Tailor made – dress form

Made to measure dress form neckline

It is quite a process to create a dress form that follows the contours of your body exactly. I have developed a fast and easy method that does not include duct tape or plaster casts.

Made to measure dressform

It is not for the feint hearted, to be faced with your body from the outside, all its lumps and bumps is quite distressing at first. Having been slim and lithe for most of my life, middle age is definitely spreading. However, once that shock is over, it gives an opportunity to really assess the body in terms of what I want to enhance and what I want to hide.

made to measure dress form

The dummy in this picture is not straight on mostly because I feel rather exposed showing this shape, but you get the drift. I do have some lovely fashion fabric to go over the dummy, but I find white is less distracting.

Made to measure arm hole

Having a dress form makes sewing so much easier, you can do alterations without stabbing yourself with pins, and given my sway back, I can ensure that the back sits perfectly.

The whole process took me approximately two days to do, but it is worthwhile… it really is key to getting good fitting garments.

 

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Burda Skirt 6834 – perfect for hourglass, curvy girls and sway backs!

 

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Home fires will be back on our screens soon – I love the show and quietly  coveted the beautifully fitted wool suits the ladies of the WI wore – so this was the inspiration behind this skirt. I wanted to challenge myself to make a really fitted garment without using stretch fabric.

I am an hourglass – while it might be the ideal body shape, it tests fitting skills to the max! Not only is there a 6 inch difference between my waist and hip measurement, but being short the height between waist and full hip is only 4 inches! If you think about an hourglass it is a rounded shape, so it not just goes in at the sides but also the front and back – so a sway back is part of the challenge (not to mention the rise of the middle aged tummy!).

 

If, like me, you are curvy, the traditional A line skirt ends up with huge deep darts at the back but the six piece skirt, like this pattern, offers more opportunity to accomodate the bulk over six seams – so this is an ideal pattern for curvy ladies!

As you can see from the toile the waist has to be reduced by quite a lot, but each seam can divide the overall reduction – giving a lot of opportunity to refine the shape.

I had to add a few inches at the hip – it is easy to do, just draw a straight of grain line in the centre of the pattern piece and add inches. As long as you do this inside the pattern lines you won’t alter any of the pattern edges so it should all line up.

Burda 6834 toile second fitting

The waistline of the second toile needed some adjustment but you can see that this pattern makes enhances curves! As I am fairly short, I decided to go for a slimmer flute at the bottom.

Burda 6834 skirt

I had this beautiful purple wool fabric in my stash – we are not into summer yet and wool is such a great fabric to wear – it seems to maintain an ambient temperature. I wanted this project to test my fitting abilities – and wool is the ideal choice because you can shape it so easily with steam.

 

The left hand picture shows the skirt seam before it is steamed – I used my dummy to maintain my shape as I gently held my steam iron about 4 inches away. Then using a pressing cloth to gently work from the seam outwards- look how beautifully the seam lays open – but also because you can stretch and shape the wool – it hugs the body nicely.

In order to avoid the ‘librarian’ look I wanted my skirt to be a bit edgy, so this embroidery design by urban threads was ideal. The top left is the design on white, but when I tried it as a sample on the fabric the black was not enough of a contrast to do the embroidery justice, so I used lime green!

Burda 6834 lining

My first lining fabric was a nightmare I chose it because it was fushia pink and made a great contrast but  it was way to flimsy and ended up fraying so I had to completely rip it out and re-do the lining. I had this lovely weighty oyster polyester silk which complemented the skirt nicely I decided to end the lining at the straight edge rather than the frill. I hand stitched it between the skirt facing, (while watching England play Wales in the Rugby) again on the tailor dummy to maintain the shape. Hand stitching gives you so much control – I am addicted to it. Years ago I avoided it – wrestling with my machine to get the fabric under the foot. Then unpicking it because the seam was off – now it is just a case of placing a stitch exactly where I want it and no unpicking!

 

I love my fancy machine stitches and never find much use for them – so it was nice to use a patterned stitch at the edge of the lining.(top right)  I made little chain tacks using in soft cotton Perle it holds the lining in place but allows for some movement. I also embroidered a tiny loop for my top closure using buttonhole stitch – my hand embroidery skills come in useful! It is these tiny details that give me such satisfaction. I don’t want my sewing to be the same as a shop bought skirt – I want it to be better! These details have mostly disappeared as clothing is made as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I love my skirt – it was a painstaking effort in all it took me three weekends to make but it was worth it. The lining slips around beautifully and it is so warm and figure hugging – I could never buy the same fit, I am just too oddly shaped!

The fitting took a lot of time but that was the challenge of this exercise and I have my toile to make more skirts!

I would recommend this pattern – its the first time I used a Burda pattern – having learned a few couture techniques I thought wrongly that Burda patterns did not include a seam allowance, but they have changed.  I think Burda have some great styles and the instructions are straight forward, although I have to admit, I didn’t follow them!

ttfn x

 

 

 

 

 

Pattern Adjustment – increasing/decreasing the pattern at the hip / waist.

It is easy to add a few inches to a skirt or dress pattern – especially around the hip area. This pattern illustration is from the Simplicity Sewing book published in 1940! You can see by the right hand of the illustration the garment will wrinkle across the hip or waistline where the fabric is being stretched to fit.

Adding fabric for hips

As much as you might fear cutting into your pattern, this pattern adjustment will make the pattern work for your body shape – If you really struggle to get snipping with your scissors, you can always copy the pattern onto cross and dot paper – and keep the original.

So here is what you do.

Adding fabric for hips 1

2a pattern before adaptation

added seam allowance

2 b pattern after adaptation. Marked in section is filled with additional paper.

Cut down the front and back pieces from the hem to the neckline – then pivot the pattern apart into an inverted ‘v’. It helps if the top gap is small so that the pattern hinges.

Move the pieces apart far enough so that you have the extra space where needed along the hipline  (the dotted line on this pattern)-

Make sure your hip/waist measurement includes seam allowances and 1 cm for ease.

Fill in the gap with paper or discarded tissue from the pattern.

Because you have altered the patten within the pattern outline, the original design will flow correctly.

If you need to decrease the measurements, simply cross over the two edges you snipped with your scissors, by the amount you need to reduce the pattern by.