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.



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.


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.


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





Collecting Sewing Books

Since I began this blog, I have found out that a fellow sewist has a blog in Northern England with the same title , but she specializes in historical costumes, so there should be no confusion.

I had intended to begin with a round up of all my variations on Citronille Rose, a versatile yoked tunic pattern  for 3-24 months sizes.  Since I haven’t photographed all of them yet, I will instead list some of the sewing books I have accumulated over the years.

Flipkart,  Infibeam  and other online bookstores have dramatically improved my chances of access to internationally published sewing books , including some Japanese titles . 10 years ago I could never have dreamt of owning  the books I own today. My sewing library now holds, among others, the following titles:

Metric Pattern Cutting  for children’s wear and baby wear by Winifred Aldrich – a really good book with useful sizing charts  and plenty of information on drafting al kinds of children’s clothing. It describes how to draft basic slopers and then modify them. I tend to use the drafting instructions to modify commercial patterns that I already have( New Look 6767, my current staple) , for example the petal sleeves on this dress, and the wrap style of this one.

ShirtMaking By David Coffin –  Also a very good book, but sometimes a bit rambling and conversational in style. I was already making a lot of shirts , so I bought this book for some help with collar and cuff sewing techniques. Unfortunately the  information is in a scattered manner, so I can’t just flip to  ‘cuffs’ or ‘collar’  when I need help. But there is a lot of information in there.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids by Ruriko Yamada   – a Japanese book recently brought out in English as well.  Very good basic kids patterns with lots of variations, 100-130 cms heights. The good thing about Japanese patterns is that they match Asian sizing better than U.S. patterns like Simplicity . I made my three year old son the size 100cm pants from this book and they fit perfectly.

I also own a few others , some not so useful. ( I tend to read reviews by other bloggers before venturing on buying a book; but occasionally a review has misled . Buying ‘The Art of Manipulating Fabric’  by  Colette Wolff was , for my needs, at least, a waste of money.   I won’t be using all those techniques described in almost clinical detail.Maybe I’ll review the book in detail another time. )