a blog about my adventures in dressmaking, crochet, knitting and anything else i try to make.

self drafted christmas dress!

yay!  those are words i never thought i would say!

(before you get too deep in to this post, know it’s a long one!)

i went on a bodice drafting class waaaaay back in the summer (remember when it was actually light in the evenings?) at guthrie and ghani after i had a disaster with the bodice of the lilou dress from tilly’s book.  the fit was so off and i’d spent ages hand sewing lining and it just wasn’t fun.

i went along to this course with the best intention of making a bodice block, and in october i had a week off work and made said bodice block!  however i still hadn’t got round to making anything from it UNTIL NOW.

here is my bodice block dress with a gathered skirt in the MOST christmassy fabric – yay!

i decided a little while ago i wanted something pretty cheesy for christmas day, so i tootled off to barrys to have a butchers at their selection.

this is a cotton that was £4.99 per metre.  i got an invisible zip and thread plus 2 1/4 metres of the fabric (room for mistakes) all for £15.

i know i have said many times before that i’m not a novelty print kinda gal, but now i’ve made this i can see why people go for them.  it still doesn’t mean i’ll be a convert, but maybe seasonal related novelty is sitting better with me now.

so, the making of the bodice.

my original bodice block was quite full, in that  it comes right up to the bottom of my throat and the darts go from the shoulders down.  the first thing i did was retrace my paper pattern and move the darts.  then i adjusted the neckline and shoulders into something that more resembled what i was after; a scooped lower neckline and narrower shoulder straps.

i used the paper pattern with the adjustments and cut the pattern out of my fabric (should have used calico!) and put tried it on.  i didn’t expect it to fit perfectly right away but i kinda wanted it to!  i had to remove 5/8ths of an inch from either side of the front centre fold as i had a lot of excess room.   the darts came too far into the middle so i took those back, and also bought a bit more fabric from my under arm into them, as i had some excess around my arm.  i didn’t know if doing that would work, but luckily it did.  strangely i had absolutely no problems with the back, it fit me perfectly right from the first muslin which i was so happy about!  i still am!

i then went onto the calico (i only had enough for one bodice toile from it, boo) and transferred my adjustments over.   this time the block fit MUCH better so i knew i was good to go with my christmas fabric again.  the only think i changed on the final and third version was to raise the underarm hole as my bra was peeping out.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 12.13.18

i wanted to put sleeves on too, but as my arm hole came too far forward (before i raised them a bit on the third and final bodice) it really restricted my movements.  if i’d had more calico to knock up a third muslin before my final fabric then i would have tried again.  however, i didn’t.  that’s okay though.  we always have a family party at our house on christmas day and it gets so hot in the house with all the bodies and all the food cooking that i’m not going to need the sleeves anyway.  you can see from the picture above if you look closely how far forward the arm hole came.

when i bought the fabric i foolishly thought it would be nice and easy because there was no pattern matching to be done… WRONG!  there’s quite clearly a pattern, but i think i’ve done a pretty bang up job of lining it up.

for the skirt i took my waist measurement, halved it and then added it on to the original measurement (so ended up with 1.5x my waist measurement) to get the width for it.  i measured the front of my bodice (it was 18″) so i spread the gathers out until they measured the same as the bodice.  the waist fits fine (with turkey and pigs in blankets eating excess) and it’s not too tight around my hips, but i think when i made another (because i 100% will) i’ll give myself some more fabric in the gathers to accomodate my rear.

i attached the skirt to the bodice, but forgot to baste it foolishly.  it turned out that the join didn’t fit on my natural waist, so i’d like to say i unpicked it, but i just cut my overlocking off.  yep, i’d gone that far!  i think i just got over excited and presumed it would be right.  never mind, raised the join by an inch and re-attatched it.    the skirt was pretty long so i cut about 4 inches off. in hindsight i should have cut less off, but it’s fine with black tights.  it’s winter so it’s not like i’ll be going bare-legged!

i finished the neckline with a facing and the arm holes with bias binding.  it doesn’t match the fabric so i folded it all the way under and top stitched around.

overall i’m really pleased with the dress and i’m so happy that i’ve conquered the bodice block.  i’m looking forward to making another dress using it, but this time with sleeves!

4 Discussions on
“self drafted christmas dress!”
    • thanks jenny! i’m really pleased with it, can’t wait to get started on the next dress.

      the blog is like my new baby, hehe! still got a couple of things to remember to do (like photo layouts!) but i’m getting there!

  • love this! I also have a novelty print Christmas dress and it’s making me want more novelty dress fabric. Glad the block worked out in the end for you it looks really good 🙂

    • thank you! i didn’t think i could be swayed by novelty, but this christmas novelty has captured my heart! it’s a lot of fun to wear and make so i think i know why people love it so much!

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