Thursday, August 27, 2009
Building a Pattern Wardrobe, Part 4 -- Dresses & Helpful Hints
Now for the final post in the Pattern Wardrobe series!
1. Simple dress, style depends on your figure
2. Empire waist dress (this style is almost universally flattering)
~ Simple Dress: Butterick 4443
I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough! Of course, no pattern is going to fit everyone, but I think this pattern is worth a try! Princess seams are supposed to be very flattering, but I've found that full-length princess seams do odd things to my figure! However, this pattern works for me because of the separate bodice and flared skirt. Besides that, it takes a ridiculously small amount of fabric, and is a breeze to put together (no darts, and you just can't beat a twirly skirt!).
Here are my versions of the dress:
The first one has a periwinkle underlay and an organza overlay. Plus a shrug made from the pattern I mentioned in Part 3. Both times I've made this dress I've lengthened the skirt several inches, which is very simple to do with this pattern. The second dress is a striped seersucker with a scallop hem. I bound all the raw edges with red bias tape -- easy and fun! And yet another shrug, from the same material the belt and bias tape are made from.
~ Empire Waist Dress
An Empire waist dress pattern is very helpful to have! There are a number of patterns on the market that would work in this category, so I'm not going to suggest a particular pattern (although I can recommend the Sense and Sensibility Regency dress pattern!).
As for other basic dress patterns? Well, I won't be much help there, because most dresses don't suit my figure. I stick mainly with separates, which works well for me. I do have a 1920's Vintage Vogue that I just love, but it's not really an "alterable" pattern! I'm hoping to branch out more with dresses, especially exploring some vintage styles.
~ Helpful Hints
Before I wrap up this series, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned along the way.
1. Don't be afraid to try something! If you're not sure that a pattern will look right on you, make it up in cheap fabric first -- it's great if you can find inexpensive fabric that you actually like, because then you have a wearable garment if it works out!
2. Look out for inspiration everywhere. I occasionally scour websites like Laura Ashley, Victorian Trading Co., Coldwater Creek, North Style, Liz Claiborne, Anthropolgie etc., to get ideas for clothes. I save the images into an "inspiration" folder on my computer, and look through that folder when I'm ready to sew something. Most of the things I like are too expensive or too immodest, but if I make it myself I can control the price tage and the neckline! *wink*
3. Think outside the box. If you can, don't even use the pattern instructions after the first time or two. Try to get comfortable with some basic pattern drafting, using your existing pattern pieces. You don't have to do something drastic to get a different look! Things like ruffles and tucks are very simple ways to change up a pattern.
4. Don't be afraid to try a new pattern. Of course, most seamstresses don't have trouble convincing themselves to get new patterns! But always keep your eye open for new patterns -- even if it's just for a new sleeve, a fun collar, etc.
5. Have fun! Enough said. *smile*
I'd love to hear about your favorite patterns, or any "altering" suggestions! After all, I'm always on the lookout for a new "treasure!"