About the Feisdress pattern

Questions surface occasionally about the Feisdress pattern on the message boards. I thoroughly understand asking for input about the pattern from users before buying the pattern. There are sometimes even questions about what is included in the pattern like a drop waist or different skirt styles. But I do wonder why people using the pattern post technical questions they have before they ask Feisdress…Susan will always answer questions about the pattern. Perhaps it is just habit…I know there are questions asked about using and altering the other available patterns all the time.

So here I will post some information about the pattern that I hope will be helpful.

1) You choose the appropriate Feisdress size using a unique measurement – the upper chest width, from front armscye to armscye. And, since the same upper chest measurement in a child goes along with other measurements that are usually different than those for a young woman (bust, waist, center front & back length, shoulder width, etc), there are two sets of patterns: Girls & Juniors. Yes, all dancers’ bodies are different, but alterations to the pattern are simple.

2) There is no ease in the princess seam on the bodice. Kathleen Fasanella has a great article on her website, Fashion Incubator. This website, in general, is an unbelievable fount of information. Kathleen Fasanella is brilliant. An example of this and a discussion that illustrates why Susan’s pattern does not have any ease in the bodice princess seam, is found in her article entitled “Lazy pattern making.”

Here is an excerpt: “There’s two major reasons why ease over the fullest part of the bust is inappropriate. First, ease is only appropriate if the pattern piece containing the longer seam covers a body section of greater area. An example of this is the back shoulder line. It is not uncommon for the back shoulder line to be eased into the front shoulder line because the back shoulder covers a body area larger than the front shoulder. However, this is not appropriate on the front princess seam because the front side panel is becoming smaller (going into the side seam) rather than larger.” (http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/lazy_pattern_making.html)

Think about it: a dart sewn from the waist to the bust does not include any ease, so why would the princess seam? A dart and the princess seam perform the same function, do they not? I am a convert to this way of thinking and have yet found that I needed to add ease back into that seam in the Feisdress pattern.

3) I have altered the Feisdress pattern easily for other styles of Irish dance dresses. I have made two-piece dresses, dropped waist dresses, 4 and 8 panel dresses, and swoop and soft skirts.

4) The pattern pieces are accurately marked with seam allowances and notches. The seam allowance are different sizes depending on the pattern piece – i.e. the neck seam is 1/4″ to cut down on trimming while the side bodice seams are 1″ to allow for alterations.

5) The bodice pattern shape is “drawn to-waist” which simply means that it is designed to fit the torso to the waist. It is not drawn to fall below the waist. It can be easily altered to be a drop waist, but to be clear, for a drop waisted bodice to fit nicely, it must still fit to the waist and then flare out over the hips…it does not fall in a straight line from the armpit to a designated point 1-4″ below the waistline. That would be baggy unless the dancer is straight up and down! This link takes you to using the Feisdress pattern for a drop waist, 2 piece. It fits to the waist and then flares out.
6) The skirt pattern consists of 4 separate pieces: center front panel (CFP, includes front half of pleat which will be folded under), front side panel (FSP, includes back half of pleat which is not folded unless working a box pleat), side tuck, and back skirt. However, the FSP, tuck and back skirt pieces are all combined to make ONE piece. There are only 3 seams in the skirt: the two pleat seams and the center back skirt seam. Using these pieces is fully explained

7) There are grainlines on every pattern piece. They are not labeled, but it was assumed a seamstress would know them for what they are. They are the center lines of the front bodice, sleeve and each skirt piece; however, as the FSP, tuck and back skirt make up one full piece, you need to decide where on the skirt you want to line up the grain. Since most of us interface/stabilize our dress fabrics, there is technically no grain line to be considered for drape and movement. So the only reason to consider a grainline for the FSP/back skirt is if it is a noticeable line that impacts the dress design in any way. As for the side princess seam bodice and back bodice, the grain line is there – diagonally on the side bodice and vertically near the zipper line on the back.

8) The Feisdress skirt pattern includes knife and box pleats, standard and reversed back pleats, and an offset skirt. You can email Susan (go to feisdress.com for the email) for instructions on changing the skirt to a wrap skirt. And this link shows how we changed the pattern for 4 and 8 panel skirts.

9) Yes, the armscye looks smaller…it is. It is designed to allow for a wider range of movement. Granted, Irish dancers are not known for grand arm gestures, but they need ease of movement for team dancing. Since the lower half of the armscye comes up higher into the armpit, there is less pulling up on the whole dress. I am still looking for the link that explains that an armscye for dance needs to be cut higher and smaller, not bigger and looser. Here is one that takes you to an article on Kathleen Fasanella’s Fashion Incubator. The article is about how an armscye should actually be shaped (like Susan’s!). It is a bit long and involved, but it is very informative.

10) The directions included with the pattern are quite extensive and include many pictures to help illustrate the process

11) And there is of course this blog. If there is anything at all that I can answer, please post a question. If there is a point you want to debate, feel free.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. K8
    May 31, 2007 @ 12:24:00

    Just found this blog via Chasing Bunny. I’m posting because of the armscye thing. I make medieval garments, not dance costumes, but I encounter much the same issues – the clothes I make were originally designed to be working garments, and as a result generally have armscyes very high into the armpit, except where dictated otherwise by fashion. Fitted to the wearer, they are very comfortable and very practical!

  2. Trackback: Dressmaking for Experienced FDS « Taoknitter

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