04 September, 2010

Self-drafted, with stripes

One centimetre stripes are like a new puppy:  they yank at you, distract you, make you sit up, they beg for your attention.  And, let's face it, who isn't kindly biased towards a puppy?  The key word here is bias, of course.

Late last spring I sprang for a few of the fine merino knits on offer by Fabric Mart - two of them in 1 cm stripes.  And, of course, they were begging me to to make something on the bias.  Ergo, the self-designed dress.

Bias fold, 155 cm tape and 100 cm stick.  Fabric is 150 cm wide.

I started with the above bias fold, then moved the fabric so the near apex of the right triangle hung over the table at the 18" mark (the width of my shoulders).  I rotated the fabric so the folded side (the centre front) was nearly vertical, and, 28" further down, marked 23" width from CF (for hips plus lots of ease:  skim but not cling!), and then cut from that point to the fold at the near end of the table. So, my starting dress block (not counting the folded triangle overhang) was a folded trapezoid, 28" high, 18" at the top and 23" at the bottom.  I sewed (& serged) the vertical edge together, and this became my centre back.  Because of the very different angles of the two sides, there's no way the stripes could be made to match up.
Centre back seam, with armscyes and shoulder seams drawn in.

You can see my original 18" horizontal "shoulder width" high water mark in the pic above.  I used my Jalie 2805 tee for the shape of back neck, shoulders, and armscyes.  The little chalked notches on the shoulder seams mark the theoretical maximum width of the neckline that would ensure full undergarment coverage.

Front, with cowl excess folded out, and armscyes marked.

The centre front is on a perfect bias, you'll note.  At this point, I cut vertical lines in the armscyes, slipped the block on, and marked the chest-arm hinge with pins.  I then referred to the Jalie pattern for front armscyes.  I raised the armscyes (front & back) about 1.5 cm.

Side view: CF at left, CB at right
I then drew the sleeves onto the rest of the fabric:

Since neither sleeve was oriented across the preferred stretch direction (should've been with horizontal stripe, selvedge-to-selvedge) I added a subtle design detail: an under-sleeve 1.5" strip of cross-stripe: 

....did you buy that? really?!  GREAT! to tell the truth, when I sewed the sleeves as drawn, they were too tight; I could put them on, but just barely. I have skinny upper arms but normal elbows and forearms... so I could barely bend my arms.  The "subtle design detail" added much-appreciated freedom of movement.

Ultimately, the shoulder seams were omitted:  the front bias-fold triangle tucks in and forms a  cowl, and the rest of the fabric free-falls on the shoulders.

I used the rest of the fabric to make a long and wide bottom ruffle:

If I get tired of the long dress look, I'll remove the ruffle, turn the dress into a tunic, and wear the ruffle as a scarf :)))

So, this is how I wore it today.  The heat wave is finally over, and I'm loving the feel of wool  on my skin.

Can you tell I'm enjoying each and every nanosecond left in our "true north strong and free" summer?


  1. Me too! We went to the beach yesterday and I rode my bike to a friend's house this morning. I think it's supposed to start raining here in Vancouver in the next day or two.

    Fabulous dress. I would wear that all fall long.

  2. Great use of the stripes. I love your design detail of stripes under the arms!

  3. What fun! Great design and use of the stripe.

  4. You really worked that stripe fabric! Very nice. I love fall. Love.

  5. Very clever! Stripes are a challenge and a reward for sure.

  6. What a lovrly creative piece.It looks gtray and comfy too,So you live in Ottawa?Ie would be interesting to meet up!!