Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated With Photos: Liberty, Take Two

OK, I couldn't let it go with that top. I mean, it is a nice pattern. It's elegant; it's got good bones. And the darting on the sleeves and at the bust are a great vintage take on a t shirt.

All night long (and you know how long that is), I considered ways of reviving it.

This morning I got up at some ridiculous hour (especially in light of the time change) and made adjustments, namely, I serged another 2 inches of width out of the side seams. Actually, it looks a lot better.

But, my night-hatched plan will not be silent. What I'm going to do: turn it into a dress.


Wait, it gets better. I'm going to draft the skirt (added to the top to make it a dress) myself.

No, I've never drafted anything. Well, that's not true, but my drafting skills are exceedingly untested. Here's the thing, I have a sense that the top will hang better on my frame if there's some substantial vertical weight at the end of it. Not to mention that the line, I believe, will work better on me if everything skims the body closely from armscye to high hip (though I will put the seam at natural waist) and then hangs loosely to just below the knee.

Right now this top is bland (well, less bland now that I've actually fitted it to my waist dimensions) because it wants to be dramatic, but it's not dramatic.

So, I've taken some vertical and horizontal measurements. I've added in seam allowances. I really don't know what shape to make the paper pattern to yield the fitted at waist that goes full and drapey at the bottom. I'm seriously making it up as I go along.

I can't tell you how fun it is to just make shit up. Of course, it's much more fun when the finished product works out - which truly does remain to be seen right now.

At any rate, we'll see how it goes. It's a couple of serged seams and a whole lot of alchemy.

Thoughts or advice??

Update: Well, this wasn't rocket science...

Note that I haven't hemmed the skirt yet, and may opt not to (esp. if I throw this thing away). I want to let it hang and stretch before I do so...

In some ways, the back view shows it off to best advantage. Pls. note, as always, my shoulders are not this wide. Moreover, neither are my hips. I wish I could shape the hips on this dress form like my own actual hips. Note: I've TRIED! Here the hips look shelf-like. Mine are more gently sloping from waist to upper leg. And I think my shape suits the dress more than the form's.

See that arm seam? I like it! And the bust seam too, though I would make it 2 inches longer, were I to do it again. I think a pointy-boob shape is called for.

OK, on styling this thing, I have finally identified my issue: There is NO way to remove the stench of 1987 from this shape. I'm sorry, but I was SO there the first time and I cannot go back.

I'm also kind of over the little black dress. Black is severe, peeps. It's hard to make it friendly.

Notes on the Skirt:

I simply used my vertical and horizontal measurements (plus an inch for seam allowances) to create a wide A line skirt (no front or back seams though you could easily fold the pattern in half if you needed to conserve fabric) cut on the straight of grain. I made sure to bring the sides up about an inch higher than the centre because, effectively, the sides of this skirt are cut on the bias, given their width from the skirt midline. (Note: I think that's the case, but maybe I'm making that up?)

I could have made it longer, and made the waist of the dress start higher. As it is, the full skirt is 24". Were I to hem, make it longer and start it higher, I'd likely want to make it 26". That would give a great boot length. As it is now, it falls about an inch below my knee, unhemmed. I'll wear it, if I get up the nerve, with slim-calf, knee high boots having a 1 inch heel (like a flat with a little something).

While this dress most certainly fits me more nicely than my dress form, it's still super 80s to my eye.

What do you think?

PS: A night's-worth of rumination notwithstanding, this skirt took 2 hours to draft and assemble, with the completed top, into a dress. No, I haven't hemmed yet (the part that takes a long time on a wide-hemmed skirt), but really, it was not hard or scary. I did not need any special skills given that this was done in forgiving ponte and I wasn't darting anything. I only needed to know these measurements, which took 5 minutes to determine:
  • Where my natural waist sits vis a vis my navel (2.5 inches above)
  • Where my high hip sits vis a vis my waist (4.25 inches below)
  • Where my full hip sits vis a vis my high hip (2 inches below)
  • What length to cut from my natural waist to hem (24")
  • Waist circumference (29.5")
  • High Hip circumference (36")
  • Full hip circumference (38")
I did have to lop 5" off the bottom of the top, and remove another 3 inches of circumference from, before serging it to the skirt. Otherwise it would have been way too long to seam at the natural waist, and way too blouson to add to the fitted-at-waist and high hip skirt.


  1. I'm guessing that you would either flare it or taper it. Sometimes drafting is just making stuff up!

    1. Making stuff up is fun! I just kind of went for it. And, even though I don't love the end result, it's not because I drafted the skirt badly. I just can't stand that 80s thing going on with the top! :-)

  2. If you don't want to care about darts on skirt, then half-sun pattern is the best for your. It's just 2 semi-circle for the hem and waist.
    Like this (cryptic Russian says - length of the skirt - 103 cm, but it can be any length).

    PS It's a good idea to invest in a good book about how to make patterns based on body measurements. If you know how to make them, you also know how to alter patterns made for less curvy body shape.
    I like La technique de la coupe by Line Jaqe. (I have it in Russian)

    1. Malica: You're so right. I do have a couple of pattern drafting books - but I just wasn't in the mindset to use them. I considered the semicircle skirt and then did a slightly less robust version (I guess it's like a 1/4 circle skirt?) I will look up La Technique, thank you. How impressive that you have it in Russian!

  3. Ha ha "stench of 1987"! When I first looked at the photo I thought it turned out great, totally wearable, but now all I can see is 1987. I'm with you, been there, done that, ain't going back. Great learning experience though.

    1. I know! I should have hidden this terrible truth. But maybe the young bloggers won't read the same thing into it that we do?? Nonetheless, I don't know how I'll bring myself to wear this :-)

  4. Glad you're feeling better! I love it - and really love how you accessorized the look:) Fantastic post!

    1. Thanks Pam! You know, it was all I could do to try NOT to accessorize it like I was in 1987. I was having a serious mental block :-)

  5. I'm impressed that it's completely credible as a dress -- which YOU drafted! and made! all from your own imagination. Whether or not you love the style in the end is another separate question, and really, it's a long shot at this stage. But you made up a dress, you clever thing!

    1. You know, it is credible! And it won't fall apart (one hopes :-)) I have to say I'm totally happy about the exercise. Not everything needs to yield the best garment ever. This was a creative experience I really needed.

  6. You fancy pants! Drafting your own skirt. Your bravery impresses me! :)

    1. You know what, I'll take that! :-) It's Ms. Fancypants. It was kind of brave, in a very small way.

  7. OOh, Your mojo is back! Black can be sever, but it's also classic! Great dress!

    1. It is returning. It takes a lot of energy to be myself right now. I never knew I was so tiring to be around! But I look forward to the days (hopefully in the near future) when I can eat normally again, and sleep and feel energetic. Mind you, this is a vast improvement!

  8. It's totally inspiring, well done! Right, off to copy you now! x

    1. Well, as I'm off to buy stripey fabric to copy your kimono sleeve top, we're even!