Friday, 25 November 2011

The Joan Process Dress, and how to draft darts on a dressform

One of the main reasons I was inspired to start sewing was my inability to get the clothes I wanted that fit me. the sort of dresses I had in mind were very fitted and brightly coloured and vintage in character. Lets face it, like pretty much every one else on the planet, I wanted to be Joan Holloway. She just wears such a stunning selection of fabulous form fitting clothes in gorgeous jewel tones.

Of course, being me, despite sewing, I have still not made anything remotely like this. Until now! When out with Hannah I picked up some lovely bright blue jersey (called Process Blue in the Pantone system apparently)  to have a stab at a Joan dress. 

The pattern I am using is one that I found in a bulk ebay order a while ago-in my size! Woman W400, a slim fitted dress for knits. I was particularly drawn to it as the lady has it in such a bright green. 

After my slightly disastrous prewashing, I cut out the pieces. I have bought a lot so that I can recut the front bodice if it all goes wrong. I cut out the skirt, back and sleeves as the pattern, but added 3 inches of length to the back bodice, as getting the waist in the right place is always worth checking.

Now I hate FBAs. They always seems to end up more trouble than they are worth, you faff and faff and it fits just as badly when you are done (this may just be me!). Luckily it can be all much more straightforward if you cut out the middle process and just fit on your body or a dress form. To do this, I extended parts of the pattern for the front before I cut it out. I added a little bit on at the waist (as I don't wear a corset) and then 1.5 inches at sides level with the bust (the amount the width was too small plus a bit) and added an additional3 inches to the length (in addition to the 3 inches for the overall length change as I did on the back). (If you zoom in on the image here you will be able to see what I did (the orange notes were reminders for me of how much I added)

I then sewed the shoulder seams to the back and put it on my dress form. Shapely no?

To be clear at this point, I have put the bodice on the correct way round, as I am making a pattern piece off this. If I am just going to sew it up, if I am doing a refashion for example, or its all going to be very fiddly, I put it on inside out, and then once you have pinned everything you can just sew it up.

I pinned the side seams at the bottom and top, leaving the bit that might be a side dart loose. I then assessed the back and arm hole bits to see if the rest fits. The back on mine is a little bunchy, and the arm hole is folding oddly, so will need to be included in the dart to take the excess out.

I then just pinched out the extra material to make the side dart. I am just trying to remove the excess from the extra length of the material at the side where it doesn't have to go over any boob. I am being careful here because it is a stretch material. As you can see I have pulled out some of the excess in the arm pit area and hence adjusted the bit at the top of the side seam I pinned at the start. (if you make big adjustments to this area remember so you can make corresponding changes to the sleeve). Pin along the seam, but use a pin to note where you want the point of the dart to end.

Do the same on the other side, it doesn't have to be exactly the same, but it should look the same on the body. If you are doing a muslin you can just do half and then repeat on the pattern. If you are not, you need to match the bust points and the direction of the dart so it doesn't look wonky. 
The area below the bust is still all baggy as you no longer need at the width of  material at this point. 

Pin the middle of the bodice so that it doesn't slip around. 

Then just pinch out the dart as you need. 

Once you have done both sides, you need to mark on where the waistband should be. Some people  mark the waist on the dress form but I find it more useful to have the markings on the outside of the clothes I am making.  I have a big piece of elastic that I just use like a belt so I can see how it will sit on the body. 
Once you have all this, mark on your lines with chalk, or baste along the seams if easier. 

Then take it off and unpin it, and lay your fabric over the paper pattern piece. Poke through with a pin along all the seams and then when you remove the fabric, you will have pin marks in the paper you can join together to mark your darts on the pattern. 

Now I just have to sew up the darts and then move on to the rest of the dress!

No comments:

Post a Comment