Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Copycat Experiment

I shall never buy dresses again. All pictures were taken by my coworker, Will.

Okay, so I love thrift store shopping. Who doesn't, right? Dig through piles of crap and find something awesome for cheap. Well last time I went shopping with Amanda I actually did buy a dress.

Okay, real talk here, guys, I want to be buried in this dress. I have never loved a dress like I love this dress. And you know I love dresses. I mean, first of all, look at it. I'm adorable. It's got the cool purple pattern, it looks like stained glass windows. I refer to it as my stained glass dress. Everything about the cut and the fit just flatters every part of me, no matter how fat or unattractive I feel that day. I always feel adorable in this dress. I never want to take it off. (I'm aware the boots don't match, I was wearing a different outfit that day and the boots were meant to go with that, I changed into this for picture taking purposes. You'll understand in a moment.)

Then a horrible thought occurred to me. What if I stain it? It's a dark dress so small chance of that. But still. What if I tear it? Or wear it out since I want to just wear it forever? I cannot be without this dress, I need the ability to make more. So I decided to try to copy it. I sew fairly well, I think, I can do that. However, I was not willing to take it apart to make a pattern for it because I was not going to risk this dress on my ability to put it back together.

So, basically what I did was I laid this dress on the floor, laid paper over top, and then traced the pieces of the dress by feeling the seams through the paper. It got tricky, especially on the skirt where I could feel the seams of the panels on the other side, which confused me. But I used my tape measure to make sure that the pieces I traced matched up with the pieces of the dress, and managed to come up with a fairly reasonable approximation of the pieces this dress is assembled of. I ended up just freehanding a pattern for the sleeve, because there was just no way to trace that. Luckily I'm familiar with what the shape of a sleeve pattern looks like, and I planned to be working in super stretchy jersey, that would forgive me for small imperfections.  I cut out my fabric, sewed it together and this is what I got:

I'm pretty pleased with it. I made a slight style change on the sleeve, there are slits down the top of the sleeve that are held closed at the top, center, and bottom with some custom fabric covered buttons I made. The intention was for this dress to be more summery than the others. (This is why the brown boots. They still don't look great, but it was February, it's still cold out.) There was a couple of things I learned, first of all, the bottom band on the skirt. On the original dress it's cut curved, like the bottom of a circle skirt. On mine it's just a straight rectangle. It doesn't look bad or anything, it just makes a difference in the way the dress moves. The copycat filled with air in the breeze and would billow outwards. The original didn't hold the air and was more likely to flap like a flag. Again, neither is bad, it's just different. Also I think that the front yoke of my copycat is slightly narrower. Not a big deal. I also learned that the panels that make up the dress vary greatly in length from front to back, which made it necessary to trim and slant the tops a bit. I also need to adjust the width of the tops so that they line up with how big around the yoke is. I had to make these adjustments on the fly as I sewed it together.

 I'm going to make this dress one more time just to try and get it even better than this. The shaping of the panels is very important to make sure the dress sits correctly, although like I said before, the jersey is very forgiving. I recently discovered the idea of making a pattern from an existing garment by covering each piece in painter's tape, then pulling that off and tracing it, so I might try that and make a whole new pattern for my second go round. The panel shaping is so important, and even though I'm thrilled with my copycat, I still think I can do better.

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