A few weeks ago, I showed you how to make a lacy bra top and now we are going to build a different garment using the same pattern in a different way. This is a second beginning level patterning project to make a fancy slip that uses the same bra cup pattern for the top. If you haven’t made a pattern for the bra top, here are the instructions on how to make that. Also note: This pattern is designed to be made from knit fabric with a good amount of stretch. There is no closure (it simply pulls on) or ease so it is best to use a fabric with lycra/spandex blended in.
In the same way that the bra top is a custom fit garment, this will be, too. In the instructions below, you will need a series of personal body measurements. Attempt to take the most accurate measurements you can. This garment does not include any ease (it’s a knit that should fit right at your body like a glove).
Measure from your underbust to where you want your slip to end to determine the final length. For my slip, I want it to be just long enough to cover my bum. Draw a vertical line on your patterning paper that is the length you determined. This line will be your Center Front (CF).
Measure your underbust (all the way around your body). Divide that number by 4. Square out from the top of your CF line by this measurement. (34″ underbust divided by 4 = 8.5″ or 86cm divided by 4 = 21.5cm)
Measure from your underbust to your natural waist. Your natural waist is the narrowest part between your bust and your hips. How far below the bust the natural wais is varies a lot from person to person. Find your natural waist and make the slip custom to your curves so it looks awesome when you wear it!
Also, find your natural waist measurement (measuring all the way around your body).
Measure down from the top of your CF line the distance between your under bust and natural waist. Square a line out that is 1/4 your natural waist measurement (just like what we did with the under bust measurement).
I want my slip to have a ruffled skirt. I determined where I wanted the skirt to begin (by looking in a mirror at my body proportions) and measured from the under bust to the point I want the skirt to begin. I measured around my body at that point.
Measure down from the top of the CF line the distance to where the skirt should begin. Square out from that point 1/4 of your body measurement.
If you are skipping the ruffled skirt use your hips as a reference point. Measure the distance between your natural waist and hips, measure your hips and square out from the CF line with 1/4 of your hip measurement.
Connect the points to create your side seam. You want a right angle at the under bust and where the skirt begins. Use a flexible design ruler to connect the points (or sketch a smooth curved line). The curve of the line should reflect the curve of your body. You can (and should) make adjustments based on how gentle or severe your curves are from each of the measurement points for the best custom fit. Also, this pattern is designed to be made from knit fabric which allows for a bit of wiggle room if you make an error but try to get it close.
The pattern we just created works for the front and back of the garment for 3 reasons. 1) we don’t have neck lines, 2) we are not attaching sleeves, 3) it is designed to be cut from knit fabric.
The CF/CB line is to be placed on-the-fold when it is cut from fabric. For patterning situations like this one, I like to pattern the mirror so I can lay it out flat on the fabric for cutting but this is a personal choice. I suggest folding the paper on the CF/CB line to cut the pattern piece on the fold so it can lay flat on the fabric.
Whether or not you make a paper pattern for the skirt is up to you and your skill/tool set. When making ruffles in the way I am about to show you, I use a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and my quilting rulers to mark/cut the piece as they are simple rectangles. With this technique, I can just measure and mark the fabric to the right size. If you are unsure about your marking/cutting skills or don’t have the right tools (like a cutting mat and rotary cutter) you may want to create a paper pattern piece for best results.
I marked on my pattern where the line for the skirt begins. We also determined the full length of the garment at the beginning of the patterning process. We will use these measurements in the next few steps.
To create a ruffle, we need extra fabric that can be gathered. The ruffle will be attached to what is marked as the “skirt” line so we will use your body measurement from that part to determine the skirt pattern piece. I told you to measure your body where you are attaching the skirt. Divide that measurement by 2 (we are patterning the full front/back instead of just CF to Side Seam).
For a light ruffle, multiply that number by 1.5 (to add 50% more fabric to the total length).
For a good amount of ruffle, multiply that number by 2 (you will have twice as much fullness).
For a whole bunch of ruffle, multiply by 3 (you get the idea).
These amounts can vary based on personal preference and the weight of the fabric. A heavy-weight fabric will appear to have a lot more fullness at 50% more than a light-weight fabric. Also, consider the width of your fabric and where seams might need to go.
The number you come up with after you multiply 1/2 your body measurement with the desired fullness is the width of your ruffled skirt from side seam to side seam. (FYI, I multiplied by 1.5) To determine the length, measure from the skirt line on your pattern to the bottom of your CF line. Here is what your paper pieces might look like. The long edge touching the skirt line will be gathered to fit the torso piece when sewing.
To finish the pattern and prepare it for cutting and sewing, we need to add the seam allowance (SA). How much you add depends on how you are going to sew the pieces together and variables such as the width of the elastic you plan to use. SA is up to you based on your comfort and sewing equipment. Here’s what I added to each seam and why:
The side seams of the torso and skirt: 3/8″ (1 cm)
I will be using my serger to join these seams. The type of stitch I will be using (3-thread ultra stretch mock safety stitch) requires two needles and the distance between the far left needle and the cutting blade on the serger is about 3/8″.
If you are using a traditional sewing machine, I would suggest a 3/8″ seam allowance as well due to the curve of the fabric. A wide seam allowance will cause the fabric to pucker/pull at inside curve of the waist. Clipping the SA to relieve the strain (as suggested in sewing books and instructions) isn’t a good idea with a knit. Keep it narrow to begin with and you won’t have to make adjustments during construction.
Joining the skirt to the torso: 3/8″ (1 cm)
I will be using the same stitch on my serger to join these seams. Also, the 3/8″ SA allows room to gather the fabric.
On traditional sewing machines you can use a wider SA if desired.
Top Edge: 1/4″ SA (0.6cm)
I will be using a picot-edge plush back elastic at the top edge of the torso. The elastic I have is 1/4″ (0.6cm) without the picot edge. I will show you how to attach the plush back elastic in the construction posts but folding the fabric around any width of elastic using the technique I demonstrated on the original bra top post is another great solution – just make sure your SA is wide enough for your elastic! If you decide to make this slip with a halter strap instead of bra straps, you must use at least 3/8″ (1cm) elastic along the top edge but 1/2″ (1.25cm) is better.
Bottom edge of the skirt: 1″ (2.5cm)
I plan on constructing a plain hem (fold cut edge toward the wrong side, sew in place). With knits, 1″ is typically a good fold back amount because there is enough distance between where you will sew it in place and the folded edge that the folded edge won’t distort from sewing. With a narrower hem on knit fabric, sometimes sewing closer to the folded edge will cause the fabric to go wavy which can be a good effect but is a horrible thing to attempt to fix if you don’t want it.
Now your paper pattern is ready to go. For this project, you will need to cut:
Cut 2 torsos, cut 2 skirt panels, cut 2 bra cups.
I’ll walk you through the steps of construction in the next post.