Shelley is back! She always has such a knack for making micro changes to our most popular patterns. Shelley is a modifier and when you take a glance at our tutorial section you’ll see many fantastic contributions from her. It’s exceptionally rare for her to sew a pattern exactly as published. And we love her for that because she always comes up with these great garments! Here is another example from her today. Take it away Shelley!
Hello everyone. I’m yet to get stuck into my Building Block Dress Book which arrived downunder just recently, but I’m as excited about it as you all are. Tinkering with patterns is what I love doing best and now I have a perfect reference book to show me how I should be doing the alterations I want to do!
However, I can’t imagine that every garment I could possibly think up will be covered in the book. I mean I just dressed my kids as a giant Parmigiano cheese and a flask of Chianti, for their school Italian Day, and there are no patterns out there for that kind of thing! Even if there’s no pattern alteration that seems appropriate, what we learn is how to experiment and play with the fabric to get the look we want.
And recently I spotted a look that I really did want:
Not long after I’d spied that dress on Pinterest and started thinking about how the Lisette for Butterick B6168 would be the perfect basis, Liesl shared an almost identical dress on her Weekend Links post with exactly the same suggestion. I knew I was on a winner.
My real dress planning notebook is full of incomprehensible squiggles, sketches and calculations, but let’s imagine it this way:
I made a bodice muslin which is only worth mentioning as a warning not to add too much length to the bodice of this dress as the V plunge may become indecent! No pictures. Enough said.
The sleeve pattern piece was the only part that needed to be redrawn.
The original looks like this:
I marked the centre line of the sleeve staying parallel to the grain cutting line and extended it down. The width of the sleeve was widened slightly at the top – the original cap sleeve is fairly narrow and I’ve got big biceps (*cough*), and then tapered. I simply wrapped a loose tape measure around my elbow to get the width of the bottom of the sleeve.
To allow the outer sleeve to be gathered up I added the curved section giving the outer sleeve about 2 inches extra length. By marking the right side of the fabric at the centre bottom edge and the circle shown above, I could draw a straight line where the gathering would occur.
Now here’s the magic part. The B6168 sleeve is made of a double layer sleeve and so is absolutely perfect for this gathering. The inner and outer sleeve are sewn together at the hem, then understitched.
It’s then simply a matter of cutting two pieces of elastic, say ½” wide and about 2” long and pinning them in-between the sleeve layers of each sleeve, following the vertical line you drew earlier. Sewing with a zig zag stitch from the hemmed edge upwards, while holding the elastic stretched will gather the outer sleeve.
The circle shows the height of the inner sleeve hem and you can then decide whether to go lower, higher or the same height with the gathering of the outer sleeve hem.
Using a fabric with a really soft drape like rayon changes this dress up quite a bit and I think the longer, gathered sleeves suit the flowing fabric nicely. The bodice pleats end up a lot softer and it might have even been a good idea to gather rather than pleat the bodice.
And there’s a whole new area to explore – letting the fabric choice influence the pattern design. I can’t even begin to imagine the day when I’ll sew something and know from the start quite how it will turn out!
Have you caught Building Block fever and started seeing patterns as potential starting points?