Many beginning students in Fashion Design want to create things that have everything and the kitchen sink in one dress. But think about it. No one dresses in a complicated manner today and even when they do...it's usually an ensemble of simple items.
The basic sheath is figure-flattering and can be worn everywhere from day to night. This versatile garment looks great when cut from the simplest of fabrics to the busiest of prints and textures. And, it may be paired with almost any other outerwear....from sweaters to coats to dramatic shawls.
However, successfully creating a garment so simple can be most challenging. Admittedly I don't care very much for the dress I posted in my 2-piece dress demonstration. The waistline seam adds bulk and the overall look is a tad matronly. On the other hand, the sheath dress is a timeless garment. The easiest way to create a pattern for it is by draping it directly on the doll or form. (I have updated the post "Block Club: Upper East Side." I have designated a doll as my permanent "fit model" and created a marked bodysuit for her.)
The drape begins in exactly the same manner as the basic sloper. I mark a piece of cotton fabric (a old bed sheet cut into rags will do) with a vertical line placed at the doll's center front (CF) line, and a horizontal line placed at her bust line.
Keep these two lines straight and pin down the fabric at the CF. While maintaining the horizontal line perpendicular, smooth the cloth over her body and pin the cloth down the side.
The fabric will have a gap under the bust. You should pinch that into a dart along the side front line from under the bust to the hips as shown until the pattern lies snug against the doll's body. With a soft pencil, mark the neckline, armhole and side. Then mark both sides of the dart you have just created.
Turn the doll over and repeat the same procedure on the back. Note: you are creating half a pattern, for reasons of symmetry. Again, pin the fabric down the center back line (CB). Then join the back to the front pattern at the sides and pin. seams out. Create a dart that falls on the side back line from the bust line to the hip line.
Transfer your cloth pattern to paper. Add 1/4-inch seam allowance and cut from fabric. For those of you doing this for the first time, I encourage you to make the first dress out of a cheap fabric to make sure the fit is perfect. If there are problems, you will correct the paper pattern. Here is my doll wearing a copy of the sheath dress inspired by the ad!
You can also begin by first draping the basic foundation, then lengthening it into the sheath dress. Here is a video tutorial:
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