1930s Sew-along with Norma: Update on the dress–I got me a shape!!!

Draping update on the dress for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma

I so very much want to get the photos up and give you all more details about last night’s draping session.  But I can’t.  At 4:30 a.m. I woke up with an “AHA!” moment.  It was one of those experiences where I had the answer to what has been bothering me since the fabric and I started our conversation during the preparations for draping.  We  (the fabric and me) continued the conversation from 4:30 a.m. to about 6 a.m.  I plan to take a nap after publishing this posting.

You’ve seen how there is a tendency for the fabric to want to curve a little at the side seam.  I was worried about indenting at the waistline out of concern that I would then need vertical darts to pick up the slight fold that forms once shaping is applied at  waistline level of the side seams.


I also was very puzzled when I compared the pattern envelope illustration with the pattern pieces in the layout.  View A , B, and C of he dress appear to be tubular in shape with a side French dart or darts.



When I studied the pattern pieces I saw the perforations in the front where the two French darts are.  I understand these perforations are the places where tailors tacks are created.  This was the popular method of marking construction details.  The back pattern piece does not have any vertical perforations to indicate vertical darts.  I was puzzled how the dress had such a lovely contoured shape at the side seam.  Surely there was a dart or darts somewhere?

It was at 4:30 a.m. that I realized the reason why the drape does not look, or even come a tiny bit close to, the 1930s style I’m basing it on is due to a detail I missed out.  Take a look at the back view of style B in the pattern envelope illustration.  There, under the jacket, appear three darts on each side of the back dress.  I figured they must be very small fitting darts that were used to control the hang of the dress in front and back.  These darts would make the contour possible.

I got up, unpinned everything and set to work.  First I pinned the side seams again this time shaping inwards at the waistline.  I was able to create two small darts to the side of center back.  One is right along the princess line and the second in the middle of the side panel.  There are already thread tracings at this point so the center for each tiny dart was already in place.  I next had to mark and thread trace the waistline level on the fabric.

I put everything on the table, marked and put it back on.  This worked very well.  The dress is much less baggy now and a little closer to what I think will be a nice flowing line.  I draped the flared skirt of the front last night, too.  I have to be very critical but if I hadn’t shaped the side seam, the dress would have looked dowdy.  A straight chemise with a flared bottom sometimes looks pretty but in the Crème Fraiche fabric I’m using it does not.

Draping the flares was a real trip.  I only got pictures at the start and finish because I wasn’t sure of myself.  I draped on the straight grain.  The book only gives instructions for draping this kind of flare on the bias.

I’ll take photos when I drape the back flares for the skirt portion of the dress.  This will have to wait until later next week or next weekend.  I have to go out today.

I think I understand why Christian Dior used to closet himself away in the country whenever he was about to design the next season’s line of clothing.  You have to get away from everything and everyone to maintain the high level of insight and concentration needed to see the creation through.  It’s not that one loathes social contact or diversion it’s just that it requires shifting the state of mind to a level where that heightened insight can get weighted down by myriad other things like small talk, the cell phone or the baby crying nearby.  I really do understand this much better now.  I’ve only made this much progress by making the drape a priority.

There’s a lesson to be learned for me, and maybe you, too.  It is that there is a time and place for everything and everyone.  When we have to study and really concentrate it becomes necessary to restrict access to us by setting up priorities.  I’m not saying to be rigid about it but if there isn’t prioritizing the focus and energy will get dissipated by non-essential things like text messages or superfluous emails.


3 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Update on the dress–I got me a shape!!!

  1. I’m glad you realised what had happenned. Sounds as if the drape has really got into your head. I hope you got some rest before you went out.
    Look forward to seeing your results.


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