Friday, 21 December 2018

Shirtdresses and ramblings about fitting sleeves

Long-time readers will know that I draft a lot of my own patterns, and that's exactly what I did with these two shirtdresses.  But the big thing with these is the fit of the sleeves.



I've never really been happy with the fit of my self-drafted sleeves.  The problem was the fit of the bodice around the underarms verses the width of the sleeve around the bicep.  Then I remembered a Kenneth D King video I saw once on the interwebs, and a bit of googling found it.  It's from the Threads Magazine website, and here's the link below:


If this is an issue you have, then I urge to you to spend 4 minutes 42 seconds watching this video - you won't be disappointed!  Basically, the amazing Kenneth points out that fitting sleeves is similar to fitting trousers.  The lower the crotch/underarm - then the wider the thigh/bicep needs to be.

Armed (see what I did there!) with this info, I raised the underarm on my block, and it worked like a charm!  I also found another great Threads Magazine video on how to alter the pattern, and this is also worth taking 11 minutes 7 seconds of your life to watch.


The first dress I made was the red tartan dress.  I can't remember where I got this fabric, it's been in my stash for a while, but it was something cheap and cheerful.  And we all know that both red and tartan are a neutral, so this dress is practically beige.  I was delighted with the fit, so then decided to slice into the good stuff.



Note the tartan matching at the centre back :)

The fabric for the black dress is from Minerva Crafts, and is called Mayfair Crepe.  I have previously made this dress from it, and also this blouse.  This fabric is gorgeous, but I always iron it from the wrong side, as it can get a bit shiney.  The inspiration for the shirtdress was this amazing dress from Coco Fennell.


I love that embroidered collar so much, but sadly don't have an embroidery machine - and apologies to anybody who knows me in real life that has had to listen to me waffle on about that!  I liked the idea of having roses on the collar, and found these rose patches on the My Fabrics website, which I hand-sewed on.

 

The tartan dress has a side zip, and I couldn't be bothered to add a pocket.  So I thought I'd get fancy on the black dress, and add a zip to the centre back so I could have pockets.  So, that's a centre back zip in a dress with a shirt collar.  Spoiler: if you feel like trying this - don't!!!
 
Here's what I did 
  • Sewed a few inches of the top of the bodice centre back
  • Attached it to the bodice front at the shoulders
  • Attached the collar and facing  
Then I basted in an invisible zip, and unpicked it - twice.  I just couldn't get the waist seam to line up on both sides, and think the trouble was the already sewn seam at the top of the zip, as it left no room for error.  At this point dress and zip spent a week sitting in the sewing room considering their behaviour...   I ended up using a normal zip; it's not my best work, but it will do. 


You can hopefully see what I mean in the above photo, there's a small seam between the top of the zip and the bottom of the collar, and the zip then extended below the waist seam.  Combined with the functioning buttons on the front, it makes the dress really easy to put on/take off; but it's not worth the hassle to sew.  The sensible thing would have been to make the back of the collar in two parts, and have a zip right up to the top.  Learn from my mistakes kids!!



Pockets!!
I love how both dresses have turned out, and the fit and movement in the sleeves is amazing.

 
  
Merry Christmas to everybody, I hope Santa is good to you, and I'll be back soon with my 2019 Make Nine plans.

Lynne

12 comments:

  1. Fabulous information, thank you! Sleeves are my downfall, so this is fascinating.

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    1. Thank you! And good luck with sorting out your sleeves.

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  2. Wonderful dresses. Glad to have the info on sleeve fitting! Always love your blog and your work!
    Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thanks Lori! I was so pleased when I found all this info, because it makes so much sense to me. Merry Christmas!

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  3. They are both beautiful dresses! As some one who always has trouble with sleeves, the videos you mention are so useful. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Debbie! Sleeves have to be the trickiest thing to fit - so many variables!

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  4. I watched that back zip go in, then out again, and back in - so glad you got in the right place in the end.

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    1. Thank you Ruth!! And thank you once again for all the moral support!!!!

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  5. I love shirt dresses. So impressed that you drafted them yourself and hats off to you for perfecting those sleeves. Thanks for the video tip, too. Will defo check that out :-)

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    1. Thanks Janene! I can't express how pleased I am with the fit of these sleeves - it's the little things!!

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  6. I am in total awe of your sewing Lynne. You should enter the Sewing Bee!

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  7. Thanks Helen!! Some of my local sewing pals wanted me to apply for the new series, but I could never do it! My nerves would be shattered!!

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Thank you for reading my blog! I love reading your comments, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have the time :) Lynne.