Julian Roberts’ ‘Smaller Dress’ a free pattern from the Centre for Pattern Design. I’ll try to explain how this works, but seriously, watch the video here, and just try to imagine it! Photos don’t really help either, but I’ll bung some in.
Ruth, I blame you for this!
I started by watching several videos where Julian Roberts demonstrates the technique. I pondered, dug about for fabrics, and chose a gorgeous deep purple linen, mainly because this design demands quite a lot of fabric, and I had 4m.
Now according to Mr R himself in the videos, he doesn’t really ‘do’ numbers, so actual measurements and yardage are irrelevant, so I did my best to go with it. The positioning of the bodice outlines, and the spacing of the circles you cut out, apparently don’t matter.
I cut about 11′ [couldn’t help doing a bit of mathematical scaling from the pattern’s 11.5′ suggestion, but it was only rough, honest]. I folded it lengthwise, and sewed a looooong ‘side’ seam. It won’t stay on the side apparently.
I plonked the bodice front and back, on the front and back respectively, and chalked round them. Following Mr R’s suggestions, I took a breath and placed them deliberately wonky. I then fiddled about and joined the side seams with random looping curves, and cut away the resulting weird shape. I then vaguely followed the way the circles are positioned in the pattern diagrams. Instructions are SPARSE. If you like your hand held, don’t touch this! 6 large circles swirl down the front and back, numbered in pairs.
I joined the shoulder seams, made the darts, and zigzagged the raw edges as this linen would unravel otherwise! The dress is meant to be lined, and after following the construction, it is definitely essential for this one if you want to avoid getting lost permanently inside the catacomb-like interior.
I started at the front, cut out the 2 bottom circles made a fold in between them to bring them together, right sides facing, and pinned, trying not to stretch out all those bias edges. Partway through the pinning, topology rears its head, and you have to faff about to get it to work. Well I did. I decided to sew round the circles with the overlocker.
I shook it out to the right side, and it looked fine. The narrow space between the circles, folded and stitched, produces odd strap-like bits inside-visible on the right of this picture.
Then I repeated for the middle pair of circles, and then the top pair. Then all the same again for the back.
As each successive pair is stitched, the dress twists and turns and takes on its own life. Very odd. I’d numbered the circles, and I was glad I only cut them as I was prepared to sew each pair, it would have been impossible otherwise.
I got all six circles seamed, faffed a bit more to find the top of the dress, and shook it out. And stared. How the hell am I supposed to get into that? It looks like something that’s just come out of the washing machine- all mangled, twisted and oddly tubular, like a sock monster of some sort.
I decided to walk away, and try again in the morning! It’s undoubtedly better to try to get in [and out] of this with some assistance…
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/112637983″>'Reverse Subtraction Cutting' lecture by Julian Roberts</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/subtractioncutting”>julian roberts</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
After a good night’s sleep, I managed to mentally envisage what SHOULD have happened after all the cutting and circle joining. Try this exercise:
Imagine you are looking up into a cylinder. Out of one side of the cylinder protrude three loops [like netball hoops]. On the other side of the cylinder are three more. The six loops are staggered, so moving up from the bottom you get one on the left, one on the right etc. They do not touch or link in any way. This is my eggstand, twist it inside out, and you have the picture lol
That’s what I SHOULD have got, although it’s much harder to see as the fabric collapses and twists and distorts as you go, because the circles are slightly offset, and, well, fabric.
However. In my attempts to handle and turn the fabric as little as possible, because I don’t want to crush the linen too much, or stretch out the circles, I must have managed to get those loops intertwined. It’s inextricable as it stands, so I have to unpick [and it’s OVERLOCKED AAARGH] at least some of the circles. I think the bottom two are fine, they can be laid out ‘flat’ but the rest is such a tangle I can’t fathom it out. Wish me luck, I’m going in.
Topology is a fascinating mathematical subject, [which nearly killed me at university]…I will defeat this!