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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bess Skater Dress MashUp Tutorial

Happy Selfish Sewing Week!  To start the week off with a bang I am finally posting this Bess Skater MashUp.  My computer is on its last legs and is pretty angry with me that I would try to perfect these diagrams so it's taken ages for me to get this post up.  It's totally worth the wait though, cause you NEED a Bess Skater dress in your life.  It's my new favorite dress.

If you missed the April Monthly MashUp post you can check it out here to get the basic info on this dress.  The goal of this MashUp is to attach The Bess Top (*affiliate link) bodice to the Lady Skater Dress skirt.  I know I love the fit of the Lady Skater Dress skirt so I will not make any adjustments to the skirt itself.  All of the MashUp will happen in the bodice.  If your Lady Skater waist (where the skirt meets the bodice) size will not allow you to get the dress over your shoulders or chest (think super tiny waist and super large bust) then you may need to add a zipper to one of the side seams.  The shape of the Lady Skater waist dips down a bit in the front and back so the "size" of the waist is actually a tiny bit larger than your actual waistline which makes it easy to get over your head without stretching it, but it's worth mentioning.  The drawings in this post are not to scale and I included my own adjustments to the pattern shaping so the Lady Skater front bodice might look a little different than yours will, but all of the MashUp adjustments will apply to your bodices.

Now I know you've all taken the time to get both the Bess Top and Lady Skater dress muslined, but in case you haven't yet, I can't stress enough that if you're going to do a MashUp you want to first make sure you have the correct sizing and adjustments made to the original patterns.  Each designer uses their own grading system for sizing and just choosing based on your measurements can get you into a world of trouble once you start altering.  If you run into an issue it would be tough to know if it was because of the MashUp or if the original pattern shape is off on your body shape.  Ok.  End rant, hehe.

Take both of the patterns' front and back bodice pieces including any adjustments you've made and trace both the seam line (stitching line) and the seam allowance.  Always remember to double check the designer's seam allowances.  The Lady Skater has a 3/8" seam allowance and the Bess Top has a 1/2" seam allowance so it is very important to account for that extra 1/8".  By focusing on the stitching line instead of the seam allowances we don't need to worry about the difference and we can add our own seam allowance back in at the end.

The Bess Top has a unique construction so take into account a small portion of the back bodice pattern piece which wraps around to the front and forms the sleeve.  Line up the stitching lines along the sleeve front edge so you can trace out the sleeve stitching line to the front pattern piece before we start the MashUp.

The aqua line in the picture above will be the finished stitching line for the Bess sleeve so mark it in and then put your back pattern piece to the side. This isn't totally necessary for the MashUp, but it does help when picturing how the MashUp will come together so I did it for you.  If you want to skip this step you can.

Line up the front bodices along the center front fold line.  Now we will talk about ease for a second.  Since the Bess Top is meant for wovens the pattern is meant to fit nicely across the bust without any pull or stretching.  The Lady Skater Dress is meant for knits so the fit is more snug and meant to hug the bust a bit.  If we made the Lady Skater bodice as is out of woven it would most likely not even make it over the chest so there is ease to consider.  Now we know that the Bess Top at the underarm is the correct position on the X-axis (left to right) to fit a woven fabric, but we need the Lady Skater shaping at the waist to get a good fit to the skirt.  Instead of lining up the underarm points exactly, shift the Lady Skater bodice down about a 1/4" to 1/2" to account for the Y-axis (top to bottom) ease at the chest.  If you have any questions about this step please let me know.

Starting at the bottom left corner of the center front Lady Skater bodice, trace up to the Bess Top neckline, around the neckline, across the shoulder, and down the sleeve front to the underarm point.  Make a slightly curved line from the underarm point down to the Lady Skater waist.  This curve should mimic the Lady Skater bodice, but you need to add some ease for the woven fabric so don't trace the line exactly.  I used about 1/2" at the tightest curve as my guide.  Then trace along the Lady Skater waist back to the center front fold line.  The most important part is to have the bottom waist line to match up to the skirt.

To make assembly of the bodice simple once the pattern pieces are completed, add in 1/2" seam allowance to your new Bess Skater front bodice piece.  The original Bess Top pattern uses 1/2" seam allowance so by making your seam allowances the same you won't get confused by the instructions in the pattern once you start sewing.

Lets move on to the back bodice pieces.  Since we shifted the Lady Skater down about 1/4" on the front bodice piece then we need to do the same here.  Line up the back bodice pieces along the center back fold line and then shift the Lady Skater until the underarm point is the same distance below the Bess Top underarm point as you used for the front pieces (1/4").  Make sure to use the stitching lines and not the seam allowances.

The same way you traced the front pieces, start at the bottom left hand point of the Lady Skater center back fold line, trace up to the Bess top neckline, across the neckline, around the sleeve down to the underarm point.  Make a slightly curved line from the underarm point down to the Lady Skater waist line.  Then trace back across the Lady Skater waist to the starting point.

Add in the 1/2" seam allowances and you have your completed Bess Skater back bodice pattern piece. Congratulations, you've completed the changes you need to make to the bodice to make your own Bess Skater dress!

The only other change is to make the skirt seam allowance 1/2" instead of 3/8" so it will line up properly with the bodice, but that's super easy.  Just add 1/8" to the non fold line edges.  I also made the skirt double layer, but that was only because the knit I was using was really thin so doubling it made it less see through.  I just added an inch to the bottom of the hem to one piece and took off about an inch to the bottom hem of the other piece and treated the two skirt layers as one.  My next Bess Skater will use the regular Lady Skater skirt hem.

To assemble the dress simply follow the Bess Top instructions until you get to the sewing the side seam step.  Instead of sewing the side seam, sew the skirt front to the bodice front and skirt back to the bodice back first.  Then you can sew the complete side seam from the arm down to the skirt edge, just make sure the point where the bodice meets the skirt lines up nicely on both sides.

If you have any questions about this or any other MashUps please feel free to comment.  Be sure to follow the Monthly MashUp Pinterest board if you'd like some more inspiration on garments to mash.  And remember, if you do a MashUp I'd love it if you would share it in the Call Ajaire Monthly MashUp Flickr group!

In other news.....feel free to comment with your new laptop suggestions since I'm currently in the market, hehe.

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