I have a couple of dresses that have quite an extreme cocoon shape at the bottom. It’s a shape I love to wear and wanted to recreate. I struggled to find a pattern that fitted the bill so had a go at drafting my own and I’m pretty happy with the results.
This is the pattern piece story:
I used the Inari as a starting point because it already had the cocoon shape. First I worked out where my apex was and measured 3 or 4 inches below this point (to about the bottom of my rib cage), cut the bodice off at this line then drew slash and spread lines. This was how I added volume across the front and back pieces. Once I’d done this I smoothed out the side seam curves.
I then cut the lower sections of the front and back as separate pattern pieces and drew them with a high-low hem. I did cut a quick toile of the front and back in muslin. It was quite long but the overall fit was fine- suitably voluminous at the bottom. I went back and trued the seams and tidied up the hemline.
This is made in Nani Iro double gauze (112cm wide) brought back from Tokyo. I had 2 and a half metres and a nice usable piece left over from that. I cut side seam pockets from the in between fabric pieces left so there was very little waste.
I used a four thread overlock to finish all edges and worked as little as possible with the double gauze before sewing because it fraaaaaaaays like mad.
The construction was pretty straightforward:
- Sew pocket bags to front and back pieces
- Attach lower front and back pieces
- Sew shoulder seams and stay stitch neckline
- Sew side seams
- Attach sleeve bands to sleeves- I made these 1.5″ longer than the pattern pieces and sewed them as cuffs rather than turn ups. I also made the sleeves pieces 5cm longer.
- Sewed in sleeves and tried it on
Changes made at this point…
- Remove 3″ from centre back hem graded to side seams
- Remove half inch from front neckline graded to shoulder seams
I made bias binding (half inch double fold) from 1 5/8″ bias strips. Sewed it to the right side at the neckline and hem then slip stitched it on the inside for an invisible finish.
- Love the shape and the fit of the dress.
- Love the different stripe directions.
- Love the feel of the double gauze to wear.
- Don’t love- the Inari sleeves in a woven. This is well documented in others’ blogs. The issue lies in the high sleeve cap…see sleeve notes below.
This one is made from 1.5m of 150cm wide Aime Comme Marie jersey bought from the fabulous Faberwood . It’s cotton with 5% elastane and 190gsm. She has the most gorgeously curated selection of beautiful fabrics. There was very little left over- perfect.
This was sewn up on the overlocker using the same construction method as above. I added a couple of strips of selvedge to stabilise the shoulder seams.
The neck is finished using the band from the Inari pattern.
This time I cut 3″ off the back again (made that a permanent change after this version) then a further inch off the entire hem before overlocking the bottom edge, turning up 1/4″ and sewing the hem at 3/8″ using triple stitch and red thread.
- Still love the shape and fit- it feels great in a knit and is a bit drapier than the double gauze although that will probably soften over time.
- The sleeves aren’t an issue in the knit fabric. Although I could probably do with a forward shoulder adjustment
- I’d like to make one with longer sleeves- elbow length and/or full length.
Inari sleeve thoughts
I have three Inari sleeves- one from the original printed pattern (when they had no seam allowances bought close to 3 years ago I think), one from a pdf bought Dec 17 and the free long sleeve add on. They look quite different:
I then compared the armscyes on the printed and pdf patterns and the shape hasn’t changed.
There’s a great blog post from Ikatbag on the difference sleeve cap height makes to fit here. I can’t find a blog post which says Named changed the sleeve cap shape anywhere but it looks as if they have, perhaps in response to the issues others have written about in numerous blog posts.
So I’m keeping the original with the high cap for knit versions and I’ll have a play with the other 2 for woven to see if that improves the ease in the sleeve.
Version three…knit and woven
The main parts of the dress are made in an incredibly soft, organic bamboo and cotton jersey in soft black from Offset Warehouse (all ethically produced and sustainable textiles). It’s 170cm wide and 240gsm per metre. The cuffs and neckband are cut from ribbing and the lower fabric is a Nani Iro cotton sateen bought from Miss Matatabi.
For this version I wanted elbow length sleeves so added 3″ to the sleeve piece and straightened the hem out (it measured 10.5″ across at the bottom).
I cut ribbed cuff pieces 10.5″ wide by 6 and 6/8″ to give 3″ cuffs. I wanted the cuffs to quite deep and didn’t want them to pull the sleeves in so kept them the same width as the bottom hem.
I also added 1/2″ to the neckband to make it slightly more visible too so the grey would pick up on the colours in the bottom panel.
Of course it has in-seam pockets.
Everything, except the hem, is done on the overlocker, although I always machine baste neckbands and cuffs into place before I overlock them. It’s much easier to unpick basting than overlocking if there are any issues!
I allowed 7/8″ for the hem which is sewn in triple stitch with red thread.
- Knit and woven together works really well in this way- the bottom section could be a useful stash buster.
- Really like the longer sleeves- keeping that change. Next time full length sleeves are an option.
- Also really like the slightly wider neckband.
- The bamboo jersey has a brushed back and feels amazing to wear.
Version three is so good I made another in red ribbed knit fabric from Moood, grey ribbing and grey Beau Yin Yang.