Monday, July 15, 2013

Combining Two Patterns into One Garment

Cotton pique dress made from two sewing patterns
 In sewing magazines I frequently see articles that say it is easy to combine pattern pieces from multiple patterns into a custom garment.  The process is not so easy for beginner and intermediate sewers, in my opinion, so I thought I would present the process on a casual summer dress.

I love the bodice of McCall's 5094 view B. 
McCall's 5094 view B is the photograph in the center of the pattern jacket
I like the full skirt but for this summer dress I prefer the bias cut A line silhouette of New Look 177.

New Look 177 view C has a bias A line skirt (blue stripe dress)
I rough cut the pattern tissue, then dry pressed it.   I align the waist markings of the New Look skirt front with the midriff front piece from McCall's.  The top edges match/line up at center front.  This tells me the two designs are the same length from waist to under bust.  If they did not match, I would need to figure out which height I preferred.  The heights/shapes are different at the side seam but I will correct that later.
align waist markings - front
Lay the New Look skirt back with the McCall's midriff back piece, aligning center back and waist marks.  Height is good though curves of seams do not match.
align waist markings - back
I cut out the New Look skirt front and skirt back on the bias.  The bias will influence the empire waist seam so that is why I did not fuss too much with the shape of the seam in previous steps.  I added one inch to the waist seam to allow for future reshaping.  I added one inch to the length.  To be safe this step could be done in muslin rather than fashion fabric.  I want this to be a quick project and I have experience with this skirt so I am comfortable using fashion fabric which happens to be inexpensive cotton.
cut skirt with an extra inch at the top and bottom
To fit the dress, I need to know where the waist is.  The pattern tissue indicated the location so I thread trace it onto the skirt front and skirt back.
Mark waist location with contrast thread
Now I'll fit correct with draping.  If you don't have a dress form, you could find a friend to help drape on you.  I cut the bodice front and bodice back out of muslin because I expect a fit problem.  The bodice front is pinned on the form.  The pattern indicates the bust center, so I am sure to align the muslin matching this point.  Center front is also aligned.  I see a gap along the curved neckline.  If I don't correct the gap, the bodice will hang away from my body which is not good fit.
fit bodice front; note the gap along the neckline curve
I pin out the gap.  Now the bodice front fits well.  I'll fold out 1/2" on the pattern tissue as pinned.
pin out the neckline gap
The side seam is aligned well so the bodice front is the correct circumference.
side seam is sitting in correct location
The bodice back looks great so I know that is the correct circumference and there is no gapping.
bodice back fits smoothly; no change needed
The skirt panels are draped with the bodice muslin.  This is how I will correct the empire waist seam shape.  The black thread tracing is aligned with the waist of the dress form.  I fold down the extra 1" plus the 5/8" seam allowance.  The muslin bodice front and the fashion fabric skirt align perfectly under the bust so I will not reshape the front empire seam. 
drape skirt front with bodice front muslin
The back drapes similar to the front.  I will not reshape these seams either.  In the photo below you see a bit of loose fabric at the small of the back.  The fabric may lay better once the back empire seam is sewn, and again it may not.  To improve the fit here, I could add a center back seam and reshape the panel with a sway back adjustment.  I want this dress to be simple and quick construction so I opt to leave the loose fabric alone.
drape skirt back with bodice back muslin
The dress is stitched up in a couple hours.  The bodice is self fabric lined, and the skirt is unlined.  I'm happy with the result.  You may see a few wrinkles in the finished garment because I was happy enough with the dress to wear it out prior to photographing it!
For a simple dress, the front is nicely shaped.  The bodice has attractive curves and gathers.  It frames the face nicely.  The skirt lays smoothly over the abdomen and is neither tight nor flowing.
The dress back is fine.  The "loose" issue at the small of the back is not a problem.  While the garment is not molded to the back, it lays smoothly and attractively.  The navy cotton pique is a looser weave and perhaps that is why the navy dress molded closer to the back and the skirt hem rolled attractively.
Navy cotton pique; bias skirt shapes itself nicely

Bias skirt molds to the lower back
Thanks for reading.  What a wonderful summer this has been for sewing and gardening!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there Ann,

    Thank you so much for showing the process you went through to achieve your own dress style.

    I particularly like the blue dress, but I am sure you look equally fabulous in both.

    I am in the process of cutting out a silk charmeuse evening dress, and wonder if you have any tips you may be able to share? I am using tissue to stabilize the liquid gold whilst I am cutting it...............The dress will not be lined as it needs to be very fluid; Vintage Vogue 2241, I would love to know how you would go about sewing this little number??
    Kindest regards,