More on the Tunic Dresses

{This post was updated at 5:45 pm, December 3.) 

Susan wrote a bit to answer Caroline specifically, but others have asked similar questions: 

Hi Caroline, I used the FeisDress pattern bodice as the block from which this tunic was developed. But changes that I made to it were dictated by the bodies of the dancers whom I was fitting. Some changes were pretty general but others were very specific.

Dana’s tunic with 4 panels across the front was a much easier pattern to develop than Liz’s with 5 panels across the front.

It would be a very challenging pattern for the panels to come all the way to the hem. Additional seams would probably be required and it wouldn’t work on all fabrics. I’m amazed and very please how beautifully Liz’s tunic worked out with the striped fabric. I was afraid the design would require a fabric without an obvious design.

The tunics we chose to make all have a puffy-all-the-way-around skirt. In the process I did come up with a tunic pattern that would create a “flat” front, which we may make up for the right customer.

Ann will have to give you her story on construction difficulty. Remember, these were first-time-inventing the wheel dresses with a learning curve. I think when she can mentally take out the embroidery issues, she’ll say the tunic is easier to construct than the waist-seam dress. But a precise pattern is the key to easy construction of anything.

Susan

My two cents: Yes, minus the embroidery (which is no different in terms of time, prep, and creation), these tunics are so much easier than the traditional dress, but as Susan said, the key was a precisely designed pattern made to each dancers’ specific measurements.  As I stated in the last post, when Liz’s pattern had to be altered, the ENTIRE pattern had to be altered, parts and angles and panels re-drawn, etc, etc, etc! (Parts and angles and panels, Oh MY!…sorry…I heard Dorothy and the Tin Man in my head…) 

And that being said, the black and pink dress took just as much time as a waist seam dress because of the attachment issues for the pink panels (the pink panels are attached to the black bodice).  I am glad I did it the way I did…Liz’s mom Paula saw Dana dance and said that it moved beautifully.  But if I do this type of tunic again, I may have to explore some of the other attachment ideas that are rolling around in my head now.

Folks are asking if this is a pattern that will be available.  That is not feasible.  These two patterns were made specifically for each dancer, and as dressmakers know, no 2 dancers are built alike.  Creating a generic pattern really cannot be done as they cannot be altered easily…watching Susan alter the pattern for Liz was an education and brought home to me how specifically she tailored each pattern to each body.

After I posted the above, Mary Clare wrote:

Hi! Lovely work with this design. I was wondering in which are of the tunic that the specific fitting issues evolved. It seems to me that the bodice fit issues would be much the same as a “regular” dress but the fit issues would evolve below the waist. Am I correct? I realize that the seamstress would not have to deal with the challenge of the jacket fitting over a skirt that takes a sharp angled turn but that seems to make the job easier in my mind. The panel hang problems seem to disappear with this style too! I am terribly impressed with your talent!

And Susan again clarified:

(The issues evolved in) Both of them, although Paula was referring specifically to the red dress. Ann didn’t get to watch me mess with Dana’s pattern.

If you change the bust line the darts change and the angles change. If you change the waist all the darts have to be moved and balanced and again the angles and panels change. If you change the length of the panels the darts may have to be adjusted and the angles change. It is a juggling act. Ann’s right, a straightforward fitting adjustment may trickle down and cause the entire bodice to be redrawn.

The dress looks really simple but the pattern isn’t simple to make fit, at least not with the way I wanted the skirt to fall. The “hang issue” only disappears because the pattern was engineered with a specific hang built into it.

Right! Have to say that when we began I imagined that in one respect this would be an easier pattern to use because of the lack of a waist seam which meant I did not have to deal with the physics of the skirt hang.  However, I knew that engineering the pattern so that the panel hang was already incorporated was going to take some figuring…and I was glad it was not me who was figuring it out!  We had one hang issue that was only evident once the a bodice was made…Susan fixed it and a new bodice was then cut and constructed.

So, no, I did “not have to deal with the challenge of the jacket fitting over a skirt that takes a sharp angled turn,” but I did not expect to.  I had a different challenge to make this tunic fit beautifully over a different skirt with an evolving silhouette.

On a couple of boards, a few folks made comments that they “saw the dresses in pics” and that they were not flattering, making the girls look thick.  #1, where are the pics?  I would like to see these…as the SRO pics are not out and these dresses are new, I doubt there are any that I have not seen…and #2, these dresses have much less under them than the traditional stiff skirts which means they fit more closely and look great on their figures.  The tendency to jump to a conclusion with no actual info really irks the hell out of me as does the negation with no clarification.  I actually got a big kick and a laugh out of the comment on one of the boards that the tunics looked like Renaissance armor!  At least that was specific!!!

Others of you have asked some specific questions about the potential uses for this pattern…please excuse me if I take a few days to ponder this. I did not get my usual recovery time this weekend and am now fighting major brain and body malfunctions.  Great comments that I thank you all for and great questions to ponder.

Cheers!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paula
    Dec 03, 2007 @ 09:23:37

    I hauled Liz over to Ann’s for fittings — what was it Ann, 5 times, in the 2 weeks before the O. I can attest to the fact that this is about as custom a dress as they come! I don’t see any way that you could order this style dress from say….ED and have it fit well. Too many variables. If Liz was still growing and I expected she’d need another in the near future — she would be happy to be guinea pig again! We are going to keep an eye on the evolution of this tunic style dress.

  2. MaryClare
    Dec 03, 2007 @ 11:02:46

    Hi! Lovely work with this design. I was wondering in which are of the tunic that the specific fitting issues evolved. It seems to me that the bodice fit issues would be much the same as a “regular” dress but the fit issues would evolve below the waist. Am I correct? I realize that the seamstress would not have to deal with the challenge of the jacket fitting over a skirt that takes a sharp angled turn but that seems to make the job easier in my mind. The panel hang problems seem to disappear with this style too! I am terribly impressed with your talent!

  3. Susan
    Dec 03, 2007 @ 11:28:09

    Both of them, although Paula was referring specifically to the red dress. Ann didn’t get to watch me mess with Dana’s pattern.

    If you change the bust line the darts change and the angles change. If you change the waist all the darts have to be moved and balanced and again the angles and panels change. If you change the length of the panels the darts may have to be adjusted and the angles change. It is a juggling act. Ann’s right, a straightforward fitting adjustment may trickle down and cause the entire bodice to be redrawn.

    The dress looks really simple but the pattern isn’t simple to make fit, at least not with the way I wanted the skirt to fall. The “hang issue” only dissappears because the pattern was engineered with a specific hang built into it.

  4. Adrienne
    Dec 03, 2007 @ 13:10:53

    I would love to use this style as a school dress. The interchangeable skirt possibilities make it versatile for show or competition and it seems that it has the potential to cost a bit less if the embroidery is kept simple. Can you see a way to do this with all the different body types involved in a school? If the bodice came down like a jacket with a straighter lower edge and the petals were attached in proportion for each dancer? I would love to here either of your thoughts on this. Thanks.

  5. Katherine
    Dec 03, 2007 @ 22:14:31

    Ignore the negatives! I think they look slimming because of the lack of a waistline, even a dropped waist. After all, sheath dresses are slimming for the same reason.
    I also love the look. I don’t care for the tutu, lacey frills and so many other new trends. These seem more mature to me, not fussy, and having the potential for a very flowing look.

    Seems to me these would be very difficult to resell because of the tailored nature. And as Paula notes, these wouldn’t be ideal for a growing girl, who’d need a new custom fit dress pretty often. But if you could figure a way to make them for a school — a bit looser without looking like unfinished bags–a variety of underskits would make for a very interesting possibility for a school. Good luck pondering all this and congrats to the whole Feisdress team for some lovely dresses.

  6. Millie
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 17:21:01

    Me and my mom have been reading your blog and looking at the pix of these dresses. We didn’t understand what Susan was talking about the hang part. But I went on another dressmakers website and saw some vests she made that had sort of short panels attached to the bottom. I don’t think I should say who’s website. But they just kind of flop there like they were just sewn on. They don’t hang right the way these do.

    My mom still doesn’t know how you did it. But we can both see that it is diffrent.

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