Loopy Dress

1 loopy loops1 Measurements BackMy newest client, who got in touch via this blog, lives on the other side of the world so I’ll never even see her 😥 She asked for a copy of a dress I made for myself that I blogged a while back.  We exchanged a few emails to get an idea of how this would work, discussing fabrics, a deadline, payment and measurements – but mostly measurements.  I sent a couple of pictures like this one.

Then off I went.

The main worry was making the dress too small.  The black fabric I picked has the tiniest amount of stretch and I used the Winifred Aldrich close-fitting dress block (which, as you may know, isn’t all that close-fitting) to design a sloper on which to base the dress pattern.

Making the inside of the garment nicely finished is very important to me, even more so when sewing for a client who might only have RTW garments to compare to, but on this occasion I abandoned my usual French seams.  The dress will probably have to be adjusted by the client and while contour darts can quickly be narrowed or widened, letting out a French seam can be a bit of a nightmare.  Not only are there two stitching lines to unpick, but the inner seam is likely to be closely trimmed.

1 inside outInstead, I left the seam allowances untrimmed (in case there are places where the garment needs to be made bigger) and bound them Hong Kong style.  The white binding is consistent with the colour scheme of the dress: can you guess what it is yet?!

1 scrap practice


The dress has a ‘loop and button’ closure but not of the delicate, bridal variety (this is meant to be a utalitarian garment).  I’ve only done loops once before so thought I might do some desk research to enable me to do it as professionally as possible.  The buttons on the left side are placed exactly at the centre front, as for a shirt with buttonholes, but the loop side edge therefore has to move back and it’s really the loops that are placed at the centre front of the right side.  But which part of the loop is the exact middle?  The  outer edge?  The hole?   And as for the rouleau strips: how long to make them in relation to the button size?

Well, maybe there’s a magic formula somewhere but I realised I’d have to make some samples and take measurements from those that worked!

I did pick up one helpful tip (from here, as usual) for sewing loops.  Use sticky tape when aligning the strips with the raw edge of the garment as there’s less movement than if using pins or tacks.

1 raw edges together

Place loop strips at tailor tacks, raw edges aligned, stitching facing up, and affix with narrow strips of tape

Trim away SAs and remove tailor tacks

Oh, and place the stitched side of the strips up so when the sewing is done and flipped over, the stitching doesn’t show.

No need to peel off all those bits of tape: this whole section will get cut away.

It was hard to ‘let go’ and put the dress in the post.  I guess I feel it’s not quite ready as I haven’t seen it on the client.  And I no longer have control, if that makes sense.  But we posed for a photo together, the dress and I, with the ever-present Blogstalker looking on.

1t blogstalker is so silly


That’s Sew Cinematic presents

a Sewing Horror Picture Show



(a barmy domestic)

and her amazing contrast collar’n’cuffs dress

contains scenes unsuitable for sewists of exacting high standards and nervous dispositions 


Collar with Stand (she winged it, totally)

Loop and Button Closure (a bit risque)

and Introducing:

The Turnback Cuff

(a tutorial)


The plan wasn’t to draft the Magenta dress myself.  I bought the pattern for the rather demure Burda 7494 and meant to alter the shape of the collar then add sleeves and a decolletage.  But the Back View of this pattern revealed a sudden departure of a collar!  Lovely as Burda 7494 is, its back zip meant that the design wouldn’t have worked with a “collar with a stand” and so had to be shelved.  

I got Googling which threw up the Anal Retentive Rocky Horror Costume List. This website details the costumes and props of all the Rocky characters and  is aimed at fans who attend stage and cinema viewings of the show dressed as characters from the film (which doesn’t sound like a bad night out at all…).  It told me everything I wanted to know, even how to wear the dress: Unbutton dress so it’s about even with bra (which shows a bit)…”  Oh, OK….  “... unbutton it from the bottom up to about crotch level”.  Hm!  Presumably, this is to enable one to slide down banisters?  It also revealed that the dress – designed along with the other costumes by Sue Blane  – has pintuck pleats on the front and on the sleeves.  Beautifully detailed as these would have been, they weren’t noticeable in the grainy Youtube clips of the Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite that I kept playing, so I left them out and decided to concentrate on the more essential components of the distinct Magenta look: the loop and button closure, the collar with stand and the turnback cuffs.  Oh, and the black and white.

Loop and Button Closure

Making these for the first time wasn’t difficult and there was plenty of instruction and encouragement from other blog posts which  helped. But, I would caution against using this kind of closure on a “normal” dress: the risk of gaping is too great.  If you like Loop and Button, I recommend that you either keep the loops and buttons close together and use a stiff fabric, or insert a “business at the back” zip beneath to keep things together.

Collar with Stand

Being a collar-with-stand virgin, I was wary of drafting my own from scratch and instead used the collar in Vogue 8252 as a template (I also copied the sleeves from this pattern).  I made a size 8 collar which seemed the perfect proportion to the dress (no Harry Hill comparisons, d’ya hear!) though the stand was too wide for the neck and had to be messed around with till it fit! 

The V8252 collar attachment instructions were very confusing though and I did run screaming to Reader’s Digest CGTS for help.

The Turnback Cuff tutorial

My favourite part of the dress and another “first”.  Adding a turnback cuff to a sleeve creates a rather distinguished finishing touch so imagine my surprise when I discovered (by referring, as ever, to the sacred tome) that it was dead easy and simple to do.  The turnback cuff works well on a full-length sleeve (although avoid white if you’re messy!) and I imagine it works more splendidly still on a “bracelet sleeve”.  In fact, I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s a step–by-step guide.

1. You begin with the sleeve pattern.  This is where you mark the style line of the cuff.  You can have a design like mine where the ends meet in the centre front of the sleeve but there are other options: they can overlap, the top can be scalloped, or the cuff can be continuous like the facing, etc.

Draw the cuff then draw its seam allowance – I did 1cm.  (Note that this cuff doesn’t have a side seam.  It’s a single piece cut on fold that rolls around the prepared sleeve).  Cut 4 of fabric and 2 of interfacing.

Draw the facing by copying the bottom of the sleeve.  Add  a seam allowance (1.5cm).  Cut 2 of fabric and (this is optional) 2 of interfacing.

2. Sew the cuffs.  Trim, turn and press.

3. Sew the side seams of the facings, press open, then edge finish the top edges.

4. Sew the gathering stitches for the sleeve, then complete the sleeve side seam.  Press open.  Working from the right side of the sleeve, attach cuff to sleeve and tack.

5. Attach facing over the cuff.

6. Stitch and remove tacking.  Trim SA’s then press to embed stitches.

7. Extend the facing and seam allowances away from the sleeve and with the right side up, understitch the facing and the SA’s.  Turn facing to inside, rolling in slightly and press.  On the inside, stitch facing to the sleeve seam allowance.

A note on the direction of the bust dart

The dress front is shaped by a single underarm bust dart that goes all the way to the bust point.  I designed the front so as to press the bust dart upwards after reading this fascinating explanation as to why this may be best from the brill blogger Pattern, Scissors, Cloth.