Sunday, 13 December 2009


 So, a report on my Lanvin-"knock-off"-project. Though it's really not a knock-off, but rather a dress inpired by.

I'm now on my second toile for the top with a twisted-shoulder, and on the second one for the skirt-part (I will combine them both into a dress).
I've made more test-versions for other projects, but right now I still feel like I'm drowning in toiles and toile-fabric!

I started off by constructing 1/4-scale patterns and toiles, to save work, since I really didn't know how to construct the twist and how to remove the darts. I decided early to not make a copy of the Lanvin dress, but to instead make the twist-detail much more simple, both because it would be too complicated and time consuming for me to construct (the dress has to be ready in a week!), but also because I wanted the twisted side to be less covered up than it is in the original (lucky me, huh!).

I made the pattern by moving all the darts to one of the shoulders. I had some other ideas first, for example I tried to slice the pattern by using a pattern-magic-wrap-front-method. It looked ok, but this looked better.

First, I drew a new neckline and new sleeve-openings and closed the darts. I moved the shoulder-seam for the twisted shoulder forward a bit, since I wanted to move the twist slightly to the front. That's a simple procedure, you just tape the seam closed, draw a line for a new seam and cut along that line instead. Voila, the seam has a new position!

 This is the back-piece during the process of moving the darts. I've drawn a construction-line from one of the waist-darts to the opposite shoulder, a method I found in Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin, from 1942. I want that book! At the moment I read it online, at Vintage Sewing.Info.

I love the illustrations, they show the principles of quite complicated pattern-alterations in a very clear way.

I cheated a bit in the back, I didn't get all the darts to open and close perfectly, but it didn't matter since my basic sloper is a bit too rounded in the back (I have to fix that) due to the standard dart-width that is too wide for me (same thing with the skirt-front, I've fixed that one now, phew!). So I won't miss the width that got lost in the back-piece due to a slight overlap of the pattern-pieces. And since I will cut the top-part on the bias it will be quite forgiving (and rather a little too tight than too big).

When I had moved all the darts to the shoulder (in both the back- and the front-piece) I taped them all closed again, taped the front-piece to the backpiece on the shoulder that will end up with the twist, drew a new sleeve-opening that mimiced the shape I want the gathered material to have after I've twisted it.

After cutting off all unwanted paper around the new sleeve-opening and slightly adjusted neckline, I added 1,5 cm's to the "shoulder-strap" to leave room for the twist. The picture is from before I did.

Then, I cut all the moved darts open again. I intentionally distributed the slices evenly along the thin "shoulder-strap". Like this:

Now, when the pattern is finished, there'll be a gather on the shoulder with a twist.

To finish the pattern, I taped the front- and back-pieces onto a new piece of paper, sliced the back-piece a bit more to make the shoulder-width the same as on the front-piece (the darts are bigger in the front-piece since my back is more flat than my front, thank god, so I had to wiggle a bit to make them meet).

Since I'm going to twist the material on the shoulder I had to put the back-piece the other way (mirrored).

This picture shows the pattern before I added the extra bit between the front-and backpiece, before I opened all the darts, and on the right after it's finished (the first version).
So, toile-time! The first one needed quite a few changes:

The cap-sleeve is way too wide. It should look almost like a shift-dress-sleeve. There's too much width across the back, and too much material around the twisted sleeve-opening. The neckline is too high. The shoulder seam on the cap-sleeve-side is too high next to the neck.
(And yes, I did pull that tummy in in the pictures from the side, oh, wait until after christmas, there'll be no naked-tummy-pic's then!)

Attempt two:

Combined with the skirt from a pattern-magic-dress. In the final version I will use a more simple skirt, from my basic dress-sloper.
There's still too much width around the back, and the cap-sleeve is still a bit too wide. The front neckline is nice, though the neck is still a bit too high in the back. I'm not too fuzzy about achieving a perfect fit in this toile though, since the final verison will be in black wool, that both drapes better and hides imperfections better than cheap cotton.

I've transferred all the changes to the pattern today and was going to cut it in the real material, and now I can't find it! I bought about five meters of fine, black wool this spring (we're talking bulk here, it shouldn't be able to hide from me!) and now it's just gone. I have a faint memory of stuffing it in the attic before my parents came to visit earlier this autumn, but I couldn't find it there earlier today. I'll just have to get my butt upstairs and turn my attic-store-room upside-down...

I will find strength in the memory of sunlight on the flowers in my kitchen this morning (I've decorated for christmas, I've put my advent star up in the kitchen-window, and planted/bought loads of christmas-flowers, I love it!).

I normally keep the light in the star off during the day, I just switched it on for you guys to see...:-)

My favourite flowers for christmas are Amaryllises, Hellebores, Hyacinths and Lily-of-the Vallies (three of them are in the picture, the forth in my fridge, waiting to be planted), so I was very pleased to read in the paper today that they´re in fact also the most economical flowers to buy around christmas, since you can make them bloom again next year, or plant them in the garden in spring.

Just my kind of logic. First please me, then please the masses (and save me from having to throw you away)!

Speaking of economy, I've almost convinced myself that I must buy a Babylock Evolve Wave serger. I've realised that I NEEEEED a serger, and after looking into the market I've moved from planning to buy a simple, used one to realising that I need one of the most expensive ones for home-sewers... gosh. But it's simply too much better than the other ones, and it's hand made in Japan.

I'm a sucker for things that are hand made in Japan and that's the argument that really gets me convinced, even though I'll have to get a second mortgage to buy one, because I know that it's probably just as much better quality as it's more expensive than the other brands. And I'm SO tired of buying new things. I want them to last forever, be it in the garden or in my sewing-room...


  1. This is so interesting! Pattern-altering seems really intimidating and I love seeing how other people go at it, and how a project evolves.

    As for sergers (or overlockers, as we call them in australia!) they are really useful for specific things, ie. no more thread mess on the inside of your creations! I totally recommend getting a new one, because although I can fix my sewing machine if anything goes wrong, my overlocker has to go straight to the shop. They are so complex! Rather have one that is fresh out of the box and ready to go. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for your comments on my blog! The 2000€ serger sounds exciting...but, gosh, 2000€! I didn't even know they made sergers for home-sewers that expensive. And partially hand-made? How strange! I didn't know anyone partially handmade sergers. I'm not ready for a serger yet, although I'd love one. Hey, and I researched this Adele Margolis book. It seems very comprehensive for its price. Maybe I'll give it a try. I still can't decide. By the way, as I was researching her book I found an obituary of her. She died only this year in November at age 100!!! You can read about her here, if you are interested: She seems to have been a very interesting woman!

  3. Enken: Go for it! Pattern-alteration is about the most fun and revolutionary thing you can learn abut sewing, in my humble opinion (I have SO much to learn!). And thanks for informing me about the serger/overlocker. We call them overlockers too, and I learned how to speak proper english in Oz (I went to Hight school on the Mornington Peninsula for a year), so I will call them overlockers from now on :-).

    Stephanie: Sweden is quite expensive... they may be a bit cheaper in other countries. But I was surprised to learn that the Baby Lock-machines are partially hand made in Japan, it should be used more in the promotion I think. I was told in the shop where I went to research overlock-machines.
    And thanks for the link about Ms Margolis! How interesting, I like her books even more after reading about it, such a good role-model...

  4. It should obvioulsy be "about HER" in the last sentence...


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