Weíve all done it. Youíre sitting there, watching a wonderful costume drama on BBC or PBS. And you fall in love the The Dress. You must have it. You will make up any reason to wear it.
But how do you make that dress you saw in your favourite costume drama?
The answer is sewing patterns.
No matter how complicated or unique a dress looks, all dresses are basically a top, a bottom, two sleeves and a neckline treatment. Skirt shapes vary. Sometimes the fabric is cut on the bias. Sometimes the fit of the garment depends on undergarments like corsets and hoops skirts. But if you look carefully at the dress, it has all the same parts that any other dress in your wardrobe has.
The trick is to pick the right pattern. Or patterns.
You donít have to find a pattern that is exactly like the dress you want in order to use it to help you make that dress. Matter of fact, your best bet is to use a bunch of different patterns together to get the shapes and elements you want.
For example, letís say you found a pattern that has the right neckline, but the sleeves are wrong. And youíve also found a pattern for the sleeves, but the bodice doesnít look right. And then thereís this other pattern for the right skirt. These patterns werenít made to be used together, but with some careful redrawing, you can make the perfect pattern from these three partially-right ones.
Step one: Get some big paper. Newsprint is good. So are paper tablecloths.
Step two: Spread out the paper on your work table.
Step three: Lay all the pattern pieces from each pattern on your work table, even the ones you donít want to use.
Step four: Select the pattern pieces you want to use and put them aside.
Step five: Look at the pattern pieces carefully. Also look at the pieces they join to. For example, if you like a certain sleeve, also look at where that sleeve piece connects to the body piece. If this is different on the body piece you want to use, youíll have to correct the pattern.
Step six: Lay the body piece you prefer on your big paper and carefully trace around the pattern.
Step seven: Lay the body piece that goes with the sleeve you like on top of the tracing. Line up the shoulder lines and the side seams as much as you can. You should make sure the patterns you are using are all the same size.
Step eight: Trace the piece of the body piece that connects to the sleeve you like onto your big paper.
Step nine: Neaten up the lines if necessary.
Step ten: Use this new pattern piece to cut your dress mockup.
Step eleven: Repeat this process for every piece you want to use to make your costume drama dress.
With a little knowledge and a lot of practice, youíll soon be able to make any costume you see on TV or online or in a magazine just by combining patterns.