Self-draft triangley denim dress

Denim dress

Here’s another little self-draft experiment that didn’t quite work out 100% perfect but I thought it’d be good to share anyway. I’ve been pinning approximations of my dream denim dress for quite a while now and decided to use it as another chance to try out designing with my blocks.


I was especially drawn to the Marimekko dress at top left here, and started mulling over how the pockets under that triangle-shaped empire waistline might work. (I’m loving the top-middle frock too, that’s next on the list…)

The changes I made to my block to draft this dress were as follows:


· Front bodice: rotated the shoulder dart to a French dart; left waist dart open to add more swing/ease
· Back bodice: left waist dart open to add more swing/ease, cut a v-neckline
· Skirt: Rotated waist dart out to create fullness. Used the same piece for front and back.
· Taped the skirt and bodice together and cut the new diagonal/triangular ‘waistline’, parallel to the French dart
· Drafted a pocket piece to sit inside the sloping edges of the bodice and skirt.
· Cut a short set-in sleeve

Denim dress

I’m beginning to find that drafting the pattern is one half of the self-design challenge, and the other equally significant half is actually sewing up your creation in a sensible order with no instructions to fall back on! I struggled a bit trying to figure out the best way to attach the pockets and to get a nice point on the triangular panel’s top corner.

Denim dress

The neckline is also not as planned. I bound it with a bias strip first off, but didn’t like it and cut it off, and instead turned and hemmed it with a twin needle. Unfortunately cutting off the original neckline made it all far too wide – it barely stays on my shoulders now.

Denim dress

This is especially apparent from the back, where I had this idea to make the a deep V to mirror the seamline. I interfaced the diagonal edges with strips before hemming but it still wasn’t enough to keep it in place. Next time I’ll tighten it all up and consider another finishing technique.

Denim dress

The fabric is an extremely soft and supple denim which I bought from our jolly up to Minerva Craftshere it is on the website. This stuff would be great when you want a denim-y look but with added softness and comfort – and unlike most chambrays it has a superb drape and doesn’t stick to tights. Actually for this dress a slightly stiffer fabric would probably have been more suitable and easier to work with given all the funny angles and clipping required. But it’s a dream so wear – sooo comfortable.

So all in all, I’m calling this a semi-success. The idea and drafting were solid , and with a few tweaks to the construction I reckon I can get something cute out of this. I’m thinking an autumnal plaid wool with leggings and boots…

I’m really enjoying my forays into self-drafting. It’s a ton more work, but I like that it’s forcing me to slow down and really consider what I want from a garment. I don’t actually need that many clothes at the moment, so am happy to spend longer on each garment, building its design from the ground up rather than dive into speedy sewing. Plus since it’s from your blocks at least your garment will always fit! It’s not for everyone, but I hope you find my adventures in self-drafting interesting to read about.

26 thoughts on “Self-draft triangley denim dress

  1. AvatarChrystal McKay

    Ohhh I love this dress- It looks amazing! Great job! The pockets remind me of the skirt I’m sewing up right now Vogue 1247. super fun! You should release this as a pattern so us less skilled sewers can copy it’s beauty!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      I have that pattern but only made the top – I’ll have to dig out the skirt too. I’d love to, but that is a whole LOT more work!

  2. AvatarJane

    Lovely! I’m definitely finding your self drafting adventures interesting. I find the whole process really fascinating and as you say, if you’re working from your own block, at least you know it’s going to fit! x
    PS. Just booked a weekend pattern cutting course at Ray Stitch! Can’t wait!!

  3. AvatarSally

    This is such a great idea for a design! The necklace perfectly compliments the great fabric, color, and shape of the dress – way to persevere in designing your own blocks / patterns. That is super cool :)

  4. AvatarBella

    I’m really enjoying your drafting posts. You are so right, it takes much longer to find a fit that you’re happy with, doesn’t it? I thought I had perfected my woven tshirt pattern through one or two toiles only to find more issues with it in the real thing. Setting in more than one sleeve on the toiles probably would have helped! Oh well you live and you learn.

  5. Avatarlsaspacey

    Wow, this looks great, i’ve been crushing on that same inspiration dress too! I’m currently working on the OOP pattern, Simplicity 2591, which with a bit of tweaking would be perfect for making into your top middle inspiration dress. You should look it up on the Internet pattern vendor sites.

  6. Avatarsewlittletime

    It looks great Katie! I love your drafting adventures – it really makes me want to have a go! I guess it takes longer than using a pattern but you know it will fit you well so avoid the whole alternations bit!

  7. AvatarYbat

    I really like this dress. I cant wait to see your second attempt once you’ve worked out all the bugs. I think in plaid it would look really interesting depending on your pattern placement. I am really enjoying your adventures in self drafting I hope you keep doing it.

  8. AvatarNatalie

    I really like this dress. It’s a shame if the neck slips down your shoulders but from a looks point-of-view I think the whole thing is lovely and really suits you. I think the drapey shape with the triangle is genius. I want one!!

  9. AvatarSara

    This is so cute! Definitely one of your pins I quickly re-pinned. I’d love to try my hand at self drafting, but for starters I’m lazy and for seconds I’m bad at math. But maybe someday I’ll be tempted, because your forays are reaaaaaaaaallly cute…

  10. AvatarRosie Sparkleneedles

    Oh I love this, and would totally buy it if it was a pattern! I know the shoulders will be annoying to wear, but they look lovely. I’m starting a pattern drafting course in January, so I will be watching your adventures with interest. Can I ask which course you did?

  11. AvatarAddie

    I love your self drafted pieces. My mom hardly ever uses patterns to sew, but I can never make things fit well. I have looked at making custom pattern blocks some, but I never got the hang of it. Do you have a post with basics, or could you recommend a favorite resurce for getting started?

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Hi Addie, I did a two day class myself to make and fit my blocks, which was really helpful. Usually when I have a fitting problem I google the issue and find a tutorial to try!

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