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.

crabandbee.com | 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.

crabandbee.com | 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)

crabandbee.com | 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.

crabandbee.com | 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.

crabandbee.com | 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.

crabandbee.com | 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!

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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.

POSTER-PB-SLO-017-ConvertFittedTorsoSloperSuit-Sloper.jpg
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.

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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.

2015 as a skirt

I love reflection, especially at the end of the year. I was heartily disappointed to miss participating in Gillian’s Top 5 series, but I continue to have so many favorite pieces still to be blogged that joining in didn’t quite make sense.

Instead, to celebrate the quickly approaching Lunar New Year, I present one garment to represent the year that was 2015 – my skirt created for the September wedding I attended.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

There’s nothing complicated about the construction or the design. Yes, I did draft it but I just followed a recipe from my drafting manual. Yet it epitomizes 2015 for me.

Permit me a bit of a metaphysical ramble. Like nearly all of my friends, family, acquaintances and many fellow bloggers, I underwent the process prescribed by Mari Kondo in The Magical Art of Tidying Up. And I benefitted, as expected – my living space has been reoriented to support me instead of my stuff, and my socks and undies are happily nested in leftover cardboard boxes that fit them perfectly.

But the fundamental question she requires the reader to ask of their belongings – does it spark joy? – quietly and sneakily turned my world upside down. Like my fabric-buying process, most of my decisions have been the product of tortuous mental exercises. I realized how few decisions in my life took joy into account.

So, I decided to make joy my decision-making criteria for the year. I joined an improvisational dance group, without any goal beyond moving my body for a couple of hours every week with a wonderful bunch of women. Sewing hours were more readily set aside for friend and family time. I changed jobs, going back to a full-time regular position on the team I’d left in 2013; it had nothing that I said I’d wanted (flexibility, sustainability focus) but the new role gave me a chance to work with people I really liked and it just spoke to me. I went to Japan. I went clubbing, for Pete’s sake.

I found myself buying fabrics in rainbow palettes that I would have chosen as a 7-year-old, without any of my usual dithering, and sewing up impractical things like Gabriola skirts.

This skirt fabric was one such purchase; I saw it, picked it up and walked it straight to the cutting counter. It sat on my fabric shelf, very noticeable among the solids, but it wasn’t until my friend’s wedding that it demanded to be a simple flared skirt. It was the perfect piece to wear to the wedding. Even in a particularly joyful year, dancing under the stars late at night to atrocious Top 40 music from the nineties stands out.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

The magical cloud of joy that carried me through most of 2015 sputtered out after Japan in October. Major changes started happening at my job. We lost our beloved kitty Orson in late October quite suddenly. Chronic health problems that had miraculously disappeared earlier in the year came back with a vengeance. I was exhausted, and needed to take care of myself.

But I wouldn’t trade my experiment for anything; it was a much-needed tonic and after a rocky couple of months, I’m finally ready for the new year that’s somehow already a month underway.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

I don’t have a particular goal or inspiration for 2016, but I’m wishing you joy and all other good things you may need this year.

My favorite shirt

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 double-gauze shirt

After I finished my husband’s jacket, you’d better believe I dove straight into that pile of fabrics from Japan! First on the cutting table was a tantalizing water-color striped double-gauze bought with the incomparable Inna in the incomparable town of Kyoto.

crabandbee.com

Inna witnessed my shopping process. For me, it’s rarely as simple as “I like that, I have the money, I’ll buy it.” I’ll call into question my entire identity and value system (aspirational minimalism, thrift, investment of time required to properly own something, quality, wardrobe versatility, environmental values) before I make a purchase.

And guess what? It’s a tiring, and ultimately not all that effective method for making decisions; I’ll prevaricate for some sweaty minutes or hours until I throw out all of my requirements in favor of an impulse decision. Luckily, Inna was a patient shopping buddy.

Obviously I did buy the fabric in this case, and I haven’t regretted it because it’s been sewn into what is hands-down my favorite shirt!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 double-gauze shirt

I had no such analysis paralysis choosing the pattern. It’s another McCall’s 6436, of course, with all of my standard fit adjustments (1/2″ square shoulder, size 14 with 12 bust) and as well as some design changes (1 – piece sleeve, topstitched french button plackets, shorter cuffs, no back darts). I also added a tower placket – my first ever, after a practice run – using another Vogue pattern to place the opening. I used the Off The Cuff placket construction method.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 double-gauze shirt

And may I add that I’m excited to have my first long-sleeved buttoned shirt that fits through the shoulders…!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 double-gauze shirt

In spring, I’ll be wearing this shirt tucked into skirts! This was the flared skirt muslin I drafted based on my skirt sloper. It started looking mighty wearable, so I finished it with a top-stitched waist-band facing.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6436 double-gauze shirt

Back soon with the skirt I drafted and wore to my friend’s wedding!

 

Flare bear

I was on a major flare high after making denim trousers, and was certain that a pair of flared jeans would be just the thing. So I made them out of this fantastically thick no-stretch denim I found at SCRAP and… meh. They’re fine but they’re just not the 70s jeans of my dreams. I wear them about once every two weeks.

crabandbee.com | flared jeans

I’m not really sure why they feel so underwhelming! They’re technically the best pair of jeans I’ve ever managed to sew. They fit really nicely. I just feel a bit frumpy when I wear them. Maybe it’s the thickness of the fabric? I also added a total of 1/2″ of ease to the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch* (and took them in a bit when I fit them), so it’s possible they’re more relaxed than I was intending?

crabandbee.com | flared jeans

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They also don’t seem to work well with any of my shirts, most of which were sewn to partner with other jeans. Any suggestions on what to pair with these flares? Please? Help?

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Let’s move on from my frumpy pants to wedding sewing, shall we?

Since finishing the wedding bra (pic at the bottom of that post), I’ve been building the dress bodice. On a lark, I tried inserting the molded sew-in cups I used on the wedding bra into the bodice directly, and they worked on their own! So, after all that, we’ll be skipping the bra. It’s a little bit sad, but it will prevent me the worry of having to secure the bodice to it. And, my sis has a completely custom super-sturdy white foundation piece to do with as she pleases.

crabandbee.com | wedding separates bodice

“Dress” is actually a misnomer now – I lobbied successfully for wedding separates instead of a dress, hoping my sis could repurpose the pieces more easily and maybe even dye the skirt. I lengthened the bodice into more of a bustier top that could be worn with skirts or even pants. Next, I’ll be draping the lace bodice overlay with the expertise of my friend Casey – who finally has his own blog!

* Edit: I completely forgot to include pattern info for the flares! They’re based off my moderate-stretch jeans block, which I used most recently here. I added width at the bottom, reducing to nothing at the knees. Like I mentioned above, I added a total of 1/2″ ease per leg at the outseams to compensate for the lack of stretch. Thanks to Emma Jayne for asking!

Something different: a two-piece dressy set

I’ve been working hard to focus on my sister’s wedding dress, but quite a few so-called palate cleanser projects have sneaked their way in. One was directly influenced by my sister’s dress – I’ll be attaching Sewaholic’s glorious Gabriola skirt pattern onto the bodice.

I sewed the skirt in muslin and couldn’t resist trying it on myself. I rarely wear skirts these days, but the instant I put it on, I fell hard for this design. I’d always admired it but just couldn’t imagine myself looking like, well, myself, in it. The muslin was convincing enough to lead me to believe that I should sew up a practice version in appropriately flowing fabric to use during bodice fittings that I could ultimately keep for myself.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

Who was I to argue?

After combing the internet and local fabric shops for an interesting viscose print, I surprised myself by settling on a loud floral print. The color wasn’t quite what I’d hoped so I dyed over it with a lovely blue and used the wrong side.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

There have been a lot of these gorgeous skirts shared on other blogs, so I’ll just give you my construction bullet points:

  • I changed the front waistband from a rectangle to a curve
  • I did a lapped zipper (stabilized by a silk organza strip) and made the button tab overlap longer
  • I wish I’d stabilized the front and back chevron panels because they distorted over time. The skirt is heavy in viscose and you can still see that those panels can’t fully support the weight of the skirt.
  • Even after grading down a size in the hips, I still had to take some extra width out – perhaps due to the distortion mentioned above
  • By reducing the flare at the bottom of the skirt by a few inches, I was able to sew my skirt on 2.5 yards of 55″ fabric instead of the recommended 3.5 yards.

How could I not put that extra yard to use in a matching top?

I used my sloper and my trusty ol’ Helen Joseph-Armstrong textbook and made a bias-cut cowl-neck top. I love how the dark floral motif looks like a big dramatic necklace.

crabandbee.com | cowl neck top based on sloper

crabandbee.com | cowl neck top based on sloper

I think this getup (and maybe even the skirt on its own?) is just a *smidge* too dressy for work so I’m eagerly awaiting the first opportunity to bust it out. Wearing yards of viscose from head to toe is like being swathed in a fluffy dream cloud – certainly something to look forward to.

crabandbee.com | Sewaholic Gabriola

My sewing recently has been quite practical – coat, jeans, shirts, blue, white, grey. Everything about this project took me by surprise… and I liked it.

Pants progress

My last post dealt with shoulder fit, but I’d like to take a detour to Pants Land (or Trouser Town, if you’re British?)

Last year I made my first two pairs of jeans. The first one was the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d ever worn, and an undefinable and wonderful (to me) style: fitted but not tight, tapered but not skin-tight, ankle-length. They bagged out a little bit with wear, however, especially after I put them on damp.

crabandbee.com | jeans
The original fit

On the second pair, I got overzealous and took 1/4″ out of the out-seams and tightened up the waistband. They looked good but, creature of comfort that I am, I really didn’t want to put them on. They stayed a dark indigo blue while the first pair earned that oh-so-delightful fading.

Over the year, the first pair started to feel more like the tight pair. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it, too – I was outgrowing my jeans. Then I held up the first pair to the tight pair, and they were the same size! The denim had shrunk with washings and (very occasional) dryings.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1367
The shrunken fit

Both pairs were lovingly folded up and given to my sister, who they fit as originally intended.

After giving the jeans away and a full Marie Kondo wardrobe sort, I was left with two pairs of everyday pants – a lackluster pair of thrifted jeans and my khaki pleated trousers. Right around this time, I’d been casting about for a project after finishing my coat but nothing sounded like fun until the idea of revisiting my jeans pattern occurred to me.

I may have called that pattern “self-drafted” at the time I wrote that post, but “self-cobbled” is more accurate. Now that I’m older and wiser/have read more Helen Joseph-Armstrong, I know that converting a pleated trouser pattern into jeans was nothing short of major pattern surgery! According to HJ-A, jeans have a higher back rise and lower front rise, which I did not take into account in my first two pairs. In fact, I’d reduced the back rise for the trousers. Add my ample rump into the mix and there’s just too much booty.

For this iteration, I added a full inch to the back rise, grading to nothing all the way to center front. I also added 1/4″ of ease to the front and back outseams to guard against future denim shrinking, which can apparently happen over the course of many washings. (I did wash and dry my denim twice this time but who knows if it was enough! I used the leftovers from my other two pairs so I’m suspicious that it’s waiting to do me an ill turn.)

Anyway. I love them.

crabandbee.com | jeans

crabandbee.com | jeans

I was inspired by Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong to use pocket stays, which are amazing because of the extra room for my hands and the cozy stability across the entire front.

crabandbee.com | jeans detail

I was bolstered up by my success, enough to do some more pattern cobbling, and made a pair of stretch-denim flares with back darts instead of a yoke. I added 4″ length and about 4″ of flare on both sides of the legs.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Flares. Flares! Why did I ever stop wearing this wonderful silhouette?

I changed the pockets to a slant instead of jeans-style pockets.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

And I got terribly lazy and left off back pockets (which are universally credited for “breaking up the expanse” of rump.) I had every intention of making some nice welt pockets, but my fabric was quite thin and I thought the visible outline of pocket bags might be equally distracting. I may still add some sort of classy patch pocket, if such a thing is possible on pants. There is some wrinkling on the back, but it may just be from sitting? I don’t know. This fabric is probably best suited to dresses and the like.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

I would love to try my new flares pattern in another thicker fabric, possibly as jeans with a yoke. As-is, they have filled a wardrobe gap for me, which is nicer work wear (with a longer top, of course). I’d add another inch of length, too.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Hope you enjoyed this detour to Trouser Town! They’ve been a nice simpler sew while I muddle over the fit and design of my sister’s wedding dress… I’m documenting the process but I can’t decide whether to post as I go or plan to summarize at the end, in case it all goes to $hit and we have to buy a dress!

Triangulated scrap dress

How’s your Scraptember going? Mine got a whole lot better this weekend when my project finally started to look like a garment. I got so excited that I finished it sooner than I’d expected. Sometimes I get a little antsy when I’m doing piece work – it can take a little longer than normal projects to look promising.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

Anyway, it’s done. And surprise! It’s made from grey and blue linen scraps!

I was planning on making a longer, button-less version of what I made for my two-piece set, but I kept returning to the idea of adding a gathered-rectangle skirt to the bottom so I could wear it as a tunic. I had some actual yardage of one of my scrap fabrics, the silver coated linen, and I went for it. (I probably would have picked one of the other fabrics if I’d had the choice as the linen is pretty heavy, but they were down to their scrappiest scraps.)

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Nothing too fancy to note in terms of construction; I stitched the scraps together and serged. I liked the idea of a triangle in the middle and placed it so it would end right on the finished neckline. I used my dartless tank pattern that I drafted off my sloper and pieced around the triangles until I had enough fabric. The neckline and arms are finished by – what else – more scraps.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

I was thinking about mimicking the triangle on the back but went for strips instead as it fit the scraps I had better.

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

I was a little concerned that the transition from the solids to the strips would be jarring, but I really like it.

Just for funsies, here are the projects that my scraps came from:

In other scrap news, I took a spin through my scraps during this project and decided to remove the pieces I didn’t like. It’s a complete no-brainer, but the artist (hoarder) in me always thinks I’m going to strike on some fantastic scrappy color combo even with colors and prints I don’t like.With a few years into scrap hoarding under my belt, I’m noticing it doesn’t really happen. Another part of me – a hoarder without artistic ambitions – has a hard time throwing anything vaguely useful into a landfill. I’ll be researching textile recycling options for those undesirable scraps… aided by triangle power!

crabandbee.com | scraptember scrap dress

Little linen outfit

Last year, Kelly made the Liesl & Co Everday Skirt. Since then, I’ve engaged in a monthly debate with myself – buy the pattern or try to approximate it on my own? “It’s a gathered skirt with an elastic waistband in the back – how hard could it be?” would be countered with “Do you really want to spend the time measuring out rectangles and tracing pocket facings?” The price seemed a bit high for the pattern. Finally, Katie sewed up her version and her verdict of “I was tempted to go the self-draft route for my dream skirt, but this pattern is basically it” pushed me over the edge.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

 

I haven’t been sorry. There are a lot of things to like about this skirt design: the flat side panels, back elastic waistband, nice pocket placement all come to mind. I’m not even a skirt person, but I love this one. And from a logistical standpoint, I was impressed. The PDF downloads directly from a link in your email receipt, there’s a print at shop version included and the print layout is delightfully lean. This was easily my best experience with a PDF pattern to date.

I made a test skirt in my kimono fabric and decided to remove some width from the back panel. I wanted it the waistband at my natural waist, and the shortness of the back elastic I needed made the back panel very gathered and pretty heavy. It’s still more gathered than the front, so if I make this a third time, I’ll play around with shortening the front waistband to lengthen the back out. After my trial, I knew I wanted to make it in a special piece of linen and bought a straight-up new piece of fabric for the occasion.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

I bought 1.5 yards of 60″ wide linen (the pattern suggests 1.75) but I miraculously had enough to create a cropped tank AND join Sophie’s super fun two-piece party!

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

Unlike the skirt, the top is actually self-drafted. I started working on a bodice block last winter, with beyond-generous help from Maddie, who shared her pattern-making knowledge and gently let me know that my neck couldn’t possibly be as small as I’d measured it to be, the fit expertise of my friend Casey, and Nathan, who helped me take endless rounds of measurements while I shivered convulsively in a chalked-up bathing suit. I worked on it in spurts and finally translated it onto tagboard last month. From there, I consulted Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design to make a flared dartless tank and borrowed the Wiksten tank neckline. I wanted it to be boxy to emphasize the fitted skirt waist.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

Victory! It fits!

Someday soon, I’ll share how weird my block looks. My back and front bodice pieces don’t even look like they belong together… unlike this top and skirt!

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt

I’ll be back in a few days on the Sewcialist blog as I’m helping out with the September challenge. Get ready to bust through your scraps during SCRAPTEMBER (yep, I had to go there). Until then, I leave you with this:

crabandbee.com | self-drafted top and Liesl & Co Everyday skirt