Gathered Hole

If you‘re a Pattern Magician, how are you getting along?

When I initiated the Challenge, I expected to find the process of recreating one of Tomoko Nakamichi’s designs, er… challenging.  So you might be pleased to hear that halfway through the project that is the Gathered Hole Dress, I find myself tired, frustrated and wondering if it ain’t all going to hell in a handcart.  Here’s the Work in Progress: 

The dress has a gathered hole to one side of the waist and a gathered hole on each of the upper sleeves.  The sleeves worked out fine (below are some notes on creating Gathered Hole Sleeves if you’d like to see what I did).  The problem is in the hole at the waist, as modelled here by Anne Boleyn, my dummy.   

Anne isn’t a proper dressmaker’s mannequin but a display model with idealised, Miss World-like proportions.  According to my son, she looks nothing like me…  On my more substantial frame, the hole will reveal a more meaty side but don’t worry, I won’t be exposing my kidneys for all the world to see.  The dress is to have lining! 

If I can be bothered to finish it. 

When I try the dress on, it is much heavier on the gathered side that it feels weighed down and this even distorts the neckline.  Maybe the design is only meant for lighter fabrics… Any ideas for how to fix this?  I don’t like the idea of wearing clothes that feel asymmetrical: I’d be constantly tempted to tug at things in an attempt to restore balance!


Notes on Drafting the Gathered Hole Sleeve

I started off with a close-fiting sleeve block and added 4cm height to the sleeve cap.  I drew a 5cm diameter circle in the middle of the bicep (the centre of the circle exactly 5cm above the armhole line) and created 8 segments from the circle.  You can divide these further into 16 segments as in the book but make sure you number the pieces – it might help if there’s a gust of wind during “slash and spread”!  Click on the picture for a larger view.

Size of hole: If you’re thinking of creating a garment with a Gathered Hole, I recommend having some circles of various sizes and placing them against your body, or muslin, to see what size hole works best with your proportions.  My sleeve hole was 5cm across, the centre exactly 5 cm above the armhole line. 

Now, rather as in Matisse, “The Snail”, cut out and rearrange the sleeve segments spreading them slightly.  This will take a few goes.  Start from the middle if it helps.  Pin to another sheet of paper and draw around the new sleeve pattern.  You will need a very wide (though narrow) sheet of paper for this: mine was nearly 150cm.  Add seam allowances.  If, like me, you’re going to make the casing out of a separate piece of fabric, you’ll need to make a pattern piece for this too. 

Trace the edge of the hole and add seam allowances on all 4 sides to make the casing pattern piece:

Making up the Gathered Hole with Separate Casing Piece

Step 1 – Sew the seam up to the casing seam allowance.  I like to zigzag the edges first.

Step 2 – Press open, edge finish the hole.

Step 3 – Edge finish the casing (the 2 short ends and the longest side)

Step 4 – With right sides together, pin and sew the seam that will form the edge of the gathered hole.

Step 5 – I like to repeat and sew a second row (belt ‘n’ braces, me) then trim as close as possible to the seam.

Step 6 – Flip casing over and pin with the wrong sides together. 

Step 7 – Stitch, keeping close to the zigzaged edge-finish and ensuring that there’s a space of around 1cm in width for the insertion of tie into the casing.

Have you ever attempted the Gathered Hole?  Did it work in your fabric?   Did you decide to bare all with your garment or was there a modesty’s-sake base layer?!

13 thoughts on “Gathered Hole

  1. Meticulous sewing as always and a really interesting take on the gathered hole design. I’m afraid I haven’t given much thought to my Pattern Magic pattern but then Nov isn’t over yet.

  2. Mmm… I understand the problem re the gather at the waist and the weight. Try using narrow ribbon tie instead of the self fabric that might help with the weight. Also if your putting an insert at the opening then perhaps a waist stay might help with the pulling to the side, by anchoring at the waist. You’ve done a lovely job with this, so unusual, be a shame not to finish.

  3. Thank you ladies: you’re very encouraging! 🙂 Had a day’s rest today and will hopefully see things with refreshed eyes tomorrow!

  4. Hi Marianna, I made up a version of the gathered hole dress a few years back for one daughter, using a very fine figured voile. I made it up as a summer dress, slicing off the top part of the bodice and putting spaghetti straps on it. Even in voile, and in a small size, there is a fair amount of fabric in the gathers. My impression of the majority of the PM works are that they are demonstrations of pattern adaptation ideas, rather than actual patterns for finished garments. They need a lot of work, trial and error, to adapt to creating a pattern which works for an average figure. I think that if you find a way of making this design work for you, you’ll end up with a really interesting garment, but I’m not sure what to suggest. Perhaps the lining could help in stabilising the fabric and stopping it from pulling down?

    • Thanks Pella, I really appreciate your thoughts on this and the benefit of your Pattern Magic experience (which seems hard to find!). It’s been an interesting process so far and I think I would have made more progress had the half-term holidays not intervened. Can’t wait for silence and space of next week so that I can get on!

  5. You could sew the lining to the dress, more like an underlining, where possible – to try to stop the neckline distortion. I think that would help.

    My pattern magic challenge is complete… I will be posting it soon!

    • Hi G and other Pattern Magicians,
      Don’t worry if you’re a day or so late Email me your projects when ready and I’ll confirm receipt soon as I can, but note that here at the Sew2pro caves, we’re without the Internet 11/11….

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