Saturday, 23 February 2013

Shirtdress- The Beginnings

I spent the better part of today working on a pattern for my Shirt Dress, which will be my first bigger sewing project with you guys.  I've had some beautiful navy blue fabric in my stash since last Christmas when Santa brought it for me.  It's very soft knit, but Santa didn't leave a tag with the specifics.  From a distance it looks like solid navy blue, but if you get closer there's stripes with tiny flowers.  I tried to take a picture, but no matter what I did the pattern stays invisible.  Hopefully when I give the progress report when some sewing has been done I'll be able to show you the fabric.

Step one had to be drafting the pattern.  I've never made a button down shirt before.  I don't wear them often, mostly because I can never find any that don't pull open across the bust. So, while I had originally hoped to copy out the pieces of a shirt that mostly fit me and then adjust, that didn't go well.  The short version is that the only button down I still have is a solid two inches from closing across the bust and looser at the waist than I wanted, and trying to adjust my boyfriend's into something even vaguely attractive on my was far more effort than it was worth.  So, that plan was ditched in favour of drafting from scratch.

Now, like I said before, I've never sew a button down before.  In fact, I think this might be the first thing I sew with actual sleeves.  Most of what I sew is formal or semi-formal dresses, and I'm partial to sleeveless or strapless designs, so hopefully this won't be too eventful.  I found this lovely tutorial online after a bit of searching.  I'm pretty confident in my ability to draft patterns, most of what I sew is self-drafted, but I thought a guide would be helpful since I'm branching out.

When taking measurements, I moved the hip measurement to about level with my belly button since that's where I want to bodice to end and the skirt to start. I started out following the tutorial pretty closely, right down to Step 2: Establishing Center Front.  The pattern says to add two inches to make the one inch button placket.  But since the buttons on my dress will be purely decorative (cue the side zipper -- another first), I've cut that down to an inch and a half to make the one inch placket.  I'll be able to just turn under once and hid the edge, where if it were going to be functional, you'd have to turn over twice.

My bust line is in red, and theirs is the blue one
And you can see my neckline as well.

I also deviated a little bit in the placement of the bust line.  In their pattern the bust point will be level with the bottom of the arm scythe.  Now, maybe I've got high armpits, or maybe my girls sit funny, or maybe being a G-cup patterns will always need some adjusting, whatever the reason, this just wouldn't work for me.  So, I took a measurement around my chest where the arm scythe ends and measured up how far that was from my bust-line (about 2" if you're curious).  I used the new bust measurement at the arm scythe, then measured down the two inches and made my bust line.

I also changed the neckline.  Since my buttons are going to be purely decorative I wanted the neckline a little more open.  Usually when you wear a blouse the top button or two is left open, but since that wouldn't work here (with the fake buttons), I've dropped the neckline.  I'm hoping it will look more like the neckline on the inspiration dress (from the Wardrobe Wish List) than the ones on a real button down shirt.  And, being super smart, I also forgot to add my seam allowance to the pattern front. So, that was an extra step as well...

I've changed the line of the collar, making it curve back instead of pointing out like a normal shirt collar.  I'm a little more partial to the soft lines than the harsher point of the traditional collar.  I've also made the sleeves short and added some gathers to the top to give them a bit of a puff. 
Adding sleeve gathers -- do you see the little pie slice?
Once I had the sleeve drafted as the did in the pattern (except short) I cut it out and then split it down the center on the fold.  That way I had one copy to work with, and one as a backup.  Then I prepped another piece of paper, fold on the left again.  I wanted to inches of gather, so I measured in one inch from the fold and made a mark.  Line up the top of the sleeve cap with that mark (excluding seam allowance), and then angle the center fold to meet up with the new center fold at the wrist.  You should have a little pie slice, extend the line from the original piece and add the seam allowance, which will line up with the original piece as well, trace the rest of the piece and cut it out.  The wrist will have a point to it, which you'll see in the picture, even that out, and you're ready to go.  I also changed the cuff to one inch deep instead of two.

I don't have a skirt pattern because I plan on just using a wide rectangle and gathering down to match the waist.  Drafting a rectangle seemed a little bit unnecessary, but if it all goes horribly wrong, someone can say 'I told you so'.
All the pieces, even though some (I'm looking at you, cuff) are hard to see.

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