Hold on, hold on. We can't get started with the sew-along until we cut out our pieces! Now some of you might have done this already, and some of you might have already made a muslin of this dress. (I did!) But for good reason...I needed to know what I was doing so I could help you! I do not consider myself an expert at this pattern, or anything for that matter, but I'm here to help answer your questions and guide you the best I know. Plus, I'm hoping to have fun with this too! Please note that I will be somewhat detailed in my directions, so some things you may want to pay attention to and other parts you may not-- it all depends on your skill level. As someone who went to school to be a teacher, I have to always assume that I'm working with various skill levels-- beginner to advanced! And if you are advanced and I miss something, please chime in! I'm learning a lot doing this sew-along! (I may also share with you a few of my mistakes, because I'm sure there is someone else out there that made the same mistake!)
So here we go...
Cutting Out the Pattern Pieces: Cutting out your pattern pieces can be one of the most important things you do. If they are not cut out correctly, you risk the garment not draping or fitting well. Assuming that all of you are using 60" wide fabric, the pattern wants you to cut out some of you pieces on the fold, meaning that your selvedges meet in the middle of your fabric. I always worry that my fabric is not going to be on grain, but with a cutting board with grid, a yard stick and pins, you should be able to make it work.
Find the center of your fabric. I find it by folding the fabric in half, then pressing it slightly. Then on my cutting surface, I lay the fabric face up, single layer. I center the crease on the cutting board, which will be my guide. Then with right sides together, I bring the selvedges to the fold making sure that the fabric lays flat. It is hard to get a straight edge on a knit. (When working with wovens, you can usually rip them to make a straight edge. You can't do that with a knit.) Your goal is to make sure the folds lay flat and fold smoothly.If my fabric does not stay in place, I use pins to keep it in place. Sometimes you can use the print on the fabric to help match things, but prints are not always printed on grain. I also watch the grain on the fold to see if it looks like the "lines" follow the fold. Don't worry if the edge of your fabric does not match up. The fabric cutter may have not cut your fabric on grain! (It's hard to do with knits!)
I do not always follow the cutting directions that the pattern gives me. Sometimes I feel like they are wasteful with the way they lay out pattern pieces. With this pattern, I cut out all of the pattern pieces that needed to be on the fold first. While laying things out, I realized that I may not have enough fabric... The fabric measured as 2 1/2 yards, but there was a huge curved cut making it more like 2 1/4 yards. This doesn't always make a big difference when you're not following the pattern directions, but it did this time! I had just enough fabric for the dress!
Before cutting out ANY pattern pieces, make sure you have enough fabric for the single pieces. (The two front bodice pieces.) Go ahead and cut out the pattern pieces.
Choosing thread: This step may sound silly to you, but I honestly had no idea which thread to pick. There are so many colors and not any dominate ones. I didn't like how the light colors looked, so it was a toss-up between black and purple. I picked the purple. It seemed to blend in well!
Cutting Alterations: Whether you are making a muslin as we go, or you already made it, no worries! I did not have too many cutting alterations. Plus I'm still learning about my body alterations, so I'm not as picky right now. I made two adjustments: made a smaller back bodice and cut out a size 16 on the skirt bottom and size 14 on the bodice. I made a muslin and it was good I did! When I tried on the muslin bodice, the back of the neck area really gapped. I'm not really sure what to call it. Do I have a sloped back? I could literally make a dart at the center back and still be comfortable. So my husband pinned it the best he could (see photo) and I used that as my guide to make the back smaller.
When I tested the dart on my muslin, I made a dart that went about half way down my back. Then on the pattern, folded it along the fold edge to mimic the dart I made on the muslin. When cutting out the pattern in the good fabric, I still placed the pattern piece on the folded edge. It was just not exactly on the grain.
Grading up a size for the bottom was easy. Because I am working with a knit, it is easier to fudge the grading than to actually grade each pattern piece to another. If I were grading more than one size, I would have graded the waist of the skirt to match the waist of the bodice. But instead, I just stretched the bottom of the bodice to fit with the skirt.
Over on the Flickr page, one of our followers asked, "I started cutting out my pattern pieces and I need to add 1" to the bodice length. With the pleating in the front, I am not sure how to do this. There are no markings to show where to lengthen." I didn't notice that the lengthening lines were not included in this pattern. Honestly, I was a little stumped! So I did a little research and came across Handmade by Heather B. She has a really good tutorial on how she had to shorten the bodice and drafted her own lines. These lines look to be in a good place to also lengthen. So if you're having trouble, click the link above and let us know how it turned out!
If you have an adjustment question that pertains to cutting out your pattern, ask now!
Here is a timeline of the sew-along.
#2 - Bodice Pleats
#3 - Bodice Facing and Finish Bodice
#4 - Pockets and Skirt
#5 - Attach Bodice to Skirt
#6 - Sleeves
#7 - Hem, Belt and Finishing Touches
Step Two will be posted on Wednesday! I'll be here to ask any questions in the meantime!