All by myself.

Weeks and weeks ago, I asked the community on Facebook:

Midi-or-MaxiA few more votes pointed to the calf-length midi dress.

I was somehow inspired to take on this project solo — from patterns to fabric cutting to production.

Yikes.

As usual, I thought it “wouldn’t be that hard.”  I wanted to experience every step and save a little money (#bootstrap, anyone?).

I’ve never made a pattern, or cut fabric for production, or really, done any of this besides sew. So I asked for help from Kristen and used patterns from Jessica as my guides. Here’s how it went from this to this:

 

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First. Trace off existing pattern.

I used Jessica’s patterns for the crop + rainbow dress and traced off the neckline and armcycles. I wanted a slimmer fit, so Kristen helped me re-draw my side seams to fit around the bust and hips, but still fit nice and snug.

So. Much. Trial + error. More on the error side, really.

I cut out my first paper pattern (slated to be a size small), laid it on my fabric, and cut out a front and back in some leftover jersey.

 

IMG_2003The next step is sewing and fitting. I sewed the pieces together and tried it on. Too big. Kristen helped me pin it, and go back to the pattern to shave off a few inches from my original side seams.

To get a really nice fit around the bust and hips (flatteringly tight in the right spot and freeingly loose in the hips and bust) I went through this process about 8 times.

Re-draw my lines, cut, sew, test, go back and re-draw my lines, cut, sew, test.

A full day for one of those most simple pieces — and that’s just in one size. Here’s the almost-end result on a mannequin.

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Once I’d gotten things right on my sample fabric, I used the fabric I really wanted and made a final, size small sample.

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Next up is creating and finalizing the sizes — small, medium, large.

Luckily, I could use Jessica’s original patterns to help with this and didn’t have to get too technical. (Thank goodness, because figuring out how the body grows and shrinks is super complicated. I’m not there yet.)

 

grading

 

After getting off my small, medium, and large midi dress squared away on that flimsy white pattern paper, I created the “real” patterns by tracing onto some thicker cardboard-y (“Oak Tag”) paper. Sounds sort of fun and really easy, but it took another day to get this step done.

Here’s what the finished pattern paper looks like:

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So. Patterns are done. Time for production!

First I had to cut out the fabric — painstakingly, two layers at a time. I laid out the patterns onto the fabric, traced them with an invisible pen, and used an electric knife (think motorized pizza cutter) to cut it all out.

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Since I’m working in small quantities for now, it took a half-day to cut everything out and get organized.

Final steps? Sewing. Adding care labels. Steaming. Folding. Packaging. Shipping!

Surprisingly, the sewing takes little time compared to the rest of the process.

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Here’s the make-do shipping center that I’ve set up in my boyfriend’s back-yard shed:

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And that’s the beginning.

I’m working on simple pieces like this until I’m really ready to take on the next challenge. With time, and hard work, and more of that patience I’ve been practicing… good things will come.

I still have a few of each size left in the midi dress – you can share the link + shop here:

http://www.seamly.co/products/midsummer-midi-dress

And check out the lookbook I shot with Mackenzie here.

What else would you like to see from Seamly.co?!

XOXO,

Kristin-Signature

 

 

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Kristin Glenn

Hi! I'm Kristin, the founder / designer at Seamly.co. A few years ago, I became obsessed with sustainable fashion, co-founding {r}evolution apparel and Kickstarting "the Versalette" -- without knowing how to sew industrially or draft a pattern. Now, I'm going back to the basics, and learning how this big fashion machine works...

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