I am in over my head

I’m doing some sewing on request, and one of the garments is a full-length gown.  Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?  But the details are causing me grief!  I am not a pattern maker!  I don’t know anything about where to even begin drafting something.  You’ve all seen how I graft pieces from one pattern onto another to get something totally different (or a mish-mash) before, but this dress is really making me think.  I mean pulling-my-hair-out think.boatneck

Let’s start with the simple stuff (for me).  First, a boat neck.  I eyeballed this one and just cut what I think is going to be a decent neckline and then trued it up.  I’ve basted along the stitching line in the pic above.  Second, the cuffs need to be close-fitting and 5 inches deep with a loop & button closure.  Ok.  I stole the cuff from Burda 12-2010-111, since I am incapable of drafting one from scratch.  It’s going to work perfectly once I get the cuffs on the right way.  *eye roll*  And I just slashed and spread and shortened the sleeve on Vogue 7762 (below) to get the gathered cap and extra fullness to gather into the cuff.Burda 12-2010-111

I must confess for the dress itself I was stumped.  Where to begin?  I don’t know how to add pleats! Vogue 7762 max maraAnd a circular insert at the waist! HELP!  After agonizing over where to start I found this little image via the wonderful world of Google images (what the heck would we do without Google?  How did we survive before?)  I mulled it over for about 13 hours and decided I’d freehand draft the insert and then lay it over the front of Vogue 7762 and see what happened.  I’ve only done the front with the insert and draping (below), although I may add it to the back as well, like the Max Mara dress on the left.  My little idea turned out OK, I think.  Laying the insert pattern over the pleats eliminated a lot of the draping in the Vogue design, so I may slash the muslin and add more, but I’ll see what’s wanted after the first fitting next week.  As it stands, the back is a simple sheath with two shaping darts and a CB zipper.  It may look nicer with the draping and insert continuing around to the back, but that means the zip will go through the insert. Hmmm…

waist insert

So far, I’m feeling pretty good relieved about my attempts to pull this out of (almost) nowhere.  The last part that I’m still thinking about is the thigh-high slit. At this point I’ve just drawn a  potential seam line that will extend into the slit, although I’m not sure it will look so good with all the other design stuff happening.  I don’t really want to put the slit on the other side of the dress because the best way I can think of to face it properly is to have it extend out of a seam, and I don’t want a princess seam up the left side of the dress.  The fashion fabric is a gorgeous drapey mid-weight poly crepe in dark navy, and I don’t think I should just do a slash-and-face-it sort of idea along the lines of a faced placket.  The top of the slit is going to take a lot of stress and I’d hate for it to rip. gown muslin

So, the first muslin of this gown is done, and it fits ol’ Judy horribly.  But it just might work….

11 thoughts on “I am in over my head

  1. have you considered having the walking slit in the CB seam, where it won’t compete with the other design details? or does the client want the front slit in order to show her leg? if the latter, you’re right: the left side facing her (her right side) is the only other place for it. but what a shame to beak up the smooth line of the long skirt from th front view.

  2. You are doing well! I wish I had more English vocabulary to help you. I am editor of pattern and if I could save the language guide … Oh, sorry!

  3. You’re doing fine and working towards the end results in the same manner any pattern maker would. Remember – designers don’t make patterns, pattern makers do (Dior couldn’t even sew on a button if he tried). And contrary to popular belief, they don’t just scratch out a few lines and voila! have a perfect pattern. Unless they’ve got computer software.

    As former bridal dressmaker, I’ve been through it enough and cobbled together many a dress from various patterns. A formal dress is best made from the results of many muslins and fittings. As for the thigh-high slit – reinforce the top of split with a square of organza. If you extend the half-circle insert around to the back, use a side zip. However, if you do that and because this dress has sleeves – the wearer will then have to “duck” into her dress, so a CB zip would make it easier to get on and off and not muss her hair. Otherwise, just keep doing what you’re doing. Based on the date of your post and the date of my reply, the dress may be near finished and if that’s the case – well done!

  4. You are doing great. Who says you have to draft patterns? The author of the 3 Pattern Magic books wrote that she cannot draft patterns. When she was a student and was supposed to draft patterns, she would drape the fabric instead, make the patterns from the draped piece, and turn them in to the teacher. Is this dress for an older lady? The color of the fabric and the style of sleeves suggests it might be to me.

    1. Very interesting about the author of the Magic books. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about draping, either, and feel rather daunted by not having an “exact” dress form.

  5. If you extend the insert into the back, are you going to create pleats as well? Would it not look a little odd with an insert & no pleats? Not trying to be negative, just thinking! As for stress at the top of the slit, either a square of silk organza or fused tricot interfacing should prevent any ripping. I agree that it might be an idea to put the zipper in the side without the insert. Hang in, you’re doing just fine!!

  6. Wow! I think it is going to be a show-stopper! Love the gathering at the side. You are clever to be drafting your own pattern, I agree it IS much harder than it seems. You’re doing great 🙂

  7. Looking good! Maybe if you want to take the insert around the back you could use a side zip – on the other side to the insert of course 🙂 Just an idea and I’m a bit sick and tired so if this makes no sense I apologise in advance!


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