Saturday, July 11, 2009

A cautionary tale: Measure twice, cut once (OP Gal)

Last year, I bought this black and white stretch cotton sateen at Kaplan's for a dress. Since it's a border print, I didn't know how much to buy, so the clerk held it up to me and determined how many body widths it would take. Unfortunately, we forgot to take in to consideration the fabric for sleeves, a fact which I realized after I cut out the front and back. I had decided that I had better make this fabric into something this year because the black and white stems and flowers design was hot a couple of years ago, but is in danger of becoming totally dated.
Here's a blurry picture of the front pinned to my dress form:

Here' a picture of the sleeve pattern lying on the fabric I have left:

As you can see, the sleeve head won't even fit on the fabric that's left, so shortening the sleeve won't help. I sent for a swatch of white stretch sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics and from to see if I could use another fabric for the sleeves. That one was too thin and was slightly a creamier shade of white than the original fabric. The swatch was too thin and was whiter than the original fabric. I even called Kaplan's to see if they, for some strange reason had some more fabric languishing on the basement. No such luck. So much for finding another fabric for the sleeves. Making it sleeveless isn't an option. Covering my upper arms in public is my little gift to the world. : ) I guess I could order swatches from every internet source there is that has white cotton sateen, but I that by I'd finished doing that, that print would be totally out of style.

Another problem with the dress is that I decided to use a 1 1/2" facing, turned to the outside for the neck and a band on the sleeve from some black cotton I had. I thought it would give the dress a little punch. I carefully drafted the facing piece by following the line of the neckline and adding 5/8" to each side and allowing 5/8" at the neckline. As you can see in the picture below, the inside of the facing is too large—there is a fold of fabric there. I realized that I needed to eliminate some fabric from the inner side to make the facing hug the body, but I don't know how much smaller to make it. I looked it up in Joseph-Armstrong's pattern drafting book and she had picture of how to draft a facing and said that the inner edge should be 3/8" smaller and had marks 1-1/2" apart, and I couldn't tell from the pictures and text what the 1-1/2' marks meant, and why she decided on 3/8". I can't make the dress anyway, so I guess that issue doesn't matter, although I'd like to know how to do that. Here is a picture of the facing as I cut it:

Here's a picture of the facing on the dress form that shows how there's too much fabric at the inner edge of the facing:

So, I guess it's a wadder. How sad, because I love the fabric and spent a lot of time developing and fitting the pattern. I used a simple A-line dress from my Pattern Master Boutique software, which I really haven't really learned to use yet. I printed out the pattern pieces and made any necessary adjustments the way I would with a regular commercial pattern. A least I can use the pattern to make a dress sometime in the future. I'm not really a dress person, but they say you should always have a day dress in your wardrobe and I don't have one. I haven't checked to see if there’s enough fabric for sleeves in the fabric below what would be the hem of a tunic because I would lose the border effect on the main piece, plus the fact that I think sleeves from that fabric wouldn’t look right next to the white on the upper bodice.
This whole project is a mess, but it can at least serve as lesson. This is what happens to little girls who don't make sure they have enough fabric before they start cutting out pattern pieces. If I'd realized just how much fabric I had, I could have made a tunic or top and would almost certainly had enough fabric to squeeze out a wearable garment.


  1. Can you chop off the border print and add it to a black dress? I wouldn't wade it yet!!! I like the idea of a contrasting collar.

  2. Hmmm... I hadn't thought of that. I could use the same pattern for the black fabric so I'd have the same width to attach it to. Very clever, Jennifer.