This is potentially a controversial thing to say, but do you ever look at the plethora of sewing patterns out there and think, "that looks incredibly similar to x pattern, it just has longer sleeves," or "that is basically the same pattern as x". And then, take a step back and think, "well unless you're going all out nutty with a design made solely for the catwalk, I'd be tempted to assert that there are a finite number of silhouettes and style lines and so there is always a chance of repetition or similarity". And then the angel on my shoulder chimes in that as with everything the devil is, of course, in the detail. Mixing metaphors much.
In the case of patterns and sewing, in the design detail and finish.
This is basically a long preamble to show you a dress I'm super proud of as I drafted it from scratch. I started drafting it around the same time I was drawing up my culottes, liking the idea of a form-following but loose, fairly casual dress, with a full-length front opening and tank-esque bodice. I didn't want a waist seam which means double-ended darts both front and back and my well-documented loathing of bias meant I wanted to try drafting facings.
This is what I came up with:
That looks like this when made up:
Look familiar? Well I had just finished my first muslin when the May issue of Seamwork came out and yep, Adelaide. Frustrated, I screwed up the (poorly fitting) muslin, went back to my culottes and debated with myself as to whether I should just make life easy and print off Adelaide to use with my scrummy chambray.
I looked at the design of Adelaide more closely and whilst there are similarities: the shape of the bodice, the straps, the double ended darts, the front opening, there are also a lot of differences.
Adelaide uses bias to finish the neck and armholes, is shorter, has less of a tulip shape to the skirt, and does not have front darts; using a belt to cinch the waist in at the front instead. So, whilst I will definitely make Adelaide at some point as it's a lovely looking design, I concluded that the dress I actually wanted right now was the one of my own design. Plus I had spent ages drafting it.
But it did make me wonder how often that happens and how on earth it is that the Big 4 and Burda manage to come up with new designs each season (and more). And if they really do actually always find new designs ...?
Aaaanyway, let's get to the dress. I've decided to call it the Rose Dress. (It's pink, my brother lives in Rose Bay. In Australia. See what I did there...?)
I made a couple of muslins and had some major ease issues (as always), and this was supposed to be a wearable muslin but I like the fabric so much (although I had in my mind it is a faded red rather than blatant all out pink) that I decided to pay a bit more attention to it. That said, I did have some issues with the waist darts, making them too big and creating wrinkles around the waist. This was easily solved, although there are still some stitch marks visible from all the unpicking. You can just about see some of the remaining holes in the picture below.
I stitched the darts, joined the shoulders and did the same on the facing; attached the facing at neckline and armholes, understitched it as far as I could and then pulled the dress right side out through the straps. I then sewed the sideseams and facings in one long seam. Then it was just a matter of interfacing the button bands and banging in those snaps. It's the first time I've used snaps and it was heaps of fun, although I think I went a bit nuts with the hammering, annoying my husband and waking my children in the process (the perils of nighttime sewing in a bijou NY apartment) and some of them are prone to popping open at less than ideal moments (the snaps not the husband or children). All the seams and facing edges are overlocked - I even changed the thread colour for the first time ever!
One of the reasons I used facing rather than binding is that I like the clean finish around the neckline and armholes. I do like topstitching and used it to secure the button bands, but often I prefer a clean neckline on a dress.
You can see above, for some unfathomable reason I drafted the front facing two inches too short so I had to add a bit to it. A bodge job, but preferable to wasting that fabric (cut from an old dress) and cutting out a new one for a small seam that no-one other than me will see.
The chambray is from Mood and fairly lightweight and beautifully soft but clearly not red. It's still a little warm for me to wear in this glorious heat and creases. Oh it creases.
Adjustments I need to make to the pattern:
- Make the front of the facing longer so that it reaches centre front.
- Make the rear facing deeper so that it holds in place better and doesn't poke out under my arms.
- Fiddle with the darts a little more as they are still a little big I think and causing a bit of wrinkling.
- Not hammer the snaps so hard when inserting them.
All-in-all I'm really pleased with this, despite it not being quite as original as I thought. And I will make Adelaide as I like this style and it will be interesting to see how it looks in comparison.
What do you think about the similarity of patterns on the market? With the growing number of indie suppliers, how does one designer differentiate themselves from another and what makes you choose one pattern over another that is similar?
See you soon x