the next sewing lesson

My student is making this dress to wear to a special event. Often, my student will start the design process by going fabric shopping in my work space. She fell in love with a black rayon jersey knit. I don't blame her. I made two dresses out of the same fabric. It feels divine on and has a great drape.

Then my student began to sketch a dress with three tiers of ruffles.We drafted and constructed a tank dress out of the rayon based on my students measurements. We planned to suspend the ruffled tiers from the tank dress. My student did a great job of binding the armholes with cross grain strips of the rayon. The results were tidy, a nice testament to her progress over these weeks.

We has lots of discussion back and forth about the tiered ruffles and what they ought to look like, and what their placement ought to be, should the tiers start at the neck? or further down on the bodice? I showed my student a dress I had made using circular ruffles at the hem. she loved the restrained look. I was also dying to show her how to construct circular ruffles. The process is both so goofy and satisfying.

I didn't have enough of the rayon knit to make the ruffles out of the same fabric as the dress. But a bit of shopping in my stash turned up some sheer black poly crepe that fit the bill, and dressed the dress up several notches.

We had a couple of weeks without lessons because of Passover. At the start of today's lesson, my student tried the dress on and discussed how she wanted the dress to fit more snugly. The bodice was a bit floppy and the skirt looked a bit tenty for her taste. After considering a couple of options, I decided to make two princess seam like darts from neck to hem. This was an entirely new concept for my student.She took the dress off and turned it inside out. The width of the dress just below the armholes was 16 inches. I marked 4 inches in from each side seam and folded the dress on those line. I then drew an "s"curve that I thought would work for my student's body. She was dubious, but willing to try and sewed up one of the long darts. I had her try the dress on with only one of the darts sewn. She was really impressed with the improved fit. So I then marked, and she sewed the other dart. She was delighted with the fit. We will need to play with the shoulders a bit, but that is for another lesson.

She also sewed on the first tier of ruffle. I love how she was so comfortable stretching the base dress a bit as she sewed so that the dress could be put on or taken off without the threads breaking. The next tier has been sewn together ( with a French seam). We need to figure out the placement of the next two tiers and them hem all of the layers . Then we will finish off the neckline.

Clearly, my student has not been taking on sewing tasks in a traditional manner. She is learning skills as she needs them.

My student is less curvy than my dressmaking dummy. The dress looks much cuter on my student than it does on the dummy. Right now the first tier dips down several inches longer in the back than it does in the front. I think that looks really elegant. My student is unsure . We can get that figured out next week.

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  1. Your student is doing very well! Can't wait to see the finished garment.

  2. I think you have a design student along with that sewing student. What a gift you are giving her.

  3. I hope that we wil be able to finish the dress this Sunday.

    As for teaching design as well. I think that that is the whole point of sewing. In taking on this student my own agenda was to see if my approach to garment construction and design was simply a quirk of my brain and it's slightly peculiar wiring, or if it is in fact a teachable skill.

    I am learning that this approach is entirely teachable. I hope I get to do more of this sort of teaching.


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