Following on from Basics

Following on from my previous post and the mission to get a return on investment with my pattern selection I have taken New Look 6356 a step further by deciding to lengthen the top into an A line tunic/shift dress.
One of my favourite items in my wardrobe is a dress I purchased many years ago from Wallis. It is comfortable, easy to wear and hides a multitude of sins which I really need following the walnut whips!
I took this dress as my base for lengthening the body of the dress and the sleeves. I measured the circumference of the dress, the length and then measured out a point on the pattern.


Point A is the length of the dress as I wanted it indicated by the blue line, the green line is the original length of the pattern and the rather wavy pink line is the new length where I calculated the width as ¼ of the circumference of my original dress. As you can see this is rather a simple pattern! I did the same for the back and used the same principle for lengthening the sleeve where I took the length and sleeve circumference from my original dress. This is not very complicated pattern drafting by any stretch of the imagination.
I also designed my dress as I wanted to learn some new techniques – welt pockets and exposed zipper.


What do you think of my drawing capabilities? Don’t be too impressed as I purchased this wonderful title from Amazon:


This sketchbook is packed full of croquis just waiting to be your muse! There are a variety of on-trend poses and a garment encyclopaedia. The good thing is the outlines disappear when scanned or photocopied. Of course the figures have fashion industry proportions and certainly bear no resemblance to normal women especially ones who have a diet packed with walnut whips!
Anyway cracking on with the dress I found 2 excellent sources on YouTube for exposed zipper and welt pockets which I will share with you:
Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Double Welt the Pocket
Anyway here it is:


Looks just like my sketch doesn’t it :)
I had some issues with this dress – firstly the exposed zipper. I ironed on some fusible interfacing before putting in the zipper as instructed in the video but when I turned my zip over a lot of the interfacing was exposed outside the zip on the front of the garment so then spent an hour or two unpicking it – not the easiest or the best job in the world!
Secondly the collar was a nightmare from start to finish – it did not sit well and when I put it on it was too short as it didn’t match in the front which was a surprise as it was the same pattern as my previous top but then I think that putting in the exposed zipper had lengthened the neckline but to be honest I could not be bothered to draft a new one so I left it and put in a brooch to cover the gap. The collar does not bear close inspection as it is wavy and has been stitched to the dress in a last ditch effort to get it to lay flat. In retrospect I wish I had just abandoned the whole collar thing.
The only other thing is that I wish I had made the welt pockets a bit longer as they are a bit lost in the expanse of material but I was really pleased with my first effort at doing a welt pocket.
Well that dress looks like an old sack on my dress form so here it is actually on me:


The photo was taken at work – yes I actually wore it out in public – by my friend Isobel although why she made me stand in the corner to have it taken is anyone’s guess!


Me and the original drawing/vision well we could be twins!!!

Back to Basics

I had such good intentions this year to keep my blog updated on a regular basis. Unfortunately I have had nearly 3 months of back pain caused by a herniated disk pressing on my sciatic nerve which has made it impossible at times to sit down let alone do any sewing.  The pain was intense – worse than childbirth and that was bad enough. It has been a challenge to work let alone do much else but lay prostrate on the sofa eating walnut whips and catching up with the box sets.

I was inspired earlier this year by a blog post by Sunni of Fashionable Stitch on basic patterns. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of patterns – most of which I will probably never get around to making up. Every time I try a new pattern I have issues with fit and spend a lot of time making a toile and adjusting fit – this usually takes more time than the final construction of the garment. If I want a return on investment of time then I need to be able to make several looks from one basic pattern which makes sense to me.  When I thought about it there seems to be quite a lot of different ways you can change the look of a pattern by simple adaptations, choice of fabric, embellishments etc. If you are interested in finding out more then Sunni also has a pinterest board where she has collected a series of basic patterns which lend themselves to this ethos.

With this in mind I selected New Look 6356 as it has a variation on necklines and I was intending to lengthen this to create a tunic dress. I also wanted to try out some new sewing techniques but more of that later.
New Look

My first challenge with this pattern was to make a basic top that actually fitted me well as a base for further adaptations. I also chose to add a collar in black leatherette as my first new sewing technique challenge.
I chose to make a basic shell but elected to add a collar to the top. Bearing in mind my recent failures with commercial patterns I measured up and chose the size according to my upper bust measurement and attempt my first full bust adjustment (FBA). I am very narrow across the shoulders and back but a bit sticky out at the front! I have struggled with commercial patterns for this reason. Up until a few months ago I had never heard of an FBA but thanks to the wonder of the internet I have learnt a lot about fitting issues.
Some time ago I bought the Threads archive and went with the method in a special fitting issue from May 2009 – Issue 142.
I went to my well thumbed Aldrich book on metric pattern cutting for drafting the collar.


Aldrich recommends overlaying the shoulder seam by 1.5 cm at the sleeve side when drafting the collar. Do you see the additional bits I have stuck on at the centre back and front? That is because I forgot to add on the seam allowance first time around! I could not work out why my collar was too short – attention to detail Gill!

Working in the leatherette fabric was a challenge due to trying not to use pins. I tried to pin inside the seam allowance but also used magic tape where a pin was inappropriate plus the fabric was really slippy but I am pleased with the result. I used the top fabric for an undercollar.




The collar is a bit bigger than I would like but I can live with it. I haven’t got any photos of the garment on – not warm enough yet plus I put on a few pounds with all those walnut whips and haven’t been able to get into my black trousers lately.

If you are interested then I have a pinterest board myself with 75 pins for shift/A line dresses which I think are all doable from this one pattern with a few adaptations. I have already created 2 dresses from this pattern but more of that later – hey one post in 3 months – count yourselves lucky!!