Even before developing the symmetrical pattern on the last dress, I've relied on a standard base pattern to get me started for a while now. So the first step is to determine if I'd like to create a dress with or without a center front seam and to make adjustments to the pattern accordingly. For dresses that will be worn as outer layers (the fashion layers), I prefer to not have a seam. It's a personal visual preference, but it's also what my research has shown to be accurate for early 15th century Franco-Flemish middle class fitted gowns.
Layout is incredibly simplified with the symmetrical pattern, but even with four distinct panels, I prefer to get as much of the material laid out as I can at one time. The best place to do that now is on the living room floor. I use chalk to outline my panels, and a combination of tape measure and yard stick to draw out the remainder of the panels and the gores. (My pattern pieces only go to my hips.) I like to chalk everything out before I cut, just to make sure.
|With the symmetrical patterns, I can cut my panels from the folded material.|
The left-hand panel is the front, placed on the fold.
After getting everything cut out, I start by sewing together any half gores I may have ended up with (usually at least one pair). I sew it and finish it. That way all four gores are full triangles and can all be treated the same way. If I only end up with one gore with a center seam (like I did on the navy dress), I put that in the center back. Not sure why, but I just feel like that makes sense visually.
Before I worry about putting gores in, though, I stitch the panels together and give it a try. If it's an outer gown, I wear it over a dress I intend to wear under it. This gives me a chance to see if I need to make any adjustments to the fit before moving on. I didn't need to make any changes on the navy dress, but I did when I made the ginger linen dress. So far I have always needed to do that on my under dresses. I've spoken before about wearing the dress around the house like that for several hours to allow the linen to stretch before I correct the fitting.
|Midway through wearing the ginger dress around the house. |
I usually wear leggings and a cardigan to make it a little less weird.
With the gores in, I have the choice to continue on with finishing the seams on the dress body before creating the sleeves, or going right in to the sleeves. From my new drafting method, I have a pattern that I feel really confident with, so all I needed to do was adjust the sleeve holes to match the sleeve head length.
|I'd made some marks when I wore it, then used those as guides along with measurements |
from the sleeve pattern to find the right curve.
For the navy dress, I'm using flat felling as the seam du jour. It creates a strong, good-looking seam, and goes pretty fast. I have the option of using running stitch or an overcast or hem stitch to tack it down. I prefer overcast but if I'm short on time, running is the way to go. Since I've got time, I'm using overcast on this dress.
|That one in the middle is kind of a runt, isn't it. I'll replace it with one that's the right size.|
Before I sew the sleeves on, I will finish the shoulder seams and at least the top portion of the side seams. That way I can sew the sleeves into place without having to fuss with getting those seams finished later on. Once the sleeves are in place, I'll finished the rest of the seams.
At the very end of the process, I put the dress on and have someone mark my hem with some chalk. Then it's just hemming and finishing the neckline. I'll share those details when I show you the final dress.
BTW, I also notice in these photos that the blue is all over the place. The buttons are the closest to the real thing.