A Jacket to Give a Dress a Second Look

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In a mentoring session with Sarah Veblen last month, we talked about a planned business trip to Brazil. I know the weather will be quite warm, but I need to look polished every day that I’m there. I simply don’t have enough warm weather clothes that fit the bill. One of the suggestions Sarah made was to make a white cotton jacket to wear over the dress I had made for the Spoonflower fabric challenge last summer.  It just so happened that I had two different white piqués in my collection as well as some gray buttons with a white stripe that blend well with the print of the dress.

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All I  needed was some white Ambiance lining and I’d could get started, or so I thought.

The plan was to use the bodice pattern pieces for the Spoonflower dress to make the body of the jacket, with an adjustment at the shoulder to make room for a pair of very thin shoulder pads called “Angel Wings.” The sleeves could be made from either my master jacket pattern or my master blouse pattern, whichever worked. Both are two-piece sleeves. However, I discovered that I no longer had all the pattern pieces for the Spoonflower dress. I started the dress to enter in the October 2015 ASG Chicago Chapter fashion show, but when I couldn’t finish it in time it remained unfinished until last summer. In the interim, I used the pattern as the starting point for my Little Black Dress that I wore in last spring’s Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show and to a wedding last June. I didn’t expect to like the Spoonflower dress as much as I do and so I didn’t think I’d want to make another dress from the pattern. So, instead of copying all the pattern pieces to make the modifications for the LBD, I made the changes on the existing pattern pieces. I’ve since decided that I do want to make new versions of the original dress again and I really regretted not taking the few extra minutes to copy all the pattern pieces when we were developing the LBD. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.

So, my first task was to reconstruct the original Spoonflower dress pattern, then copy the bodice pattern pieces adding an extra inch beyond the modified Empire seam of the dress. Because that seam is so curved, I needed to make a faced hem, which required new pattern pieces and interfacing.

I kept everything else very simple. The neckline is the same as the neckline of the dress so that it sits under the dress collar and the top button is hidden. I lined it to the edge and just made interfacing pattern pieces to interface the lining where facings might otherwise have gone, including at center front to support the buttons and buttonholes.

Of the two cuts of piqué that I had in my collection, the traditional birdseye weaves is a bright white and the less traditional one is a softer white. That’s the one that goes better with the dress. In looking at the weave, which looks like a honeycomb, I decided I wanted the elongated pattern to go in a vertical direction in the garment, even though that is the cross-grain.

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In this picture of a sample buttonhole you can see the fabric’s directional honeycomb weave

I also decided that the fabric needed to be cut in a single layer to achieve some degree of consistency at the hemline of the adjacent pieces. That meant making a full pattern for the back piece and remembering to cut mirror images of the front, side and sleeve pieces. I ended up labeling each piece “left front”, “right front”, etc. I didn’t want to leave any room for error.

After doing the pattern work and cutting, I wanted to get sewing, so I put off cutting the lining . This turned out to be helpful, because when the jacket was constructed and I needed to attach the shoulder pads, I went ahead and did all the hand sewing that had to be done on the fashion fabric. That cut down on the amount of hand sewing I had to do at the end and made it less daunting.

After trying on the jacket and determining button placement, it was time to test the  buttonholes. The buttonholes themselves were fine, but I was having trouble getting them placed exactly where they needed to be. With white fabric I didn’t want to take a chance on using a Frixion pen or even a chalk pencil and pin marking was hard to see. So I decided to try cutting painter’s tape to a width that matched the space from the finished edge of the jacket to exactly where I need to sink the needle at the start of the buttonhole.

I marked the horizontal lines in pen and attached the tape to the sample I was working with. I found I could sink the needle in so that it just brushed the edge of the tape and lined up exactly with the pen marking. I’m definitely going to use this technique again.

The other breakthrough in this project was that the lining jump hems didn’t trip me up. I serge finished and pressed under the cut edges, attached them to the serge finished edges of the fashion fabric hems (for the sleeves) and hem facings (for the body), hand stitched them in place and lightly steamed the lining. Done!

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In the Sketchbook – March 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

Another month has flown by and it’s time to see what’s in the Sketchbook. I promise I’m sewing and I’ll have a finished garment ready to show and discuss with you next week. In fact, there should be three in rapid succession. Please bear with me a little longer.

To start off I’d like to show you a sketch I did first thing Monday morning after attending another fabulous hands-on workshop with Sarah Veblen over the weekend.

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Sarah  shared some inspiration pictures with us and when I was going over my class notes to solidify what I’d learned and compile a list of follow-up things I needed to do (a good habit I’m trying to cultivate), I found my copy of those pictures folded into my notebook. Looking at one of the pictures again, I immediately thought about making this casual tunic to wear with black pants.

Also during the workshop I happened to mention to Sarah that I’m struggling with sketching fullness at the hems of garments. She showed me her method step-by-step on a sticky note and I practiced it right away to get the hang of it.

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Apart from sewing my business travel wardrobe this month, I have bias on the brain. Our ASG neighborhood group, Sew Chicago, has adopted “Show Your Bias” as the group challenge for next fall’s fashion show and Stephanie King and I are doing a bias presentation to the group in May.

Ever since I saw the exhibit “Making Mainbocher” at the Chicago History Museum, I’ve been thinking about how skilled Mainbocher was at giving serious work suits and even uniforms a feminine flair. None of his skirts were restrictive pencil skirts and most, if not all of them, were cut on the bias. One tweed suit in particular caught my eye. I noticed that he not only made the skirt on the bias, but he also inserted godets. I’m not convinced I need godets to get the effect I’m after, so I sketched this skirt to make with a lovely gray tweed wool I found last month at Haberman’s Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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Then I started wondering where else I could use bias and whether just part of a garment on the bias would work. So I played around with this skirt and top combination.

I think it looks better with the skirt echoing the hem of the top.

I tried this ensemble with a sheer on top, but the jury is still out on it.

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That’s it for now. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

 

In the Sketchbook – February 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

I’m afraid I find myself running short of time and I’m a bit late in getting this posted. But, I reminded myself that this is my tenth post in this series, which is a nice accomplishment, right?

So, this month I’m working on a capsule wardrobe for a week-long business trip to a warm climate. I’m going to need to dress conservatively, so I definitely need to fill in with a few new pieces. In a mentoring session, Sarah Veblen made some suggestions I hadn’t even considered and I think it’s going to work.

The first piece I started making a pattern for is a version of a tucked blouse inspired by the class I took recently with Mary Ray. Here was my original sketch, which I’ve shown you before.

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I chose the fabric and all was good, right? Well, not exactly. it turns out that the scale of this sketch is way off. My armscye princess seams actually come up higher than they are in this sketch and my most flattering square-ish neckline is lower, meaning there’s not enough real estate to fit in the number of tucks I’d planned or their placement. Here is a very rough sketch aimed at correcting those issues.

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I think I’ll like it. The filler color was meant to represent this lovely silk that not only has tiny dots but a subtle houndstooth jacquard weave.

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Fortunately, I have enough fabric to make a swingy skirt for a two-piece dress when I get back.

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As you can see, I’m planning to wear the blouse with a black pencil skirt instead of the yet-to-be-developed trumpet skirt.  This will be made from linen and also worn with this jacket.

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If you think the jacket looks familiar, you’re right. I sketched it in blue last month.

The fabric for the jacket is a fabulous black, taupe and beige checked linen that looks like wool. I’m mulling over button choices at the moment.

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When I spoke with Sarah, I was thinking I needed to make a jacket dress, but then she had me pull my Spoonflower dress out along with some fabric for a possible jacket to go with it. That’s how this idea came about.

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I happened to have two different types of white cotton piqué for past summer projects that were planned but never implemented. And these perfect buttons were also in my collection.

 

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That’s it for this month. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Steph King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

My First Appleton Dress

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The Appleton Dress before hemming

I was in college when Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress found its way into almost every woman’s closet, but when I tried it on the store I didn’t think it was for me. So, when Jenny Rushmore introduced her line of sewing patterns for curvy women, Cashmerette Patterns, with a curvy-friendly version of the wrap dress called Appleton, I bought a copy of the pattern but wasn’t sure I’d ever make one for myself. Then I saw how fabulous it looks on my lovely friend Stephanie King of Siouxzeegirl Designs and she let me try hers on. It looked really nice, so I decided to give it a try.

It may seem odd, but the biggest mental barrier I had to overcome besides my skepticism about how the dress would look on me was my past difficulties with starting from someone else’s pattern. I knew this is a very well-drafted pattern, but my experience has been that when I start with someone else’s pattern I have to make a ton of adjustments to get it to fit me. And I did have to grade across sizes to get the hips to fit without falling off my shoulders. I actually made two mock-ups and almost ended up making a third, which seems absurd for a knit dress, but I couldn’t help myself.

My job was made easier by the fact that my dress form is now padded to resemble my figure pretty closely. This was another thing I had resisted doing because i didn’t think I wanted to live with a reminder of the shape my body is in now. But, I agreed to participate in a pilot class on draping that Sarah Veblen was developing and so I made a basic dress sloper out of heavy weight muslin from my bodice and skirt master patterns for a workshop several months ago. Sarah draped out pretty the wearing ease until it was quite form-fitting. I installed a heavy-duty separating zipper down the back and had my new dress form cover. I then proceeded to stuff the space between the muslin and my dress form with foam pads from Fabulous Fit and batting. I got really frustrated in the draping class and convinced myself that I’m no good at draping and this entire exercise was a giant waste of time that would have been better spent sewing. Then when I was working on this project, after trying on the first mock-up, I put it on the dress form and the next thing I knew I was draping adjustments.

For the mock-ups, I used cotton interlock knit from Joann’s (with a coupon, of course). The first mock-up gapped at the bust and clung in all the wrong places, so those pictures will not be posted anywhere.

In the first mock-up, I noticed that the side seam was more toward the back than my master pattern’s side seam, plus it swung to the back at the hips. Because I needed to increase the circumference there, I decided to bring the side seam in line with the side seam on my master pattern so I could be sure the final version was hanging plumb. Here is a side view of muslin number 2.

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That was all well and good, but I made a mistake that is typical for me, which is to add too much to the hips and taper below that and end up with what I refer to as the jodhpur effect. One of the suggestions Sarah Veblen made in a mentoring session was to have the skirt flare out a bit instead of dropping straight from the hip. That adjustment really helped.

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As you can see, there is no center front marking and no horizontal balance lines. The pattern does not have center front marked, which makes sense because it’s different on different types of figures. I had marked horizontal balance lines on my first mock-up but Sarah told me that wasn’t necessary in this dress, which she had fitted on other students. Still, when I was working to adjust the first muslin it helped to work with the front and back independently so I could get them to be as level as possible.

Another thing that I did early on was lower the waist so that the ties went around my waist. The pattern is drafted so that the wrap is higher than the natural waist, almost Empire height. The problem with lowering the waist was that it created gaposis at the bust. So, I put the waist back where it wanted to go.

Sarah suggested that I might want to add shaping darts to the back. Darts were my nemesis during the draping class, but I could see how the fabric really “wanted” to have them added.

 

As you can see, I pinned the darts to the outside, which is not what I was supposed to do. It got the job done here, but I’m trying to learn to make my fingers manipulate the fabric so that the dart intake is toward the dress form. I’ll get there. Eventually.

I wanted to make this dress in an ITY knit, but the ones in my collection were in quantities suitable for knit tops, not a dress. I had trouble finding ITYs (only because I was looking for them!) and then I found this lovely rayon-Lycra knit from Stone Mountain & Daughter. I was hesitant, thinking that Rayon is too drapey and possibly clingy for a dress on me, but this fabric has a lovely dry hand and worked beautifully.

Next came the challenge of hemming. Again, I’m really spoiled by working with master patterns developed with Sarah Veblen because when the horizontal balance lines are parallel to the floor, so is the cut edge of the fabric at the bottom. Hemming is a straightforward process of turning up the fabric an even amount all the way around and stitching. Not so on a pattern that is not customized to a particular body.

 I could have asked a sewing friend to pin the hem for me, or even paid my dry cleaner to do it, but I wanted to get this project finished and move on to what’s next. My first attempt was to use the contraption that stands on the floor and you squeeze a bulb so chalk dust spits out on your dress as you turn in place. That didn’t work at all. So, I resorted to the technique I’ve used for fitting myself or having Sarah analyze my fit issues long distance – setting up the tripod and camera and using a 10-second delay to take a series of pictures.

First I pinned where I thought the hem should be, then I looked at the pictures and saw where it was uneven. I made adjustments to the pinning and took more pictures. After two rounds of this, I got it to where I was satisfied.

For the actual pinning, I found it was much easier to mark a few reference points with pins on the dress form and then work on a flat surface. When I got it to where it looked straight to me, I trimmed where the hem allowance was deepest, pressed and stitched. I adjusted the pattern, but where the hem ends up on any individual dress will probably vary with the type of knit I’m using.

As you might be able to tell from this picture, I’m still shying away from having the ties go across my tummy. So, my solution is to tie them at the side so that they only go across the back. The other thing I debated was whether to add a hidden snap in the front to prevent unscheduled appearances of lingerie. I was worried that it might pull, but I tested it out with a small safety pin and discovered it’s not noticeable. So, I’m adding a small nylon snap for security.

The dress is incredibly comfortable to wear and, now that I’ve done the pattern work, will be pretty quick to sew again.

 

 

 

 

In the Sketchbook – January 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

This month, I’ve been trying out drawing apps on the iPad Pro and learning how to use the different features that are offered. Like everything else, the results improve with practice. Although I was excited about sketching on lovely tracing vellum, electronic sketching seems to be much better for me. I remember feeling this way about writing when I bought my very first, very rudimentary personal word processor. For a diehard  perfectionist, there is something so liberating about being able to pour out thoughts before they have to be committed to paper. The undo button and the ability to erase without leaving the slightest trace of a mistake allows me to venture well beyond where I go with pencil and paper.

Even bold color can be erased and you can’t erase paint or felt markers. Then there is the fill function, which I’m still trying to master. And the ability to add a background, which I did in the sketch on the right without knowing how that happened or how to do it again. Like I said, practice is needed.

The apps I’m using allow you to work with layers, so my personal croquis can serve as my guide the way it does when using tracing paper or vellum. I can lower the opacity of the croquis or turn off its visibility entirely before finalizing my sketch. You can also sketch individual pieces of a separates ensemble on their own layers to try out different looks and you can do the same with design details.

So far, the apps I’ve tried are Paper 53, Sketches, Procreate and Adobe Sketch. My brain is resistant to Adobe software. It was all I could do to learn InDesign when I needed to and to this day I only know how to do a few things in Photoshop, so I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable with Adobe Sketch. I’m getting fairly comfortable with Sketches and I’m working my way through the very helpful e-book that’s available for Procreate to learn how to use its cool features. It’s a process.

I’m looking forward to learning how to duplicate an image onto a new layer and flip it so I don’t have to draw both sides of a symmetrical piece, or I can fix a mistake when I draw one asymetrical element in the wrong direction as I did here.

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Okay, enough tech talk. Let’s get to the designs.

I’ve been inspired by the fabulous samples Mary Ray showed and the techniques she taught the ASG Chicago Chapter earlier this month.   The mismatched asymetrical outfit just above and and the pink square-neck blouse that I paired with a trumpet skirt in the earlier picture are examples of what has been percolating in my brain since taking that class.

Here’s another sketch where I got the swoops all going in the same direction and I played around with pattern fill in the skirt.

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A technique that really captured my imagination in Mary’s class was sewing partial tucks on a grid to add a waffle effect to flat fabric. Mary told us her inspiration for this was the book, The Art of Fabric Manipulation by Colette Wolf. This is a book that was given to me as a gift by my dear friend Scottie and I’ve been inspired paging through it but haven’t tried any techniques in it yet. It’s time to change that.

Here is what I’ve been thinking about as a first trial of this technique.

This is my attempt to show using the tucks in the area that a yoke would otherwise go in a knit cardigan with a hemline that dips in back. The tucks will provide added fullness in the body of the garment and I think will work well in a lightweight rayon knit.

Before I got tucks on the brain, I sketched this jacket with a version of my favorite 60’s stand-up collar.

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I also tried my hand at sketching the split collar from McCall’s pattern 6796 that I talked about in my last post.

As you can see, I’m having fun with this. I hope you are, too. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Steph King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger. We’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, so  please leave a comment.

 

 

Adding Variety to My Favorite Knit Top

One of the great hands-on workshops I attended at last summer’s ASG Conference was Jennifer Stern-Hasemann’s half-day class called “Beyond the Boatneck.” Jen is a great teacher as well as an excellent designer and patternmaker. She sets a low-key, no-stress tone in her classes and is a joy to learn from.

The class description talked about pattern variations for her Tee pattern, but it actually was a pattern drafting class. I look at her approach as akin to a mom with young children sneaking veggies into a casserole. So many sewists – even experienced ones – are intimidated by the thought of patternmaking, but routinely make pattern adjustments. Whatever works, right?

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The class materials included a booklet that has color photos and step-by-step instructions for drafting six new necklines and converting the tee into a tank top. Jen sells the book on her website, which is almost as good as having her patient guidance in class.

Most of the neckline changes can be achieved by swapping out a single pattern piece. As I explained in an earlier post, the Tee achieves its flattering shape with seams that form upper and lower parts of the front and back and an upper side front panel that acts as a dart.

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The neckline variations are made by making a new upper front pattern piece. If the neckline is narrower than the original boatneck, the back piece needs to be widened at the shoulder to correspond to the combination of the upper front and side front pieces.

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I was excited to make patterns for the variations in the book. Here are my patterns for the scoop neck (yellow in the upper left), v-neck (lower left) and crossover (right).

At the same time, I was struck with an idea that wasn’t in the book – a draped neck. I attended the workshop with my dear friend and Partner in Crime, Steph King. As soon as I had the words “drape neck” out of my mouth, Steph started tracing her center front piece and cutting strips for slashing and spreading it into a draped neckline. I waited until I got home to do mine.

My first draped pattern piece looks like this. The shoulder is at the upper right of the picture and the horizontal seam that connects the upper front to the lower front is now curved.

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I cut two of these on the fold so I could use one as a facing, which is what I do most of the time with this pattern. The result was a seam at the neckline, which is okay but not fabulous.

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I love this drapey rayon knit from Marcy Tilton’s web site. It has all my colors in it and feels like a warm weather print, so I made this top with short sleeves. it looks great on the dress form, especially after I’ve futzed with it so the seam doesn’t show. When I’m wearing it, I’m not static like my dress form and movement will make the neck seam visible from time to time.

After seeing that eliminating the seam in the front neckline would have given me more of the effect I was going for, I decided to set aside my fears about dealing with what I think is a very strange-looking pattern piece when a drape neck forms its own facing by folding over. In thinking it through, I realized that drafting this type of pattern piece doesn’t require mastery of any mysterious geometrical gymnastics. It’s just a matter of tracing the pattern piece I’d drafted by slashing and spreading and flipping that over to make a mirror image, then overlapping them so that the two halves of the new piece meet in a straight line that the fabric can be folded over there and sewn in place. It ends up looking like this:

Put togetherIt’s not marked in this picture, but the straight line on the left is Center Front, which is cut on the fold of the fabric. That “V” at the shoulder was the bit I had found intimidating. From a patternmaking point of view. it’s really no big deal. It’s what forms naturally when melding the two pieces together. Construction – especially on a serger – can be a little tricky.

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I didn’t take any pictures of construction, but as you can see from the labeled picture above, the tricky bit is sewing that V-shaped front shoulder seam onto a straight back shoulder seam and making sure none of the fabric scooches away when under the presser foot and leaves a hole. This is especially tricky with slippery and drapey fabric like the rayon-Lycra knits I want to use for this type of garment. Add to that the fact that it’s a knit and I want to serge it together and I start to wonder whether this was such a great idea after all.

After clipping into the V as far as humanly possible, I tried serging the pieces together and got a hole the first time. Unstitching a serged seam is such an unpleasant experience, I decided to do whatever it takes to avoid doing that a second time. My solution was to baste the shoulder seams by hand. Before you groan and say “hand basting a knit, are you crazy?” remember that (1) these are very, very short seams. We’re talking just a few inches. And, (2) I did a lot of hand stitching on my Miss Fisher top, which is a knit. Besides, hand basting takes a lot less time and is way less frustrating that unstitching a serged seam over and over again.

The basting did the trick and I was able to complete construction with no problem.

This approach is definitely a keeper.

Next, I got it into my head that I wanted to try adding a collar. It’s been a few years since I’ve been wanting to try this particular collar. My lovely friend Marie wore a top made of McCall’s 6796 to a sewing group meeting once and I immediately bought the pattern.

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The neckline on the pattern is pretty high and for that reason I took the pattern out and put it away several times. But last month I decided to try this collar with the J. Stern Tee and the scoop neck variation. After walking the neck seam on the tee and the collar, I did a bunch of slashing and spreading that gave me the little extra I needed in the back and the lots of extra I needed in the front.

img_0189-1  After trying a mock-up with the scoop variation from the workshop, I decided the neckline had to be a little bit less scoopy. So I made a modified scoop neck pattern piece and adjusted the collar accordingly. I tried it out in this great rayon-Lycra knit from Sawyer Brook in a color they called Bluebonnet, but didn’t think it worked well. So, I made the top with the modified scoop neck but no collar.

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It’s okay, but I had this picture in my head and this wasn’t it.

The thing is, I had bought enough of this fabric to make a twinset and so I had plenty left over to try the top with the collar again. In a mentoring session with Sarah Veblen, she said she thought the neckline needed to be higher for the collar and I said i thought it needed to be a bit narrower. She agreed and, with her help, we came up with the modifications I needed to make a slightly higher, slightly narrower semi-scoop pattern piece. With the somewhat narrower neckline, I had to make a new back piece as well. Instead of making the collar smaller, I decided to see what it would look like with some overlap. I then draped the collar onto the assembled  front, side and back panels on the dress form and liked what I saw.

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With this sewn, I then added the facing assembly and finished construction. Unfortunately, I got confused about which was the fashion fabric and which was the facing in the top panels and the finished product has the collar opening on the left instead of the right with the front overlapping the back. Sigh. The next time I do this I won’t take off my painter’s tape labels until after the whole thing is assembled. Another live and learn moment. Still, I’m pretty happy with the result.

Bluebonnet with Collar

In the Sketchbook-December 2016

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

I thought it might be a nice change to take a look at some garments that are actually in development. I’ve been working on pattern adjustments for the Appleton Dress by Cashmerette Patterns. This is a classic wrap dress designed for curvy figures. I think ITY (interlock twist yarn) knit is perfect for this dress, but I had trouble finding what I was looking for. I knew all the ITY knits in my fiber archive are cut in quantities that are only sufficient for a top so I searched to see whether I had anything in rayon that isn’t too clingy. One of the “discoveries” I made was a charcoal gray knit that has been tucked away for a very long time. I thought it would be just right, so I set it aside to prewash. Then I was looking for lace for the project we’re going to talk about in a minute and I cam across this lace mesh from MarcyTilton.com and had one of those aha moments.

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The lace looks a bit lighter in the picture than it does in person, but I think you get the idea. To me, knit and lace is an unexpected combination, especially a knit that’s not at all dressy like this one. I immediately thought it would look great on the neck bands and ties of the Appleton dress.

img_0005-1I’ll see if I can make it work on the sleeves, but I suspect I’ll need the stretch of the knit there. I thought about putting it on the edge of the overlap piece all the way to the hem, but I think it would be too much with the tie in that area. This is why sketching out ideas helps. You see issues you didn’t think of when the design is all in your head.

While I was noodling over the Appleton Dress, I wondered what it would look like with a collar.

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I like it. Maybe with contrasting fabric, maybe not.

Another project that occupied a chunk of my time this month involves lace combined with tweed. I have this fabulous salt-and-pepper tweed made of cotton(!) that I ordered from SawyerBrook.com a couple of years ago. It’s very soft and should be in an unstructured garment, so I thought about using the design for my Spoonflower dress and adding ¾ length sleeves.

In contemplating collars, I wondered whether it might look nice with a collar made of lace. That started a whole quest that made me feel like Goldilocks. One lace was too much of a stark white, black did nothing for the fabric, various laces in ivory were too dense, and on and on. I kept coming back to a lace neck piece I acquired at an ASG fabric exchange several years ago. It’s the wrong shape and it doesn’t lend itself to sitting under a collar made from the fashion fabric (the sketches look like a dog with a beard), but the color and density are perfect.

 img_0008 In a mentoring session, Sarah Veblen agreed that this is the lace I should use. She advised me to draft the neckline around it and forget about making a collar. I told her I was thinking about cutting out the flower at each of the points so the piece is not quite so wide and she agreed that’s a good idea. She suggested using the flowers somewhere else, maybe even at the top to balance out the width. I need to play around with them once I get them cut. I’m going to follow Pamela Legget’s advice for cutting out the motifs: sharp scissors, good lighting, no wine.

Here’s the sketch for the dress. I think it looks like it has measles and is wearing a bib. I definitely need to work on my sketching ability in the new year.

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Finally, I want to show you a sketch of a dress that I haven’t chosen fabric for yet. I sketched it using a cool new toy – um, tool – that I treated myself to. It’s the Apple Pencil, which I used with the iPad app, Paper 53. I want to use the silhouette of my Leaf Dress in a 3-season dress with sleeves. I think this will be a lot of fun to make and to wear.

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That’s it for now. Be sure to check out what fabulous designs my dear friend Steph King of Siouxzeegirl Designs is showing at 10 Sewing Machines & a Serger and wish her a happy birthday while you’re over there. And, we’d love to see and hear about what you’re sketching, too.