Posts Tagged“dress design”

How to make a dress or blouse bodice: the easy way

Today I was thinking about ways in which I could simplify the making of the bodice. Now, I have a bodice that I’ve made following the instructions in Helen Joseph Armstrong’s book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design and another from Sarai Mitnick’s book, The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress but I wanted to see how I could make one fast and easy, if, let’s say I am too lazy to look for them 🙂

And then I found this video with Peggy Sagers who explains pattern-making by draping. I always thought this was difficult to do, but she explains it very clearly.

One point she makes about the bust darts is that they always have to reach to the bust point (the nipple) and that they have to end somewhere within the bust circle, which is a 3in radius circle, with the centre at the bust point. If a dart does that, then it can be safely positioned in a multitude of ways, either vertically or horizontally.

See how to draft the bust circle below:

sewing patterns drafting the bust circle

Another point that’s actually something I wish I had understood sooner is that the bodice always stops at the real waist. So if you want to make a blouse, you should add as much length to your bodice as you need (maybe you want it to only touch the hipline or to pass it completely, you always need to add that length). It’s funny now because when I first created my bodice following Helen Armstrong’s instructions, I had commented that the bodice fitted me more or less well, but it was way to short.

Measuring the body takes much longer than draping the body, she says. It’s true, how come I didn’t think of that before?

How does she drape? She pins the square piece to the mannequin (my recent madness about owning a body form is bubbling up here, but let’s put a lid on it for now), marks the neck points and the shoulder, then she drapes the paper at the bust point, horizontally, creating a bust dart. She then repeats from the bust point to the waistline, vertically, creating a waist dart.

how to make sewing patterns bust darts

Another quote that sounds a bit funny in the beginning, but makes a lot of sense: an armhole is created the same way as a neckline: down and out.

She sews the darts starting from the bust point down, arguing that it’s easier to get that first part right, like that, and that if you get wrong the foot of the dart, then that’s going to be encased in a seam anyway. Plus, she sews darts with an overlocker!

A french dart is a combination of the bust dart and the waist dart: you start with your basic bodice with the two bust and waist dart. You then mark the new french dart starting with a few inches up from the side and drag it to the bust circle. Slash open and close the old darts:

how to make a french dart

Would love to know your thoughts on this technique!


Eleonore Klein’s Wearability Project

pretty clothes on a line

There are a few reasons why I like Eléonore Klein’s Wearability Project: it’s funny, refreshingly sincere, useful and inspiring. It’s also in French, but Google Translate should help you with that unless you want to do a 2 in 1 and learn how to improve your wardrobe and French at the same time.

Eléonore, the mastermind behind Deer and Doe, and the inventor of the popular Plantain Top sewing pattern, has decided to review and edit her wardrobe, specifically the garments she sews for herself and to identify the outfits she best feels in – and basically – to sew more of those. For me this makes a lot of sense, as one of my sewing resolutions for 2014 is to sew less and better.

She documents her whole process, from dying garments she is not wearing, to identifying bad cuts and bad styles for her and also talks about accessories she loves but don’t fit with her day to day style. That is maybe what I like best about this project: how much she adapts it to her day to day use. She introduces an interesting concept in designing one’s wardrobe, and that is cost per use. What she’s saying, and I can’t agree more is that price (of fabric, accessories used, pattern, time spent making) is a relative thing: a super cheap t-shirt you made in 2 hours and never wore is more expensive than a 50 euros shirt that you wear every week.

I also like that she’s getting those garments  and even fabric that she’s not 100% happy about out of her closet: either selling them or giving away or recycling them. This is something that is also very important for me.

The other day I was having dinner with my friends and they had the idea to organise a garment reconstruction/clothes swap, which sounds like fun. Except, I almost don’t have any clothes to swap; I’ve either given them away when we moved or put into the remake pile and that’s not a very interesting pile for my friends, I am sure. They were also very surprised to hear that the only things I bought since September last year were workout clothes and a leather jacket that was actually a gift.

I’m excited though, I’ll tell you how that goes. Have a lovely Sunday!


Wanted: Fashion Design and Pattern Making Books Recommendations

apple and books

Like many pattern-makers-to-be or pattern making newbies, if you want, I sometimes tend to feel like I maybe need to study this properly in order to make something of it. The only formal fashion design and pattern making class that I could take right now is an online class.

I am mainly a self-learner and I know I can save a lot of time learning by myself (in-class experience with fellow student and a teacher who interacts with you is still the best for me, but not always possible). A Coursera and Udacity and Codecademy aficionado, I’ve also noticed I prefer books to instructional video. I read faster than I watch videos and sometimes I can’t fully concentrate on a video. At the same time I can read perfectly comfortable in a room full of screaming babies (not something I am usually exposed to, buy just saying).

So, as I decide whether I want to pay the online course or read the good books, in my time on my rules, I day-dream about my sewing, pattern-making and fashion design library.

My go-to book for pattern-making is Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. This book is one of the most valuable book buys I made in the last three years. I actually stopped buying pattern magazines when I realised how easy it was to adapt and modify existing patterns.

Other two books I like but don’t actually use are Coletterie and the first Burdastyle book. They are both great for inspiration, but I did’t make anything out of them. (I almost finished a chocolate truffle, but made a major mistake when fitting the back and the dress ended in the “to fix” basket).

What other books are the stars of your collection? Which books would you like to read? What are the “stay away from” pieces?




Those Clothes We Love to Hate


Have you ever spotted a dress, a coat, a jacket, what have you, loved it, had to have it, made it (or bought it), only to realize there is something terribly wrong with it, that will never allow you to wear it happily?

Maybe it’s too transparent, or maybe it clings too much, maybe it wrinkles like crazy, or maybe it makes your bottom look fat and your legs short. You love it, you hate it.

What do you do? Do you zip and bare? Do you keep it “just in case”? Do you give it away without thinking twice?

Here’s my list of unbearable discoveries made about garments I otherwise love:

  • The length of the dress is perfect, but people can see your underwear if you walk too fast – do you wear fancy knickers and walk like a lady?
  • The fabric is beautiful and itchy – is there a magic softener?
  • The shirt is fantastic, but it wrinkles horribly the moment you put your bag on your shoulder – do you wear a clutch and try not to move too much all day?
  • The pants are great, until you wash them the 15th time and they lose their perkiness – can they be saved?
  • Everything is perfect, except it makes me look 3 sizes bigger – should this matter?

What about you? Do you have a love-hate relationship with the clothes you make? What annoys you? How do you deal with it?

A Cute Vintage Gathered Yoke Blouse

This is another idea from ”Precision draping; a simple method for developing designing talent” by Nelle L. Weymouth.

And it seems so easy to make also: just cut a (sort of) diamond shape above the bust, then slash and spread the remaining part of the bodice to create pleats. Then sew back together.

I would work with a relaxed version of the bodice for this. The bodice I made with this method comes out very fitted. For this blouse I would just grade it to a bigger size so the blouse has some movement. And it’s easier to take in then release a garment anyway 😛

This is a very similar garment (image from here), with long sleeves, a shirt collar and made in black silk.