For Christmas last year I gifted my mum two lengths of fabric that I knew she’d like with the promise to make her whatever she chose. Both were a lovely jacquard double cotton; soft like a gauze but with a bit more weight and warmth.
Her first choice was immediate and easy: another Gallery Dress. She inherited one I’d made for myself and then “undergrew” (what is the opposite of “to outgrow?”) and wears it all the time.
For the second length of fabric there was much more deliberation. Eventually, three patterns were up for consideration. Two of these were the Cappuccino Dress and the Lisette B6567. I made muslins of all three from some old bed sheets and sent them off to her to try. None were right. What she wanted, if it were possible, was the appearance of the Cappuccino Dress with the fit of the trusty Gallery Dress.
I’m always up for a challenge so here’s how it was done: In essence, it all came down to finding the center fronts of each pattern. My combination dress would have the center front appearance, pockets and neckline of the Cappuccino, but in all other respects would be the Gallery Dress.
I use a thin interfacing to trace all my patterns so I can use them repeatedly (and use all those Oliver + S sizes). It also really excels as a tool for manipulating patterns. With the two patterns traced off in the same size, I could overlay them and see where I needed to blend from one to the other.
Trying to photograph myself wielding big pieces of interfacing covered in scribbles wouldn’t demonstrate anything, so I made some cellophane versions of the patterns to show you in miniature.
Here are the front and back pattern pieces for each pattern. The Gallery Dress is shown in yellow and the Cappuccino Dress in red.
Finding the center fronts of each pattern required a little bit of thinking. They’re not dissimilar; the Gallery Dress has a pleat below the placket and the Cappuccino Dress has gathers below the “V” of the neckline.
In the image below, you can see how the pieces of the Cappuccino Dress come together when they’re sewn:
With the center fronts marked on each pattern, I laid one over the other, matching the center lines. It looked a bit like this:
Once the center fronts could be overlapped I could just draw onto a third interfacing tissue to go smoothly from the Cappuccino center front to the Gallery shoulder, armscye and side seam. It certainly helped that I was working with two Liesl + Co. patterns, so the seam allowance was the same for both.
I extended the length of the center front Cappuccino panel to match the Gallery Dress length, and drew the pocket section to extend to the newly wider side seam. You can see I also opted to leave out the curved shirt-tail hem of the Gallery Dress. My final front pattern pieces are shown below with the blue hatching:
The back pattern piece for the Gallery Dress needed hardly any alteration at all, with just the depth of the Cappuccino neckband being taken off.
The sleeves are as per the Gallery Dress, as are the armscyes, so that was easy. My mum had requested a three-quarter-length sleeve and a notched-sleeve cuff treatment similar to another dress she has. That was easily done with just a quick reference to the new Melville Cardigan.
The tricky part was certainly the measuring and maths involved in nailing those center fronts. Once I had the pattern drafted I trusted my instincts and cut straight into the gifted fabric. Had there been any more old bed sheet fabric leftover I would have checked first, and that would always be my advice.
The sewing was very smooth. I followed the Cappuccino Dress instructions to create the front dress, pockets and neckline and then switched to the Gallery Dress instructions for the rest.
It all came together easily, and I think I’ve created exactly what was needed. A dress that fits and feels like wearing the Gallery Dress but with the interest of looking like something else entirely. And it only took until this Christmas!
Both dresses are beautiful and look wonderful on your mum Shelley. Thanks so much for all this alteration detail – I was planning on sewing myself another Gallery dress soon, but now I’m thinking that I might just copy you and sew this blend!
Thank you. If you can work out where half a pleat is (Gallery dress) and where half a gathered yoke is (cappuccino dress) then it really is easy from there
You are an inspiration!
Thanks. It’s always nice to sew for my mum
This is so interesting & informative & it really helps that you showed the different colored paper dolls. I love the combination & you’re mom looks great in both.
Thank you. The x-ray light box from work and my daughter’s stationery hoarding made the miniature pattern pieces fun to make and photograph!
These are two gorgeous dresses and gifts made with so much love. Your mash-up is brilliant, and your mum looks fabulous in her new dresses. Thanks so much for sharing.
Your Mum is so cute. The dresses look beautiful on her. You did a lovely job and I hope she loves them both.
I hope she will too, thanks.
Beautiful, the choice of fabric is stunning. What is it and where did you get it!
Thanks Margaret. I bought the fabric online from a shop in Perth, West Australia. It’s like a double gauze but with more weight to it. Sometimes you’ve just got to buy the fabric when you see it and work out what to do with it later, right?!
Gorgeous! I am also inspired, as well as impressed with the illustrations. Thanks!!
Thank you. Sometimes it seems easier to manipulate the patterns I know than to try and adjust the fit of something entirely new
Those are beautiful dresses Shelley!! A lot of calculations for that last one but surely worth it.
Thanks. Ages ago I did some pleat maths on this very blog and I still refer back to that post sometimes, just to check I’m getting it right, which often I’m not… 🙂
I love this, Shelley…! Thank You!!
As always Shelley you are brilliant. I love the gallery tunic, and I love how to have “mixed” the two because I really do like the way the gallery fits. Saving this post for when I decide to do it!
What a wonderful gift idea! And I am so impressed that you were able to work out the special requests.