Manipulating Patterns

I’ve spent my life looking at shapes of everyday objects and analyzing how they fit together.   It’s one of my quirks.  It’s also a skill that comes in handy for drafting patterns.  When I start with my basic block pattern, I can manipulate it in many different ways for many different styles.  Take the 1950’s vintage dress that was given to me.  I love the seaming.  The bodice to sleeve gusset is an interesting feature that I was dying to reproduce.

The sleeve is cut as one with the bodice, front and back.  Instead of a diamond gusset, it travels the entire length of the bodice to the hem of the sleeve.

To begin, I started with my fitted block.   It has no seam allowances.  I cut out the darts on the front panel because they will be manipulated; the back dart will not.  I have also marked off the midriff band on the bottoms of the bodice pieces and the center line of the sleeve to mark front from back.

Next, I have cut on the marked lines, taped the darts out of the midriff bands, and rotated the side seam dart to eliminate it which enlarged the waist seam dart.

Marking the gusset lines was trickier.  I measured the silk dress at key points on the gusset and transferred those onto the pattern.  Basically the lines originate in the spot where the notches generally are.

Measuring the armhole from side seam to the drawn line, I marked the sleeve with another line that same distance.

Both the sleeve and the bodice were cut in two and then reconfigured to form the kimono sleeve and the gusset.  The top of the sleeve overlaps the shoulder by 3/4″.  The rest of the corners all touch.  I wanted to reshape the angle of the sleeve a little, so I cut off a bit on the lower sleeve seam where I’ve drawn the line.  That bit was transferred to the top/shoulder seam side of the sleeve portion.

I’ve also shortened the sleeve and gusset to match it.  The back pieces were handled in the same manner.  The last alteration I made was to the neckline and center front.

To finish off the pattern, I had to add seam allowances and move the dart points down 1/2″.

I used silk dupioni underlined with silk organza.  Such luscious fabric to sew on.   Sewing up the pattern went smoothly and it all fit together surprisingly well.  My dress is nearly finished, with only hand work needed.

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One Response to Manipulating Patterns

  1. I love this dress top – as I love 50’s way of contruction! Thanks for sharing the pattern manipulation. I may try it!

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