Vintage Sewing

Rachel Red Lips vs. Pattern Making

August 23, 2010
Good morning, seamsters! Rachel Red Lips here with a little sneak peek of my recent sewing venture. Have any of you dabbled in pattern making? I recently started a class and have been completely enchanted with drafting my very own retro inspired dress. First, I sketched out a basic dress on a croqui, but I added a sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice, and adjusted it to meet at my true waist with a semi-full circle skirt.
The actual pattern making required a lot of mathematics (something I haven’t done much of since high school) and while I made my fair share of mistakes, the second draft of my bodice looked like this…
Basic Dress Bodice
Instead of using a muslin, I made the dress out of this canary yellow vintage fabric I thrifted months ago. I gathered the skirt (only the front is shown), added a facing to the bodice, sewed darts, sewed my straps, and then…well, to put it plainly, I got stuck. My front and back bodice pieces don’t match up and my darts go too far beyond the apex. But, it’s totally okay! I am completely prepared to trouble shoot with my teacher and am excited to see how tweaking my pattern will result in a better dress. I’m still going to finish this little yellow number though… 
Dress made from my first pattern
Basic Dress...
Little Ocean Annie
My plan is to add ruffles onto the bodice inspired by this pretty vintage dress! What do you think? Can I pull off a canary yellow dress with ruffles? A little too girly, or just right? Either way, I’m excited to see the finished result! 


The above dress was modeled by me for the little ocean annie vintage shop.
  1. Its really girly!~! Nice try.. I haven got to drafting my own patterns for clothing.. One day, I might.. Have fun!~!

  2. Hi It will end up looking lovely. When you look at your pattern the bust darts are obviously not meeting… that would be your first clue … the two darts should both 'point' to the apex of the bust. So obvious when you know…. I haven't drafted anything for years! I had a beautiful same colour yellow dress with a sweetheart neckline but the bodice was rushed … I loved it.
    Good luck. Sofie

  3. I took two pattern making classes last winter and spring: draping and then flat pattern. To me, draping is the easier way to go because you get everything all worked out before transferring to paper.

    Are you making full size or quarter-size patterns?

    Are you taking the class through a college? I'm just surprised that your teacher would allow you to make such a complex dress your first time out instead of helping you learn the foundation stuff before moving on. This isn't a "basic dress" even though it looks like it should be simple (no sleeves, etc.).

    Anyway, I, too, am enchanted with the possibilities associated with being able to make my own retro-inspired patterns.

  4. Hi Rachel,

    Did you measure the side seams of the front and back flat before going ahead and sewing it up? Also one of the benefits of making a muslin (other than checking for grain) is that you can write on your muslin — unless you wanted to write on your dress draft. I usually double check my flat pattern drafting with a muslin, and it helps that you can write on it. Good luck with your project!


  5. I want to take a pattern class! I am taking a construction class…good start to understand why I do what I do when following a pattern. Can hardly wait to see what you come up with!

  6. Hi there,
    What a cute, little dress! I make my own patterns and teach pattern drafting. Did you measure the side seam of the front with the dart closed? This will give you the measurement the side back needs to be. Your darts should both end at/ near the apex, as you are aware. Also, your waist dart looks a little small and would sit neater if it was vertical. This dart should end about an inch or so under the bustline and the point of the bust dart should always end on the bustline- I don't see the bustline on your pattern. It would benefit you to work with the balance lines, if you haven't been doing so.

    Hope this helps,


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