Jumper dress

Happy Friday, everybody! I’m here to share my first self-drafted dress.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

The design is obviously dead simple but, as one might hope for a pattern drafted off a personalized block, it fits perfectly – bust, waist, hips falling at just the right places, as do the side seams. Just like me, the pattern is square in the shoulders, long through the upper chest, narrower at the back and bust, with extra booty.

After finishing my bodice sloper in 2014 and my skirt sloper last year, I put them together last month to make what my Helen Joseph-Armstrong drafting text calls a torso foundation. (Clearly I’m on the slow-and-steady path to pattern drafting.) From what I understand, the torso foundation is what one would use for any garment that starts at the shoulders and goes past the waist without a waist seam. This could include shift and sheath dresses, woven and knit shirts.

Here’s mine; the front is a bit sloppy because it shows two versions (shoulder dart and bust dart).

crabandbee.com | patternmaking, torso foundation

Here’s someone else’s that’s easier to see.

Sample torso foundation from University of Fashion

After making my torso foundation, I used HJ-A’s dungaree instructions and adapted them for a skirt instead of pants.


I added some complexity by including button side closures. (Side closures are part of the HJ-A instructions, but I got a bit lost on her instructions and had to wing it a bit.) You can see the weird shape of the button extension below; it was ok in my head and not so great in cloth. It was worth it, though; the gold buttons elevate the dress from an apron.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

Let’s just cover that weird extension up, shall we?

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

This project took about a month to complete, mostly because I had to figure out the construction. While I frequently alter commercial patterns to suit my style or construction preferences, sorting out the construction from scratch is a different beast! I did it all in my head, which prolonged the project. Next time, I’ll speed things up by sketching and writing out the process beforehand.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

And speaking of next time, I’d like to make a couple of design tweaks: widen the bib and strap placement by 1″ total, straighten the hip curve, and experiment with a front waist seam and pockets. This is a silhouette I love to wear, and could see many variations in my future.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted jumper dress

This dress was inspired by a lot of the styles I saw when I was in Japan and by some of the awesome dungaree dresses popping up on blogs, like Liza Jane’s, Kirsty’s and Juli’s. I understand the style may not appeal to everyone but I love it and I’m clearly in some good company!

Have you drafted your own patterns or thought about it? I found making the slopers to be a chore (well, at least the bodice) but drafting from them has been easier than I expected.


74 thoughts on “Jumper dress

  1. I love this style of dress and this one is fabulous! Its a cross between Marilla’s dungaree dress and Stylish Dress Book jumper dress, both of which I have made. Its great that you drafted this dress yourself.

    1. Thanks Caroline! You’re a jumper aficionado! Sounds like you’ve got your pattern bases covered, but if you are ever tempted to draft your own I found this to be a simple first project.

  2. Cute! Good job on drafting your own dress, not least for the risk taking/patience aspect. I have a set of blocks that I made in a pattern making class a couple of years ago that I never use. I’m much too impulsive and am always getting distracted by the latest patterns. Taking the time to draft something of my own seems like a hassle but like you said I’m sure I’d get a way better fit. You are looking great in your dress and maybe you’ll inspire me to haul my blocks out.

    1. If I remember correctly, though, I did one or two more straightforward sewing projects while I was drafting, so I could shift my focus when I needed to. It was a bit of a mental puzzle, so the variety was good. I absolutely think you should pull out your blocks – you’ve already done the hard parts!

  3. As a child of the 90s, I love your jumper dress! I had one in moleskin – like velvet, but much shorter nap – and was sad when I outgrew it. The gold buttons are a great touch. Congrats on self-drafting it too!

  4. Wow! All your hard work paid off – it’s super cute! I have been looking for the perfect pinafore dress pattern like yours but maybe I should work on drafting my own blocks first. An inspiration to begin!

    1. Thanks so much! I thought it was a pretty decent first dress to try drafting. That said, they’re not too hard to fit so if you get impatient there are some good patterns out there!

  5. It looks very cute, and such a nice spring look with that lovely shirt underneath! Great job drafting from scratch – I look forward to seeing future variations!

  6. Love your dress! I almost bought a black denim one of these in a sale last weekend, but the fit was off – instead I bought a denim cullotes dungaree/jumper – and now I keep hoping I’ll get a chance to make a dress version!

    1. Truth be told, this ended up shorter than expected! I plan on wearing it with leggings most of the time, which I think is a great way to make shorter stuff work in more situations.

  7. Oh, of course, that’s what you Americans mean by a *jumper* dress – from the title I was expecting a sweater dress, thought you’d gotten really carried away with the knitting! It looks so cool on you! When I first got into sewing my own clothes I “drafted” a few things without having ANY clue at all what I was doing, and now that I know a bit more I feel way more daunted by the idea. I still draft bags and things like that, and yes, figuring out your own construction seems to take forever – glad I’m not the only one who finds that!

    1. Haha, I too tried my hand at “drafting” before I knew anything at all. 🙂 I’ll bet you could easily get started again with the help of a good drafting book!

  8. Beautiful dress! The gold buttons are an especially nice touch! (And I love your shoes!!) So impressing to draft based on your own measurements. I have an old bodice sloper that I made in I think 2011 and always meant to dive back in, not only to draft from scratch but also learn to alter pattern based on my blocks/slopers. Someday! 🙂 Probably not too far in the future if you keep inspiring me like this!

  9. One question: do you also have (experience with) Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear and prefer Patternmaking for Fashion Design or would you say they are more or less equally good?

    1. I don’t have Aldrich but have heard it’s good! I just picked Patternmaking for Fashion Design because a friend of mine who graduated from fashion school recommended it. I had some difficulty with her sloper formula and used the one from madalynne.com, but most of the book is about designing patterns (not making a sloper) and that information was proved to be good. I hope you go for it!!

  10. SO CUTE! I love it. It’s fun to see trends pop up that we might not have considered two years ago!

  11. Very nice! Tailor made for you – congratulations! I love the silhouette. Figuring out how to put things together is actually my favourite part – I prefer it over the drafting. Possibly because drafting takes a fair bit of room, and hunching over the coffee table is not exactly inviting.

    1. Oof, yes. I got hugely lucky at a local thrift store and found a tallish square table, which helps with the space requirements as long as I make myself clean it off first 🙂

  12. Loving it! And this is why the time is nigh for me to attempt to create some blocks for myself. I think life would be so much easier, fit wise, if I got that sorted. Love, love, love.

    1. Yes, yes, yes, you should! The initial bodice block was some work (although not too much harder than fitting), but the three projects I’ve drafted since – a dartless tank, a bias cowl top and this jumper – have been pretty easy. I think the simple silhouettes that you and I both love really shine when the proportions are tailored.

  13. Jumper dress looks cool and cute. I learnt pattern cutting/drafting at college on a fashion design course as a teenager. I am rather embarrassed to admit I have forgotten most of it. I have struggled to find time to sew while raising three children and it really proves that ‘if you don’t use it, you loose it’. Constantly at our side was Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. It seemed to have everything you could ever want to draft in there.

    1. In terms of drafting, I’m mostly copying the book instructions at this point – I’ll bet you would get right back into it once you have a little time to spend with Winifred!

  14. You are a total fox. Such a cool dress, and I love that you paired with with a shirt. I actually like the bib quite narrow in combination with the shirt, as it exaggerates the proportions a bit. Awesome make 🙂

    1. Aw thanks Ingrid! I actually thought about you and all our tall/broad-shouldered sisters when I made this; wish there was an easy way to share it with like-figured folks!

  15. Oh Morgan. This is one great outfit! Love love love. Congratulations on drafting it yourself. . You never cease to amaze me x

  16. Oh it’s lots of fun. And so impressive that it’s self drafted. I’m yet to try anything like this. I’m too overwhelmed with all the things I want to make that the idea of trying to draft something from scratch is not even on my radar…. I’d love at least a trouser block…. One day!

    1. I think you’re an excellent candidate to get into drafting (not that I’m an expert about these sorts of things, but you get such variety from the commercial patterns you use!) You could easily start off with a simple skirt block and then move into a trouser block once you got more comfortable with it!

  17. I love love love your jumper dress ! i love the shape and those golden buttons are perfect with the fabric. Beautiful!

  18. This is fantastic!! I love that you drafted it all on your own too – you’re amazing Morgan!! I really want to make Dungarees/Overalls in both a dress and pants version and I totally want to wear them with collared buttons just like what you have done. I love that combo!! I can’t wait to see more of these from you!

  19. I have the book that you mention and really should make the time to start drafting my own patterns. Your makes from your self-drafted patterns are so inspiring! This jumper seems like the perfect thing for the transitional weather we’ve been having, and I love the golden buttons.

  20. I love it!!! It looks so good on you! And how cool that it’s drafted from your own block. I tried making that burda jumper again recently in a floral fabric but it ended up a dud. Well, I may try and save it. But I did change the front yoke to include a kind of kangaroo pocket and that was successful. I might have to revisit now!

  21. So cool that that you are drafting your own designs now! The possibilities are endless! I love this style, I recently made the short Turia dungarees and they are just sooo comfortable

    1. I can’t think about the possibilities, or else I’ll get overwhelmed! Although I seem to draft one pattern per year, so maybe I shouldn’t be worried 🙂 Can’t wait to see your Turias!

  22. How liberating to draft your own pattern! Every design is potentially yours now.

    This first dress turned out cute. I love jumper styles, but returning to style I wore years ago would just make me feel old now! In my late teens, I had a favourite pair of orange and white striped dungarees that I wore to death.

    1. These kinds of styles were around in both my toddler and teen years! I’m embracing it for some reason.

      How do you narrow down the styles you want to make? I don’t seem to be sewing very quickly these days, so I don’t imagine I’ll draft a ton of patterns but hope to make one or two a year.

  23. This is my kind of garment! I think it’s amazing that you drafter it: so refreshing after using ready-to-make patterns! The dress looks great together with the shirt! I used to draft my own pattern back in the day, but not any more, mainly due to the lack of space. But I am not hopeless! Maybe, very soon I’ll come back to it!

    1. It’s funny, I muslin commercial patterns because I know they won’t fit quite right and I muslined this one because I was afraid I’d made a grievous error sometime during the process! But it was amazing to experience how well it fit. I hope you do get back into drafting 🙂

  24. This is a great look on you Morgan! I have drafted a block but never use it….for now commercial patterns work quite well for me but as my body changes I expect to return to it.

  25. This is absolutely cute as a cute thing. It looks fantastic on you and so easy to wear. Fabulous drafting and I know what you mean about working out construction from scratch – who knew that was the most difficult part. Love it!

  26. Love the jumper! I’m not usually into that style much, but something about yours just has me. Looks so good paired with the striped shirt!

    1. Yes, it really does take forever. I’m hoping once I get a sleeve block, the hardest work will be behind me and I can draft a little more quickly? Probably not 🙂

  27. This looks so cool Morgan! I love the addition of the gold buttons and am so in admiration of your patience with drafting it yourself!

  28. The perfectly fitted, custom drafted dress! I feel like that’s like the white whale of sewing 🙂 This looks great— you can definitely tell that you took your time! It is a beautiful garment.

  29. Yessss! Could not love this more Morgan. I’m getting tempted by Dungarees too…should we cross our fingers for a pattern release mwahahaha?!

  30. This is so cool! Now I wish I had a sloper of my own so I could make one too. Alas I am not that talented as yet. Love your jumper dress though and maybe I will be lucky enough to find a pattern to make one of my own.

    1. If you are interested, I would highly recommend starting with a skirt sloper! I wish I had done that instead of starting with the bodice, which was more complicated.

  31. So cute! I’m 100% team overalls. And I really like how you styled them with the button-up. Will definitely be copying that once I make a few Deer & Doe Melilot shirts.

    Also, if it makes you feel any better, I couldn’t figure the button tabs out either when I made the Roberts Collection dungaree dress! Also, bartacking below the pockets, DUH, why didn’t I think of that?!?!

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