Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Little Rock Dress: Pattern Drafting

While everyone else is scurrying to finish their Titanic-era dressmaking projects, I'm working on something rather different.

Having finalised my design, the next stage was to create the pattern for the Little Rock dress.

I started with the skirt, using the skirt portion of a pencil dress pattern from my stash as the basic block. I traced the pattern, eliminating the waist darts from the front by taking in the sides, and made up a quick muslin for fit. Then I traced the front skirt pattern with fitting adjustments. Since the skirt front is to be asymmetrical, I mirrored the pattern piece so I had the 'whole' front.

I sketched out the divisions for the three pieces - right side, hip yoke and left side. I also added lines for how I wanted the gathers to fall. (I've drawn over the lines on the computer to make it clearer)

I traced these pieces onto a fresh sheet of pattern tissue, added seam allowances, and cut out.

To introduce the gathers on the right-front skirt piece I used the "slash and spread" method: I cut along the lines up to (not through) the seam line, then cut into the seam allowance leaving a tiny 'hinge' for the pieces to pivot on. Then I fanned out the sections:

Note: the more you fan out the gathered area, the more 'bunched up' the resultant gathers will be. The generous spreading-out I've done works fine with the lightweight, silky polyester I've used for the muslin, but I may have to reduce it slightly for the heavier wool crepe I'm using for the real thing. If in doubt, err on the generous side though, as it's a whole lot easier to remove excess fabric than add extra.

I traced around the fanned-out piece, which gave me my final pattern piece. (It's not very beautiful or professional-looking, but I have no shame in sticking two pieces of tissue together to avoid wastage).

The rest of the pattern is pretty straightforward. I used the bodice and long sleeve pattern pieces from McCall 6601 with a few minor adjustments: I converted the waist gathers into darts, and added darts at the bust; there were tucks in the back which I also turned into darts. In the interests of neatness I've also moved the darts in the back of the skirt to line up with those in the bodice back.

I'm now at the final muslin stage, and nearly ready to cut out the bright red wool crepe I bought on Monday.


  1. I can't either. Such an iconic dress to copy and such a talented seamstress....I can already sense that this is going to be amazing!!!!

  2. Looks like it's going to turn out fab!!

  3. i love your blog. your style and vibe are great. would love it if youd check mine out and follow me back if you like!

  4. This is such an exciting project! I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together :)
    R xx


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