Introduction: Black Cloud With a Silver Lining - Dress -
Second Prize in the
DIY Dress Contest
Greetings, and thanks for stopping by.
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make this elegant, edgy and still playful dress. - At least how I did it -
The concept of the outfit was a pretty much monochromatic look, with tiny colors popping up at times. I used black and silver, but the brighter, more vivid the color for the godets, the better. I just couldn't find what I actually wanted. Obviously black isn't a must either, but I like how sophisticated it looks, while you stand still. For hiding the godets, you need to use a harder, heavy fabric, and a much softer, lighter, for the godets. Other than this, you can use any kind of fabric you wish. Mine wasn't stretchy at all, that's important in sizing, but other-ways it's not.
Ps.: Sorry for the language, I'm not quite used to talk about sewing, and pattern making in English.
Step 1: Step 1.1. Pattern
First, the pattern.
I made it in 2+1 parts, later sewing it together. For the skirt part, it's pretty easy. I measured my wanted length from waist to the ground, in the shoes I want to wear with this skirt. For me, it's about 15 cms more, than my original would be, so it's important, but keep in mind, you don't want to sweep the ground. I guess. I measured everything at once, so in vertical, I made two pack of sizes. One keeping the measuring tape straight, and one following my curves, starting at the back of my neck, to the bust, to the waist, hip, and the ground. If you don't like to calculate much, you can measure them each but I like it better if it's in one line, it's more precise, especially if you have nobody to ask to measure you. Anyways, it's as it's shown on the picture. Write down every number, and then measure yourself horizontally at the shown places, + above the bust, where you want to end the top part. I measured myself in CM-s, not inches, but since you probably aren't my size, you have to use your own, anyways, since it's pretty tight.
For this part, you'll need
- tracing paper,
- measuring tape
- ruler(big one, and a set-square )
For the skirt, you might want to make a hoop out of the tape to check how tight skirt you want in the knee area. Or if you have a similar shape skirt, which is comfortable, measure that. For me, it was almost the same as my hip size, but I'm very narrow in that area. If you have more curves, you can make it narrower. It's all about your own shape. If you choose a stretchy fabric, it can be even more tight, but that'll be more on the sexy side, and less on the elegant, what I was aiming for.
When you figured out the fix sizes, you can start to make the actual pattern. As this skirt is out of 7 pieces, 3 at the front, 4 at the back, you have to divide your hip-line(+comfort extra, so you can sit too, not just stand) with 7. If you have a flat stomach and a bubble butt, you can adjust the numbers even more, making the skirt flatter in the front, and bigger at the back, but you'll do that with the reducer lines anyways. So, hip line. As the picture shows, you make a perpendicular in the middle of it, and bring that line down, to the bottom of your skirt's length. That's hip-to-ground, not waist to ground, and you sign the knee's position, and parallel to the hip line, draw the seventh of the desired size. Half of it both size.. Now only the bottom of the skirt remains, which is very versatile. I made it HUGE, for myself, but you don't have to, it's all about what you want. In my case, I wanted tho really hide the godets, and make them visible, only in special times, but if you want them to show more, you should leave this a bit narrower, so when you walk, the skirt has to open. My isn't, just rarely. For me, it was 50 cms/piece, with the same size godets, made the final 7 metres. Much more than two round skirts. So, it's up to you. If your fabric is 150 cms wide, 48 would work better than 50, anyways. If it's narrower, ...you get the math. So when you have the size you want, measure it the the bottom line, as everything else, the vertical line in the middle. If you working on a hard surface, as I do, table or floor, you put the rubber under the tracing paper, and pin there the measuring tape, to the middle of knee line. With that, you can draw a nice round line, and your skirt will has a nice straight end.
Back to the top of the skirt. We have everything below the hip line, but nothing higher. Half the hip line, half the waist line, and check the difference.
(Hip÷2)-(waist÷2)=the amount you have to divide to make the skirt into your shape. Even if it's negative. So usually the biggest difference is in the sides, a smaller at the back, and the slightest is at the front, but this can varies based on your own shape. Use a mirror, to decide how to split up the difference, and make the four little piece of skirt, as on the picture you can see. Don't forget to draw the line where you want your skirt to start. Waist or lower. I had to economize with the paper, that's why I did it this way, but you can make four complete pattern piece too. But I think that's just a waste of trees, energy and money.
You can make the waist band now too, but I like to make it once the skirt is in one piece out of fabric. I can see things better that way.
It's pretty easy, just a triangle, with a curved bottom. You can bring it up to the start of the broadening, that way they'll show themselves more, or a bit lower, like I did, that way they'll hide even more. Just make sure the sides of the triangle's are equal. Width is optional again. Round line is made the same as on the skirt, or if you have a huge calipers, that's good for both too.
I don't add the sewing widths to the pattern, since I like to see the pattern more precisely on the fabric, but that's all about preferences again.
It's like a corset, pretty much, except you give yourself a tiny bit of comfort space.
First you make your basic lines, horizontally, from the bottom : Hipline, HalfHip-line, Waist line, Under Bust, Bust, Above Bust. Neck. Use the straight line measurements, not the one with the curves. That's good for double check your finished patterns later.
You chose out your widest line, usually hips, sometimes bust, or any other you might have, and signs the vertical lines. Front middle, breast distance÷2, and from the back, back width÷2, armpit width's 2/3, and armpit width's 1/3. If you did that right, and you are like the female population's bigger half, you got a bigger front and a smaller back now. For the armpit width, you can either use one of the many calculation methods, or just measure it. The side of the top will be at the 1/3 armpit width. Draw the perpendiculars, and you have the skeleton of your pattern. Don't bother with the arm piece, or neck line, the outfit doesn't have those.
Calculations again. Now you have to divide the difference between your bust line and waistline, considering your underbust width, and later the hipline-waistline difference, considering your halfhip width. Halfhip means the place where you can feel your pelvis bone on your front anyways. I'm not sure if you use Halfhip in English.
Most likely you will have the greatest numbers for the bust-waist difference under your breasts, but don't forget to add some to the sides, and the back too, as your rib cage is all way around. For me, not really noticeable on my back, but 1cm/side isn't hurt. If you are working with a half torso in the pattern as I do, don't forget to use the halves of the vertical numbers. If you make the whole, just make it as symmetrical, as you are.
Now the same with the hip-waist differences, here based on your shape, but probably the side is the most prominent, back is less, and front is the least. But it varies. If you have the numbers, you can decide how many pieces you want to sew together, and make your lines. As this is not a corset, I suggest the less the better, but the more curvey you are, the more lines will be required to be comfortable, and nice. My example is one front panel, for the silver and lace fabric, and two / side at the front, and 2+1/side at the back. +1 is the silver-lace panels. In the middle will be the zipper, so don't put there too much curve if you can avoid it.
Now you can check your curved lines with your curved measurements, but that's optional, and not really necessary.
Step 2: Fabric Hunt, and Tailoring
Okay, time for fabric hunt.
You can do this beforehand, but it's better once you know how much you'll need.
I bought the nice, heavy fabric for the skirt and the base of the top, 5 meters, but 4 was more than enough, though you might want to calculate 3 times the length of your skirt, or, if your skirt's bottom is wide, but not your fabric, more. For me, the top's panels fitted between the skirt's panels, but if your fabric is the same upside and downside, you can place your patterns better than I did, and then you might have to find the top other places, but it all depends on the fabric. If it's patterned, you need more, etc.
For the godets, and front and back of the top, I brought a silky, soft and light satin, and despite what I wanted, a stretchy lace, as I couldn't find(or afford) a nicer, not stretchy one. But if you can find and afford, a non-stretchy one is better. Finally the chiffon. should be a less opaque mesh, or something, but again, I work with what I find, now with what I imagine...
Placing and cutting.
- soap or chalk
- scotch tape, or ducttape, etc.
I have to mention, I don't have a good place for cutting, just the ground with carpet, so I don't fold the fabric into half. (I did, for the picture, but later I opened it and draw all the pieces) I want to see the pattern on all of the pieces anyways, so I just lay down the fabric, and start to draw it with a soap, or your choice of marking pen.
If you fold it, use the pins to pin the pieces together, while you draw and cut. If not, pins aren't really required, but you can still pin the pattern to the fabric, I just didn't felt the need. Tape is needed if you made the skirt's pattern as I did, in two pieces each, if you draw them all, you don't need that either. When you draw one of your pattern, draw around it the sewing width, for the skirt I used 1,5-2 cms on the sides, and one on the top, and bottom. Don't forget to add more where your zipper will be. I put that into the back middle, but it's good anywhere else. Maybe not on the front, but who am I to judge? So, you have your patterns on the fabric, you can try to fit in the top's pieces too. Based on your fabric, it's important to place them straight, and not rotate them as they fit best. I could save a lot of fabric, with slightly rotated pieces, but I didn't want them to stretch diagonally. If it's not an issue for your fabric, go ahead. Make notes on the fabric which piece is what, might not be that obvious once you cut them out. I usually give them a Letter, and on the opposite side the same letter in mirror, like my pattern is placed on the fabric on it's other side, so what I see on them, is the mirror image too.
Satin and lace
Okay, you cut out everything. Now the other fabrics. Three tiny piece of top inlays, and 7 godets. ×2. You have to cut everything out of the satin and the lace too. For the satin – if you use that- is very slippery and stretch all the bad directions, you might want to pin it down, or put heavy objects on it everywhere. Not too professional, but very handy. Drawing on it is tricky too, a big ruler can help a lot. Since I don't have that, I used the skirt's pattern as a ruler...
You'll have a pretty simple pattern for this, that's why I didn't even bothered make an actual pattern on paper. It'll be ruffled and big in the horizontal dimension, so you just have to decide how much ruffle you want. On the vertical direction, we use the curved to yourself measurements now, since it will be following your shape, without sew-lines. You'll need something like on the picture. As a final length, I let it go 'till hips. Do yourself a favor, and draw the horizontal lines on.
Step 3: Sewing With Machine - Probably -
- Sewing machine
- Invisible zipper foot (optional)
- bobby pins
- interlock (optional, but good to have)
- safety pins
- Trim applique thingy
Once you cut everything out, you can start sewing. You can use your interlock and run every piece around, but I went piece by piece.
Start with the godets.
Since they have double layers, first sew those together. Better use a few dozen of pins first. Once you sew them together, lock the edges, preventing fraying. Lock the main fabric parts too, and keep an eye out for the zipper's place. Once you have a safely locked parts, time to sew it all together. Each part gets one godet, all on the same side, and as on the picture shows, don't sew them up till the pointy angle of your triangles. See on pictures. Based on how perfect your tailoring was, you can sew the godets down from the top part, to the bottom, or from the bottom upwards to the knee. Once it's done, you sew the other side of it, and you should keep a few stitch out at the top of the godets, as you sew together the skirt. You should go downwards this time, for both of the stitch-lines.
Sew the parts together, except at the back of the skirt, where the zipper will be. Iron everything.
Put it aside, and use your serger on a few of the top parts. For the lace-satin panels, use the same method as for the godets. Pin them, sew them, lock them. The other parts doesn't have to be locked yet. Pin everything together, and just sew them together, with a straight stitchline. For better durability, I used here a coated thread, pretty much made for bags, and other more durable things, but this is optional. When all vertical line is sewn – except for the zipper part – lock the edges together. Lock the zipper part too. Iron.
Now you can either fold the skirt and top part clear side to clear side, bent at the waist part, and sew them together, or, if you have a pointy front for the top, and like the skirt part with a normal waist line, lock the horizontal ends of the top, and roll up the bottom, as on the picture. I'll go along with this option. Don't finish the top line, just the bottom.
Make the waistband for the skirt. I made it from three pieces, one for the front, and two for the back. Follow the skirt's form and curves. Lock it around, except the upper part. Clear side on clear side, sew and lock it together with the skirt. Fold it in, now it's clear side is in the inside of the skirt. Keep on using the Iron.
If you can, try on the skirt -with safety pins- and the top – same- and check where do you want them exactly to meet. You should have a few centimeters overlap all around. Use safety pins, or bobby pins if you like to live dangerously, and sew them together on the line you rolled up and sew down the top. At most part, the chiffon will hide this, but try to follow your last stitch line.
If it's done, you can sew in the invisible zipper. It's easy with the right foot, which I don't have, so I sew it in by hand. That's a very precise, and neat way to do it, if you don't have the right foot. I needed a 45 cms long one.
Roll up and stitch down the edges. I don't like to lock it, because it'll make it stiff.
Step 4: Sewing by Hand - or Not -
You'll need bobby pins and patience. Pin it too the dress, at the fix (security) points.
- Lace panel's side: top line, under bust line, waist line, halfhip-line.
- Side: top line, under bust, waist line, half hip line
- back: Where you want to end the chiffon. At the same horizontals.
You have your desired abundance of fabric width, so you can start divide it, and pin it down, on all the lines. I made them kind of equally, and more frequent on the front – because of the bust- and less and less apparent on the back. But it's up to you, where do you feel the need of some extra ruffle. Once you finished pinning down, get out the security pins, and leave in only those, which are Only in the chiffon. You put them only there, right? Using the sewing machine, sew it all down, and take out the pins. Sew it to the top line. Only until the bust part. Don't sew that part to the top. For that part, I hand sewn on a lace trim thingy.
Step 5: Decorating
Chiffon - Lace applique
Place back the security pins, to double check the fitting, and start to pin on, just on the chiffon, again, the lace applique of your choice. The more pins, the better results, don't save time on this. Than sew it on, with hand. I used again the coated thread, because that looked more like the lace's material, but that's up to your applique. Make it both sides, symmetrical, or not, depending on the lace, and your decision. When they are on, you can finally sew on the chiffon to the top, I sew it all along at the back, and only on the horizontal lines in the front, with a few stitches. Nothing on the bottom.
Try on the dress, and pin the place where your neckpart needs to meet. Cut off the excess, roll it up, sew down, and hand sewn your fancy clasp. And if needed the french clasps, hiding.
You can sew the lace on the skirt part too, same method, but easier since there isn't any ruffle. Keep in mind, the difference in stretchyness of the fabric and the applique. For me, the were all non-stretchy, firm ones.
I used beads, to hang from the top and from the skirt too. As I want to wash this dress sometime, I didn't sew any of them on the dress, it's all attachable. For more comfort, use rubber thread on the skirt's beads, so you can walk more freely, but if you use heavy beads, don't use rubber. It'll become loose soon. You can simply put bead after bead, or use the classical knotted pearl necklace style, as I did. I attached it to the lace with black metal rings, and lobster clasps.(for the photo, because I don't have the right jumper rings(?) at the moment)
For the top, it's the same, except you attach it to the main fabric, under the chiffon. Preferably on both sides, but my local shop run out of beads. :(
Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it.
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