The Cecile Dress – self-drafted beauty

This year, in 2020, I embarked on a course to learn about pattern making. After spending the majority of last year learning how to sew, it only made sense to me that this be my next thing. I thought by now I would have designed and sewn alot more self-drafted items, however life gets busy and after a number of obligation sewing (not fun) I finally got around to creative sewing (very fun).

I made this dress after weeks of dreaming over voluminous, puffy, floaty, cloud-like dresses. My inspirations being Natalie Ebaugh, Ejc, Cecile Bahnsen and of course, Minju Kim. I would go to bed thinking about how I would design this dress. I had a bodice block and decided I wanted to learn how to make a wrap style front, but not necessarily a wrap dress. I wanted the complexity of the overlapped fronts of a wrap-style top, but knew I wanted a gathered skirt.

I thought more is more and decided on a 3-tier long skirt. This was done by using the 1.5x formula – so, the Tier 1 is 1.5x the circumference of bodice, Tier 2 is 1.5x the circumference of Tier 1, and Tier 3… you catch my drift. This thing definitely had to have puffy sleeves and I drafted a new, long puffy sleeve using my sleeve block. I think my pattern making teacher would be really proud right now.

My fabric was picked up during my birthday get-away at Coolangatta. We stopped into a massive thrift store and I found this unwanted cotton bed sheet for $1! Absolute gem of a find. I loved the little florals and subtle green, yellow, orange tones. As soon as I laid my eyes on it I could envision my dream dress.

Using, “Patternmaking For Fashion Design”, by Helen Joseph Armstrong, I followed the instructions for the surplice, wrap style top. It seemed like a very odd wrap panel shape but I made a toile and success! The front fit perfectly with no alterations – I had to learn about contouring and cinched in the neckline at the front.

The back neckline was very droopy so I took out about 4cm from the top CB line. My photos show a flutter sleeve, as that was my original idea. Even though I had a successful toile, I sat on the idea for a few weeks… just nervous to put my ideas into action. It’s one thing to design and sketch something, but it’s another to attempt it. What if it looked funny? What if the neckline sagged? What if I looked silly wearing it? So many what if’s!

I finally plucked up the courage to make this dress and I’m so glad I did it 🙂 It felt like such an accomplishment. I used my puffy sleeve pattern I’d drafted from a previous project for those wondering.

This is one of the first properly drafted things I’ve made and it turned out as floaty, feminine and voluminous as I’d hoped. So happy 🙂 I would like to call her The Cecile. The waistline is a little lower than expected, but the tiers are quite spaced out and heavy so let’s call it the style. I added a little DIY tag using the same thrifted fabric as seen on @amyzcheann ‘s story.

I love how this dress is a combination of all my muses. I don’t shop for new clothes anymore, and I’m sure this could be a design in stores, but I will always think of it as an (IG) sewing community inspired dress 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Cecile Dress – self-drafted beauty

  1. Hey Mel, I really enjoy your style, in some ways its very similar to mine: feminine and voluminous. The dress of course looks amazing, 3 tiers was a great choice. I I always tell people who ask me about self drafting, to start when oversized clothing because it’s a lot easier to fit. For $1 the fabric is a win!


    1. Hi Tammy! Thanks for popping by🙂 glad you like my dress, it’s one of my first drafted items and a favourite one i might add!☺️ I love your style also!


  2. Any resources that you can recommend to help learn self drafting? I have so many pattern ideas in my head that seem simple enough in construction that I hate to buy a pattern, and I would love to become more confident with drafting my own.


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