Monday, May 7, 2012

My first dress - German Dress

With Brandon's help I created my first SCA dress this last week. We used the corset pattern generator as the starting point. Then went on to making the bodice pattern.

Things we learned:
1) make sure that the strap widths are the same for front and back. Kind of a duh, but we were following the bodice pattern pics and one look thinner than the other. So I ended up with one thinner than the other, but able to hide it by tucking the thinner one inside the thicker one and then sewed them together. This is hidden by the guard overlapping the straps.

2) muslin is nice for a mock-up, but even with interfacing, isn't stiff enough. Need to use a good solid broadcloth for the inner lining.

3) make sure that your pattern designer is adding in seam allowances for you. This became more of an issue across the breasts. We had cut an extra inch where the hook and eye were to be sewn in but there's a section where the fabric is flattening my boobs and there is no support. I don't mind wearing a bra underneath, but would like to build the support in the dress and don't need them flattened. ;-)

The inspiration for the dress I was following is here (I had saved it from her previous website and all the pics worked, have had a harder time getting all the pics to show up with the new site, so look at these - not step by step on how to make is all). We ended up with a more square neckline, for the next one, I'm going with a rounded neckline. I think it will be easier for doing the guards (the black bits around the neckline and down the front).

So while I used the actual bodice piece that I had made to make the guard pieces I still ran into a problem around the curve of the neckline getting it to lay flat. I ended up with extra fabric and at 3am my solution was to cut a line in it and seam that down, after taking out some of the extra. I'm also new to putting in hook and eye tape. I was able to sew with the machine the hook part, but had to hand sew the loop. I would have liked a little less visibility of the this part.

Brandon used a standard sleeve design for the dress. After getting them in, found that I had extra fabric in the front. I didn't have time to take them back out and fix the fit, so went with what I had. Without a chemise on the length of the sleeve was fine. With the chemise on, they oddly shrunk. So, since I have plenty of the wool from the guard, I can lengthen the sleeves with that and not have it look too odd.

Brandon had one idea for the skirt and I was following the fullness of the blue and she had lots of pleats. I think she was using wool and I'm using a linen/cotton blend and I guess I don't need the weight. I thought that the skirt might turn out short, so I added on a strip of the wool to the bottom, but didn't have time to hem it. Turns out that it was long enough and so I had a lot of extra length. I ended up sitting down and hemming the front and Dawn-Marie did a quick hem of the back to get me through the rest of the day. Its a bit long, but I liked that it didn't hike up when I sat down.

The inspiration dress has a gap in the skirt so that its easier to put on and Brandon's idea was to use the hook and eye tape to keep it closed. We thought we had it so that they would be hidden but that didn't work out as well as intended. I'm going to take it out and sew it shut. I can get the dress on just fine over my head.

So yes, I'm very hypercritical of everything and not giving myself much credit for creating a dress without a real pattern. Yes, we created the Green Gates of Hell dress without one, but not a lot of form fitting to that.


  1. I think it looks great! The tip about using a fabric that isn't muslin is really good. Could be why my dresses aren't as crisp as I'd like.

  2. I'm slouching a bit, so doesn't show off the dress to its best. Really, with the next dress I have a yard of broadcloth set aside. That stuff is sturdy! Brandon made a pair of pants out of it and I'm having a heck of a time not having it come out of the washer and dryer all stiff and wrinkly. So it will get the interfacing and see if it will become more 'supportive'. ;-)