Sunday, April 15, 2012

Copying and fitting the pattern -- Meema's dress, the continuing adventure

I heard about the plastic-wrap method of pattern making forever ago -- but I'm not sure where, so I can't give credit where credit is due.   I think it was in a forum or a magazine tips section or something along those lines.

Anyhow -- the plastic-wrap method of pattern making is just what it sounds like.  You take the item to be copied, in this case Meema's dress, pin on some plastic wrap and trace the seams with a permanent marker.   (Be very careful you have a lot of margin.  You don't want to accidentally draw on the dress)  Then pull it off, lay it down on tissue paper (maybe mark seam allowances...) cut it out, and presto!   pattern!    This was my first time trying this one out, and I have to say it was one of the easiest transfers I've ever done.

<--  flat pattern for side front bodice

in progress -->
front bodice and sleeve

As you can see from the resulting pattern, the bodice front and back merges into the sleeve.   Eventually, this may lead to some interesting color blocking and becomes more visible during the fitting.  

Anyhow, the straight part at the top is the shoulder, the edge opposite the neckline is the sleeve hole, the next one is the bottom seam from armpit to sleeve edge  and then the fourth edge goes across the side back/front pieces.

Between the original dress being just slightly too large for me and what I think were overly generous seam allowances, the first version was far and away too big.   I ended up taking an inch off the shoulders to raise the bust points to the correct location, about two inches out of the center back, an inch or so off each side and 'invisible darts' from the front and back neckline to keep the shoulder in place.  Invisible darts go all the way from one edge of the pattern to the other and result in a slight reshape rather than an actual dart.

In the final version of the pattern pieces, you can see the invisable darts and the length I added (post muslins) to the bodice as a whole and to the sleeves.   Not shown in the tissue removed from the back and sides, but those were straight forward crops.)

I didn't bother copying the skirt as its a straight forward full skirt, identical to any number of others already in my pattern collection.

I have the whole thing cut out of black satin (from the stash!  I got it was year to make a choir dress and never quite got around to it) and aim to finish it in the next few days.   I'm singing in a concert on Friday (Beethoven's 9th, so mostly sitting and waiting for the orchestra, but c'est la vie) and I'd like to wear it then.


  1. You make it seem so effortless! Can.t wait to see the finished dress.

  2. So COOL! Fascinating to see the shapes of the pattern pieces. I love the neckline and cap-sleeves on this... hmm, I wonder how hard it would be to copy your copy from the photo of the pattern pieces. Hmm. (Sorry, I have dress fever at the moment.)

    1. I can send you measuremnts if you like, and then you can scale everything to fit.

  3. How interesting - never seen this approach before & it is fascinating looking at the pattern pieces


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