Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Lucy Dress - making the pattern

So, if you look at the picture of the Lucy dress, you'll notice princess seams through the bodice, and four panel skirts. The sleeves are fitted at the top, with a bell on the bottom section. I had to decide if I was in "artistic" mode - like when I made the white cross-barred muslin dress and just sort of winged it, or if I was in "math" mode and needed a known starting place. When I thought of the set-in sleeves, I opted for "math" mode.

Apparently people don't sew clothes for pre-teens to wear anymore, judging by the dearth of patterns. I ended up with the only thing we could find that was close. And it was in a woman's size. Definitely not designed for a 9-year-old, but it was a starting point.

Princess seams? Check. Set-in sleeves? Check. Four-gore skirt? Easy fix. We were on our way.

The first thing I did was compare Sweet Daughter's measurements to those on the pattern. I noted the "ease" allowed - 4". Since the bodice was to be snug, I had to eliminate those 4". And since this was designed for a "mature" figure (meaning a waist much smaller than the bust line) I had to make some changes. Since I needed to remove 4" from the chest, but none from the waist, I decided to remove an inch each from the center front and back, and a half inch from the side front and side back pieces. So, I made a quarter inch fold in each of the side pieces at the top, tapering down to nothing at the bottom. I made two of those on the center front and back pieces - one down the center, and one through the shoulder. I also compared the back-waist length from the pattern to SD, and remembering fitting issues I've had in the past, removed the excess from the armseye. I also managed to make these same alterations to the sleeve. It went something like this:

I put some gridded pattern making stuff over the pattern origami, traced my new cutting lines and had new pattern pieces.

These were cut out of scrap fabric (okay, a sheet that's older than I am that has done past duty as a drop cloth), sewn together and checked for fit.

Notice the difference in the curve of the back piece.
 Lines were drawn, notes were made and another set of pattern pieces made. Another fitting muslin was cut out and sewn, and we nailed it on the second try. Even the sleeve fit! Well, the top half.

And I continued to sketch out the necklines and alter as necessary.

The bottom half had to be drafted. I started with a rectangle as wide as the measurement of the bottom of the sleeve. I looked at the picture of Lucy, and made a SWAG that the bottom of the sleeve was 1 1/2 times the width of the top of the sleeve. I also guessed on the length, as SD wasn't around, so I couldn't measure her. I then drew lines every inch, vertically across the paper.

I cut on the lines, and put the slashed piece on another piece of paper. I spread the bottom of each piece a half inch from the next in order to widen the bottom by 50%.

I traced the new outline on the bottom piece of paper and made a new pattern piece.

I could not get this to rotate properly for love nor money.

And ... it worked. Well, it was about an inch short, but that was an easy fix when it came time to cut things out for real.

The skirts were much easier. I taped the center and side pieces together, and cut both the center front and center back so they were on the selvage, not a fold. I forgot to remove those extra 4" of ease (D'OH!), so there's some extra overlap in the back, and a bit of puckering on the waistband, but that's all hidden by the bodice, so I resisted the urge to take it all apart and recut it. It's just a costume, right?



  1. I am continually amazed how you can do that. My daughter can see an historical outfit and make her own pattern, then make the outfit. I can't sew on a button. It's going to look awesome.

  2. I am very impressed. So anxious to see the final product.

  3. Awesome!!!!!
    My mom was cool, but your gal must be in heaven.
    Except for chores time, I mean. :)

  4. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who looks at patterns, decides they're not quite right, and changes them up to suit what I -really- want it to be!