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October 19, 2015

Appleton Sewalong Day 1: Preparing Your Pattern and Fabric

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Hey everyone! Welcome to day 1 of the Appleton Dress sewalong! If you haven’t already, make sure to pick up your pattern. You can get it as a PDF here if you want to jump right in, or you can order a paper pattern here.

If you’re still deciding on your fabric, check out our inspiration post and join up with us when you’re ready to get started!

  • Preparing your Fabric

Make sure to pre-wash your fabric whatever way you plan to launder your finished garment. Personally, I can’t be trusted not to toss my me-mades into the washing machine, so I always wash my fabric on delicate and tumble dry on low. Knits are prone to shrinkage (which I learned the hard way when my first maxi skirt magically became tea length) so if you notice quite a bit of shrinkage, a second trip through the laundry can help prevent unhappy surprises after you’ve finished your dress.

If your fabric specifies that it should be dry-cleaned or if it feels particularly delicate, I always recommend testing a small square in the laundry to see how it holds up. If you do decide to go the dry-cleaning route, you should still pre-launder your fabric by getting the yardage dry-cleaned.

Still looking for fabric ideas? Check out some options here.

  • Choosing your Size

We’re going to choose our size now – and if you have a PDF pattern, you only need to print your bust size pattern. Start by measuring your full bust, waist and hips.

image (1)

We’re all going to have a few choices to make.

First, try to choose a size based on your waist and hip measurements. If your measurements span between two sizes, I’d recommend choosing the size based on your hip measurements. Spanning more than two sizes? You can grade between sizes for a custom fit (See below for more details on grading).

Once you’ve chosen your size based on your waist and hip measurements, let’s take a look at the bust measurements. For each size, we have three bust options: C/D, E/F, or G/H. Choose the size based on your actual measurements rather than your bra size. For example, if you have a 38” waist and a 48” bust, use the size 18 G/H.

TIP: If you want a little more coverage up top, try going up a cup size.

Here’s where my measurements put me:

image

As you can see, my waist and hip measurements, put me in a size 12, but my bust is not quite large enough. In our next sew-along installment, I’m going to be walking through how I did a small bust adjustment on this pattern.

  • Preparing your Pattern

If you made the decision to purchase a paper pattern, congratulations! Your pattern is prepped. You can sit back smugly and drink some champagne while we PDF folk toil away.

Okay, PDF pattern friends, let’s get this party started. Make sure to print your PDF at 100% scale. The background grid should be 1” x 1” squares so print a test page before you print the whole thing, and check that they’re the right size.

Start by cutting the right side margin and bottom margin off all your sheets.

TIP: If you use a lot of PDF patterns, an inexpensive paper cutter can change your life!

Once your pieces are trimmed, use the grid to help you line up your sheets. Tape or glue your pages together, and now your pattern is prepped too!

image

  • Tracing or Cutting your Size

Paper pattern peeps! Time to put down your champagne and get back to work! Trace the size you chose using tissue paper. Make sure to transfer all markings and notches to your tracing. Label your tracings with the size, pattern piece, and any alterations you’re making. Be sure to transfer the grainline, too. If you printed a PDF pattern, you can either trace or just cut your size out of your assembled pattern.

  • Grading Between Sizes

If your measurements put you in different sizes, you can grade between sizes for an even more customized fit. In this pattern, there is negative ease in the bust  (and a little bit in the hips), so make sure you are looking at the body measurements when making your choices.

Before you go the route of grading between sizes, double check your different cup options to see if you can get closer to your measurements using a different cup size – don’t worry too much about whether it matches the size bra you wear – if the pattern fits you, it fits!

If you do decide to grade, you’ll either be grading out from a smaller size at the bust to a larger size at the hips or in from a larger size at the bust to a smaller size at the hips. We’re going to do a quick rundown of each.

First up, grading out to a larger size at the hips. Let’s say your bust measurement puts you in a size 12 and your hips put you in a size 16. Using the marking that already exist on your pattern will help keep your grading consistent between the front and back pattern pieces, so start by marking the notch for your bust size and the notch for your hip size and drawing a straight line between the two.

 

image (1)

  Now, of course, we are rarely made up of straight lines, but this is a good guideline to start with. I’ve also noted where the line crosses the waistline of the pattern piece. Above the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it gently inward towards the size 12. Below the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it outwards towards the size 16. This will make the transition points much smoother. We need to make the same change on the back pattern piece, using the same notches as markers. image (3)

Repeat your smoothing using the waistline crossing point as the divider again. You’ll notice on the back, the hip curve needs less smoothing than the curve above the waistline.

To grade from a larger bust to a smaller hip, remember to first check the cup size options. If you are going to grade, you’ll follow the same steps as above, but your markings will look like this (grading from a size 16 bust to a size 14 hip):

 

FRONT                                                                           BACK
image (2) image (4)

You’ll notice that this way requires significantly less smoothing.

  • Gather your tools and notions

You don’t need any specialist tools to make the Appleton dress, but here a few things from your sewing room you may want to have on hand, or consider buying if you’re a beginner sewist:

  • Thread.
  • Clear elastic for reinforcing the shoulders.
  • Stretch or ballpoint needles. As we’re sewing with jersey, you should use these type of needles because they push through the knit fabric rather than tearing the fibers. Here at Cashmerette Towers we use so many of these needles that we stock up on big boxes of them when they go on sale to make sure there’s always a fresh one available.
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter and mat. We prefer using a rotary cutter and mat for knits, but really a personal preference. Here’s our favorite set: rotary cutter and mat.
  • Not essential, but if you’re dealing with slippery jersey, then Dritz Wonder Tape can be a godsend! It’s a double sided sticky tape which you use to baste your seams shut instead of using pins. It doesn’t glue up your needle, and it washes away the first time you launder the garment. It makes life a lot easier for lots of sewing tasks, especially hemming.
  • And finally, here’s the type of paper trimmer which makes PDF assembly go way, way faster!

That’s it for today! Great work and we’ll see you next time with a small bust adjustment.

Do you have any questions about today’s steps?

Note: this post contains some affiliate links. 

Cashmerette

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28 Responses to Appleton Sewalong Day 1: Preparing Your Pattern and Fabric

  1. erniek3 October 19, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Wait a minute: I am late to the party here, but you have notch/marks on the seam allowances at hip, waist and bust lines?
    Now that’s some good thinking! My multisized self salutes your pattern grader!

  2. Darcie October 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    An illustration of this part would actually be very helpful, if you can manage it. Thank you!

    “Above the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it gently inward towards the size 12. Below the waistline crossing point, smooth the line by curving it outwards towards the size 16.”

  3. Laurie October 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    i need a little help with figuring out how to make this dress me-sized!

    My measurements are 42-40-42; i’m a giant apple, really! Grading 14C/D – 20 – 12 seems….. challenging. Any advice? Thank you!

    • Laurie October 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

      errrrr… make that 43-40-42. i guess that could put me in 16C/D-20-?? which is better, somewhat…

      • Jenny Rushmore October 19, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        Hi Laurie – I would go with the 16 C/D as you say, grading to the 20 at the waist. It’s actually “easier” grading this way, because effectively you’re just removing the curve where the pattern goes in at the waist, and really drawing a straight line (more or less) between the bust and the hip. If you find that it’s too big at the hips when you finish the dress, it’s really easy to just re-sew the side seams in a little bit to pull them in. Good luck!

        • Kaitlyn October 19, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

          Thanks for this, Jenny and Laurie, I have a similar issue.

  4. Danielle October 19, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    I’m pretty much a complete newbie – so does it matter what size the clear elastic is (if it comes in sizes)? Also, is there a specific type of tissue you use to trace the pattern? And my final question – super happy that the size 28 fits my waist and hips, but my bust is 8 inches smaller than the corresponding bust size. Should I grade between the size that matches my bust and the 28? Or do a small bust adjustment? I’m inclined to a small bust adjustment so that my full biceps have room in the sleeves. 🙂

    • Jenny Rushmore October 19, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

      Hi Danielle! To answer your questions
      1. I usually use quarter inch or 3/8 inch clear elastic, but it doesn’t really matter.
      2. I use this tracing paper: http://www.amazon.com/Birch-Street-Clothing-Swedish-TracingPaper/dp/B00E3DG2KW But anything will do.
      3. 8 inches would be too large of a “small bust adjustment” to do (it’s only really feasible up to 3 or maybe 4 inches), so what I would do is grade from a smaller size at the bust to the 28 at the waist and hips. I’m going to guess your bust is about 48″ based on your description, so what would probably be easiest is to make the 22 C/D bust (you could do that or the 20, but the 22 means there’s a bit less grading), and then grade out to the 28 waist/hips. It is a pretty major grading step so you may have to play around with it a little, but hopefully it can work. I’d recommend trying with inexpensive fabric first in order to check the fit.

  5. JoAnn Clement October 19, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    Jenny, i’m a size 28 waist and hips but a 16 in bust. is this a dress for me? can you make that big of a size adjustment. i am also of narrow shoulders! 🙁 HELP!

    • Jenny Rushmore October 19, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi JoAnn – this may not be the right pattern for you, unfortunately. It’s drafted on a block for busty figures, so if you’re significantly pear shaped it’s not been designed for your shape, I’m afraid. That said, you could try! I’m just not sure if you’d get a super result.

      • Heidi October 21, 2015 at 5:01 am #

        Hi Jenny. First of all, it’s so kick-ass, that you’ve undertaken to make patterns for the busty shape. Great job. 🙂 What would be your recommendation as to how far you “jump” when scaling between sizes? Is one or two the limit or could one (sucesfully) scale from say 16 at the bust to 20 at the waist and then maybe add some more width to the hip if needed?

        • Jenny Rushmore October 21, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

          Hi Heidi! Grading between 2 or 3 sizes should be totally fine. More than that is possible but you run into more potential issues and I’d definitely recommend making a muslin first. The photo of my model in the black and white bird dress is wearing an 18 grades to a 24!

  6. Wendy October 19, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi Jenny!

    I have a question about grading between sizes at the waist only, rather than grading in or out from the bust to hips. For example, my measurements are 45-33-45, and I’m thinking of tracing my pattern halfway between sizes 14 and 16 G/H. According to the finished measurements, this would make the waist of the garment 35 3/4,” which is nearly 3″ larger than my actual waist. Is it possible to gracefully grade in at the waistline to halfway between sizes 12 and 14, or would that be too sharp of a curve? I’d really appreciate any advice you might have!

    • Jenny Rushmore October 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi Wendy! I would start with the 16 G/H and then grade down a 14 at the waist. Given the way that wrap dresses tie around the body, it’s not going to make a huge difference to have a 12 or 14 at the waist, and this way the curve won’t be too acute. Good luck!

  7. Daiga October 20, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    I have a question: am I right thinking that Appleton dress pdf pattern version has an option of printing it on A0 size paper (in a copy shop)? That would save masses of time.

  8. Daiga October 21, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Some useful info for the UK dressmakers: Mailbox etc which has branches all over the country does A0 prints for £2.8 per page and in 5 mins. Useful for those who like me cannot face gluing together 45 pages of A4 🙂

  9. tigerb October 21, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    You may think I am crazy, but I’ve just ordered your pattern with the idea of turning it into a wrap peplum top. I don’t really wear dresses of this length (I prefer maxi style) but I am so intrigued by the way you have dealt with the bust sizing that I MUST try it out.

  10. Emma October 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    Hi Jenny – I received my kit for the black dress with polka dot sleeves in the mail today! I have a couple quick questions: are there any specific washing instructions for the fabric you provided? Also, do you have any suggestions for a nice finish for the mesh portion of the sleeves that I could do on my sewing machine? (Something akin to a french seam for knits?) Thanks!

    • Jenny Rushmore October 22, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

      Hi Emma – I recommend hand wash or dry clean, because of the mesh sleeves. For the sleeves, you can do a french seam, or you can zigzag and then trim close to the edge to finish. Hope this helps!

  11. Barbara Covey October 24, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Looking at the finished garment measurements on the pattern there is nearly 8 inches of negatatvie ease in the bust. Is this correct? Seems as if the dress wouldn’t close with that

    • Jenny Rushmore October 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

      Hi Barbara – yes, that’s correct, and why you need to use a fabric with at least 50% stretch. Wrap dresses are by their nature low cut, so if you’d like more coverage, then I’d recommend going up a size.

  12. Paula November 18, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    Hello! Love the look of this dress. I was going to use the Christine Jonson wrap pattern but this one looks like it will fit me way better. My only question is if I can make the skirt with a bit more swing. Yours looks pretty straight. Do you think I could just cut it with more flare at the sides? I’m a pretty experienced sewist…

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