Monday, March 14, 2011

Procrastination - Burda dress 110

What have I been sewing in the last few weeks? Muslin fitting shells and collars. My sewing buddy T. and I arranged private classes with a favorite instructor on the G Street Fabrics education staff. In the most recent classes we drafted princess line patterns, both armhole and shoulder type, from our darted sloper and fine tuned the fit on multiple muslin shells. We also drafted and draped various styles of collars. The collar activity was a lot of fun and I finally understand the relationship between the shape of collar pattern pieces and the form of the sewn collar. Every drafting and fitting classes I take has resulted in self discovery about my shape and silhouette. Not all of it pleasant or encouraging. For me the alterations I have to make to deal with my asymmetry really bother me. Sometimes it takes me a couple of days and multiple phone calls to T. to come to terms with my discoveries and get the end goal in focus again: well fitted, flattering, custom sewn garments. Our next class assignment is straight from Project Runway. We are to create a design from an inspiration in nature and execute it into a finished garment. On hearing the assignment, I felt panicked, and procrastination mode kicked in. Since we are to be the ultimate model and wearer of the final garment, the instructor recommended a custom croquis for our design sketches. Croquis is French and means simply "sketch". In fashion, the term refers to a quick sketch of a figure with a loose drawing of the clothes that are being designed. This figure is typically 9 heads tall as this is the accepted proportions for fashion illustration. Here is an example.
Real people are typically 7.5 to 8 heads tall. So a custom croquis, made from my own body, would give me a better idea of how a design would look on me. The article "Discover the Best Proportions and Styles for You" in Threads Magazine June/July 2006 (#125) issue has easy to understand instructions on how to make your own croquis. Sorry, I could not find the article online. So one day, when the boys were out of the house, I followed the article's directions. I took pictures of myself in my underwear standing against a white wall, camera set up about 8 feet away on a table at waist height. I took photos of various poses, including the frontal zombie pose, which is good for evaluating your proportions against standard proportions, as well as other poses that were more “fashiony”. I cropped the excess background out of the photos, enlarged them so that my body was about 8 inches high and printed them in portrait mode on regular printer paper; I put tracing paper over the photo and traced the outlines of my body with a fine tip black marker.
Then to test my croquis, I sketched five dress styles I was considering for my next sewing project. Some looked nice, some just okay and some were no way. I’ll let you judge for yourself






I chose one of the more flattering styles to sew. I wanted to see if it would look anything like my croquis sketch. It was the gathered front dress, 110, from the March 2011 issue of Burda Style,
I really wanted to make this dress in light weight stretch linen. Of course I did not have any of that fabric in my stash. The recommended fabric is stretch silk satin. All of the stretch satins I have ever seen are fairly substantial. The fabric in the picture looks like stretch charmeuse to me. This dress really does need to be made from a very thin, soft, stretch fabric because each pattern piece is cut twice from a double layer of fashion fabric, and one set of pieces is used as the lining. And the lining is gathered at the center front and shoulders just as the garment is. The only soft, thin, woven stretch fabric I could find was a mystery fabric from the $2.97/yard table at G Street Fabrics. It was not just stretchy, it was super stretchy. I can run and do high kicks in this dress. Although it was thin, I decided to use the fashion fabric only for the lining in the armhole/neckline area. I added a horizontal seam about 3 inches below the armholes, and made the lining below the seam from nylon tricot. If I had a do over of this dress I would eliminate the gathering at the lining shoulder seam. It makes the shoulders are a bit thick.
This dress has some instructions for less common techniques. The gathering has to be pulled up to specific lengths on the individual garment pieces before sewing the seams on the center front and shoulders . The gathering on the front seam has one section over the bust that has to be gathered tightly to one finished length, but the adjoining section in the waist hip area is loosely gathered to a different length. I was having difficulty fixing the gathering threads so that the gathers stayed at the proper length. I improvised and used what I call "gathering guides". I marked the finished length of the gathers on thin strips of silk organza which I sewed to the gathered sections to hold them in place until I sewed the center front and shoulder seams.
There is a slit in the top of the center front seam that the tie goes through. There are no markings for the slit on the pattern pieces because it is marked after the gathering is done. I searched for marks indicating the location of the slit, thinking I had made a tracing error, before I figured this out.



The directions include a common Burda method for sewing the lining to the arm holes and neck opening of a sleeveless top/dress. It is often illustrated with a picture of a shoulder seam over the handle of a wooden spoon. This method can be hard to figure out from written instructions and can trigger binges of Burda bashing, even from experienced sewists. The method works great, as does a wooden spoon or wooden dowel rod as a pressing aid, if you know how to do it. An alternate method is this one shown in a great tutorial called Lining a sleeveless dress at Stichywitch's blog.

Here is the finished dress. I am in the same pose I used for the croquis. It does look remarkably similar.
That means I probably won’t be making the Vogue dress shown above, even though it uses a neat technique with wired ribbon on the front neckline that I really want to try. If my sketch is accurate, the dress will make me look like a human bowling pin. Sigh. Enough procrastination. I am off to pick a nature inspiration and come up with a garment design before Friday's class.

49 comments:

Amanda S. said...

Well! I am intrigued by your tracings - what a fun idea. LOVE the dress! I totally overlooked this pattern because of the unflattering gathers at the hipline of their example. But, on you it looks flattering and really pretty. I'll have to revisit that magazine. Good job!

Sheila said...

WoW you did an awesome job drawing the sketch. I like the dress on you and wish I had hips to pull off a dress like that. I also like the garment with the half belt.

Rachel said...

That dress is gorgeous!!! It is my favorite pattern from the new Burda. Unfortunately, I dropped my subscription, so I hope this pattern will show up on their webstie for download.

KID, MD said...

Beautiful dress, and it looks absolutely wonderful on you. What fun ideas for design and a great way to try a style before you sew. Thanks for sharing this!

cidell said...

That is pretty cool! I'm going to have to try it. I also love that Patrones trench dress. But, I love all things trench.

The red looks amazing on you. Try not to do those high kicks in public. People might wonder :)

Sewingelle said...

You are so clever to use your croquis in this way. Thanks so much for sharing.

The red dress looks great, too!

SEWN said...

THat's amazing! I have never considered croquis, but now I might have to. It's so cool!

katherine h said...

Fabulous dress. That is the perfect red dress for you!. I love the dress but I am most envious of these classes you are going to. I wish I was going to them with you.I'll have to revisit croquis. I only used a front on stance but I like your idea of standing in more fashiony stances for the photographs.

becki-c said...

Great 'fitting' technique. You look fabulous, even better than you croquis. Its very flattering. If you aren't going to use that Patrones trench dress, I can think of a great home for it. What month is that from?

Rose said...

What a great idea! I like how you can preview the dress styles on your body without going through making a muslin. Thank you for sharing!

Rose in SV

Mary Nanna said...

Beautiful dress, beautiful colour - amazing work.

Shannon said...

This looks great on you! I love it in red, too!

arnysews said...

What a fabulous design tool, the comparison between your drawing and the finished article is nearly identical. As sewers we don't have the opportunity to try before we buy that we have with RTW. I'm definitely going to have a go at this and see if I can decrease my wadder rate.
The red dress is stunning on you, well done, and thanks for the croquis tip.

Maria (viola33) said...

Thank you for such an interesting post. The idea with sketch sounds fun. I personally discovered a lot about my figure and becoming styles since I started sewing and taking photographs of myself.

The dress is gorgeous! Your pattern choice is perfect and the colour is beautiful.

Marie-Christine said...

Very interesting... You're motivating me to pull out my initial try at a croquis, and to start really using it! Much more efficient than putting the finished product on the dressform and going eeeck :-).

You know, you don't have to use a whole pattern just because you like a detail. I'm sure you already have some sort of sheath dress that fits you, and to which you can transfer the neckline and ruffle from the Vogue dress..

Lisa said...

Thankyou for sharing this technique . I really really want to do this now !! Your dress looks gorgeous on you . It is my favourite from that edition . However when I read the instructions it said you had to GLUE a piece onto the main bodice section ?? Did you do this ?

Vicki said...

How interesting! The croquis is a real eye opener. Good choice with the dress your made. It looks really flattering on you. Good luck with your project runway project :)

Karin said...

Red is definitely your colour! You look amazing!

I am sure that the croquis you made must be true because you traced it off a photograph, but I have to say that you in a photo look about 15 lbs thinner than your croquis sketch! Perhaps because the croquis is 2d while the photo is more 3d?

Anonymous said...

That is absolute genius! I am going to make myself a croquis like yours this week! Thanks you very muvh for this blog post.

And, as usual, your dress is GREAT.

Hat

Patty said...

Thanks for such a detailed post. Looks like you are having fun with this! You look fantastic in your new dress :-)

alina said...

Very interesting post. Which prospective dress is your favorite, based on the croquis? I really like how the Mrs. Stylebook dress looks on 'you'.

Isabelle said...

This is a great post! The sketches look so helpful.
I love your choice of dress - was browsing this issue at a newsagent the other day and almost bought it for this pattern. Love your choice of colour, as well - this looks truly fabulous on you!

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Audrey - I actually think you look slimmer IRL than in your croquis. With an actual garment, the fabric and it's drapability, the color and even your stance will affect the way the dress appears. That being said, I think a few of your other dress choices will work just as well for you as this one did...

Which leads to my issues with croquis'. They are a flat depiction of an outfit and can be misleading in how an outfit will actually hang and fit. Sometimes a slight change during the construction process can make a garment work for you that appears unworkable in flat form. This is the basis of my entire wardrobe. I constantly make garments that should not fit my plus size body but with an adjustment or two work well for it.

Personally, I think you would look fantastic in the first Vogue dress...just as amazing as you look in the red one because I don't believe the flat depiction always provides the truest and clearest picture of a garment.

Sorry to be so long winded because this is a very interesting post!

Carole said...

I loved the use of the croquis. I couldn't even bear to look at mine, but you used yours to great effect and have inspired me to try again. Great outcome, great color on you.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

How cool! Love your sketches, and you were right on for this Burda dress. It looks great on you. I really want to see you in that open V neck dress (Mrs. Stylebook I guess?).

Lisa said...

You look wonderful! Love that color on you.

Darci said...

This is a VERY timely post. I've been concerned with making clothes that have the right proportions for my body, too. Luckily, I have the "Threads" archive and was able to find the DIY croquis article quickly. How fun to play "dress up" without sewing first!

I love your red dress, too! I've been thinking about making that dress as well, so your post was very helpful.

Rosy said...

Oh! That's a great idea, take pictures of you to sketch. So have the option to "look" like a dress looks on you.
Good choice, the red dress looks wonderful on you and also very flattering color. Beautiful work!

Bunny said...

This looks really wonderful on you. The red is a great color as well. I think you aced this one. Thanks so much for the review of your technique, very interesting.

Janel said...

I've wanted to do this but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I love it!! Thanks so much for the inspiration. This project just moved to the top of my project list!

I love the red dress. : )

Sandy Huntress said...

Your dress came out fabulous! What a great exercise with the sketches, very educational.

Happy sewing!

Sue said...

Your dress is stunning on you! The colour is fantastic.
Thanks for showing the technique of making a croquis, that's something I need to consider doing.

Gabrielle said...

What a fantastic job you've done with the croquis and with working out what suits - the proof of the pudding is in that red dress, it suits you so, so well. This is a really inspiring post and you can add me to that long list of people who say "I want to try that too!"

gwensews said...

The sketches are wonderful. I would love to try that. Your red dress--amazing!

Cool said...

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing your process. I recently made a similar croquis, and it really helped me eliminate those styles that I really love but don't necessarily love me. My favorite of your drawings is the trench dress. I'd encourage you to try that one next!

Again, thanks so much for sharing your drawings.

Corrine said...

I remember reading the Threads article and thinking I just didn't have time for the croquis process, now I'm thinking I don't have time not to! The dress is beautiful, actually better in person than the sketch would imply. Thanks for sharing.

Sew Passionista said...

This is very intriguing! I must have another look when I get back home from Ottawa. Just heading out to the airport now. But my mind is buzzing with ideas thanks to this post. God bless!

Lisette M said...

That dress is really flattering on you! I think the Vogue dress would work if you did not taper the skirt?

Lauren R. said...

What great information! I was so inspired and wanted so badly to make my own croquis that I ordered the Threads back issue with the article you cited. I can't wait to get it! I am sure your drawing skills also add to how great your croquis look, though. Thanks for posting about this.

vwgrant said...

Lovely results--thank you for sharing your journey. I do the same thing with multiples of "croquis me" on one page to "try on" styles, although I think I need to change my stance to a more fashionable pose like yours.

cmarie12 is so right about the limits of the flat form. It is a starting place and at least it gets you thinking about the possibilities. I've found the same thing--fabric is everything.

I arrived at my croquis by reducing a digital image of me to a black/white line image and saved it in various combinations. 20 of me on a page is rather scary but 4 of me per page is about right to "see" the styles.

Don't give up on Dress #2. Re-sketch those interior seams by moving them in towards CF (enough to break up the "look of thirds".) With the seaming and button spacing tightened up into a "CF column", I see another winner!

High right hip. High left shoulder. Right calf sticking out farther than left. I have similar asymmetry issues to the point of constructing separate L & R pattern pieces (in pants especially)--thank heavens we can sew and arrive at good fit!

Gail said...

In a word, wow! This post is particularly useful for me as I've been asking my artist daughter to drawn a basic me that I can 'try on' clothes. She doesn't get the concept, now she will.

j.kaori said...

First, I love your red dress! Second, I love the idea of drawing a custom croquis --- and clearly it works for helping to identify styles that would be most flattering. Thank you for sharing this great idea.

lakaribane said...

You look like a million bucks!!!

Does that mean you'll do the My Image (photo 3) and the Japanese pattern (Photo 4) next? They look good to me...

I need to do this. Seems like a mistake saver, LOL! Thanks for a great post.

Jules said...

I love your croquis! And very effective, as you picked a dress that is very flattering to you. Off to get hubby to take pictures. . .

claire said...

wow! your red dress looks amazing!

Tia Dia said...

This dress is one of the ones I've broken my back tracing in the last couple of weeks. I love the croquis idea - I remember reading the Threads article and my eyes glazing over because it got so (I thought) technical. But after seeing yours and the sketches this may be something that I should really do. I agree - it may save a lot of wadders!

Lynne said...

What a fabulous idea! I am so inspired to do my own body double for sketching! Thanks for sharing your experience. LOVE the dress, too.

Ginette said...

I'm not a sewer myself :-( I'm a native Spanish speaker Translator ;-) I've compiled a huge list of translated terms that maybe will be of any assistance to Patrones magazine readers? Check the list out, hope you find it useful!

Kim Czariki said...

1st ok 2nd & 3rd awful 4th & 5th both look very flattering 5th the one you chose has a little sexy flare to it. Very good idea. Dress turned out exactly like your sketch. Good job.