw. There was a lot of excess fabric in the inset; part of that is likely because, since the inset seam was curved, it was actually longer than the measurement from the top of the insert to the hem. But it was so saggy! It just didn't look right. That's when we figured out that the insets being on the crossgrain was causing the problem.

 Luckily, I had another piece of knit fabric in my stash, so I made a second dress, but this time I did the inserts as quarter-circles, with the vertical seam on the straight of grain, so it would hang better.

Here's the second dress, with my daughter standing on my work table (so glad I built it like a tank!) so I could trim it without crawling around on the floor. The inset was still too long, but it hung so much better.

Trim, trim, trim. I cut it so that it was evenly 3" from the floor. Diana didn't want to risk tripping over the hem, so she asked for it to be shorter than the sample picture she sent.

The neckline, cuffs and hem were all finished by folding over 1/2" and coverstitching.

She was very happy with the second dress. But, she asked, is it possible to salvage the first one? So I removed the serged seam (God, how I hate doing that...), then cut the inserts in half and sewed them back together so the vertical seam was now on the straight of grain, and re-inserted them. The skirt was trimmed and hemmed the same as the last one, only for this one I scooped the back neck a bit more since she often likes that.

So here we have the two finished dresses. They look very similar in the pictures, but the first dress is really more of a teal color and the second is more of a true blue.

First dress:

The two half-circle inserts mean it is a very full skirt!

(And yes, the seams are a little puckered. This fabric was NOT fun to work with.)

Low scoop in back.

Here's the second dress:

Holding out one of the inserts so you can see just how big it is:

The neckline on this one is a little higher in back.

It does have a nice twirl to it, too!

I'm now busy with a pair of work pants for me, which is quite necessary as my last RTW pair bit the dust. I'm just glad my sewing room has air conditioning!


  1. Such comfy looking dresses. You did your usual excellent pattern interpretation. And tell your daughter, I like her new hair cut.


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