Developing a custom pattern. Part two: the lining.

I’m sure you’ve been hanging out to see how I develop a lining pattern for the modified Simplicity dress, right? :) Well, here it is.

Last time I showed you a personal block modifications to develop a pattern design similar to Simplicity 2550.

Today I’ll show you how I developed a lining pattern for this garment.

The dress I need to line is sleeveless, has a centre back zip, back skirt vent and no facings.
The plan is to make the lining as seam free as possible.
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Developing a custom pattern. Part one.

In my line of work it’s pretty normal – a client brings me a sewing pattern with the design she is after, but because she wants some heavy modifications done (or the pattern can not accommodate her figure) the pattern itself can not be used.

To be honest, even if the pattern was usable, I’d still prefer drafting my own. I like having the full control of the ease and, ultimately, the fit of the garment. I also like taking the full credit when the fit is awesome (hehe).

So I thought, why not share my process? Maybe It might be of some interest to you?

And so, this time I have to work with Simplicity 2550 design.

Simplicity 2550

My objective is to make a dress like the red one, but with a scoop neckline, sleeveless and fully lined. This is how I make this happen.
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Taming the waist

In my previous post I talked about fit – the difference between correct and perfect fit and why most of us will not like the clothes fit to perfection.

I also showed you the bodice pattern I was working on – it fitted me perfectly and I hated it.

Let me tell you more about this bodice.

This is one of only a few boned bodices I’ve sewn in my entire life. It is also a muslin, and by sewing it I’ve learned a massive lot about my preferred fit, and look of this type of garments. I am almost happy with the way it turned out, the next one should be even better.

To develop this pattern I started with my personal block with 0 cm ease. I adjusted the front princess seam from my sad convex to a much better looking concave shape.

I do admit, this made me nervous: “Oh my god, it wont fit. It will cut in, my zip will split, I won’t be able to breathe, how can it possibly work?”

On a plus size, this adjustment alone took 2 cm off my waist measurement.

Then I sewed 16 bones into the bodice and had my first  fitting.

To my surprise, it was very comfortable, maybe a bit too comfortable. I even had to check several times if it was actually zipped.

I wanted more. I wanted that snug, hugging feeling only this kind of bodices can give you.
After a couple of adjustments I finally got it.

My perfect block has -1 cm ease at the bust and -4.4 cm at the waist.

It’s hard to believe that a garment that is 4 cm smaller than you need could be comfortable, but somehow it is. I don’t feel tortured, breathless or sausaged in – only “controlled”. I even started wondering if I could bring it in at the waist even more! If I take it in right here (diggs thumbs into her sides) it will look even more fab!

But this, of course, will be a completely different story. This story will be called “Lena sews a corset” and I imagine it will happen eventually. I have already done some research into modern corsetry, it took me places I’ve never been before.

To my surprise, corsetry and tight lacing are still alive and well, with quite huge demand (and an adequate supply) for all sorts of daily corrective wear for both women and men.

Have you heard of waist training? There are before and after pictures of people who significantly reduce their waists by wearing special corsets day and night. There is no way I’d do that, I treasure my comfort far too much, but after I saw what just 4 cm off my waist feels and looks like, I find the idea of corrective undergarments under special occasion clothes very attractive.

The websites for waist trainers advise to start slow – reduction of 3 to 5 inches for your first corset should do just fine.

Wait, what? 5 inches??

That’s 3 times more than my attempt I am so proud of! I will not be striving to achieve that, but this information gave me the range to work with.

And so, I call this experiment a success. A few pattern adjustments and some bones here and there do wonders for one’s self esteem, bringing our figures closer to that ideal image we all have in our heads. I’ll do more of it.

Always sunny in Australia

I was told at the kindy that I need to bring a sun hat for my son. Apparently, having his own hat develops a sense of ownership. I am not so sure about the ownership part but I’ll be happy to know that he doesn’t share hats with anyone else.


“Not a problem!” I said. I went home, found two hats and offered them to my son.

Ha! He wouldn’t have a bar of them. Not only he disliked them, they were also too small. Apparently his head is bigger than your average 3 year old’s. “Never fear! Surely there would be no problem finding a hat at the mall!” I thought.
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Big hat and a white yacht

I’ve done it! I have finished the silk tunic. “Big deal!” – I hear you say. Well, it wasn’t meant to be, but it was a battle. The fabric was a silk paisley print form The Fabric Store. Gorgeous thing, lovely to touch, and one evil fabric to work with.


I must confess, I didn’t quite expect such resistance. It’s determination to fight me at every seam was astonishing. Despite it’s not so slippery surface and quite reassuring weight, it was behaving like some chiffons would.

At times it seemed that it didn’t have straight grain at all, every detail I cut was changing shape and size right before my eyes. A beautiful fabric with a nasty character. It was alive.

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The comfiest top ever

Here it is, I finally managed to get my picture taken wearing my new cowl/drape/draw string top. This top is a delight, if I may say so myself. It is really like wearing a pyjama all day, only way cooler.

Cowl 'n drape top

The fabric is the softest viscose/poly knit I got from Yana. We did a bit of a swapsy – she needed some stretch lining I had in abundance and I was coveting this knit she had. Don’t you like it when it happens!

I made this pattern by draping and drafting and I am more than sure I will use it again. I am even considering making it available as a download. Would you wear it?

My take on Rick Owens' lilies

I did it! Here is my version of Rick Owens’ lilies top


Here is the original

I can safely say that this was the most complicated construction I had to deal with so far. It was exciting and new, I have learned a ton of new things. And although the pattern is far from perfect and needs multiple tweaks, I think I have nailed the concept. Too bad I will not wear it because it looks like a sack on me – some tops need boobs and hips to make them work. I’ll just have to work with what I’ve got :)


Good time to start sewing shorts, isn’t it? Maybe if I ignore autumn long enough, it will go away?

These shorts seem to be quite popular. I found them as I was going through my stash of Burda magazines and then I saw them on other blog already made. It is amazing how I always seem to find something I would like to sew no matter how long I had the magazine and how many times I looked through it before.

This one is not very old, 06/2010, model 115.

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I know what you are thinking : “Gosh, that woman has been sewing this purple jacket forever!”

Well, not really. It only took me a week to finish it, but describing the process takes much longer than process itself! I even wore the jacket a few times ( one of them to the playgroup ) and my incandescent purple self was sticking out in the crowd like a sore thumb :)

Ah, I was feeling so bright on that rainy day!

So today I am going to sum up my purple jacket post series. Previous posts are here:
Burda 7579
Puzzling discovery
Ode to a pocket
Oh yuk!! ( a brief life of an ugly collar )

What happened next

So since I made my sleeve vents and they came out rather nice and sharp, I finished the sleeves and proceeded as usual to set them in.
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Vest pattern draft

My latest project ( and current ) is a simple lined vest, straight silhouette, minimum bulk and detail. I have almost finished it, some decorative stitching and closure are still left to do.

I usually begin with a design picture. It is easier to have the picture to look at while drafting

Design board
Design white board

This vest does not have waist shaping and bust dart is transferred into the armscye to create nice uninterrupted line. The fabric has some grey thread running through it which draws the eye up and down the figure ( and visually slimming ). Although the picture shows the shorter vest, the one I decided to make finishes below hip level ( a much more forgiving length ).

 I’d like to share vest pattern draft with you. It is very quick and easy to adapt your close fitting block to a very versatile vest pattern.

Stage ONE

And so I begin. The basic block is traced ( back and front)

Vest pattern draft stage 1
Vest draft stage 1

Neckline at the back is lowered 0.5 cm, neckline is widened 2 cm ( back and front ).

Shoulder is shortened by 1.5 cm ( front ) and 2 cm at the back ( the shoulder dart is eliminated ). The dart could also be transferred into the scye, this is particularly helpful for round shoulders.

Armscye is lowered 2 cm

Button stand is added 2 cm wide.

Style lines are drawn 6 cm down the scye.

Stage TWO

Vest pattern draft stage 2
Vest draft stage 2

The style lines are drawn all the way down to the hem. I made sure they are nice and smooth. Bust dart is transferred into the style line.

Neckline is drafted. This particular one finishes at original scye level.


Vest pattern draft stage 3
Vest draft stage 3

The pattern is cut along the style lines. Make sure the shoulder lines are equal, add seam allowances and it is ready to cut!

Here is my version, no waist shaping.

Almost finished vest

And what are you sewing? :)