When I was a small child, my favorite phrase was “Do it self!” This was also my MO. Anything I liked, I wanted to try my hand at making. So during the period when I read a lot of sci-fi novels, I tried to write one, and after I’d been playing computer games for a few years, I tried to write one in Hypercard. At various points I also tried to build a robot and to produce a movie. Not that these efforts were in any way successful. And apparently nothing has changed. No sooner had I finished sewing my first skirts then I wanted to create my own patterns.
Fortunately between my teenage years and now a few things have changed. In addition to somewhat improved motor skills I also have access to the internet. And the internet explained that a good way to create patterns is to start from a “sloper” or master pattern, that captures all your three-dimensional bumps in convenient 2D form. You can use this master pattern to draft pieces for anything you like, and because they are based on your sloper they are guaranteed to fit. (See Carolyn’s and Cidell’s blogs for many lovely examples of this.)
But how to create this sloper? Here I fell back on my traditional approach of making things up as I go along. I started by tracing out the bodice top from New Look 6736 (a sheath dress pattern) because it seemed to fit pretty well out of the envelope. Then I fused this to the skirt from Simplicity 2703, which was more A-line and fit better than the straight skirt on the New Look dress. I made this up as a muslin and tried it on.
As expected, the bodice fit well in the front. The back though was huge. I thought the dress I made from this pattern kind of bulged in the back but I had no idea how bad it was till I made this muslin. If I had had any training what-so-ever I would have then gone about fitting the muslin with various adjustments. Since I have no idea what I’m doing, however, I just started pinching out excess bits of fabric and sewing them down. Here’s what the back of my muslin looked like when I got done with it:
Then I took the muslin apart and tried to convert it back into a standard sheath pattern with front and back darts. It took two more muslins but here’s the sloper I ended up with:
Here’s the first dress I made from my sloper:
The fabric is a cotton rayon blend from Gorgeous Fabrics— really cool and comfortable to wear. The only thing I don’t like about this dress is that the seam lines get lost in the textured fabric. I used the diamond pattern that appeared when I “adjusted” my muslin for the back seams, but you can only really see it from the inside:
(BTW, I love the way the on-seam pockets make all my dresses look like bees from the inside!) There’s also a separate waistband piece that runs all the way around the dress. I tried to set it off with these fancy seams from Ann’s class (basically I basted the seam together, put a strip of contrast fabric underneath and topstitched on both sides, then opened the seam) but its hard to see them in the finished dress:
Finally, when I tried wearing the dress for an evening, I found that the pockets tended to slip with respect to the shell fabric, causing the skirt to bunch up in weird ways. So I hand-sewed the top of the pockets to the outside of the dress with an invisible stitch (and its very invisible in this fabric):
I think you can see from the pictures that my taste in patterns is pretty boring simple. But I really like this pattern and I think I’ll make it again in a lighter solid color fabric, so the seams show up. I think its pretty versatile. You can wear it with a scarf and dress it up, or throw a t-shirt over it and wear it to work (without getting called out by your lab mates):