Archive for ‘School Projects’

June 25, 2012

Golden Hills Maxi

Pattern: Self drafted (to achieve a similar look, I’d recommend Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi)

Fabric: about 2 yards of Ella Moss rayon jersey and tricot swimsuit lining

Notions: Wooly Nylon

Time to Complete: Weeks… but I’ll be able to bust the next one out in a few hours.


Remember this challenge? The one where we tried to sew a style that we wouldn’t normally wear? The one Ina of Sky Turtle inspired? Even though my first dress skirt left much to be desired, I was determined to make this pattern work. After I returned from vacation, I picked it back up with help from my instructor and finished it just in time for the first week of summer!

I’d say the biggest road block to this garment was the fabric. My first version taught me to avoid fabrics with vertical stretch – no one wants to watch the hemline grow throughout the day. I wanted a lightweight fabric with a nice subtle drape that hugged rather than clung. This meant that online shopping was out of the question if I didn’t want to order dozens of swatches. I headed to Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley and found this knit but I was a little worried about its opacity.  It’s ever so slightly sheer so my instructor suggested lining it with nylon tricot (think swimsuit lining). I was resistant at first (wouldn’t it be hot or itchy?) but I’m so glad I took her advice. I’m not seeing the static cling that I did with my jersey lining and the tricot acts like a lightweight girdle holding me in without restricting me.

Once I had the fabric finalized, the construction of this dress was a breeze – two long seams later, I was ready to think about finishing the neckline and armholes. There are dozens of ways to bind a neckline and the choice can be a bit overwhelming. I’m no expert and I was petrified that I’d stretch the edges out. I tested several samples but finally chose a simple self fabric binding with a narrow coverstitch to secure. I’m so proud of the work as it’s the flattest binding I have ever done. If you’re interested in the method I used, I’d be interested in doing a tutorial.

I’m so happy with this dress and you’ll be seeing many, many more versions to come. For the last few summers, I’ve enviously watched women in their maxi dresses wishing I could pull one off. At 5’1, there’s little chance of finding a dress with the right proportions in the store. For me, this is what sewing is all about. Being able to create any style to match my shape is a dream. When I came out in it for the first time, my husband exclaimed, “it’s as if it were made for you!” He’s always been good with the obvious.

June 4, 2012

Silk, Cotton, Sand

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Silk/Cotton from Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Elastic for the waist

Time to Complete: This project had way, WAY too many muslins!


We just returned from Ambergris Caye, Belize. It was a great week of playing in the sun and sea – lots of snorkeling and some scuba diving, too! We hadn’t been diving in years and I had forgotten how much I love it. Since returning home, we’ve visited all the local dive shops in hopes of getting back in the water soon. Regardless, the vacation came at the right time and I’m feeling much more relaxed. It was so nice to get outdoors and spend some time in the sun. While there, I couldn’t help myself and took some pictures of my new sundress. I’ve been so excited to show them to you!

This dress is part of a two dress project at school. I wanted to create a lightweight sundress that’s easy to slip on and off at the beach but could still look put together at dinner. The dress features a scoop neckline, a subtle asymmetrical hem (although these pictures are making me think it’s a little too subtle), and a gathered waist with elastic casing. The neckline and armhole are bound with self made bias tape. This particular one is unlined but I can see including a lining in other versions.

The drafting of this project took way too long for something so simple. It took me a while to figure out that the neckline dart that I added to prevent gaping in the lowered neckline had pulled the waistline and dart apex up. To be honest, I didn’t want to include a dart – I thought it would look bulky with the gathered bodice – but my instructor insisted that one should be there. I still don’t agree because when worn it has a tendency to wrinkle and isn’t necessary for building a cup. Oh well, I can always change this outside of class.

Despite everything being in its right place, I still couldn’t decide if I liked the garment. Muslin is difficult for me to look past and I eventually caved and made it up in some fashion fabric. I purchased this yardage at Stone Mountain Daughter in the sale section for my spring wardrobe but never found the time to make something. I was thrilled that I could make this up before our trip and it was a really lovely piece to have on the beach.

Now for some catching up on my reader – can’t wait to hear what you all have been up to!

May 8, 2012

Inspiration: Dresses with Asymmetrical Hems

One of the many reasons why I love reading sewing blogs is at any moment, a project could come across my RSS feed that makes me stop everything and make one myself. That is exactly what happened when I came across this chevron high low hem dress.

Stephanie, from makes the things, is a sewing muse and everything she makes is chic and oh-so-wearable! This particular dress is what I want to be in all summer long.

Last Friday, I started drafting my version in class and I think I’m finished with the pattern. Now I’m just plotting out the construction details. This is where you come in! I’d like the waist to be elastic but, like Stephanie, I’m finding that elastic in a casing shifts too much. I’m considering sewing in elastic directly but last time I did this (with a three step zig zag) it was sloppy looking on the right side. I’d like the elastic waist to be as inconspicuous as possible. I’m sure there are several ways to accomplish this so I’d like to hear how you would do it. Also, what type of elastic should I use? I was thinking clear elastic might be a good option but I’m wondering if it would be too lightweight. I’m using a very fine rayon challis for the first version and a lightweight silk/cotton for the second. I don’t think I’ll line either of them.

April 10, 2012

My Bodice Sloper

I really enjoyed reading the comments from my post on my skirt sloper and I thought it would be fun to post about the other slopers I’ve made. This is my bodice sloper drafted to the low hip.

This is the front of my bodice sloper. The sloper is notched at the high hip, waist, bust, armhole, and cross front. I’ve marked the four darts (shoulder, armhole, bust, and waist) and their apices (the high and low figure point). I can choose which figure point to use as the pivotal point when manipulating the darts. You’ll notice a (faint) circle around the dart apices. This represents my bust and is used when drafting necklines. If a lowered neckline meets or goes beyond the top of this circle, I can add a neckline dart to prevent gaping.

You’ll notice that at the waist there is 1/2″ shaping which extends to the waist dart and then tapered to zero at the side. This can be taken out at the neck and shoulder during the drafting process, with princess seams, or with a seam at the waistline.

On all my slopers, I’ve written in the key measurements used for reference while drafting. For my bodice slopers, I’ve also included a neckline chart which helps me to draft wide necklines that don’t gape at the center front.

The back sloper has a shoulder dart, waist dart, and waist shaping like the front. In addition, it also includes awl punches for optional back contouring. The back contouring is taken at the waist and then tapered to the high hip and the cross back. This contouring helps to accommodate the natural curve along the spine. If I choose to take this out, I need to adjust the waist dart so that the waist measurement remains the same.

That’s my bodice sloper! Do you use a bodice sloper? I love seeing and reading about different drafting approaches and would love to hear how your sloper differs. I’ll post next week about the bodice sloper I drafted recently for knits – I’m using it for a surprise project that I can’t wait to reveal.

Remember, the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway ends tonight! See the post for a chance to win this handy device. Winners will be announced tomorrow morning!

April 2, 2012

My Skirt Sloper

I thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about my skirt sloper and it’s features. I drafted this sloper last spring in my pattern drafting class. If you’re interested in making a similar one, you might invest in a copy of Building Patterns. This book was written by my school’s founder (and my current instructor) Suzy Furrer. It’s a wonderful resource that takes you step by step in creating your sloper and then details the process to draft variations. Each section has a few pages on rules of drafting that I find invaluable. I can’t attest to working through the book on your own but perhaps one of you owns a copy and could give us your opinion on this. I know that Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch uses it!

Here are my back and front skirt slopers on card stock. Notice that these are halves and you would need to either cut two or cut on the fold to make the skirt. This is a one dart sloper (for a total of four darts in the finished garment). The book gives instructions to draft a two dart sloper but I found that I get the best fit with one. If you have a greater difference between your low hip and waist measurements, you may find that the two dart sloper fits your better.

The sloper is drafted using three core measurements – the waist (taken just above the belly button), the high hip (generally 4 1/2″ below the waist), and the low hip (about 8 1/2″ below the waist). Added to these measurements is 2 inches of ease. You might be able to make out the notches for each of the hip measurements which enable me to mark these locations when I’m tracing the sloper. Something that you might not be able to take from the photos is the redistribution from front to back. The front sloper is actually 1/4″ (for a total of 1/2″) larger than the back so that the side seam falls toward the back. According to my book, this is a more flattering place as it minimizes the appearance of the rear end.

Taking a look at the center back, you’ll notice that I’ve pointed to the back contouring. Instead of the center back being a straight line, the waist dips in and reconnects with the center back midway between the high and low hip. This helps the fabric to contour to the natural curve of your spine, preventing gaping at the waist. If I wanted to eliminate the seam at the center back, I would straighten the center back seamline and then increase the dart by the amount that I added to the waist.

I’m sure there are a myriad of ways to draft a skirt sloper. If you’ve ever drafted one, how does yours differ? I’m curious to hear about the different features!

January 30, 2012

My Someday Dress

While riding the ferry last fall,  I spied this woman wearing an incredible dress. What I loved most about it was the sweetheart neckline and raised collar. I knew I had to make it.

I started drafting it last week and made up a muslin on Saturday. Although I knew this wouldn’t be a quick dress, I had unrealistic expectations that I could make it for an upcoming Sew Weekly theme. I realize now that it’s going to be a long process before this dress is ready.

The shape of the neckline around the bust isn’t quite right and should also be lowered. I think instead of dipping in the front I’d like it round and concave. Although this is a ways off, I thought it would be fun to share with you ‘my someday dress’. Do you have any projects that you’ve been working on slowly over time?

August 13, 2011

WIP: Faux Yoke with Button

Another project from my dart manipulation section that I’d like to take further. I used an example from Harriet Pepin’s book that brings the control vertically to the central front. From there a faux yoke is drafted along with the square neckline. It’s rather youthful and would look darling as a sundress but I’m also thinking that it could look really nice as a pinafore in wool.

August 10, 2011

WIP: Cowl Neck

This is another muslin from my school projects last week. The cowl neck is cut on the bias and was one of my favorite dart manipulation exercises. I’ve always loved the look of a cowl and would like to include something like this in my fall wardrobe. I think it would look lovely in a silk print.

August 8, 2011

WIP: Blouse with Gathering and Keyhole Neck Opening

I’ve been busy this week working on my dart manipulation projects. In the past few days I’ve drafted seven examples and sewn up six! I wanted to share with you my personal design with gathering above the bust. Although it looks a bit poofy in muslin, I think with a suitable fabric it could drape quite nicely. I plan on dropping the gathers (an inch?) and the neckline (a touch?).

Originally I wanted the top to be sans-closures so I drafted a simple keyhole opening at the back neckline. That should actually read “tried to draft” – I wasn’t exactly sure what a keyhole opening should look like but I knew I wanted to cut the majority of the back on the fold. I decided to pivot the shoulder dart to a few inches below the center neckline so that the center back tilted at an angle at the top. Does this make any sense? I just read that sentence over and I’m not sure I even understand it! Anyway, it ended up leaving me with a peak at the base of the keyhole which is understandable. I think next time I want a keyhole opening, simply cutting a straight slit should work fine enough.

However, now that I have the muslin sewn, I’m considering adding a button placket to the back and using button loops to close the garment. This would allow me to have a close fitting back that would offset the blouse-y front. This largely depends on the material I plan on using, of course. What do you think?

June 25, 2011


While I’ve been busy making Sorbettos, I’ve neglected my school work this week. Today, I’m getting to work and tracing off my moulage (well, not mine but a dressform’s). If intend to learn anything new on Tuesday, I need to have this cut and sewn this weekend.