Anyone following this blog for a while will have noticed that I’m fairly selfish sewist, no doubt. Oh, I have plans to make garments for all the people I love most in the world, but with limited sewing time and limited funds I tend to prioritise clothes for myself.
But Daisy often compliments me on my new makes and asks if I can make her something too, so when she picked out this fabric on our pre-Christmas shopping trip to Rose Crafts, I offered to make it into a skirt or dress for her. After Christmas, naturally. I wasn’t that crazy!
And so we got to March, and Daisy reminded me again, and we decided a dress would be a good idea. In fact, what she wanted was a facsimile of her favourite dress. A very old John Lewis pink jersey dress, shown in the pic on the right. She’s been wearing it for a couple of years now but it fits really well and seems to have more growing room. I had a good look at how it was constructed and decided I could probably have a go. After all, how hard could it be? #famouslastwords
In a Nutshell:
A cute jersey dress in a dark floral pattern. This is so Daisy, and it fits her perfectly! It’s become her new favourite dress. It also counts for my #dressmakingbloggerchallenge for March (Springtime theme) what with that floral pattern. Are dark florals spring-like? Okay, I don’t care. It’s floral, and that’s good enough for me.
No pattern purchased! But a hell of a long time spent tracing out the dress onto scrap paper, then drawing up the pattern and truing all the seams. Yeah, if I charged an hourly rate it would definitely be cheaper to buy a pattern. That said, with Daisy’s typical Downs Syndrome proportions (narrow, rounded shoulders, short arms and legs, round tummy) it can be hard to find regular patterns that fit, even with extensive alterations. Sometimes it’s just easier to start from scratch, or from something I know that fits, like this dress 🙂
The dress is made of jersey with short sleeves. There are yokes front and back, and the skirt section is gathered to the yoke at the centre front and back.
A very shifty, fluid, lightweight jersey from Rose Crafts in Midsomer Norton. I forgot to look at the fabric content but judging from its considerable four-way stretch and amazing drape I’m guessing it has a high elastane and viscose content. Beautifully soft to wear and an absolute bugger to sew!
I also used some of the black cotton lycra (that colour not currently in stock, but the same fabric as this) from Girl Charlee UK as the inner yoke pieces. I could have used the main fabric but it would have meant piecing them, and I thought the more stable cotton lycra would help give the dress fabric more structure and make it easier to sew. I was right 🙂
New skills learnt:
This is the first time I’ve ever made a pattern from an existing garment. I picked up a few skills from watching the beginning of the Craftsy class, Pattern Drafting from Ready to Wear, and the rest was just common sense. It helped that I’d recently made a garment with a yoke, though!
The original dress features some kind of ruffle along the front seam between the yoke and skirt. I couldn’t work out how this was constructed without taking the dress apart, and Daisy wasn’t bothered about it being included. She also wasn’t bothered about me adding the patch pockets like the original, which was handy as I didn’t think this stretchy, lightweight fabric could have coped with them.
The original dress is gathered at the back and pleated at the front. I went for gathers front and back as it seemed like the easier option.
The final change I made from the original was to add an inner yoke to the front as well as the back. I thought it would help me with hiding the top of the gathered skirt section (it did), as well as making the yoke more stable to sew and to help it hold its shape with the weight of the skirt pulling down on it.
I was making it up as I went along as far as construction went, but luckily I’ve made plenty of knit dresses now so I had a fair idea of a good sequence. I started out with the gathering stitches for the skirt pieces and the tops of the sleeves, and then basted the skirts to the yokes (outer first, then inner) before stitching them with the overlocker. I then basted the outer and inner yokes together at the shoulders, so from this point on I was dealing with just a front and a back dress section. The rest was constructed like any other tee shirt dress, as I set the sleeves in flat and then sewed the side seams.
I finished off the neckband and the bottom of the yoke with a line of very narrow zig-zag topstitching, and did my now standard zig-zag hems (width 2.5, length 2). Luckily enough the fabric behaved itself quite well for this, although I doubt I’d be saying that if I hadn’t been using my walking foot.
Time taken: 2hr 30mins (not including pattern making and fabric cutting)
I love this dress, and even better, so does Daisy! Here’s photographic proof:
I honestly can’t believe how well this dress came together! Yes, the fabric was a bit of a nightmare to work with (cutting especially) and the pattern drafting gave me a few headaches, but I’m really proud of the finished garment. I’ve now got the courage to go ahead and make my own patterns from favourite items of RTW clothing. It’s easier than you’d think!
Changes for next time:
I’ll definitely be adding a bit of length if Daisy wants me to make this dress again, as this is really more of a tunic length. Also, some flutter sleeves would be nice for summer.
Fabric: £7 per metre (as far as I remember). Used 80cm, so approximately £5.60
Total cost: £5.60
What a bargain! I think I’ll have to be doing more of my own drafting in future. If I can spare the time…
One last pic for luck:
Anyone else ever tried copying a RTW garment? Or would you consider giving it a go?