Completed: Lady Skater dress with drape neckline

140411_front viewThis dress nearly defeated me but I am glad I persevered. I thought it would be fun to change the scoop neckline on the Lady Skater dress to a drape neckline to create a different look . I worry that if I make the same pattern over and over with the only change being the fabric that is used they’ll be too much alike. Changing details like necklines and sleeve lengths seems a good solution to this problem and they’re also fun as it often involves some pattern drafting.

140411_drape neckline2So, creating a drape neckline, “how hard can it be”? I had made drape necklines before on t-shirts for one of my sisters. A smarter person than me would have studied that pattern extensively before she started drafting, and more importantly, cutting the fabric. Let’s just say my first version wasn’t even remotely drapey and looked more like a boat neck trying to strangle me.

Luckily I had enough fabric left to cut a new front bodice. This one worked much better! I think I could have added even more drape but was worried at first that it might be too revealing. I shouldn’t have cut it out of fabric immediately though because I didn’t really consider the effect that my changes to the pattern had on the shape of the waistline. My waistline looked like this after cutting it from fabric (and that was the last piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the front bodice):

This is what happens when you forget to true up your waistline...

This is what happens when you forget to true up your pattern…

Whoops, not sure how that is going to look when the skirt is attached… I wasn’t certain how to fix this, so decided to leave this problem for after I completed sewing the bodice. I needn’t have worried though because this fabric has more lengthwise stretch than the fabric I used previously and as a result the waistline ended up far too low for my taste. I chopped an inch off the front and back bodice and in the process got rid of the sweetheart waistline detail.

Before reattaching the skirt I also took in the side seams. The before pictures below are how the dress was when I posted last time. I didn’t really like the dress then and wasn’t sure how to fix it.

140411_beforeafter

I thought something was missing, but I was wrong, there was still too much of something. Fabric, to be precise. I took the dress in at the back waist and removed even more at both side seams from just below the bust to the skirt hem and am now much happier with how it looks. It was a subtle change but I think it makes enough of a difference, especially from the front.

140411_side viewI can imagine some of you might be interested in how I converted the scoop neck to a drape neck. In the picture below I highlighted the orginal front bodice pattern piece in green. Starting at the centre front waistline you draw a straigth line (1) that flares out towards the neckline and extends beyond the original pattern piece (this will be the new center front).  More flare means more drape. Then you fold the pattern perpendicular to line 1 so that the corner of the shoulderseam ends up on the foldline. Then trace the shoulderseam  and the armhole onto the piece that is folded over, this is how you create the facing for the drape. Unfold the pattern and draw a second line (2) perpendicular to line line 1 so that the traced part of the armhole measures around 7.5 cm (I think it will still work if it is a little less or a little bit more).  I also added a notch in the armhole where the facing ends up when it is folded over. If you don’t want to end up with a strange looking waistline you also true up the pattern there.

front bodice pattern with drape neckline

I am apparently able to draft patterns in the future…

I finished my back bodice with a neckband, there are other options, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the length of the finished back bodice shoulder seam should be the same as the front bodice shoulder seam, so depending on your choice of finish you may have to make some changes to the back bodice as well. I reinforced the shoulder seam on the back bodice with some stay tape (not visible in the pictures). The shoulder seam is sewn by laying down the front and back bodice pieces right sides together with the shoulder seams matching. The facing of the front bodice is then folded over the back bodice so that the shoulder seam on the facing matches up as well (see picture below). I highly recommend basting this seam first to check how it looks from the right side. It can be tricky to get the back and front neckline to match up exactly, in the picture on the right you can see that I didn’t manage to do so completely, but trust me, it can be a lot worse. I basted the facing to the armhole before continuing to prevent shifting during the attachment of the armhole.

140411_shoulderseam

For now I am done playing with the Lady Skater pattern. My next make will be something I have never made before but that will be used on a daily basis. Can you guess what it will be?

Back view

UFO busting: Knipmode dress turns into Lady Skater dress

My thinking cap has returned and I managed to finish my Lady Skater dress while busting another UFO in the process.

back facing

Ridiculous back neckline facing, it’s supposed to be on the inside of the dress…

This dress started as Knipmode dress 12 from February 2011. It only needed hems but I wasn’t happy with how it looked. It was too large and the back neck facing refused to lay flat (I’m never going to use this method for finishing a back neckline again, it just doesn’t work with knit fabrics.). I suppose I could have fixed it but I didn’t think the shape of this dress was working for me either so my motivation to get it finished had completely disappeared.

I decided to turn it into a Lady Skater dress instead. This would not have been possible if I hadn’t had about 1 meter of fabric left-over.  I was able to cut out the back skirt from the back and front skirt of the Knipmode dress, but had to add a centre back seam in the process. The front skirt, front and back bodice and one sleeve were cut from the piece of left-over fabric. That left me 1 sleeve short. There was absolutely no way I could squeeze it out of the fabric in one piece. My options were to either change to short sleeves or piece the sleeve. I think an unnecessary seam in a sleeve isn’t very desirable. It’s bad enough I had to create a centre back seam for the skirt so my solution was to turn it into an asymmetrical colour block dress! I used some olive green single jersey for the bottom part of the right sleeve. I think it adds an interesting touch. Do you like it or do you think it looks as if I didn’t have enough fabric?

I did make some changes to the pattern pieces before I cut the dress out of fabric to improve the fit even more compared to my previous version and I thought it would be nice to show you what I changed and how that affected the fit.

At the top of the front bodice there was a little bit too much fabric that created some wrinkling. I used some pins to pinch this excess fabric out on my test version dress and transferred the amount of fabric that was pinched out to the pattern piece by folding the pattern the same amount. When you look at the before and after picture below you can see that the fabric in my new dress is much smoother in this area.

At the top of the back bodice there was also some excess fabric. I solved this the same way as I did the front bodice. (I apologize for not using a picture of the same shoulder.) Since the changes I made to the front and back bodice also affected the length of the neckline I also shortened the neckband by the same amount to make sure that it would still fit correctly.

In my test version I had already slimmed down my sleeves somewhat and this had improved the fit but there were still a lot of drag lines. I suddenly realised that my arms were much skinnier than what this pattern is made for and that there was simply too much fabric in this sleeve, especially on the front of my arm. Again I used pins to pinch out the excess fabric and transferred this to my pattern piece. Additionally, I slimmed down the sides of sleeves a little bit as well (using a good fitting sleeve from another pattern as a guideline). I also made the sleeve pattern longer to get rid of the sleeve band.

I am much happier with this dress than I was with the original one and I think I’m going to wear it this Christmas. I still have quite a bit of small pieces of fabric left-over since I didn’t use the original bodice and sleeves for my new dress. Perhaps I’ll be able to turn those into a baby top to get this UFO busted even more.

Completed: Test version Lady Skater dress

After the last post on my PDF pattern assembly troubles I don’t think it will come as a surprise that I made Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress! It was intended as a muslin but I think it already turned out good enough to wear in public.

Before I go into the details of the dress I have some additional PDF information to share with you. I contacted Amanda from Kitschy Coo about my problems with the pattern assembly and she let me know that there have been more issues with correct printing of PDF sewing patterns since this summer. This is caused by an update of Adobe that throws of the accuracy of horizontal printing. If you want to know more, this website shows how to fix it. I tried it and it didn’t solve my issues (probably because my printer is crazy) but if you have problems with PDF patterns it might solve yours. If you have Windows 8 you might also have additional issues that are explained here and there you can also find how to solve these.

So, onto the pattern. I intend to turn one of my UFO’s into a Lady Skater dress. This means that I have a limited amount of fabric to work with. I don’t want to turn one failure into another failure so I first made a muslin with some knitfabric that I already had. I cut size 4 with 1’’ instead of 3/8” seam allowances for the side-, shoulder- and sleeve seams. It turned out I didn’t need that extra fabric because I only took fabric away but if you want to fit a garment it is really helpful to have some extra fabric to work with. I cut off the extra fabric later on so my finished dress doesn’t have these huge seam allowances inside.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the dress without adjustments but in the pictures below you can see what my adjusted pattern pieces look like compared to the original pattern. I have highlighted size 4 of the original pattern in purple. I left the skirt, neckline band and sleeve bands unchanged. The main fitting issue was that there was a lot of excess fabric around the sleevecap that created unsightly folds at the seams and around my upper arm. I got rid of these by removing some fabric.

KitschyCoo_backbodice

I wanted the skirt to hit closer to my natural waist so I chopped 1” off the bodice. There was some excess fabric around the armhole and the sideseams so I removed some fullness there. I think I removed a little too much because the back is now a bit too tight so I am going to add something in the next version.

KitschyCoo_frontbodice

Chopped off 1” of length of bodice and removed some fullness at the side seams and around the armhole.

LadySkatersleeve

Removed some fullness around the sleevecap and at the upperarm. I now have quite an oddly shaped sleeve pattern but the fit is much better. Perhaps I have oddly shaped arms?

What I liked about this pattern:

  • Instructions are clear, I didn’t use them that much, but for a beginner sewer I think they will be a great help.
  • Very clear which line on the pattern belongs to which size because they are different colours. If you don’t have a colour printer I suppose this would be something that you won’t like about the pattern.
  • The shape of the neckline.
  • Clear elastic is added to the waistline seam allowance, this helps to keep the dress in shape.
  • The fit of the pattern was easy to adjust
  • Good customer service. Not only with the PDF issues but I also completely overlooked that there was a download link after you pay for the pattern so I waited for it to arrive via e-mail which of course didn’t happen. Amanda e-mailed me the pattern very quickly after I enquired when I could expect the pattern to arrive. So, if you buy this pattern, there is a download link!

What I didn’t like about this pattern:

  • The straight of grain line on the sleeve is tiny. I like them to be long. It is easy to fix this myself but, well, why not make it large on the pattern?
  • I had issues printing it correctly but I suspect this was mostly due to the printer and not the pattern.

What will I change next time:

  • I think I’ll get rid of the sleeve bands by making the sleeve a bit longer. I don’t really like a sleeve band on ¾ sleeves. I think it is less comfortable than a turned over hem.
  • Make some small adjustments to make the bodice fit even better.
  • Perhaps raise the bodice by another ½’’.

Overall, I am very happy with this pattern and I hope to show you my next version soon!