The Dirndl Dress: Draped, fitted Bodice with Double French Darts

For the Dirndl Dress, the bodice was draped using a medium weight muslin. Excess fabric was shaped into double French Darts on the side seam of the front fitted bodice. There is a low, U shaped neckline in front. The back neckline is slightly below the regular neckline.

The bodice is sleeveless. I got good results with the outline of the neckline and armhole by putting one of my favorite tank tops on the dress form before draping. I marked the outline of the neck and armhole with pins and then took the tank top off. Style tape was then placed along the outlines where the pins were.

It was a little difficult at first to divide the large amount of fabric into two equal darts. I had to unpin and drape again for the upper dart. I used a purple pencil when trueing the new dart to distinguish it from the previous one.

In general French Darts should be about 1″ apart.

The muslin drape is placed over patternmaking paper dotted every one inch. The center front marking on the drape is matched up to the dotted lines to ensure it is straight. Then a very sharp tracing wheel is used to trace around the seam lines of the drape. When the drape is removed, the outline is clearly visible on the pattern paper. Pencils and rulers complete the transfer of the pattern to paper.

I had to adjust and redrape the back of the bodice twice. I didn’t like having the neckline dart so wide so I tried a shoulder dart but that didn’t look nice either. Finally I managed to balance the amount of ease needed at shoulder blade level and adjusted the shoulder line to get a smaller neckline dart.

This is one of the reasons why I consider a muslin drape, a toile and a test run of a garment one of the dressmakers best friends and teachers. It is a vehicle for practice and experimentation.

Here is the paper pattern created from the muslin drape. I know some people who cut their toile directly from the muslin drape but I find a clean paper pattern more preferable. The mistakes made on the muslin will not be transferred to the paper pattern. This eliminates the possibility that a wrong dart or seam line will get marked onto the fashion fabric.

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