Friday, November 4, 2011

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday

With today's post, I'm killing two birds with one stone. The sewing group that I belong to, The Haute Couture Club of Chicago, is having the first challenge tomorrow and it's a red challenge. We can make anything we want, but it must be a garment. This dress was on my list of rectangle garments that I wanted to include in Free Pattern Friday series. Since I needed to get something together for the challenge and I needed to get something together for the blog, why not do a red dress?

This dress is a series of 4 rectangles.

 I found the velvet covered beads that matched the fabric perfectly, so rather than do a draw string around the neck, I pleated the neckline and put the necklace cord through the fabric.
 At center back I added a clasp so that I can get in and out of the dress.

For the belt, I made 3 tubes and then braided them. If you do this dress and decide to do the same belt, remember to make the tubes longer than you would like. The braiding takes up quite a bit of length. You can always cut off some of the length if it's too long. You'll have to do it over if it's too short.

After I braided the tubes and determined how long I would like for them to be, I sewed across the end of the braiding. To finish off the ends, I used a velvet bead, a crystal and a small glass bead

and attached the 3 beads to the end of the cords.
To make this dress, you will want to use a two-way stretch knit.
Measure your hips and add two inches for ease.
Measure the length of your skirt from your waist to your finished length.
So if your hips are 38 inches and your finished skirt length is 40 (remember to add for your hem and seam allowance at your waist) you will cut a rectangle 40" (38" plus 2" for ease) by approximately 42". The extra two inches allows for a half inch seam allowance at your waist and a 1 1/2"  hem allowance.

Under the top panels is another rectangle that will go around the bust area and extends to the waist. Basically, you will be making a tube type top here. You will need your bust measurement. To your bust measurement add an inch for ease. The length will be from just above your bust to your waist. Around the top of this piece I added an 1 1/2" for my elastic. You will also want to add for your seam allowance at your waistline. So if your bust measurement is 36 and the length from above your bust to your waist is 12", your rectangle will measure 37" (36" plus 1" for ease) wide and the length will be 14" (12" plus 1 1/2" for elastic plus 1/2" for the waistline seam allowance).
In the above picture you can see the front and back panels have been pulled down so that you can see the portion that goes over the bust. To determine the size of the panels, the length of the front panel should be about 1 1/2" down from the bottom of your neck to your waistline. Remember to add seam allowance to this measurement. The back panel measurement will from the bottom of your neck to your waistline plus seam allowance. Now, if you want to add a necklace type closure, you will only need to add another half inch to your measurement. All I did was turn under the raw edge. I will tell you though that it will be much easier to add a casing and do a drawstring around the neckline, not as pretty, but easier . In order to determine the length of my beads, I needed the help of my husband and even then we ended up losing some of the beads in the process. It was a little touch and go there for a while (thankfully, he loves me). If you decide on a casing, you will want to add another inch to your measurement. An inch will give you plenty of room for your casing to thread through. For the width of the front and back panels, I cut my panels 1 inch smaller than the panel that goes around the bust area. In my example, that measurement was 37", so using the example, the panels will measure 18" wide, there are two panels and 36 divided by 2 is 18.
Once you have all your pieces cut, sew the center back seam of the skirt and the center back seam of the bust panel. Turn under the side edges of the overlay panels. Now you will want to sew the four pieces together. Lay the two overlay panels over the bust panel and pin them in place. Next, match the skirt to the top pieces. Because your hip measurement is typically larger than your bust measurement, the waistline of your skirt is going to be larger than your top. No problem. Match the center back seams and then divide the top into four equal sections and the skirt into four equal sections. Where the skirt is larger than the top, you will simply pull your fabric as you sew and the pieces will come together nicely.

Once the pieces have been sewn together, take a piece of 1/4" elastic and measure it around your waist so that it feels comfortable. You will want to divide the elastic into 4 equal sections as well as the waist seam. Match the elastic to the waist seam and zigzag in place. You will need to stretch the elastic as you sew it in place.

 Sew in the elastic to the top of your bust panel and zigzag in place.

If you decide to try the necklace finish, all I did was finish off the raw edge and then I pleated the fabric up by hand.

Because I used crystals, I used a metal wire through my beads which I also ran through the pleated area.
At this point, hem your skirt and you are finished.

Tomorrow, I will post a picture of me in this dress as well as the black Vogue dress I posted earlier today. I think it's always nice to see a body in a garment.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'll do my best to answer.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
Last week I gave you a break, this week I'm making you work once again. If any of you are making the patterns, I hope you're enjoying the process.

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  1. Wow, this is really, really nice!!! Love the rich red color too! This is just beautiful!! I do have a question...you mentioned "hand pleating" the front. How did you do this? Can you show instructions for that? Thank you.

  2. I've missed some great posts and means of inspiration. This dress is gorgeous!

  3. Beautiful, love all the details. I am sooo glad you post your pics in your creations it is very helpful and by the way you look great in your clothes. Thank you again.

    1. Hi Jennifer, thank you for the lovely compliment. I noticed that you just joined the blog. So happy to have you, welcome!!

  4. I just 'saw' this. It will make a great prom dress for my youngest child next year.