Friday, February 24, 2012

Dress Patterns for Beginners: Easy to Fit and Sew

McCall's 3129 This is the third part in a series on easy to sew dress patterns. This post looks at a princess pattern that can be easily fit using gingham. The second pattern has mock sleeves for a fast and easy to sew dress style.

In locating dress patterns for curvey fit or larger sizes, McCall's 3129 shown above is a princess dress style that has a great 'fit and flare' silhouette. It skims the upper body, then flares out. If you want a short sleeves, you can have that too.

Don't let the fact that this dress style has four main pattern pieces (front, side front, back, side back) stop you. Once you machine baste those pieces together, have a fitting and you will notice how nicely the final fit can be achieved.

Fitting sample? If you really want to know: Woven, cotton gingham check is the preferred fabric to use when making a fitting sample. It is the easiest way to see if the grain line falls straight, that horizontals aren't crooked and that your pattern pieces are balanced.

Fitting? Make it easy by adding to the dress pattern seam allowances at the side and back seam lines to equal 1" (+ 3/8"). That way you can play with the extra fabric if you need it. Once you get a good fit, go back and make marks on your paper pattern that match your new seamlines. This way your paper pattern can be used again.

Fabric fitting pattern:
step 1: Add to pattern seam allowances so that side and back seams = 1" wide.
step 2: Use gingham for the fitting garment.
step 3: Cut only the dress, don't include facings or zipper.
step 4: Machine baste in the largest machine stitch using contrast color thread.
step 5: Wearing best bra and shoes, have a friend make the alterations. They can see the back, you can't.
step 6: After alterations are complete, remove dress and use pencil to mark the stitch line or pin line. Add horizontal marks on both sides of the seam line, so you know where to match up the pieces when you sew them together again.
step 7: Transfer the alterations back onto your paper pattern and add a new 5/8" seam allowance.
You could press your fabric pattern and use that. If you plan to do this, be sure fabric has been pre-shrunk. Also take care not to pull this fabric pattern off grain. Usually it's easiest to trace a new pattern from the fabric fitting pieces and add back the 5/8" seam allowances.
Butterick 5211Looking for something easier to fit and sew? With only two main pattern pieces (front and back), Butterick 5211 is easy to lay out, cut and sew. It is a nice summer look with a mock sleeves. This is a tunic dress that can be belted too. The extended shoulder make the sleeve look a breeze to sew (it's just a wider shoulder seam line). There is a 'key hole' slit in back, rather than a zipper. A zipper could be added instead.

When choosing your fabric, both of these dresses will make up in simple woven summer fabrics very easily. The princess seam line style should have patterns of moderate size or smaller, so that the pieces don't cut up the print. The tunic dress would be great for larger, graphic or abstract prints.

I hope this series has helped you find the dress pattern that best combines your sewing ability and figure type. With the right combination, sewing a dress can be easy to do!

Here are a few more blog posts that also talk about sewing dresses:

7 Best Sheath Dress Patterns with Vintage Style: Easy to Sew

9 Best Dress Patterns for Beginners: Easy to Sew

6 Easy to Sew Shift Dresses

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a beginner looking for a first pattern. Thank you, I'll be using the tunic dress.