Sunday, 24 March 2019

Making Grace - part 1, the pattern

This is a whole new area for me, making something from an indie, PDF pattern. I now sew mainly from my collection of vintage patterns and, if I do want to make something more contemporary, I'm fortunate (although my bank manager might use another word) to live within easy walking distance of a fabric shop which stocks all the main pattern brands. However when the Sew Over 50 Challenge was launched, almost all of the eligible patterns were from independents - the choice from the Big-4 was woefully small - so I decided it was time to spread my sewing wings a little.

This proved to be easier said than done. I have never really thought of myself as having a particular 'style', but turns out that I do, and most of the patterns suggested for the challenge are not it! I settled on the Grace Dress from Wardrobe By Me. It has got quite a 1970s vibe going, which ties in with my growing (and slightly worrying) love of 1970s Style patterns. The description on the website recommended using a fabric with a lot of drape, and I realized that the stash fabric which I bought on a whim in January, a soft printed viscose, would be perfect - win!

Close-up of the fabric, more below

Purchasing and downloading the pattern was easy. As this was my first time working with a PDF pattern, I really appreciated the 2" and 5cm squares which Wardrobe By Me include on the first page so that you can check that you are printing to the correct size. I was using the A4 option, which prints onto 36 sheets of paper, put together in a six by six formation. Each sheet is clearly numbered, and the instructions show how they should be arranged. The instructions state that there is no need to trim the sheets, but the print came out with a ⅛" margin on each edge. I'm not sure if this was due to me or the pattern, but I had to snip the corners off each sheet in order to see overlap properly. My rows of six sheets were a bit uneven - but that may just be that I'm overly fussy. It did feel like a lot of work, but perhaps it gets quicker the more of these patterns you do. In the end I simplified matters by not sticking all 36 sheets together: instead I made up three separate sections, based on the pattern pieces.

The pattern comes in 13 sizes, but fortunately there are instructions on how to remove any sizes you don't need. I printed it out with two sizes, and made a bodice toile to find out how much length I needed to take out. I also wanted to check neckline after Butterick top debacle. From the toile I realised that I only needed smaller size, but the two sizes had the same line style, so at times it was hard to tell which one to follow to cut the smaller size. (All the other sizes had different line styles, it was just unfortunate that the two I used were the same.)

Showing the line styles for the two sizes

Unless I missed it, the pattern has no cutting layout, so I was glad that drafting my own patterns has given me the experience of working this out efficiently. Also, it took me a while to find the dimensions of the neck tie and waist drawstring in the instructions; they were tucked away in the sizing chart.

The pocket bag pieces didn’t quite match, so I redrafted one of them to match the other. I must admit that this has made me slightly worried about how well the other pieces will fit together, but time (and sewing) will tell.

As well as taking up the bodice, I also lengthened skirt by 2". The only other change I have made was to change the direction of cutting the collar and cuffs to across grain rather than along it. My fabric has a design of birds sitting on branches, and it would look odd if it were used sideways.

The fabric, apologies for the creases!

The background of the fabric has more of a green tinge than is apparent in the photographs, and birds in the print are a strange mix. A few of them are recognizable species, others - I have no idea!

Some of the birds in detail

Everything is cut out now, so the next stage is sewing.

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