Lady Skater Dress #1… why number one? Because there will certainly be a #2, #3, #4, and so on!
I hesitated to try this pattern (for a year and a half!) for a couple reasons. I’m not a fan of PDF patterns that require assembly. If there’s a large-format PDF that I can send to the copy shop, great! FedEx Kinkos prints up great patterns for around $11. But all of that cutting and taping of little letter-size pieces of paper… ugh. I also did not fit completely into this pattern’s size range, so I knew there would be pattern grading required from the get-go.
There are, however, so many incredible makes of this dress out on the web, and it looks great on every body type I’ve seen. In my desperate hunt for a comfortable dress I could wear to work, I decided to suck it up and try the Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo.
First up: the pattern assembly. The pattern itself requires 22 pages to be cut out and taped together. Nobody seems to have any trouble with this, but I did. Knowing I tend to have issues lining things up with these PDF patterns, I took almost an hour to painstakingly cut out each piece, making sure to be consistent with the lines, and another 40 minutes or so taping them all together. The first few pieces went together well, but then, as usual, pattern lines didn’t line up and I just had to eyeball it and try to make the lines look correct even though the pieces of paper were clearly crooked. I find the whole process insufferable.
Next: pattern grading. This pattern instructs sewers to choose a size based on their high bust and high waist measurements (as opposed to the usual full bust and natural waist – though I think the “high waist” indicated here really is the natural waist, as many people incorrectly measure their waist too low, where they wear their low-rise pants).
My current measurements are 44″ high bust, 51″ full bust, 46″ waist, and 54″ hip. Yep, I’m thick in the middle, and clearly my waistline is not Lady Skater Friendly. Using Tanya’s pattern grading advice from the Curvy Sewing Collective, I estimated a larger range for the Lady Skater:
To pull this off, I would need to start with the size 8 bodice based on my high bust measurement of 44″. Then, I would grade out to a size 12 at the bottom of the bodice, and cut a size 12 skirt. Of course, size 12 doesn’t exist, so I had to make that happen.
First, I measured the distance between each size line on the existing pattern: 1/2″. To grade from size 8 to size 12, I needed to increase 4 sizes. 4 x 1/2″ = 2″
On both the front and back bodice pieces, I marked off 2″ from the bottom of the bodice on the seam edge. Then I used my curve ruler to draw a new seam from the size 8 underarm down to the 2″ mark. I used the curve to extend the bottom bodice line, and that was my new bodice, graded from size 8 at the shoulders to size 12 at the waist.
For the skirt, the measurements were the same, so I added 2″ to the seam side all the way down and used my curve to extend the bottom.
That was it. It was time to cut out some fabric and sew this thing up!
My first-run fabric is a little heavier, so I chose the 3/4 sleeve option for a cooler season dress. I love this fabric because to me, it looks like skulls… but it isn’t, so I can feel like I’m wearing skulls but it’s acceptable because they’re not skulls. Right?
I sewed all seams on my serger and used my sewing machine for the neckline topstitching, sewing in the elastic (used to reinforce seams – not as stretched elastic for cinching), and for the hem. I used a twin needle for the hem.
I didn’t have any trouble assembling the dress. In fact, this ended up being one of the most satisfying neck bands I’ve ever sewn. It took about 2 1/2 hours total to sew – not bad for the first time through the pattern. I suspect I will be able to get it down around 2 hours as I become more comfortable with the pattern.
For a first run, I’m very happy with how this turned out. I’m shocked that my pattern grading worked. There are a few things I will change for make #2.
The shoulders/neckline are too big, as is evidenced by my visible bra strap, even after going to great lengths to try to hide them. I can pinch out about a half inch of extra fabric at the top of my shoulders, so I will be attempting this modification next time:
This and other modifications can be found on the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Fitting & Adjustments page.
Next, I will shorten the bodice by about an inch, and add that inch back onto the length of the skirt. I may add another inch to the skirt length as well.
Lastly, I might try a narrow shoulder adjustment. All of these modifications make me nervous, but I think that’s because I’ve never managed to get a pattern to the point where I’m really, really happy with it. Could this be the one?
Until then, I will enjoy my small victories thus far!
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.