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

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