Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Pattern Sizing

Help Not Following Pattern Directions

January 24, 2012

So… I want to make Simplicity 3503. It looks like this:

I want to make the lovely halter dress down here in the left hand corner. Only… I don’t want to use knit material as the pattern dictates. Rather, I have this really lovely vintage cotton-blend fabric that has a pattern along one edge (which would be the bottom of the skirt).

Anyone got any suggestions for converting a knits fabric-based pattern into a non-knits fabric-based pattern? Should I cut one size bigger? Am I total fool?

  1. In this case I would definitely do a test run, I hesitate to call it a “wearable muslin”…………………………….. in an inexpensive fabric in a similar weight as your vintage fabric………………………… just to work the bugs out.

  2. I think you should do as Maggie J suggests and make a muslin first and plan on a zip. Also note your bias, a lot of knits dresses are cut on the bias, so the drape and look of the dress will be different if you’re looking to use a woven fabric on the straight of grain.

  3. How about adding elastic shirring to the back? It’s actually remarkable simple to do if you’ve never tried it and would give you some flexibility with the fit.

  4. I would probably look for a new pattern to use for fit and then combine the two. That’s a not-uncommon silhouette for woven fabrics. You could definitely find something like the tunic dress in the lower right and then meld it with the sleeves from your knit pattern.

  5. I’ve made this exact dress in a woven and it worked out great. I actually cut my regular size (because I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize it was for knits until I couldn’t figure out where the zipper was supposed to go, lol) and the fit was fine. But if in doubt, cut larger seam allowances.
    I love the idea of shirring the back of the halter!

  6. I’m with Cathy. I’m all about changing patterns and doing with them as you like, but when it comes to fabric guidelines, those are a pretty big deal. It’s not generally something you mess with. There’s a reason they suggest knit…the whole pattern is cut differently than it would be with a woven. I second the suggestion that you find a similar pattern designed for wovens (which shouldn’t be difficult).

    I wouldn’t say that one can never change a pattern from knit to woven, but if you have to ask how to do it, you’re probably not ready for the attempt.

  7. Go for it! The muslin sounds like a very good idea, you don’t want to mess up your vintage fabric.
    You may find that the neckline will gape in a woven fabric. Try a technique called stays or otherwise sew a suitable elastic underneath (though that might be a bit bulky). The stay technique is about achieving a gathering of a hem without showing that it was gathered. You may want to refer to a couture sewing book for help on that.
    But basically: if you don’t try you don’t know. It is much better to try and figure out why something did not work (or actually did, you never know) than live timidly and never figure anything out. I couldn’t imagine anything worse!
    So go for it!

  8. I have this pattern, but have not used it yet. So all this advice is helpful. I often make garments from patterns that indicate they are for knits, with linen and cottons. Always works out. I too, love the idea of shirring in the back of the dress. I shirr a lot. Don’t space the rows too close together or use too many rows or the dress may fit tighter than you want. My rule of thumb is to us the presser foot width for spacing. Depending on the color of your fabric, black or white elastic thread for the bobbin is easy to get at places like Joannes.

  9. Another thing to think about is the drape of your fabric. If your cotton is quilting-cotton weight, it will absolutely not look the same as the picture. In a woven I’d look for a rayon/silk/poly blend that puddles to get this look. The cotton will still be nice – but more of a 60s/70s vibe – which you might be going for anyway ;).

    If the knit pattern fit well, I’d definitely be going up a size or two and adding a zipper for a woven. But I find patterns tend to put in a lot of ease that isn’t shown on the envelope, which may be why other commenters haven’t had a problem. When I’m knitting things (so more stretch than most knit fabrics), I can go anywhere from -2 to -10 inches of ease depending on the fibre content. For wovens you need +1 to +4 inches of ease (depending on the area of the body) just to breathe and bend. Some patterns are very helpful in writing the finished bust, waist, and hip measurements on the pattern.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.