The Roshni Dress

I have drafted and sewn a dress , without using a commercial pattern ! And it turned out very well,  I think. So well that I feel it deserves a name, so I’m calling it the Roshni Dress.

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I regularly modify and adapt commercial patterns in my sewing for my daughter, but this is possibly the first garment I have  made which involved drafting a basic block, constructing a pattern and sewing it up. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, especially so since I sewed up the final dress without even constructing a trial version, and was fortunately not presented with any nasty surprises . But I would certainly do a muslin the next time. Too risky.

I used the book ‘Metric Pattern Cutting for Childrenswear and Babywear ‘ by Winifred Aldrich. It was published in 1999 and is considered a textbook for students of garment design. I have had this book for about 5 years now, and have used it to make various pattern modifications, like this one – tulip sleeves : the original pattern, Citronille Dorothee , had puffed sleeves.

For this dress, I used my daughter’s measurements, which corresponded mostly to the measurements for a child of 98 cms height as tabulated in the book. I drew the basic bodice block following the instructions in the book, then added 1.5 cm seam allowances to the front pattern piece. For the back , I drew the back opening with a V at the neck and an arched cut-out at the lower part, meeting at a point approximately halfway up the bodice back, and overlapping by 1 cm. I then added seam allowances as before. The arch is connected at its base by an elasticated waistband. The other option would have been to add an invisible zipper , but that would have meant more exposed skin at the lower back when she wears it. I didn’t want the dress to look too sophisticated. She’s still a small girl.

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The skirt was a half-circle, drawn using instructions from the book, but these can be found in lots of other places as well, Pinterest for one –  just calculate the required radius for the given circumference ( i.e. waist measurement),  draw a half-circle using twice the radius measurement, then draw the skirt using the length required. Mark centre front/back on the pattern. Finally add seam and hem allowances . Cut two identical pieces of the pattern for the skirt front and skirt back.

I used a ivory silk-cotton brocade remnant for the bodice and a teal cotton ikat for the skirt. Also some embroidered ribbon left over from another project .The construction was easy , a standard lined bodice with all raw edges hidden in the lining, except for the elasticated waistband incorporated in the back. Skirt and lining were done with French seams because I like things to look neat and tidy on the inside too. And finally bodice and skirt assembly joined together, with the joining seam finished off using my new serger. It really helps to have good tools ! I also did a faced hem for the outer skirt to retain a neat finish , but just went with a rolled hem for the lining. A single button closes the back overlap.

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She loved it ! How did I know ? Because there was absolutely no mention of it not being pink in colour . No questions asked.

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My Japanese sewing, and MMMay ’16 that wasn’t.

It is not easy to come by good paper patterns in India, mainly because so few people seem to sew for a hobby. Many seem to prefer gardening, embroidery, crochet, knitting and painting instead. So when I discovered that I could buy Japanese pattern books online, at least the few that have been translated into English, I enthusiastically bought five of them ! I don’t regret doing it, though- I have sewed at least two patterns each from all the books in the past two years, and plan to sew many more. My favourite remains Sew Chic Kids, perhaps because I have a boy and a girl under eight, and the book has patterns for both upto the age of 10.

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My latest acquisition is Linen Cotton Wool Kids. I actually bought the book for the crossover back top , which I sewed up some weeks ago in a size 2 . I used a lace overlay for the front, bias binding for neck and armholes, and a button and loop closure for the back. Here she is wearing the top with a tiered skirt from Sew Chic Kids in size 2 again, posing next to her friend and confidante from the neighbourhood. What I also love about this picture ( besides it being a beautiful childhood memory ) is that her little friend is also wearing a handmade dress. Her mother was inspired by my daughter’s handmade wardrobe to start sewing for her child. That makes me very happy indeed.

P.S. The original photo does have her face in it : I had to crop it here to maintain privacy)

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I signed up for Me Made May , and didn’t do any documenting of handmades being worn. I now realise I sew much less for myself than I used to , and am not quite unselfconscious enough to document it on my blog. I started reading some wonderful blogs as a result of following the MMMay ’16 Pinterest board , however. One of them was Mom Das’ blog. A lady with an amazing sense of style and exuberant talent. I marvelled at her handmade outfits chronicled daily on her blog and Pinterest during the month of May. Maybe by next May I will have sewn more for myself and worked up the courage to post photos too!

The story of ‘the dress that goes all the way down’

This dress was commissioned by my daughter, all of three years and 8 months, for a wedding we were due to attend. She wanted a dress that goes ‘all the way down’ ( to the floor ).  I looked at a few dresses on my Pinterest inspiration page  and eventually settled for a simple bodice dress with a long lace skirt. For the bodice I used a small piece of a brocade type fabric that a friend had donated a while ago, added some woven trim in front, and rickrack on neck and armholes for a Indo-Western fusion kind of look.  The lace was also from my fabric collection, originally bought to make myself a kurta. I have since realised that it was probably never going to happen ( the making of the kurta, that is).


I used the size 3 bodice from New Look 6767 for this dress, a pattern which I have in sizes ½ to 4 years. I altered the bodice creating a v-neck , and narrower shoulders by taking off about 3 cms  from the armhole edge of the shoulders. This gives it a more formal look, suitable for a special occasion. The skirt was two pieces of fabric each 60 cms long , hemmed to length after trying the dress on. I also put some matching flower buttons on the back just for that extra touch.(The back closure is a hook and loop one).


I am still marvelling over the fact was that my three-year-old daughter actually requested a particular style for the first time, probably something she observed at the last wedding we attended ( a month ago ) where a lot of young girls were wearing similarly styled dresses.  She’s started following fashion trends! A thought both amusing and mildly alarming at the same time.


The photo bombing attempt by big brother obviously has no effect on her composure!

Pattern review : McCall’s M5966

This dress was made when she was not yet three, and unused for a while because it was too big for her . It’s still too big , falling off her shoulders almost, but getting shorter at the hem, so it has been put into her regular wardrobe.From this experience and others, I have found that McCall’s patterns seem to run large in sizing, but I’ll come to that later.

The pattern features a gathered skirt, crossover bodice with three sleeve options, and a back zipper opening. I changed it up a bit inspired by the Library Dress from O & S.

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I made a size 2, redrafting the bodice with a front waistband cut separately and attached with flat piping and lined on the inside for a smooth finish. I didn’t realise the bodice was going to be so wide, or I would definitely have redrafted the shoulders as well. My favourite part of the pattern, the very unusual tulip-shaped puffed sleeves , don’t show as well as they should have,  because of the wide shoulders.

 

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Coming to my little rant about McCall’s patterns – I am most certainly not the first person to discover this, but it is rather disappointing when a pattern has to be altered drastically to fit the child, despite her conforming to  the correct size measurements on the pattern envelope. This pattern for example, M 5966: The size 2  is obviously too wide , at least 1.5 inches off, on my three year old who fits perfectly into size 3 clothing otherwise. Oh, well. I like the crossover front and sleeve options on the pattern, and the next time I think I will use a basic bodice from my favourite New Look 6767 to achieve a better fit.

2016 sewing

imageSo I neglected my blog for more than a year, and then my teenager revamped it for me, so I am back to blogging. I never stopped sewing though. Most of my sewing is documented in my Flickr album, though there are garments that never made it there either. Generally because they were worn as soon as they left the sewing machine, never photographed while being worn, and then unfit to be photographed because they were in the laundry basket! And too wrinkly after they came out of the laundry , ha ha.

I think I may have to do another post about 2015 sewing.

My favourite project so far in 2016 is my modification of an Oliver and S pattern, the swing set top. I had seen dresses in the Flickr group which were created by lengthening the top to dress length. I wanted a tiered look instead, inspired by this dress on Pinterest.

I started with the size 2 bodice, and shortened the flounce part of the original top by 50%. I then cut two long rectangular fabric pieces  the same height as the shortened top tier ( original flounce pattern piece). Widths were calculated as 1.5 times the width of the previous tier, to allow for moderate gathers. I didn’t want too much fullness in the skirt. I cut the shoulder straps longer in an effort to make the armholes more roomy, this may or may not have been a mistake, as they keep slipping off occasionally when she wears the dress. Finally added some delicate white lace trim at the bottom hem for a overall ‘boho chic’ look.  We love it!

Sewing Classic Clothes for Girls

A line dress size 4 for a friend’s daughter

Sweet Dress as 2nd birthday dress . It was too big for her.

A line dress size 2 . This is a good fit.

I recently purchased this book from an online bookseller. It has lots of reviews on Amazon so I won’t go into detail. Suffice to say that it is a good book to have with basic patterns that can be modified to make lots of different looks.  Some of the details like armholes which are too wide , need adjusting to personal preference, but on the whole the patterns are a great fit. I made a few dresses from the A-line pattern, and also the Sweet Dress pattern , which is essentially a basic bodice dress. This one incidentally is rather generously sized.