Monday, September 30, 2013

New Feminine Black and White Patterns from Burda Style

Recently, Burda Style blogged these gorgeous patterns from their 2012 magazine.  I want all of them!

#1:  Lace Dress:

A fitted, cap sleeve dress with straight skirt and flattering style lines.  This dress alone is a wardrobe staple, and could be made in various fabrics--it's a good idea to pick a pattern that you like and make it in different fabrics, and with small variations, to create a streamlined wardrobe; plus, each time you make it, it gets easier.  You know the adjustments, and only have to fit the pattern once.  However, I hate the peplum!  Good thing it's removable!

#2:  Bow-tie Collar Blouse:

 This is also a fairly standard blouse, but with a few elegant details:  slightly gathered sleeves at the "cuff" and a tie at the collar.  I actually hate clothes with bows on them--what are we, eight years old?  Come on, being juvenile is not "feminine."  However, I like the way they style the tie on the model--instead of tying it, they've draped it inside the blouse so that the ends hang elegantly.  This works because the fabric is sheer and drapey.  Or, you could just eliminate the ties.

#3:  Faux Wrap Dress:


This is a classic outline--a slightly A-line shape, with a flattering faux-wrap and slight gathers at the bust.  A fabric with a slight amount of stretch would be ideal.  I find no fault with this one!  I want at least two of these!





#4:  Cap-Sleeve Dress

This is a simple but sweet look.   Another cap-sleeve style, with an A-line shape, this dress has gathers at the neck and armscye, flattering and elegant.

#5:  Fitted Skirt:

 What makes this stand apart is the lace--an elegant idea.  But wait!  I don't need to buy a pattern for this skirt--I can make my own!  So there. 
The blouse shown is also available as a pattern.  That one I would like--another basic wardrobe staple to be made in various colors and textures of fabric.  You can't go wrong with this one!





#6:  V-Neck Jacket:

 This works as either a blouse on its own, or as a light jacket with a shell underneath.  Personally, I prefer it as a blouse, because the V-neckline sits perfectly on the body and really doesn't need anything else competing with it.

#7:  Almost a Shirt Dress:

 What's great about this one is it looks like a classier version of the shirt dress.  It also looks like a blouse/skirt combination.  You might wonder, why do I need a shirt/skirt dress when I have so many shirts and skirt?  The answer is this, my friends.  When it's a dress, the blouse part always fits perfectly at the waist, it never "blouses" out, and it stays "tucked in."  Which all adds up to a sleeker, more figure-flattering look.  Especially with the belt, which for curvy types helps accentuate all the best features!
As I said above, I want all of these!  I started realizing yesterday that I might be a little bit sad after finishing my wedding dress project. 

So what better way to combat a touch of sadness, than to start another big project?


Yay! (Right?)


Till next time,--Ayana


Friday, September 27, 2013

Cream Puff Dress, Part 3: Assembling Pattern Pieces, and Lining

Last time, I showed you how I had tile printed the three pattern pieces for the Cream Puff Dress, for Little Miss.  I had 8 sheets of paper for each pattern piece.  I was planning to tape them together.

Using Contact Paper to Assemble PDF Pattern Pieces


Then, in my mailbox, what should appear?  A wonderful blog post, that made it all clear. 

At, the author explains how to use contact paper to assemble your tiled pdf pattern pieces.  I decided to try it. 

It was simple, folks!  Assembling the first one took WAY too long; once I got the hang of it, I got MUCH  faster.  It took about two hours to complete the whole process.

  1. This part is obvious.  Figure out what length of paper you need, cut it off the roll, and remove the backing.  (Little Miss helped with this.)
  2. Organize your tiled printed out pieces in order.  I decided I prefer to start from the top down, and complete the entire left side before completing the right side.  It was easier to keep the alignment correct while working vertically.
  3. On each piece of paper, I marked the seam allowance, and the 1/8 of border that needed to be trimmed.  I realized that not every border needs trimming, only half of them do.  It's easiest to match the lines when you place a trimmed border slightly overlapped onto an untrimmed border.  So I only trimmed the upper edges of the pattern pieces on the left side, and the upper and left-hand edges on the right side.  (This way, as you work down the right hand side, you overlap a trimmed border to the lines above, and the lines to the left.)
  4. Stick the pieces down!  Once again, I was glad I had used graph paper for the original pattern drafting.  The extra lines made it that much easier to match up the edges!
  5. Cut out the pattern along the outer edges of the seam allowance. 
Original 1/4 scaled pattern pieces, with full scaled pieces,
assembled with contact paper

Easy peasy!  A little time consuming, but definitely more precise than taping paper together, and it's also sturdier.  Thank you,!


Sewing the Lining!

To test the pattern, I decided to sew the lining of the dress! 

Cream Puff Dress Lining

Only the bodice section is fitted, so I cut my pattern pieces from the top to the waistline seam in cotton batiste.  I sewed up the seams, and held it up to Little Miss--it fits, and the seams match exactly where they should--curved lines in front, side seams at the sides, and back seam in the middle of the back.

Cream Puff Dress Lining:  Little Miss is holding the sides, since I haven't put in the back closure yet; but I promise it fits!


And, it looks cute, too!

The best part about this design is that it sews up really quickly.  It took a lot of math, pattern drafting, fudging numbers, cutting and stapling paper, printing, and contact paper pattern piece assembling.  All that before I could even cut and sew any fabric.

I'm so pleased with the results so far.

And you were worried that I didn't know what I was doing!

Till next time,--Ayana

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Corset Back Idea

I had another brilliant light bulb moment, folks! I decided to add a corset laced back to Little Miss' Creampuff Dress, and to my own Wedding Dress. 

I decided to do this after finding this awesome blog post with detailed instructions on how to do it. 


The funny thing is, my original idea for my wedding dress was to start with a pre-existing corset, and add a gathered tulle skirt to it.  That would have worked, and would have been much simpler!

But then, I got bit by the sewing bug, and my imagination started running wild.  Then, I found blog posts that showed you how to draft your own corset pattern, so I experimented with making a corset-shaped top but using a zipper because I didn't want to actually cinch my waist.

After experimenting with that for a bit, with some good results, I realized, why use a waist seam?  Just one more thing to sew!  That's how I came up with the five-panel dress that is my final design.  Now, it feels like I'm coming back around, full circle.  Isn't it funny how life works that way?

I think this will add an elegant touch to the dress, and has the additional benefit of making any fitting issues irrelevant.  As long as the style lines are in the right place, now I have a lot more wiggle room for any small errors.  And that makes me very happy right now!

{Source:  This site has a great tutorial also}

Little Miss loves this idea!  (And I love how she pronounces it cor-SET.)

Till next time,--Ayana

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Cream Puff Dress Experiment

Testing Patterns with Paper

So, you all know about tissue fitting a pattern, right?  Since I'm not actually using tissue, that's a little difficult.  (Remember what happened with the Golden Goddess Skirt?)

After my pattern drafting from the previous post, I kept mulling over the problems of scale and style, and started wondering (apart from the issue of how the curved seams work in the front) whether my math and two-dimensional approach would even have the look I wanted. 

What happens if what worked on Amanda and her Golden Dress doesn't work on Little Miss and her Cream Puff Dress?  I was especially worried about whether the side seams would actually sit at the sides of the body, and whether the back seam would be in the middle.  Or, would the whole proportion be off? 

Suddenly, a light bulb went off. 

Playing with Paper

Silly goose, just cut out the 1/4 scale paper pieces I've been experimenting with, and "sew" them together with the stapler!  (I did this earlier this summer when I was experimenting with how to draft the bodice for my own dress.  More on this later.)  Then, I'll know if the shape/line/proportion work at all the way I imagined them.

{Cream Puff Dress Paper Mock-Up}

It was a little challenging to get those little pieces of paper to stay stapled, but guess what folks?  It works!  (At least, without a body inside it.)  But my curved princess seam actually did what it was supposed to when "sewed" to a straighter seam, and the straighter seam did not pull the curved seam out of position.  The front three panels look perfectly even at the sides of the "body" and create a flattering waistline.  The back seam falls right in the center and lines up exactly with the center of the front.  It even looks elegant (well, for a paper dress).

Printing the Pattern

I was so thrilled with this outcome, I had another brilliant idea.  Instead of now re-drafting the pattern at 100 percent scale, why not scan my 25 percent scale pattern pieces, blow them up by 400 percent and print them?  I thought I might do this at the print shop, but another light bulb went off.  Duh! I own a printer; why can't I print on multiple pages and tape them together?

So that's what I did.  And here is the result.

{Cream Puff Dress:  Center Back Piece, Tiled Print}

And here's how I did it.

I scanned each pattern piece into a pdf file.  Then, using the snapshot tool, I selected the image area, and selected print.  I chose "print selected image only" (this avoids having too much white space which leads to totally blank pieces of paper), selected "print tiled pages," and tried to collect them from the print tray in the correct order.

As I put the pieces in their correct spaces, I marked and numbered them in clockwise order so I could reconstruct how they fit together at some later necessary point in time.  i.e., center 3, etc.  Each panel required 8 pieces of paper.

Just to make sure, I measure the squares of the graph paper that I had used to draft the pattern.  This way, I could verify that the scale was indeed correct.  Since I had also marked the measurements on the pattern, I also measured those lines to make sure they were correct.  Everything was correct.  Yay!

Then, I learned about the plotter in the library, which prints on immense sheets of paper.  I will use that for my own dress pattern pieces, which will seem super long.

Yay! Making progress!

Till next time,--Ayana

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Little Miss's Cream Puff Dress

Finding More Beautiful Fabric

I took Little Miss on a special excursion to the fabric shop, so we could pick out matching fabric for our two matching dresses!

Tucked away in an otherwise polyester (not) paradise of "bridal fabrics" that felt like plastic that would smother you and make you sweat, I found ivory silk dupioni!

There was just enough for Little Miss's Cream Puff flower girl dress, and it was on sale!

I asked for 1 1/2 yards (at 54" wide); there was some extra on the bolt, so I got the rest at the "remnant" price of 50% off.  Wow, it was our lucky day!  With a zipper, thread, and two packs of bias tape, I spent a grand whopping total of $34.00.  I'm in shock.

Once I'm confident that the dress will turn out as expected (check out the "rough draft" version, Amanda's Golden Dress), I will order the additional yardage for my own dress!

Drafting the Pattern

When I made Amanda's Golden Dress, I made only one pattern piece, since all measurement points were 1/5 of the circumference--hence, I cut each dress panel five times.

The difference, however, between dolls and women is that women have boobs (duh!).  The seams can't be evenly shaped all around, or the seams might fall in an awkward place.  This isn't an issue obviously with my cute Little Miss flower girl, but I wanted to approximate the changes I would have to make in my pattern drafting to get the same effect I want on my own dress. 

This means that the center panel needs to be specifically placed according to where I want the style lines to fall on the body.  The center panel needs to be 1/3 of the front measurement, except that the top of the panel needs to be 6 inches wide, where each of the side panels needs to be only 3 inches wide.  The waist, hip, and hem points can be equal.  This will give a curved, princess-seam look to the front of the dress.

The two back panels are mirror images of each other, each panel being 1/2 of the back measurement at each point.

This posed some mathematical problems. 

To figure this all out, I started with the hemline, the widest point of each pattern piece--10 inches.  I marked a 10-square line (this is a 1/4 scale experiment) at the bottom of my graph paper, for each of the pieces--1 for the center front, one for each of the two side front pieces, and one for each of the two back pieces.

I then worked my way up, measuring the waistline next.  (The hipline will not be fitted, since the skirt is an A-line shape, so there is no need to measure it.) 

For the waistline, I had two choices:  I could make each pattern piece 1/5 of the total waistline,, making an equal division of the body; or, I could make each of the front pattern pieces 1/6 of the total waistline, and each of the back pattern pieces 1/4 of the total waistline. 

(If you think of the body as an imaginary circle, the front half is divided into three sections, or 1/6, while the back half is divided into two sections, or 1/4). 

Although more complicated, I thought the latter solution would be more likely to have the side seams at the side, and the back seam in the middle of the back.

Moving up to the high waist (which I measured just at the bottom two ribs), I performed the same calculations as for the waist, and drew in the corresponding lines.

Then, I hit a snag.

The problem is, that the top measurements are in a different proportion to each other than the lower measurements.  Here, with the center panel being 6 inches, and each of the side panels being 3, we have a proportion of 1/2 and 1/4. 

This meant that while the center panel had the shape I wanted, for the side panels the top measurement was actually smaller than the high waist and waist measurements, creating an awkward trapezoidal shape.  While the total circumference at each of the points would be correct, I was afraid it would skew the style lines of the dress.  For a corseted/princess seam look, each side of the bodice should look like the opposite sides of a dart, and each should taper roughly the same amount in a mirror image of the other.

(At least, I know it works this way.  I've seen corset patterns where one curved piece is adjoined to a straight piece, but I've never seen anything where one curved piece is joined to another curved piece that follows the same contour instead of the opposite contour.)

So, I tried the alternate method of making each front measurement the same proportion of the top measurement--1/2 and 1/4 of the front total, respectively.  This didn't work either, because as I moved down towards the waist, the differences became too negligible.

So, I had to take an alternate route of problem-solving.

I wrote out each of the measurements in a table.  I started to notice a pattern.  If I took some bits from here and there (namely, the back panels), and added them to the two side front pieces, and then subtracted a bit from here and there (namely, the waist center front) and added this to the back, I was able to get more even numbers that were easier to work with, and which allowed the side front pieces to have an appropriate shape.

Up next, how to figure out whether this will actually have the effect that I want, without cutting into and possibly wasting any fabric.

How do you solve sewing conundrums, dear readers?

Till next time,--Ayana

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Handy Skirt Pattern Drafting Tutorials

Since I had trouble achieving a good fit with the Sew What? Skirts method of pattern drafting--if you remember, the waistbands always came out too big; see my earlier posts on the Cotton Candy Skirt, the Golden Goddess Skirt, and the Sugar Plum Skirt--I decided to search for some other pattern drafting methods.

1.  Burda Style:  a basic sloper for a fitted, straight skirt, based on your measurements, which you can use as a basis for many skirt patterns.  This does not include any ease.

2.  Melly Sews:  a basic sloper for a fitted, straight skirt, based on a combination of taking measurements and toile fitting with pins, plus instructions for how to use this sloper to create patterns for different skirt styles.


3.  a basic sloper for a fitted, straight skirt, with ease added at the hip; this tutorial uses a standard waist and dart size that then you have to adjust to your own measurements.

4.  Wkdesigner:  instructions to draft a gored skirt, with your chosen number of gores/seams.  Caveat:  it doesn't seem to tell you how wide the pattern should be at the hemline, but has you simply continue the waist-to-hipline angle to the hem.  You may want a different shape.  Also, I don't think this pattern will turn out exactly like the skirt shown, which seems to have additional triangular godets inserted between the gored panels, from just below the hip to the hemline.  Also, the final shape will depend on how much drape your fabric has.


5.  Sewing Like Mad:  an unusual method for creating a flared A-line skirt with a waistband, plus instructions for creating cool, horizontal, wavy color-blocking.  Although she calls it a "half-circle" skirt, it really isn't.  The slash and spread pattern manipulation technique will get you a similar result to my Cotton Candy Skirt for Little Miss.


It would be an interesting project (after the wedding) to compare and contrast the results of following these tutorials.  I am particularly interested in the different ways of handling darts and ease, to find out what works best.

Anyone else interested in a little experiment?  We could create three skirts in six weeks--choosing one of the sloper methods from the first three links, plus making the gored skirt and the flared A-line skirt--and compare and contrast results.

Who's in?  Leave a comment below, or send me an email.

We could start in November, using wintertime fabrics and linings.

After all, who couldn't use three new skirts in her wardrobe?

Till next time,--Ayana

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Handy Sewing Math Chart

While pattern drafting Little Miss' Cream Puff Dress (stay tuned for more on this), I realized that some measurements are difficult to convert to sewing measurements.  I thought it would be handy to create a chart for quick reference.

What, you mean sewing involves math?


How to Use This Sewing Math Chart

When calculating measurements for pattern drafting, you will encounter some odd {I mean, weird} numbers.  For example, you take a measurement that needs to be divided by 5; you get a measurement of 37 and 5/8.  What do you do?  There are different ways to solve this problem, all of which involve either math in your head, or math on paper.  Neither of which makes me feel very confident of my results.

1.  In this case, your fraction is already divisible by 5, so you only need to divide the 37 and then add the 1/8.  What do you get?  37/5 = 7.4  But now you have to figure out how to add 0.4 and 1/8.  Arrgh!  This is when I start getting frustrated.  What I want to show you is how to get the most accurate measurement for pattern drafting.  So I will walk you through the calculation in three different ways.  *Note:  my chart rounds up to the nearest 1/100.  Generally, you will also want to round up to avoid any pattern piece being too small.  The examples below will demonstrate why.*

2.  Method A:  Estimate, doing math in your head.  We need to add 0.4 and 1/8.  0.4 is almost 0.5, so you could add 4/8 and 1/8 and get 5/8.  So now your pattern piece would measure 7 and 5/8.  Sounds easy, right?  To check our math, let's now multiply our result by 5; we get 38.15.  This means the total circumference at that point on the body will be just over 38 inches.  We wanted it to be 37 and 5/8.  The result will be almost half an inch too big, just because we rounded up by 0.1 before using this measurement.  So, while this is the easiest method, it could lead to more frustration in the fitting stage of sewing.

3.  Method B:  Estimate, knowing that 1/16 = 0.06.  So, we need to divide 37 and 5/8 by 5.  We could convert 5/8 to 10/16, which equals 0.6.  37.6 divided by 5 = 7.52.  Now, checking our math, 7.52 x 5 = 37.6. This result is very close to 37 and 5/8.  (5/8 = 0.63)  This method works well, as long as you want a close fit, or if there is enough ease built into the measurement so that it won't matter.  But any tiny little deviation of your stitch from the exact sewing line could make a garment that is just slightly too tight.  That's much worse than too big.  Too big can be pinched out at the seams, but too tight means starting over.  Plus, the mental math is more complicated than in Method A.  I'd rather use Method A, and have a simpler fitting session.

But you might wonder, why is it so close, but just a bit on the smaller size?  This is because 1/16 is really 0.0625. So 1/8 is just a bit more than 0.06 + 0.06, it is actually 0.125.  The more times you multiply by a factor of 0.06 as an estimate for 1/16, your estimated measurement is coming out just that much smaller.

4.  Method C:  Use my Handy Sewing Chart.  Since I've already rounded to the nearest hundredth, the factor of error does not increase as your fractions increase in multiples.  (Does that make sense?  Sometimes, for me, numbers and words are incompatible, so even though I know what I mean, I can't explain it accurately.)

So let's try my example using my Handy Sewing Chart.

37 and 5/8 equals 37.63.  37.63 divided by 5 equals 7.53.  7.53 equals 7 and 9/16 on your graded ruler.  Let's do the math in reverse to double check the results.  Literally, (or, maybe I should say, mathematically?) 7 and 9/16 equals 7.5625.  Multiply this by 5, and you get 37.81.  This is smaller than Method A, and bigger than Method B, which means it is just right!  It will be 3/16 larger than the measurement you took--37 and 5/8.  This is practically negligible, which means your garment will fit perfectly. 

In my view, for a fitted garment, you have enough room to breathe, but not so much that your strapless top will need to be pulled up constantly.  No fidgeting required! 

For a garment with ease already included in the pattern, this means a perfect fit.

Till next time,--Ayana

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Sugar Plum Skirt

My Friend From the Wedding Dress Shop (FTWDS) came over so we could work on the Sugar Plum Skirt together. 

Pattern Drafting

{Sugar Plum Skirt:  Basted Side Seams}

She wanted an A-line skirt, so I drafted the fitted waist and darts as normal, added about 4 inches of ease in the hip (based on her experience, that 3 inches were not enough when she recently made herself a skirt out of a knit fabric), and extended the hemline about 3-4 inches beyond the hip point.

Based on my own experience with the Golden Goddess Skirt, I added only 1/2 inch of ease at the waist.






Cutting, Basting, and Fitting

I basted the side seams, and basted in the zipper.  My Friend FTWDS tried in on, and...

{Sugar Plum Skirt:  Basted Darts}


WTF--It's like four inches too big in the waist!

What is going on here?!

Why, after so much careful measuring, are my skirts coming out too big?!

So, I pinned out about four inches, two inches per side (one inch per seam).  I also put a pin in the hip, at the fullest point.  This way I can easily connect the new waist seam to the original hip seam.  This one will be easier to adjust than the Golden Goddess Skirt, since I only have to connect two points instead of re-drawing the whole shape.

Other than this, I'm very happy with how the shape of the skirt came out!

{The Sugar Plum Skirt:  Basted Zipper}

Sew What? Skirts!

 I was curious whether other people who used the Sew What? Skirts! pattern drafting method have had the same problem with skirts coming out too big.  I did an internet search, and found that, indeed, others have had the same problem:

There is a Flickr group devoted to skirts made from this book, and a bunch of people ended up in discussions about how the patterns turned out too big.

I'm not sure what's causing it, but I have a few suspicions:

  • Extra ease at the waistband is not necessary.  At least, not for me and my friends.  We like our waistbands tightly fitted.

    • (caveat:  you might want a tiny bit of ease if you are making a high-waisted skirt, since you do need some room to breathe, and since your measurements above and below that point will be larger, so it still won't fit if you try to move it up or down.  Remember, though, that the ease in your pattern needs to be multiplied by the number of seams.  Thus, for a two-piece skirt--front and back--1/16 of an inch translates to 1/4 of an inch overall.)

  • When the pattern directions tell you to move the waistband side seam upwards by 1/2 an inch and draw a curved line from the center up to this new point, aren't you making the line a bit longer?  Remember what I said just above about adding even 1/16 of an inch?

  • Maybe it has something to do with how the darts are added?  The method is this:  for each 1/2 inch dart, add 1/2 inch to the side seam.  This is repeated for the back also. 

    • However, I read another method of adding darts--let's say you have a 1/2 inch dart in your front pattern piece, and a 1 inch dart in your back pattern piece.  Altogether, you've already added 1 inch to accommodate the darts for the front (both halves=two darts). 

    •  Since you've already added that 1 inch to the front, you subtract that 1 inch from the amount you need to add to the side seam of the back pattern piece.  This method would have you add only one additional inch to the back pattern piece--two 1-inch darts=2 inches, minus 1 inch=1 inch.  Make sense?  (To accommodate two 1 inch darts in the back, the Sew What? Skirts method would have you add two inches to the back pattern piece.  This seems to add a whole extra inch compared to the other method.)
Obviously, I need to learn more about this.  In the meantime, I will just not add any ease at the waist from here on in.

Till next time,--Ayana

Friday, September 6, 2013

Amanda's Golden Dress

I hit a snag with my own wedding dress planning, during and after some health issues.  I was adrift for about two weeks.  Combine that with the problems with fit in the Golden Goddess and Sugar Plum Skirts (stay tuned for more on this one), and I almost gave up. 

Then, I realized that these are just opportunities to go back to square one, sort of.

A Golden Dress for Amanda

To regain confidence, and to test my newest idea, I decided to draft a dress pattern for Amanda, using some scraps from the Golden Goddess skirt.  Since I am re-making my bodice as a five-gore corset-like top (more on this soon), and since I decided not to have a gathered skirt on my own wedding dress, I began thinking:  why not make the whole dress as a five-gore pattern, with a fitted bodice that flares to an A-line shape in the skirt? 

Advantages:  This avoids a waistline seam, which for me would add longer lines to the design.  That's always good for short people.

Disadvantages:  This requires more fabric, due to the width at the hemline and the length of the pattern pieces, and probably has more seams overall.

Advantage:  A smoother waistline.  I can still use an empire waist, and I could still use a tulle overlay that falls from the empire waistline.  The tulle overlay can be placed asymmetrically, so that there is a kind of "cut away" look to the main fabric underneath. 

Possible Idea:  Place crocheted motifs along the hemline and top of the bodice for a lace-like effect.  We'll see if there's time for that, or if I still want to do it later.

Drafting the Pattern

Little Miss and I worked on this together.  I took measurements at three spots:  under the arms (bust--11"), waist (10"), hips (I didn't end up using this measurement).  I also measured the distance between each of these spots.

{Measurements for the Amanda's Golden Wedding Dress}

To create a well-proportioned A-line shape, I doubled the waist measurement for the hip (20), and multiplied the hip measurement by 1.5 for the hemline (30). 

Would you just look at that--it's a Golden Ratio for a Golden Dress (1:2:3)!

{The Golden Wedding Dress:  Measurements for each gore}

Little Miss helped me draw the pattern.  For simplicity, I made each of the gores 1/5 of the measurement at each point.

These measurements should work for any 16" doll; the left column is the width measurement at the top, waist, hip, and hem, and the right column is the distance between each of these points--feel free to use them to create your own Golden Doll Dress!

I showed Little Miss how to draw a center line the length of the whole dress (12").

{Pattern Piece for the Golden Wedding Dress}

Then, we measured lengthwise each of the points where we will need to create a horizontal line--at 1.25" down for the waist, at 3" down for the hip, and then we double-checked our point for the hemline at 12".

At each of the points, I showed Little Miss how to center the ruler at the center line, and draw a horizontal line the correct width.

We then connected each of the points with the straight edge, smoothed the angles with a French curve, and then trued the seams to 90-degree angles at top and bottom.

Pinning, Tracing, and Cutting

Little Miss and I pinned the pattern on a small length of scrap fabric.  I showed her how to use the grading ruler to trace a 1/2" seam allowance around all the edges.

We took turns pinning, tracing, and cutting.

Since each of the gores is identical, we only needed one pattern piece, but cut it five times. 

All of this took a while; about an hour and a half to this point.  Little Miss wanted to play, so I did the sewing.  (She was mad at me though!)

Sewing it Up!

I simply matched the edges, and sewed the seams, pressing each seam as I went.

I accidentally sewed one of the gores with the textured side out instead of the satiny side out--oops!  I didn't worry about re-doing it, but just made that the back panel.

I left the back seam open from the top to the hip for inserting Velcro closures.

I added a thin elastic to the top.  I measured the elastic by pulling it taut around Amanda, cut it, then sewed it close to the top edge of the fabric on the outside, using a medium zigzag stitch, pulling the elastic to stretch it to the fabric length as I went.

{Zigzag stitched elastic edge}

Then, I folded the edge over and topstitched it, again with the zigzag, pulling it taut as I went so that the fabric wouldn't pucker and gather as I sewed.

Now the elastic top band looks decorative.

I didn't hem it, because we needed to go to a party.  Of course, Amanda needed to wear her new dress!  And, to church the next morning.

{Amanda's Golden Wedding Dress really needs ironing at this point!}

I also didn't put the Velcro in yet, or add the decorative sheer over layer yet.  But just wrapping the sheer fabric around the dress, I can tell that it will look even more fabulous when it is complete.


Don't you just love Little Miss' fashion design, showing me where the "tool" should and shouldn't go?

Now Amanda has a Golden Wedding Dress! (almost)

Till Next Time,--Ayana

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beautiful Lace Shawl

Crisscross Lace Shawl.
{Original Source}

Look what I found on Pinterest!

A beautiful, lace shawl that would be no harder to knit than a scarf. 

This project is from Lion Brand, where you can find more information about the specification of the version you see here.  I love Lion Brand yarns, because they are good quality, come in beautiful colors, and are easy to work with.  They are also reasonably priced.  Some day, I want to visit their store in NYC.

The Lion Brand pattern combines cables and lace.  However, you can make this shawl in any knitting pattern you like.  Here's how:

  • Choose your favorite knitting stitch, and a beautiful, soft yarn that will drape well.

  • Figure out your gauge, using needles in the recommended size for your chosen yarn.  (I tend to go one size smaller, because I know that my knitting is loose.)  Or, sometimes going up a size for a lacey stitch works well, to emphasize the decorative nature of the lace.  If you want a quick-to-knit project, and don't mind sacrificing drape for bulk, choose a bulky yarn and super large knitting needles.

  •  Once you know your gauge, figure out how many stitches you need to get a width that drapes roughly from one hip to the other on the bias.  From here, you can calculate how many pattern repeats you need, and cast on.

  • Knit until you have enough length to wrap around your shoulder. Attach buttons and button loops where the closure needs to match. Then, you could choose to crochet a border around all the edges for a neat finish.  Or, you can leave the edges unfinished for a softer look.

  • For a different look, you could actually knit on the bias, so the project would grow upwards from the lowest hip corner, making the stitches appear to wrap around you horizontally, instead of diagonally.
  • The more adventurous could figure out how to create flowing sleeves by adding a side seam under the arms--the fabric would have to be much wider, and some shaping would be involved.

The basic version would be a great advanced beginner project.  One of the things I always felt intimidated by as a beginner, was creating the shaping necessary for knitting sweaters.  This would be an in-between project, once you feel confident enough to knit a scarf.  Now you're just knitting a bigger scarf!  But you're also building your stitching skills, confidence, and stamina in preparation for your first sweater.  The total number of stitches, and time to knit, is almost as much as a sweater project.  Once you can knit a large shawl, you can tackle a simple sweater.

Happy Knitting!--Ayana