MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



May 3, 2012

SIL Dress Project -- He LIKES it!



OK, so the SIL dress project (SIL stands for sister-in-law, for those not accustomed to acronyms) is underway, right on schedule.  And friends, I have the most awful confession to make, which may be difficult for those of you who have vowed never to sew for others due to feelings of exploitation and abuse at the hands of friends and family:  I like it.  I mean, it's fun!

This is due in part, no doubt, to the fact that my sister-in-law, Prachee, is easy to work with.  It also helps that she is relatively small-busted, slim, and has good posture.  Plus she only swings by once a week, so there's no rush.

I stitched up my Vogue sloper in a size 12 (corresponding to a 34" bust) and I was surprised at the amount of ease in the pattern, especially since, given Prachee's measurements and those on the pattern envelope, I expected a 12 to be a little snug in the hips.  I guess that A-line silhouette provided a lot of extra room down there.  Prachee wants more of a close-fitting sheath, so I ended up taking quite a bit of that extra room out (keep reading).





The only change I made to the original pattern was to raise the waist 2" -- Prachee's about 5'4 and her back waist measurement was shorter than the pattern's -- and I didn't stitch up the two vertical back darts (aren't they called fish-eye darts?).  I did sew the shoulder darts and (relatively shallow) bust dart however.





Then we started fitting it to her.



While she waited, I took a full inch out of both side seams and stitched up the back darts.





Much better.  But do you see how the muslin sort of floats above Prachee's left shoulder? I'll need to take that extra room out, tapering from neck (where I'll take about an inch off) to armscye (on both sides).  The shoulders also need to be narrowed a bit.

The question now is front darts.  Given that this will be a fitted dress in a rather stiff silk (if we use the silk she bought), I need to fit it more in the front.  I had Prachee draw a chalk line at the apex of her bust, and then experimented with taking out a little volume with vertical darts.  Obviously they'll be the same length and (relatively shallow) depth.



This vintage pattern I recently purchased comes to mind...



So, fit mavens, what do you think?  The cheap cotton I used for the muslin doesn't really drape very well, as you can see, but neither does raw silk (if I use what she gave me, which she picked up in India).



How do you feel about those vertical waist darts in front?  They're not in the Vogue sloper pattern, but there are vertical back waist darts.  Shouldn't a fitted back be balanced with a fitted front?  Otherwise the fabric hangs off the bust -- which is, I guess, what contributes to the original A-line shape.  (I own a copy of Fit For Real People, which I can consult if need be.)



In retrospect, I might have used this vintage Simplicity sheath pattern in my stash, that's more fitted (and also a 34 bust).



I know this isn't quite the dress Prachee originally wanted...



...but I think she'll end up with something cute nevertheless.  I'm not good at working from a photograph, and that dress looks like it's virtually backless, with a much more fitted bodice.

Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.  

Have a great day, everybody!

(Gratuitous chihuahua bath photo)



UPDATE:

Just picked this up on Etsy.  View B (middle) looks almost exactly like the dress Prachee originally wanted (note shaped empire seam under bust).  Why reinvent the wheel?



38 comments:

  1. I have no suggestion re the fitting; i have no idea what i'm doing at the best of times never mind suggestions for others (who are clearly way ahead of me in the sewing stakes).

    I do however love the "gratuitous chihuahua" pic...my sweet Wilbur (10.5 month old chocolate lab) would have only ever fitted into a kitchen sink at birth hahah...we resort to the bathtub every Sunday for the weekly washing palaver haha

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do have one suggestion. It looks like the dress in the window is cut on the bias, this helps any fabric drape better. Consider doing another cheap muslin and draping on the bias.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can you tell that it is cut on the bias? Gosh, I wish I understood all of this.

      Delete
    2. Since even stiff silk has a lot more stretch along the bias, bias cutting allows fabrics to hug or pour over the body without having to use stretch materials. Slips cut on the bias don't usually need darts.

      Silk lends itself really well to bias cutting and draping.

      Delete
    3. Just learned something....love this blog. Thanks for the tip on bias cutting.

      Delete
  3. It's looking great! I would think that with the raw silk she chose that front darts might stand out a little too much. With the clean, simple lines of the dress I think a french dart could look quite nice and subtle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I just have to figure out what a French dart is... ;)

      Delete
    2. A French dart begins lower down in the side seam, a little above the waist, and curves up toward the bust point. Very flattering.

      Delete
    3. And is it used INSTEAD of a regular bust dart, or in addition to one (i.e., in place of a vertical front dart)?

      Delete
    4. Instead of the regular bust dart. Oh, and if you are sticking with your original sloper, in addition to the adjustment to compensate for that high shoulder it looks as though she also needs a narrow shoulder adjustment in your front pattern piece. Love that you are exploring the wide world of fitting others!

      Delete
  4. I have no clue about fittings, but I love what you have done so far, and I love the silk fabric. I think it will look very elegant and chic. I remember my mother wearing similar dresses and some with a fabric tie belt. I have to look up a French dart now.

    Josette

    ReplyDelete
  5. Peter I agree with you that both the front and back should have the darts. She is slim and she wants a fairly close fitting dress. Can't wait to see the finished dress!

    Now I should put on some old Abba cassettes I have someplace..... and more coffee and thread up that serger! It's a stormy day here in the Twin Cities so I won't be mowing the lawn today!
    HolleyM

    ReplyDelete
  6. i can't get the reply to work. I don't think bias will work with that raw silk.. too stiff for it. HolleyM

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do not have a solution to the front fit. However, I have a feeling the front waist darts are not it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. French darts definitely, period- appropriate to the pattern. they are the long curved ones starting at waist level at the side seam, and aiming for the bust point

    ReplyDelete
  9. More bath pix, PLEASE!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My first thought is "Wow, how much does the grey dress picture look like a mid-'90's slip dress?" Etsy has a few of McCall's 7989 from 1995--I had several dresses made from that pattern between 1995 and 1998. The dress in the picture probably is cut on the bias, but instead of the slip straps, has that embellished halter strap, and less fullness in the skirt than the McCall's pattern.

    That being said, it wouldn't work in stiff raw silk, even with trying to cut on the bias. I think you're going in the right direction with the sheath dress shape. Front darts are a must to get the right shape, unless she's going to wear a belt each time she wears the dress. I think there's a whole section in "Fit for Real People" about how to use darts as design elements, including how to change regular darts to french darts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carolyn! I'm just exploring that section of the book now.

      Delete
  11. From my own experience, I agree with others who have written that if the fabric is stiff and does not drape, it will be unsuitable for any garment that is not fitted (regardless of the cut).

    The inspiration dress is a halter dress with french darts in what looks like a light gauzy fabric cut on the bias. I'm wondering if what your SIL liked about the dress was how fitted it was in the bust, yet loose in the hips?

    If the fabric she purchased is truly stiff and unforgiving, then a sheath dress is the way to go. I would always add side bust or french darts, and a total of 4 front darts and 4 back darts (2 on each side) to achieve a great fit and finished look. Your SIL won't have the same looseness in the hips, but I think anything else might hang awkwardly in a stiff fabric.

    You could make a fitted sheath dress as just describe, and then add the halter and backless detail to the neckline/collar.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love all of your work in progress pictures, but the picture of the chihuahua bath totally made my day!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Carolyn is right. It is a slip dress at heart. There is a seam under the bust. There is a set in halter band in the deep vee neckline that is trimmed in a sparkly manner. The sheath appears straight of the grain and looks to have some body to the fabric. The silk Prachee bought may be closer to what she saw in the window than we know. The photo is just so hard to read. I would go with organza underlining in the slip style bodice. The halter need not be a set in band, but a strap around the neck and the trim could complete the look. Fitting an empire skirt to the dress will be a bit easier. Look for a halter dress pattern. That part of the garment is the trickiest here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the assertion that the fabric chosen does not compare with the fabric used in the shop window dress is definitely true. The fabric chosen will have to make a different dress than that. For a nice close fit I would go with princess seams. I was surprised by the sloper I had never seen an A-line one before. Usually they are so closely fitted with no design so that you can perfect fit and then apply your own design elements: volume, seams etc. I am glad you are not feeling abused and your SIL is an easy going gal!

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are a very brave man if you are really going to cut into that beautiful silk Peter. The inspiration dress is pretty simple, I'm sure it would be fairly easy to just find a pattern for it, unless you absolutely insist on going through all this trouble? Maybe Burda 7643 might be close enough, only as others have already mentioned silk is way too stiff for this kind of a drapey dress. My suggestion is that your lovely SIL gets a different kind of a fabric for the inspiration dress, and you save that gorgeous silk for the next project you are going to make for her. There, now ur in trouble, ha!
    Good luck, can't wait to see the end result!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have not a single clue about the fitting issues but I would like to be adopted into your family so that you would have somebody else to sew for - obviously this is entirely selfless on my part!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This has nothing to do with the SIL dress (though the SIL herself looks very happy in her toile), but I have to speak out. You corrupted me! There I was, content with my plastic computerised sewing machine that I had aspired to: modern = good. I found you, read a bit, looked at photos of vintage machines to try and understand the point, read more, and now here I am with my staggeringly beautiful Elna Supermatic trying to work out what all the discs do. It's your fault. Thank you...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell me about it Kate....I was happy with my expensive, persnickedy Elna until I started reading this blog.

      Delete
  18. Why don't you use the McCall's pattern - it is the perfect shape and will look amazing in the dupion, just adjust the neckline to suit?

    I would be wary of trying to make a straight style from an Aline pattern, as simply removing the flare from the side seam can affect the skirt hang. (The flare usually isn't just at the side seam on an Aline, especially if there are no waist darts.) In saying that, I do think you could make the new slip pattern work.

    I would avoid using the Simplicity, those belted ones are generally quite loose. That's a French dart on that one by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Peter, the A-line sheath is a great option. French darts, being on the bias (curved or less so) are more suitable to heavier fabrics, and are flattering. I adore late 60's into mid-seventies style (with kick though). I have a little pile of vintage sheath patterns. And made 1 a while ago, from a pattern from France. Will tweak it soon, and make another. Great in linen, or linen-like fabrics, add a jacket, and go. No airline hostess outfits for me, though. Cathie, in wet Quebec.

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's crazy that the dress in the window closely corresponds to what seems to be a lingerie pattern. We're so shameless these days :) No wonder the previous generation sigh at young people so much.

    ReplyDelete
  21. did women really wear bloomers like those shown in your etsy pattern?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow, so many different thoughts on this. I like the new etsy pattern, and it is very close. I'm all about not reinventing wheels.

    I would also like to tell you a story. About three years ago a client came to me with a piece of vintage raw silk that her mother bought in Pakistan in the 60s - a beautful jewel tone green that was only 36" wide. She wanted a classic sheath, figuring there wasn't enough fabric for more than that. I washed and dried the fabric to soften it up, and I pressed it well. The dress ended up being a princess seam sheath with an added little detail. From the meagre scraps that were left over after cutting, I was able to cut three little godets and insert them into the centre back and two side back seams to give the dress a flirty little swing. She LOVED it!

    I love the bath picture and wish I had a chihuahua to bathe.

    ReplyDelete
  23. See those drag lines pointing towards SIL's right shoulder in the photo of the dress after you've taken in the sides? Unless she's not standing straight, that shoulder is squarer than the other (very common with women, thanks to shoulder bags, etc). You'll definitely want to consult Fit for Real People about adjusting.

    She's so cute! That gray will be fabulous on her.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hmm.. so I'm looking at the company website: http://lucaluca.com/collection/gallery/resort-2011/ page 2 has two versions of this dress. It looks to me like maybe a linen or linen/silk blend, fairly light weight. I'm also not sure there is a seam under the bust - though if I were recreating the silhouette for myself I would add one.

    Anyway, looking forward to what you come up with. The silk is lovely, but it looks maybe better suited to a more fitted style or a jacket or something. However, your SIL is slim, so it might work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that dress looks a whole lot better on the mannequin than it does on the model!

      Thanks for the link!

      Delete
  25. Thank you for the dog bath picture!

    From the photographs the two fabrics are incompatible as stand-ins for one another (analogous to you modeling Cathy's clothes, or she yours).

    The Luca Luca dress is a fluid and drapey woven.

    Your SIL's silk screams for a fitted tank sheath (narrowing slightly toward the knees). Wide straps showcasing the vertical grain, and smartly contrasting the cool grey atop her warm flesh. Plus, no shoulder adjustments needed with a strappy dress.

    Consider channeling your inner-Dartzilla, and showcasing her nipped midsection without apology. I find narrow/shallow darts finish off better at the ends. Without out a belt, the style lines would be longer, and the SIL would appear taller (making you both a hero and a magician).

    ReplyDelete
  26. Watching this with interest. I want to understand just how the block will be used to fine tune the pattern you use. I have never completely understood how that is done. Is this where the "art" of sewing, rather than the "science" comes into the equation?

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think that Style pattern is a winner--looking forward to seeing it made up in the silk.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh I so hope you make SIL the dress she wanted instead of the futzy Doris Day Jackie-O Audrey Hepburn TCM late night movies sheath on your dressform. She is way too pretty, lovely figure, to be encased in all that fabric.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails