Monday, September 28, 2009


While shopping at JoAnn (yes, JoAnn! gasp!) I came across this lovely polyester charmeuse. It's a little vintage, a little kitschy,  and perfect for a retro day dress, something like this:

Before I get started, though, let me show you around my workspace. Here's my workroom, the .5 in our 1.5 bedroom apartment:
While I now have a large dining room table on which to draft patterns, it hasn't always been that way. For the three years I was in fashion school my only workspace was my bedroom floor. Despite the back and knee pain, I'm just used to drafting and cutting on the floor, thus the name of this endeavor.
And now, back to the dress.  To begin, I draped an empire-waist, surplice bodice:
Pretty straightforward. Since I'm making this dress for myself, and I'm 6'1", I have to raise the shoulder about 1.5" as well as the neckline. Now for the back:

This is about as basic as it gets, Draping 101. Since it's an empire waist I don't even need a back dart. For the skirt pieces I cheated and used my wedding dress pattern. I can't drape skirts for myself on this tiny size 8 dress form. The top fits me, but I'm hopelessly pear shaped, so I draft skirt pieces.
Now for the interesting part, the petal sleeves. Drafting sleeves is much easier than draping.  I started with a basic one-piece sleeve sloper (it's a jacket sleeve sloper, so it will need some adjustments, but I won't tell if you don't) :

I cut 1" below the widest part of the sleeve (the armpit) to make a short sleeve. Then I drew a curve from the notch of the sleeve cap to the sleeve hem, improvising the petal shape. I had no idea what the curve should look like, but that's the great part about pattern drafting, trial and error. I then added seam allowance and notches. Here's what the finished petal sleeve pattern pieces looked like:

All the pattern pieces are complete, so it's time to test out the pattern by making a muslin. Here's how mine came out.

Not bad for a first try. Here's the side view:

I think my husband Mr. N said something funny. A big shoutout to him for helping me with the pictures! So how'd the muslin turn out? Well, changes need to be made. First of all, I forgot to walk the shoulder seams together, so they didn't match. They were way off because of the extra 1.5" I added. You can't tell in the picture because I tucked the seams under. Also, the neckline needs to come up about another inch plus seam allowance. If I weren't wearing the black tank under this baby it would be a little  cleavage-tastic. I also didn't walk the side seams of the bodice together, so they don't quite match at the waist. Shame on me for making making silly mistakes. Also, it's hard to tell in the above picture, but the petal sleeves are a bit loose and well, wayward. That's why you don't use a jacket sleeve sloper for a charmeuse dress. That's an easy fix though. If I just overlap the petals a bit more it'll create a bit more coverage and take some space out of the sleeve cap.
Well, that's it for this installment! It's time to give Mr. N and Don Leon some attention. Wait, what? You don't know who Don Leon is? Forgive me. Allow me to introduce him:

He helps in the workroom by batting yarn and tape measures around and getting scared of his own shadow.
See you next time when we'll finish this dress off!

Monday, September 21, 2009

moving forward

Until just over two months ago my major project was my wedding dress. 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. It may not have been what I was originally picturing, it may not have been a blockbuster moment in fashion history, but it was the tangible realization of months of planning and work, and I'm proud of it. 
And now there are no more excuses. It's time to hit the ground running again. Or at least a slow jog. People blog because they have a point of view and something to put into the world. I'm certain I have something to say with my designs, I'm just not sure what yet. I'll probably have an agenda to push soon enough, but for this moment this blog is about being inspired, creating, and finding my voice. 
Thanks for jogging with me.