{Creative Process} Vintage 60’s Dress: Pre-Drafting

Hi darlings,
As promised I will try to share a bit of my creative process. This is the latest object of my desire. A 1964 darted slim fitted dress. Look at those darts! My heart is beating super fast! I must draft this pattern and make it in beautiful wool. I must!!!!
My eyes first spotted this dress while browsing a charity shop book during Christmas, neitherless to say  for £1.50 it has come home with me. The book is called “Creating Fashion”by Betty Foster. 
This book has interesting history about the beginning of garments constructions by civilisation from with simple roman to when people started to adapt and manipulate basic shapes. It has a few basic pattern drafting instructions, however as it was published in 1983, so you can imagine the amount of ease it’s included on instructions of the book! Crazy. I don’t like drafting with ease or seam allowances so I wont use it. The book acts more like a reference for fashion students with a lot of history instead of a step by step instructions. There is little information next to the photo so I decided to use only the photo as my reference.
Instead of jumping into drafting a basic block, I decided to understand the design first so when I draft the pattern I wouldn’t  have to re-do it if I need more fabric for dart manipulation.
Dart Manipulation.

There are 2 different darts on this design. A bust dart moved to the CF and a fisheye dart pivoted from apex to CDA. Observing the design, I made some assumptions and guidelines for my drafting.
Above is the Pati Palmer’s dart manipulation practice sloper I use to play around.None of the existing lines suited me and decided to drawing a line between the vertical waist dart and the centre front dart to transfer the fullness of the original dart to create dart A(CF)
My faithful notebook get scribble all over as ideas surges. Funny thing is that I write in (bad) English. 
Dart B, same principle. Using the waist dart, I drawn a line to the shoulder dart and a french dart, manipulated until the angle I wanted. To make sure the angle was doable, I enlisted the help of Betty. I use pins for her apex and a elastic on the waist! So fun to make a mimi toile.

Besides the bad stitching/pivoting, this step really help me visualise the pattern.
I wrote my modifications down and the next step its get drafting the pattern real size to manipulate the darts accordingly. Thereafter, is the fun part of sew a toile. This project is long term and will be updated as I progress. My colette Beignet has been cut and is waiting for me to sew.

Anyone has any advice for me?
On another note, I been thinking to make this pattern available for free download after I finish, anyone would be interested? The only problem is that I don’t know how to digitise/or grade a pattern on the computer. I will be able to make it a PDF on my size. If anyone how know and want to volunteer to digitise/grade for others will be appreciate it! 
  • I look forward to following your progress. I love the design of the dress.

  • I am looking forward to seeing the finished creation, it looks like you are progessing well!

  • Brilliant! Love the way you used the doll, and it’s fun to see your progress. I have a few talents, but the pattern-drafting gene completely eluded me, so I’m in utter awe at those like you who can pull this off!

  • Question for you: have you taken formal pattern drafting lessons or are you entirely self taught? I’m seriously impressed and this dress is going to look beautiful. If you make the pattern available as pdf download (thank you!) I may even push myself to learn how to grade it to my size. You are a talented lady!

    • Hi Andrea, When I had my latest back surgery in Brasil, I took a few lessons of IOLE method. This is the first pattern I am drafting without help. Scared!

  • Hi, new follower:) you are very talented. Can’t wait to see the finished dress:)


  • Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re using a doll. The whole process (WAYYY beyond my skill level) just got so much more awesome. 🙂

  • Wow, that’s so impressive! Neat idea using the doll! 😀

  • This is going to be a gorgeous project. I’m looking forward to following your progress on it!

  • Dixie DIY just did a post on how to digitize a pattern.

  • This is really interesting, I love post’s like this! Can’t wait to see the full sized version, those darts are going to be such a great design feature

  • Absolutely love this dress. A classic 60’s sheath with the great shaping by darts it will be stunning. I love that you used Betty to mock up the process. You are a hoot!

  • Can’t wait to see how this comes along!

  • I’m sending your blog some love. You can pick it up on my blog.

    BTW can’t wait to see how your dress turn out. I love that you use ‘Betty’ for your mock up.

  • I would swoop a free download of this pattern up in a second if you offer it! I can’t help you in the digitize/grade department, but I’d certainly sew one up for myself!

  • Beauftiful.. Cant wait to see your final outcome.. KNow you will look fabulous in this one… Happy drafting and sewing.

  • Lucky Betty to get a personalised fitted dress. Thanks for sharing your thought-process on this dress – it is definitely going to be stunning when finished…J

  • How interesting Rachel- you have so much knowledge !! I love that you’ve put this much preparation in, notes, drawings, Betty. I’m the kind that would use dive in with the original pattern!! But your way shows me how you’ve got your skills and understanding

    • This is what I do most of the time when I sew. I really enjoy this part of the process but never shared. The “sewing’ its quick…. the pre- sewing its what makes it special

  • I love you girl. Lol. On a serious note, like Mela said Dixie DIY can help on the digitizing front. Or Claire from sew incidentally. Goodluck Rach.

  • Rachel, love the pattern-play! I’d be happy yo help you to digitize your pattern it’d be fun 🙂 I reckon you’ll need to clip the centre of the fisheye dart in its seam allowance (at the waist-level) to allow release of tension in the fabric otherwise it might not drape correctly as you intend it to over your body. Also, I reckon at waist-level where the dart legs change direction (kind of where they pivot and turn in the other direction down towards the ground) that you’ll need to reinforce the pivot point with some fusible interfacing – especially if you do clip and release the tension at that waist-level point. I think you design would look really great as a sleeveless top too 🙂

    • you are a star! xx

    • I totally agree with Claire about fusing- I just made a dress with a similar V-shape seam, and it needed a lot of clipping, so you’ll probably want something there to help stabilise the fabric.

      The Betty Foster books have been on my shelf for years… they were my introduction to drafting, and you’re so right about the ease allowance!!

  • Rachel, I can really see you in this dress – I have seen something recently on moving darts around to create a different look – could have been Threads magazine, and for the life of me I can’t remember right now – If I have a light-bulb moment, I’ll drop you an email – got my thinking cap on.

  • Wow, that is going to be an amazing dress, so much though has already gone into it!

  • That dress is sooo cute! Can´t wait to see more steps on your process! Thanks for sharing!

  • Love the dress! How great you use your doll to help you with drafting. I am also quite visual and prefer to sew up a muslin rather than doing it on paper…never thought of the doll idea.

  • This post is a whole lesson in itself…thanks for sharing your notebook. I’d never have thought of mocking it up using a doll. Genius.

  • I just wanted to say thank you for enjoying this post. I didn’t know what to expect when I wrote as I just wanted to provide a general overview of ” my way” of sewing and I can see a series of this posts forming in my head.

  • I am so impressed with your thought process and research. Your little toile dolly takes the cake!

  • wow – it’s amazing to see your process. i love that you used the doll! can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  • This pattern is beautiful and I would sooo be interested in a download of it…though I don’t have the skills to help with that process! I actually missed out on a similar pattern on Etsy recently, so your post is very timely! How clever to use Betty in your experiments too!

  • Holy cow this is an awesome project!

  • Love those darts! and I’d be interested in a pdf version of your pattern. Can’t wait to see your progress.

  • i completely love that you used a doll to make a mini version. this looks like a really interesting project, can’t wait to see more!

  • Just found your blog and loving it. Maybe we can follow each other on GFC or bloglovin? Please feel free to stop by my blog and let me know. XO


    • Hi M, I normally only follow blogs I am interested or from my participative readers. I once followed a person that sent me a message like yours, just be be un-followed on the same day by the same so I cautious of “follow me/I follow you” comments.

      I’m not looking at gathering numbers of followers but concentrate at providing a good and unique content that is interesting enough to make people take their precious time to read me. So if you like my blog and want to join in, independently of me following you, you are welcome!

  • O my word that dress is gorgeous! And is going to be gorgeous on you!
    I very much like the idea of that free download!

  • Brilliant idea, toiling a mini!! 😀 I think this dress is gorgeous; I just love simple silhouettes with interesting darts and style lines – the sixties had some wonderful examples of this! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing your full size version 🙂

  • That dress is amazing! I wish I could offer some advice but I’m just a padawan to your jedi master of sewing. How you’re sussing out what to do with your mini-me is seriously impressive. I cannot wait to see the outcomes!

  • This is going to be smashing! I love the unusual darts! Can’t wait to see it on you!

  • so, i’m frothing at the mouth since we somehow mysetriously wear the same size… yes, please PDF! i wish i knew how to help with that.

  • You are so creative and I love little Betty… this is going to be one stunning dress and I’m looking forward to seeing you wearing it 🙂

  • this dress is going to look super cool when you’re done! and i love that use made a ‘mini toile’. i’m excited to see the finished product!!