Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adding a little fullnes to the skirt...

I love it when people write with questions about patterns or how to do some technique. Recently I had two ladies ask about adding fullness to a garment without making huge changes to the pattern.

When you lengthen a garment like a bishop dress which is intended to stop at the knee area, it can become skimpy-looking. The longer a garment, the more width it requires to maintain good and pleasing proportions. 

It isn’t hard to do and just takes a small alteration to bump up the hem circumference. And doing this you shouldn’t have to do any other alterations to the bodice front or back unless you want to add a lot of fullness.
My Baby's Breath pattern as it would be without box pleats

Add a box pleat and the whole garment looks better

By adding inverted box pleats in the under arm area of a garment you can easily increase the width of a skirt. Most patterns of this type have straight side seams rather than flared as straight are easier to hem!

Begin by tracing off the armholes of your garment. Add about 2” depending on the fabric and the garment size to the width of the underarm area. Now this will also be determined by the width of the armhole curve.

Mark the point of the original side seam so you can stitch straight down for about 1” – 1.5” (again depending on the garment size – shorter for newborn, of course). Backstitch at the bottom as reinforcement. Then stitch the new side seam. (There is no seam finish in these photos.)
Press seam allowance open or towards the back of the garment in the case of a French seam.
Match up the seam stitching to the first row of stitching.
Catch the pleat thus formed in the armhole stitching.

From the outside

Note: the wider the pleat the more likely you are to have to test this with paper and shape the box pleat folds so you can be sure they catch in the underarm seam.  When opened out flat they will have a ‘wave’ appearance with a peak where the fabric folds.
If you are working with light weight fabric you might be able to form a double box pleat for even more fullness and yet still keep the pleat narrow enough to be securely caught in the underarm seam.

So here are some photos of two different garments.
First is View C, from the Grace Knott ‘Pinafore and Sundress’ pattern. I added this View when I updated the original pattern. It also features a growth tuck hem.

You can see both the inside and outside of the underarm tuck
The second is my ‘Baby’s Breath’ done in heirloom dimity with heirloom touches – pin stitched tucks, embroidery and a scalloped hem. This pattern has a set in sleeve so if you were to smock, it would be seamless in the neckline area. The box pleat at the bottom of the armhole curve controls the fullness of the armhole but allow a fuller skirt.
From the inside of the baby gown
From the outside of the gown
Baby's Breath spread out flat
So there you have it. Inside, outside and laid out flat. This can be the step-off point for you to experiment further.
Have fun and keep on stitching......

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