The One with the Thrift-store Dress Copy

Hello hello

Diving straight in on this one folks…I draped another dress!

Back in May I visited a friend in Baltimore and fell in love with a dress in a thrift store but unfortunately it didn’t fit :(.

I took a picture and kept it in mind for my 2nd ever draping/1st solo draping project. This is the dress….

It was made of a heavy-ish cotton sateen which I really liked the weight of. I managed to find one I loved at Mood Fabrics.

Isn’t it lovely?

I finally got around to starting the project at the end of September.

Mary of the Daily Sew had kindly given me this draping course book as birthday gift so I used that as my guide.

First I analysed the dress I was copying. It was constructed as a bodice, waistband and skirt. The bodice had bust darts, and front and back waist darts.

I prepared my muslin by finding my grain lines, cutting 2 pieces for the bodice and a strip for the waistband. I then added bust, CF, CB and waist lines to my bodice pieces.

For the front I started by pinning CF, then the shoulder and then working my way down to the bust darts, then the waist darts. The back was similar CB, then shoulder, then dart.

Once the bodice was sorted I needed a skirt. Rather than drape this from scratch I used a muslin I already had for my skirt block from the Skirt Skills class I took with Brooks Ann and changed it slightly to get the shape I was after.

Once I was happy with the shapes I made marks showing where the darts were, where seams would meet (i.e shoulder, side seam, waist) and then also drew in style lines for the armholes/neckline.

Once that was done I removed the pieces and used them to create a paper pattern. For my first try I’d somehow marked my bust dart going up, which meant it was in my arm scye – not ideal! So I re-pinned it going down, and then redrew it on the paper and it looked much better.

One of the hardest things for me in ready made patterns is that I have very little length between my under arm seam and my bust line – you can see it here in the pattern.

I made a muslin, initial fitting was great, I needed to play with the shoulders a little and fold out the neckline to stop some gaping, plus remove a little volume to get the skirt shape I wanted.

I tested out those changes and then I was ready to go!

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, by this time it was early October and the bird fabric no longer seemed right, especially if I wanted to get to wear the dress this year. I still really wanted to make it though. I often find when I make things, I work on the muslin, think they fit, then when I make and wear the final version I often find things I’d like to change so I decided to dig out some black ponte fabric I’d been gifted by a friend. I figured I could layer a long sleeve shirt underneath, wear some tights and boots and it’d be a great little winter dress. Also, I’ve been really lusting after having a LBD in my wardrobe so this seemed the perfect way to go.

The dress sewed up really fast. I’d originally planned to full face the bodice part instead of just armhole/neckline but the ponte ended up being too thick for this and I had weird lumps at my seams so I cut it back.

The other issues I had were;

  • the ponte didn’t like to be pressed so I had troubles with my darts puckering, I just couldn’t get them to not have that annoying dimple. I’ll still wear the dress but definitely something to work on for the next version.
  • I think the neck of my dummy is wider than mine as I had a bit of excess there so I pinched it out with two darts, unfortunately, much like the bust darts I couldn’t get rid of the puckering at the dart point- grrrr

Oh and another thing I noticed, the original dress and my muslin, the neckline was nice and curved, the final version came out a little more straight lined and I think it was because I didn’t clip the curves.

All in all I really love this shape on me and will definitely be wearing the dress but it needs some work – we had a lovely warm autumn day this week so got chance to wear it/take some snaps.

I’m learning so much from draping and still believe this is a better process for me that desperately trying to alter a pattern made from a block that is nothing like me! If you’re considering trying draping I honestly can’t recommend it enough.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *