Semi-Self-Drafted Dress

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDrop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comFiller post! With bonus hand-make! So I thought it might be interesting to share a side project from last year while I’m in the process of shooting some recent springy / summery sews. It’s a rambling tale, one that I haven’t properly dissected until now, but the abbreviated version is that last year, I was randomly approached by a US publishing company with the possibility of creating an open-ended sewing book of sorts. As in, a book of my designs, with sewing patterns in the back. Initially the publisher didn’t realise that all the hand-makes I share on the blog, are sewn from other people’s patterns…which is pretty obvious when you actually read the posts. So it started off as a flippin exciting and viable idea to looking like a very expensive and high risk one from the publishers end, as I would have had to outsource alllll the pattern drafting and grading. Turns out, several quotes later, this service is massively expensive here (and rightly so, there’s a freakin lot of work and skill involved) and multiplied by 8-10 different designs, the publisher came to the conclusion that their allocated budget wouldn’t come close to covering it. This all took place over a several month period in which I worked with a local service to have one design trialled and drafted into actual pattern form, to suss out costs and time involved. Answer: A LOT and A LOT. We left on good terms with the lines open for the future in case of any less costly book ideas (insert cry-laugh face).

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comI learned so much. The whole process was equal parts frustrating and interesting. Firstly, I now know I am not remotely interested in the technical aspect of drafting patterns. That is a good thing to realise. The design and concept side of things, yes. The technicalities, no. Happy to outsource drafting and grading forever and always, if in future I wanted to produce sewing patterns, which is looking unlikely. For those who actually do this crazy shit for a living, I am in awe. Mucho respect to our beloved independent pattern companies: Closet Case Files, True Bias, Baste and Gather etc etc etc…all of you!

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comDrop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comThe creative process is basically one big tussle, ain’t it? Even when it’s just you and you. One of my fav popular musings on it ~ This is Awesome! This is tricky. This is shit. I am shit. This might be okay. This is Awesome! ~ So true. And when you’re trying to get your ideas out of your head and into someone else’s, it’s adds a whole new dimension. Words on their own weren’t enough to convey the idea, sketches didn’t quite reach either and in the end we arrived at an agreement of how this particular dress should sit and fit and move from a combination of talking it out, sketches and fabric swatches. We did four or five muslins, which maybe could have been two or three, had we muslined the dress in a similar fabric to the actual version, something lightly and floaty, rather than stiff calico. As you can imagine, it was kind of hard to gauge how the actual fabric might fall.

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comAnd the result? A dress that is actually pretty close to what I was imagining. Which was: a loose fit, high-ish necked bodice with kimono sleeves / dropped shoulder, a front placket, gathered waist, raised slightly higher in front and lower at the back, round knee length-ish hem scooped up at the side, french seamed with bias bound neck and armsicles and waist seam. And a cherry on top. I sewed up this sample size in this silk crepe de chine print from The Fabric Store but I actually think it might work better in a solid, since some of the features get lost. Am I allowed to confess, after all that, that I’m not totally in love with it? Don’t slap me. I’m actually okay with this. Seeing it come to life from an idea was irrevocably the coolest thing ever.

Drop Shoulder Dress | ADA SPRAGG | www.adaspragg.comTo be honest, when it didn’t all go ahead, of course I was disheartened but a little part of me was relieved. The timing was not great. I’m not sure I really had the creative energy to devote to such a massive project last year, with my littlest man still at home. So, I’ve filed this one away in the box of life experiences! And the dress and pattern are just kinda chillin with their homies for now. As always, I love to hear your thoughts…and am curious…would you actually wear this dress? What’s working / not working?

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  • DianeYwrote:

    I would totally wear this dress ! Except that I would want a longer sleeve to hide my arm flab. I hate dresses fitted thru the middle so this is my preferred style. I even love the fabric you used!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Ahhh, got you on the sleeve thing. Thanks so much for your feedback Diane!

  • Trinewrote:

    YES! I would wear it ALL.THE.TIME! I love it Sophie ♡ – does it by any chance have pockets?

    • Sophiewrote:

      Omg. It doesn’t have pockets Trine! But it must have pockets! Why didn’t I think of that? Clearly not in my right mind…thanks for the feedback xx

  • Blogless Annawrote:

    I would wear this dress in a heartbeat. Yes I would. So interesting to read about your book no go. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Anna! I could so see you in this too!

  • Gailwrote:

    Great dress and the fabric colour combination and texture are perfect.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Gail xx

  • Sarahwrote:

    Would totally buy and wear this pattern!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Oh good to know, thanks Sarah!

  • Natashawrote:

    Sophie, this dress has so many features that many people are looking for; it covers the tops of the arms, skims over the tummy, skims over the hips/bottom and has a high neck for modesty and to prevent sunburn plus it looks super comfy. It really is a great holiday dress.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Natasha! Yes, the high neck is not everyone’s cup of tea. I normally don’t wear them but I think it’s kind of cute here so good to hear that you like it.

    • Xanthe Grundywrote:

      Totally agree with Natasha on this! High/modest neckline is definitely on my check list. I love this dress, and I think the fabric looks great! You have a great eye for matching fabrics and styles, Sophie! 🙂

  • Utewrote:

    I would absolutely wear it! You are right, it would be gorgeous in a floaty solid. How interesting to read about the book process. It sounds like it was a great experience but I do wonder why they did not research the whole thing more professionally before approaching you and getting you involved like this.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Oh thanks Ute! Ha, yes, research is key I think…

  • Zélie Décousuewrote:

    J’adore cette robe, vraiment c’est le coup de foudre ! C’est exactement ce que j’aime porter. J’adorerais avoir le patron, s’il te plaît !!!
    I love this dress, it’s really hooked ! This is exactly what I like to wear. I ‘d love to have the pattern, please !!!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thank you lovely Zelie! I will definitely have a good think about releasing it as a pattern…

  • Kate Carvalhowrote:

    Very interesting tale! I definitely take my hat off to those pattern drafting super heroines – not my cup of tea at all, but I’m sure glad they do it. Yep I’d definitely wear this dress but I’d take it just above the knee for my tastes/proportions.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Ahh, good to know, yes wasn’t sure about the length so maybe above knee would be a cute option. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Nancy Cwrote:

    Yes I would wear this dress! <3

  • Rachelwrote:

    I would wear it in a heartbeat!! It is soooo my style! And I love that CDC – great colours!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Rachel, thank YOU, I could sooo see you in this!! With dem Bared boots and tights…oh my!

  • Miewrote:

    I would definitely definitely wear this dress! I love it! I’m a skinny jeans lover with a too big bum/thighs for skinny jeans so I’m always wearing something longish to cover up. This would be perfect. I’m glad you had some realizations about what is your interest and what is not and I hope this will all work out some day. We definitely need your style in the pdf pattern world!!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Mie! Thank you. That’s so nice of you. Hey good idea to where this over jeans, could maybe even offer a tunic length if I decided to release it. I like the way you think!

  • emmawrote:

    yes, I would wear this dress. The style would work for most body types. A longer sleeve would work for me, but the cap sleeve is very cute. I’d love to make this up in a linen solid!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Emma, yes it seems like a longer sleeve is a strong preference, not sure how it would look here but good feedback anyway. x

  • Janellewrote:

    I would add pockets into the side seams, lower the front neckline a smidge and definetly wear this dress! Would look good in the solid or a chambray but I also love your print version as well.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Oh yes, pockets! Why did I not add them?? I like where you’re going with this chambray idea….

  • Morganwrote:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Sophie. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I agree with what you said about the value of figuring out what you don’t love doing. In my career, I tried so hard to be a graphic designer/illustrator. In the last couple of years, I’ve figured out what I really love is figuring out how things work, not how they look. (Opposite to you, I would pursue technical pattern making if I wanted to change to a career in fashion.) You have extraordinary gifts in sewing and styling, matching patterns and fabrics to create a vision like no one else, and I run, not walk, to check out a new blog post from you! I need visual inspiration just as much as – maybe more than – patterns. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t design patterns, but I just wanted to say the beauty you create is appreciated 🙂

    • Sophiewrote:

      Whoa that’s so interesting Morgan, we are at opposite ends in the design arena! Yes, I can definitely see you like figuring out how things come together and I’m still hoping you might release a tutorial for turning dungarees into cute dungaree pinafores hint hint. Thank you beautiful lady, that is some very heart warming feedback and compliments, sometimes I do wonder at my contribution to this community but what you’ve just said has reaffirmed for me that sometimes yes inspiration is as valuable as more tangible things, like producing patterns. XX

  • Sarahwrote:

    I think this dress is completely awesome and now want to try to make something like it myself. Do us all a favor and release this pattern! The fabric you chose is to die for. It would work with so many different fabrics!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thank you so much Sarah, I’ll definitely give it some serious consideration!

  • Amy Bateswrote:

    I’d buy that pattern now! Perfect summer dress!! Love it!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Amy, wow, that’s so great to hear!

  • Hannahwrote:

    Would totally wear this dress! Such a nice loose Summer style dress, any plans to put it on sale?!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Oh thanks Hannah, I wasn’t planning to but wow have had such a good response I’m tempted…will keep you posted.

  • Sonjawrote:

    I think the dress is really cute! I studied patternmaking briefly, not with professional aspirations, but just for my own knowledge, and man, I do NOT enjoy it. For me it sucked all the joy out of the creative process… not my style at all! And I have to say that I really get irritated by how often I’m approached with an idea or a product from someone that clearly couldn’t be bothered to spend 5 minutes on my blog (and yet, they always say that they read my blog and know that I’m a great fit!!!). It’s such a waste of everyone’s time! I’m sorry that things didn’t work out, but glad that this frees up more time for you to do what you actually love doing.

    • Sophiewrote:

      Hahaha! That’s so good to know Sonja! It seems like pattern drafting is one of those things you either love or hate, so interesting to know which way you swing. Yes, anything joy-sucking is not good. That’s how I feel when people are like ‘oh you like sewing, when are you going to start selling your clothes’ but I’m like noooo, that would kill it for me. I don’t want to become a sweatshop! I just want to make pretty shit, and share it and then make more pretty shit. Thanks for your condolences, if I didn’t get so much out of the experience it would have definitely felt like a waste of time, I can imagine you get all sorts of offers too…

  • katiewrote:

    I adore this dress. I’d sew it up just as it is and probably want to wear it every day. I hear you re the time and effort thing. People saying ‘you should sell patterns!’ is a million miles away from all the work it takes to actually produce a quality product. Exciting to be approached though!

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thank you lovely Katie! Funny, those fabrics you posted the other day of your designs (on Insta), I keep thinking of them and I think they would sew up beautifully in a pattern like this. I could see you in this too!

  • Helenwrote:

    I love this dress and would absolutely wear it as is. It’s exactly the type of dress I’ve been wearing and thinking about recently. Perfect for summer here in the northern hemisphere! And if you could just throw in some of that CDC too, it would be absolute perfection…

    • Sophiewrote:

      Thanks Helen, that’s the loveliest feedback. I do feel like its a good throw-on dress for summer, or maybe with tights and boots in winter. Haha! Yes, that CDC was a bit yummy…The Fabric Store may still have some. Might be worth asking… x

  • Marion Hubbardwrote:

    I just want to say how many of the above comments really touched me especially Morgans (17 May). Not one of us out there has everything and from reading all the comments here I get a sense of genuine understanding and support for what we’re all trying to achieve. The process from having a germ of an idea to finalising something wearable is often a complex struggle that these bloggers and blog readers seem to share in spades. It’s that particular encouragement that makes inexperienced sewers like me get excited again about ‘having another go’ and pulling some unfinished outfit from my sewing graveyard .

  • Kieranwrote:

    I love it! I would totally wear a dress like this every day if I could!

  • Lienwrote:

    Wooow. What an amazing dress!
    I wish I could make it now. It’s seems so comfy yet so stylish at the same time.
    Gosh I’m already thinking about matching fabrics for this dress <3

    Xoxo Lien

  • Jillian - SewUnravelledwrote:

    I’d wear exactly as is. It has all the sensibilities and design qualities of the Japanese patterns you know I LOVE!!! Yep, I’d wear it all right.

  • Heather Louwrote:

    So interesting to read the story, thanks for being brave enough to talk about that experience 😉 Ain’t gonna lie, sometimes I feel like I have the hardest job in the world (which is clearly not the case, but when you’re in the “This is shit” zone its hard to see clearly). This has been especially true with what I’m working in now 😉

    Regardless, I love this dress and would totally wear it!

  • Katiewrote:

    Love it! I would definitely wear that dress. All the time 🙂

  • justinewrote:

    I love your dress Sophie and am sorry the book didn’t work out. I’m sure there will be other opportunities for you as you are very talented! Drafting patterns is really hard, and these book companies don’t seem to have a clue about it, do they? While you could have taken advantage of them and just put together something passable, since they wouldn’t have probably known the difference, you had integrity and knew that wasn’t the way to go. I went to school for fashion design years ago and can cobble together my own designs, but I would never want the responsibility of grading and making sure all the little details are good to go for a commercial pattern. I made one digital pattern to sell once and realized I made a huge mistake in my drafting. It was so embarrassing! Pattern making is hard!!

  • Dariwrote:

    You have a designer’s heart, Sophie. I love to see your sketches and the your fabric choices are always beautiful and suit the patterns perfectly. I purchased a pattern drafting class for wovens, and it was actually quite complicated. I feel your pain. :). I have drafted a knit pattern for a top, and it turned out pretty good, definitely not the nightmare wovens were. Lol. As for the dress, I love this and I would encourage you to sell this as a pattern. It would be a good way to monetize your blog, plus passive income never hurt anyone 😉 Anyway, I think it looks comfy and you styled it perfectly.

  • salliewrote:

    This dress is really great! I love the easy shape of it and could definitely see myself wearing it, like, everyday. But I agree with a lot of the other comments that the most beneficial thing to come out of this experience is insight into what you are and are NOT interested in pursuing in your practice. I totally feel you on the whole “patternmaking is not for me” thing. I’m fine with tweaking a pattern here and there to suit my tastes, but too much of that, or starting from scratch, just feels like homework to me and makes me dread going into my sewing room. So totally NOT the role I want sewing to hold in my life. I also get very frustrated by people’s knee-jerk response when they find out I make my own clothes of “that’s so cool, do you sell them?” or the assumption that I’m a “designer”. I need to find a polite way to say “This is for me, not you” instead of the exaggerated eye roll that this comment usually gets!! I think we’re probably very similar in that the joy of this pursuit really comes from matching pattern to fabric and seeing something that used to only exist in our head become a reality. For me, that’s enough. If you ever wanted to send this dress out into the wild, I’m sure we’d all snatch it up in a heartbeat, but it’s enough that it exists just for you too.

  • Kerynnewrote:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Sophie, this has really helped me appreciate the very hard work that goes into pattern making. The dress is gorgeous. I particularly like the kimono sleeve and the length, and that fabric! I have a thing for hidden button plackets at the moment so would prefer that for the bodice and pockets are always The Business.

  • Suewrote:

    Sophie! If you release a pattern, i will be the one of the first Group person who try to make it. and i would love to wear this dress for this summer. i like it!

  • Shannonwrote:

    I would totally wear this dress. I love the loose fit, perfect for hot summer days.

  • Elisawrote:

    Love this! The fit, the print. Love.
    And yes, pattern drafting is hard work and certainly not creative!! That’s the funny thing. You need to be creative to come up with the design and then turn into a boring tech nerd to actually get everything done. It does get mind-numbingly boring sometimes ha! But then again it’s a nice balance to complete creative freedom that can be stressful in a completely different way.
    There we have it. My first blog comment ever. 🙂

  • Barbara Cookwrote:

    I love this dress. It’s actually what I’ve been looking for. Keep on trying. You have a lot of talent!!

  • Bella Williamswrote:

    I adore this dress Sophie and it was so generous of you to share your experience. BTW I would totally buy it if you released the pattern. I love a chic, flattering but comfortable fit.

  • Annmariewrote:

    I love it, though personally I’d lower the neckline a bit, but that’s just personal preference. (I hate things being close to my neck and I find anything with a super high neck ends up making me look even shorter, which I don’t need being only 5’0″) I think it would look amazing in a polka dotted fabric, or something with a small, spaced out design like it.

  • Gailawrote:

    I was actually looking for how to self draft a pattern for a knit dress with dropped long sleeves and a dropped gathered skirt. Your post showed up. I love it! Yes I would wear it! Totally cute! Are you interested in designing a PDF of my idea.

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