So Sunday night I thought I’d start on the harder dress: the empire knit that I need to draft a pattern for. This is actually my second attempt at drafting an empire-line knit dress. The last one failed both for structural reasons (never use 4-way stretch knit for a dress!) and for design reasons (I think I was too timid in adding fullness for the gathers). Here’s what I want to end up with— a loose dress with gathers at the sleeves, bust, and the top of the skirt:
Seems simple, no? I decided to start from the Burda 7759 bodice that I’d muslined back in January. Fortunately I still had the bodice muslin lying around. Unfortunately it no longer fits. Now, on the one hand the muslin is woven and the dress is going to be a stretch knit, so the fact that the bodice fits…er…snugly might mean it’s just right for the knit. On the other hand the look I’m going for is more loose than fitted. At the moment I decided to enlarge the pattern by one size and see how that looks, but I’m open to suggestions.
Here’s what I’ve done so far. First, I rotated the front dart to the bottom and smoothed out the curve where the gathers will go:
Next, I added fulness to the sleeve base by slashing and spreading (as described in Adele):
Then I drafted a simple A-line skirt and slashed and spread for the skirt gathers. I have no idea if this is too much or too little spreading:
I have to say I really like working on this. There’s a particular joy I feel when I don’t really know what I’m doing but am blazing ahead anyway in the hopes that it will all work out. Or at least that I will learn something. What I’m wondering about at the moment is whether and how to muslin this. In principle it seems like a good idea but I don’t have another knit with the same weight and stretch. And if I use a very different knit will what I learn transfer? So I’m thinking I might just cut the bodice pieces a little big and see how it looks as it comes together. I think I have enough fabric to cut a second bodice if I screw the first one up too badly. And if the skirt is too wide I can always cut it down. What do you think? Advice? Suggestions?