And now for something completely different …

My fabric stash was recently increased by the purchase of a remnant from Blackbird Fabrics, a cream and black double weave with a bold pattern. It was the inspiration I needed to do some sewing for the first time in several years. My Lovely Assistant Kemuri was an invaluable part of the process.

I had black cotton in a similar weight purchased for this dress pattern. There is —almost— enough of the patterned fabric to make the pockets.

Since I am reluctant to waste things, I rarely use the cutting layouts provided by the pattern company. The ones below might be necessary if you were using a fabric with a one-way design, but otherwise they are just wasteful. For example, piece 5 for Dress C is shown on a fold right in the middle of a length of cloth (lower green pointy finger). It would make far more sense to make a fold near the edge of the fabric, as shown in the cutting layout for Dress B (upper green pointy finger).

Piece 3 in the layout for Dress C could also be cut more efficiently by cutting the two pieces needed one at a time, one with the curved edge up and the second with the curved edge down. This would leave you with a larger single piece of leftover fabric that might actually be useful for another project.

I spent a lot of time playing with the layout!

As a result, I have a strip of fabric and a pocket for a second garment, plus enough of the black fabric to make a top or part of a third garment.

The second pattern is based on the dress below, but I plan to make it as a shorter tunic. The bottom will be a handkerchief edge, stopping where the points stick out on the grey version on the right.

I have one yard of the plaid, which I am combining with some of the black from the first dress. I added a diagonal strip down the centre of a square piece of the fabric. (You can see a bit of the strip in the upper left corner of the image above.) Attaching a straight piece to a diagonal piece took a lot of careful pinning before sewing, but it worked out nicely.

I will have to re-draft the bodice since I want to wear the finished tunic over another layer. The neckline will stay the same, but I will drop the lower edge of the armscye and widen the bottom of the bodice. The latter will make it possible to pull the tunic on over my head. No need for a zipper!

In case you haven’t seen these before, here are a few things I learned from a tailor I worked with at Neptune Theatre in Halifax many years ago.

I was taught in high school Home Economics class to mark position dots on pattern pieces by piercing a hole in the paper and making a small mark with tailor’s chalk or a fabric pencil. These are prone to rubbing off during handling, and sometimes the chalk or pencil won’t leave a visible mark on the fabric.

Sew a short length of contrasting thread through the dot.

Gently pull the paper pattern off the fabric leaving the thread behind. If the fabric will be handled a lot before you need those markers, or if you are of a nervous disposition, the ends of the threads can be tied together.

The green pointy finger shows a line of stay stitching along the curved upper edge of the pocket. If you want your garment to last longer, sew a line of stitching just shy of the seam line along any edge that you will clip for ease later. (If your seam allowance is 5/8″, stay stitching should be 4/8″ in from the cut edge.) This is sometimes mentioned in pattern instructions, but not always.

Patterns come with little diamond-shaped marks that are used for matching the positions of garment pieces during sewing. My Home Ec instructor made us cut around the outside of the diamonds. Tailor’s shortcut: clip, one clip for a single diamond, two clips for double diamonds, et cetera. (You don’t need to stay stitch these!)

If I were just cutting following the pattern layout for the amount of fabric designated by the instructions, I would have a finished dress by now. As it is, I have two partially completed garments. Fingers crossed that I will finish both this coming week!


The biggest “art” job this week was packing my works for the Small Quirks exhibition at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery. The sphere was one of those works where it takes almost as long to design and make the packing as it did to design and make the work.

If you like paper toys, you might enjoy these.

I found them via Guylaine Couture’s blog. You can take a closer look here or purchase the pdf and instructions here.


Do you notice the paper props in movies? There’s a good chance that most of the ones you have seen were made by Ross MacDonald. You might enjoy this article, or the video below, or both.


About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
This entry was posted in art, book arts, paper toy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to And now for something completely different …

  1. dinahmow says:

    Armscye! Now, there’s a word I’ve not heard in 60 years! My friend’s mother was a Glaswegian and used it, and other oldies, often.
    I hear you on the saving of fabric!


    • Byopia Press says:

      friend’s mother might have used the term because she was Scottish, or was she trained as a professional dressmaker? The term was commonly used by professional dressmakers and theatre costumers when I was younger.
      ; ]


  2. micklebert says:

    I confess when I first saw your shapes made with interlocking squares, I thought it would be so easy to ship. I thought you could pack it in an envelope and send instructions to assemble. But seeing the finished art I realize you could never trust anyone else to put that together. All the care that goes into those will probably not be seen or appreciated by most of the gallery-goers. I am very impressed!


  3. Vicki says:

    Look forward to seeing the finished garments. Please share a pic when they are complete. Love your thoughts on pattern placement and layout inefficiencies. I almost never use the layout given. I agree that it is too wasteful.


  4. Jane Copes says:

    You and I have many sewing habits in common!


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