Revised jumper dress draft

I dared myself to blog all of my remaining 2016 projects before the new year in my last post. I successfully enlisted my sis to help me in this madness by taking pictures of everything last week. So… it’s happening!

Diving right in with what’s been one of the most fun and challenging on-going projects from 2016 – my self-drafted jumper dress. I drafted a torso foundation and designed the original jumper dress shortly after. Since it seems to be the perfect complement to every top I own, I’ve worn it a ton and have had ample opportunity to figure out updates I want to make. | self-drafted jumper dress
The original

I revisited the draft a couple of weeks ago, and made two versions in rapid succession.

First, I made one from beautiful stretch denim gifted to me from Heather and Jennifer. I managed to use every last scrap of it after making some denim trousers. | self-drafted jumper dress

From V1 to V2, these were the changes I made:

  • Widened the bib
  • Raised the neckline
  • Raised the side seams
  • Changed the silhouette to an a-line
  • Lengthened the hem
  • Eliminated the closures (for simplicity’s sake) | self-drafted jumper dress

I also added a waist seam and split the front skirt into two, but those were cosmetic updates. If I had had more denim, I would have added some kind of pocket but I used every last scrap. | self-drafted jumper dress
Accompanied by my familiar

I made V3 in some magical silk-rayon blend I found in a pile of remnants at a local fabric store. It’s well-behaved and sturdy, although probably the lightest weight I’d want to make one of these in. | self-drafted jumper dress

V3 changes were:

  • Widening the straps to 2″
  • Adding slash pockets in the front
  • Adding a back waist seam, just so I could line the entire bodice easily

I’ve been wearing these dresses non-stop over leggings since I made them. | self-drafted jumper dress

Both dresses tend to hang off my back and billow before they reach the hips. Since most of my curves are in the back, I’m not sure how to address that or if it’s just part and parcel of this silhouette on my figure. Please do share if you have any thoughts!

I had a moment of Christmas generosity when we were shooting photos, and gave the denim one to my sister since she was admiring it. We share what I call the Family Torso – broad shoulders, long chest, narrow back and ribcage – so anything I draft off my slopers will likely suit her perfectly. This pattern sews up quickly, so I can make another while she enjoys this one.

Expect to see both of these fabrics again as I continue my parade of 2016 sewing!


Jumper dress

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

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

Party in the back: skirt sloper

This weekend, I was scrounging around for something to wear to a wedding. I was considering my MOH dress but I just don’t love how it looks on me. There’s something about the depth of the v-neck and the arm scyes I need to fix, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet.

After I’d run through my closet, I moved on to my fabrics, I found myself lingering on an intensely wonderful cotton sateen print I found earlier this year. (You may have seen it on Instagram when I was publicly wondering what to make with it.) After I’d considered a shift, a sheath, pants and a bomber jacket, the fabric demanded suddenly and unequivocally to be an A-line skirt.


The only trouble is I don’t actually have an A-line skirt pattern. I briefly considered a truncated Gabriola like this one from Fadanista, but I didn’t want the gores and wasn’t sure exactly how to de-flare it. And I’ve meant to make a skirt sloper ever since I finished my bodice sloper (which I’ve never blogged about it…) so I went the self-drafting route.

Reviewing my measurements made me glad I’d chosen to self-draft, particularly the front/back waist and hip arcs. These measurements are important because they divide the front half from the back half, and provide more info about how a circumference is distributed. I’m rectangular from the front and basically a Kardashian from the back; most of my waist width is in the front, and most of my hip width is not actually from the hips at all but from the rear.

My drafting manual – Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Pattern Making for Fashion Design- details measurements for standard sizes, and my arc measurements are all over the chart. This certainly explains all the fit problems I’ve ever had with my lower half, which has always baffled me because my waist/hip measurements put me in a single size in most commercial patterns.

So here’s my sloper – I got decent results pretty quickly, to my great surprise! It was much, much easier than the bodice sloper. (Please enjoy the grainy phone photos.) | skirt sloper

I took the author’s advice for swayback figures and made one small dart in the front with two larger ones in the back. These pictures are of my second muslin; I moved the back darts after seeing my first muslin. If I were working on a pencil skirt, I would fine-tune them some more, but time is limited and I think this is a fine place to draft an A-line skirt from. | skirt sloper

The waist isn’t quite level, but I think my waist itself might be tilted. I may lower the front a bit and blend towards the back. I adjusted the side seams on the third muslin; it’s hard to see in the photo below, but they were swinging forward. | skirt sloper

Fingers crossed I get the skirt finished it in time for the wedding! Even if I don’t, I’m already psyched about the possibilities of having a skirt sloper.


I’ve been stepping out on my coat project with… jeans! | jeans

I have three excuses.

One, after I finished up my denim trousers, I had a strong hankering to see if I could adapt my pattern by removing the pleats. (IT TOTALLY WORKED.) I told myself that I should act while my pants knowledge is fresh.

Two, I have two pairs of jeans, only one of which *should* be worn out of the house. I actually retired those grey stretch jeans I wore with the kimono last year, only to start wearing them again when the thrift stores didn’t yield a replacement. They look ok from afar, but every time I wear them, they get a little saggier and a little more translucent.

Three, Sallieoh. Nough said. | jeans

So I did it – I made jeans. I wanted to document my process, because it involved quite a few steps. None were terribly difficult!

Pattern changes
The reason I stuck with my trouser pattern was fit: I’d spent months working on perfecting that pattern and I figured small changes to it would get me further than starting all over with a jeans-specific pattern. Instead, I adapted elements of the pants pattern from Built by Wendy’s Sew U book. | jeans

Here are the changes I made to convert my trousers into jeans:

  • folded out the excess fabric for pleats
  • converted the back darts into a yoke
  • made the pocket to a curve, using a pattern piece from Sew U
  • added back patch pockets (also from Sew U)
  • created a new waistband pattern

Once I’d updated my pattern, I still wanted to check the fit and make sure I hadn’t made any errors. Also, I was using my thrifted stretch denim and wanted a tighter fit than my trousers. My method was pretty quick and dirty:

  • cut out front leg pieces (without removing any fabric for pockets)
  • cut out back leg and yoke pieces
  • baste back leg and yoke pieces; press
  • sew legs together
  • try on pants without waistband; turn inside out and pin out any excess from inseam and outseam
  • mark front and back pocket position on pants
  • mark changes and pocket position on pattern

After marking my pattern, I took out my basting stitches and cut my pieces down using the updated pattern pieces. (I’m guessing an expert would tell you to use new fabric to make sure the grainline was correct and the fabric wasn’t warped from pressing.)

After fitting, I constructed the pants as suggested by Sew U: I sewed and topstitched the back (yoke, pockets, crotch) and front (slant pockets, and fly) before joining them together at the inseam. After top-stitching the inseam, I sewed the outseam.

Once I’d completed sewing the legs, I started working on the pattern for my curved waistband. I started out with a rectangular waistband, basted it onto my pants, and then darted the excess in the back. I used that piece to drafted a new curved back waistband and left the front as a rectangle.

Topstitching, fly, button, rivet
The details that really say “jeans!” to me are the topstitching, fly, the jeans button, and rivets.

I used topstitching thread and stitched 1/8″ and 3/8″  from edges and seams, with the tension cranked up. Thanks to Gail and Stephanie for answering my call for help on Instagram when my topstitching was looking ugly!

For the fly, I used a combination of Grainline’s tutorial and Sew U’s instructions, with mostly good results. Since jeans are so top-stitching heavy, the order of operations is really important. I hadn’t realized I would want top-stitching on the edge of the fly opening until I saw the jeans on myself. By then, it was too late for me to connect my top-stitching to the center-front: | jeans

I think the top-stitching is fine and will escape the notice of people who don’t spend tons of time staring at jeans for construction tips. That said, I will confess that I was so excited about these jeans that I immediately started a second pair (sorry, coat!). Whilst looking for jeans-specific fly tutorials, I came across Debbie Cook’s. There was no guesswork, no fudging. Here’s how my second pair looks, inside and out:



Thank you, Debbie!

I bought rivets and jeans buttons from Taylor Tailor and read his instructions on installing them. I made the mistake of pounding one rivet into carpet (the pointy part of the back of the rivet came through the rivet cap) but otherwise was able to install them without any problems once I moved to a hard metal surface.

In summary | jeans

These are by far the best-fitting pair of jeans I’ve owned. The style is somewhere between skinny and straight jeans and the rise is just where I want it. I may have a bit more perfecting to do with the rear/back pocket area, but nothing that will prevent me from wearing these daily.

When I first started sewing, I imagined that pants, let alone jeans, were not worth the trouble and probably nearly impossible to construct. I’m glad I overcame that idea, because this project was incredibly rewarding!

Now… how to break the news to my coat that I have another pair of jeans in the works…?