Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Making of a Dress Part Two: Piecing

the making of a dress piecing

Yesterday I kicked off this The Making of a Dress mini series by telling you about how I come up with the design. Today I’ll show you how I come up with the pattern pieces. If you’re wanting a more in depth tutorial, check out this post over at Kojo Designs for how to make your own sewing blocks.

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Yesterday I drew out what I thought my pattern pieces should look like. The challenge then became translating those little drawings into something that would actually fit my body. I was doing this at a time when there wasn’t anyone around to help with measurements, so instead I used a dress that fits me well as my sizing guide.

sketch for patterning

The first step was figuring out where the lines of the new dress would line up with those of the current dress. As you can see in the picture above, I figured out where the shape of the yoke and the gathering line for the body of the dress would be.

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Then, using freezer paper (it was the best pattern making material I had on hand and I have a HUGE roll of it), I sketched the width of the shoulder straps and the shape of the yoke.

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I cut out my rough shape and laid it on the dress to see if the sizing was what it needed to be.

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I then needed to make it so the pattern piece would be symmetrical (my rough drawing definitely wasn’t), so I folded it in half and traced around it, leaving an extra 1/4” for seam allowances. And then I had my front pattern piece. I did the same thing for the back.

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(Excuse the ugly stained carpet and toys in the background. Just some real life sewing!)

The body of the dress was a lot easier to sketch out. As I explained yesterday, I added a slight curve to the hem of the front in order to allow for extra space in the dress for my belly.

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Here are all my pattern pieces cut out. Makes me happy!

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Then I pinned and cut the fabric. As I was looking at the material, I realized that I had planned to cut the body of the dress a little wider than I needed it to be. I didn’t want the gathered fabric to become too bulky, so I just moved the pattern piece in by about 1.5” on the fold.

So far in the sewing process, I’m happy with how it’s coming together. The steps I laid out for myself are working as I hoped they would and the pieces are coming together well. Hopefully it continues this way and the dress actually fits! I always get frustrated when I take this type of care and attention to detail yet miscalculate something.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Hey Jill - quick question, what kind of paper do you use to make your pattern pieces? I just used newspaper for my last one but I figured there might be something better out there. Do you get it at the fabric store? Thanks!

  2. Hey Kelly! I just used freezer paper this time. Other times I've used computer paper or butcher paper or whatever I have on hand. I have yet to actually try out papers made for patterns. A friend of mine was telling me that she bought a huge roll of patterning material/paper or something at a quilt or sewing machine store (she said the name of the store and I wasn't too familiar with it). I'm guessing Joann's has something?

  3. The stuff Joann's carries is call Do-Sew. It's with the interfacings and is expensive. Freezer paper makes more sense!


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