The Clémence Dress

Drafting your own patterns is a rewarding practice, but it has a major drawback: when it’s not working, you can only blame yourself. When it’s easy to curse a creator for a tricky sleeve to sew, two pieces that don’t match or nebulous explanations … when you screw up on your drafting job, you can only blame yourself. And it’s even worse when you don’t understand your mistake!

Everything started from this fabric, found in a Agnès B sale two years ago. The time when I thought I could cut a dress with sleeves in a coupon of 1m50. And that plaid fabric didn’t mean matching pattern !

I had immediately seen a shirt dress, probably inspired by this pretty dress. Two autumns that I waited to validate my bodice with darts to start … but before, it was necessary to determine the composition of this fabric.

It’s a bit of a sales concern for Agnes B: you don’t know what you’re buying. The rolls are laid, you cut what you want, and you will pay your due at the checkout. While unrolling my fabric I came across this label, which indicated a 100% silk composition. Yet its appearance was quite stiff, although fine. I thought that a silk was necessarily slippery, and by searching for informations I learned that a silk can be woven in different ways, and thus, present itself in different aspects. I then followed the advice of my teacher, although it always scared me, given my legendary clumsiness: burn a piece of cloth to determine its composition.

(Once, as a child, I almost burned my little sister’s room by wanting to burn the edges of a sheet to make a parchment. ^^) (True story.)

WELL, (AND TAKING ALL MY PRECAUTIONS 😀 ), I burned a piece of my fabric, and using this great book, I noticed that the ashes formed like bits of coal … exactly what is meant to become burnt silk! The mystery was solved.

(And I don’t tell you the pressure, like, I’m going to SEW SILK DAMNIT!

To do so, I took the pattern of the Amal dress. As on the Sandrine dress, I lowered the middle front of 2cms. I drew short sleeves. I kept the pleats of the skirt. And I started drafting a new collar.

You know my passion for shirt collars: I love them in two parts, with a collar stand. I followed the method recommended in an Esmod book, and a toile validated my drafting job.

(Believe me, at this moment I was pretty proud!) (I should have enjoyed it, it wasn’t going to last 😀 )

I cut my fabric, sewed my bodice, then my skirt, and when it was the moment to sew the waist, I discovered that the 2 middle fronts of my bodice are 1cm longer, at the fold for the buttoning. Not bad, I said to myself, I must have missed precision when cutting my fabric. I cut these 2cms, finished the assembly of my skirt, proceeded to finish the dress, and at the time of the final fitting … patatras, I felt really stuck at the chest.


You see it in this photo, the fabric that stretches between the two buttons. These 2cms, cut above because imagined in excess, were on the contrary very necessary to the ease of the dress!

I had to spend hours on my drafting, to go back in all directions to understand my mistake, but I am still unable to point it. If you knew how I felt miserable !


Finally, I called my drafting teacher, and adorable as she is (a pearl I tell you, a pearl!), She took the time to give me some tips to overcome the need for ease :

  • do not touch the darts : that would not change the problem.
  • either recreate a button placket, incorporating the lost 2cms
  • create a box pleat in the back, adding fabric
  • either undo the sides seams, reducing my seam allowances, which are of 1.5cm.Alas, I had no fabric to do anything again. And all my dress being sewn in French seams, I didn’t have the courage to undo all my armholes to reduce my side seams.

(Yes, it’s the wrong side of the dress, tell me that you sympathize. ^^)

In the end, I tried to pick up a few millimeters on the side seams, reducing my second french seam, but it didn’t change my ease: the buttons always pulled on the front of my dress, and I had an excess of cloth under armholes. It was so ugly. So I took everything back to the original.

I managed to close it, but this stretch between the 4th and the 5th button annoyed me. And it’s Emilie who will give me a tip: add a pressure to sew between the 2 buttons so that it doesn’t open!

And it works ! So, certainly, I don’t gain comfort, but visually, it’s not like my buttons will explode at the slightest breath.


This profile picture shows how much my chest is squeezed into the bodice. Note that I wore it this weekend with another bra, and I gained a little comfort. (and yes, I take advantage of this post to pre-empt any comments of this type: I AM NOT PREGNANT. 😀 )

Note that with all these adventures, the notion of pattern matching did not particularly touch my mind. 😀 Having only 1m50 of fabric, I had to choose between a matching waist or a side one. I tried to succeed at best the side matches, but as you can in this photo, it didn’t work everywhere.

And to be honest…

Sorry. Not sorry 😀

The buttons come from Mercerie Extra

…the collar is a shirt one…

…and here it’s closed.

(When I try to impress my students.) (In truth it doesn’t work at all. 😀 )

Verdict: listen, if the first fitting I was totally devastated, for wearing it this weekend, my opinion is nuanced. While this is not the most comfortable dress in my dressing room, but it is totally portable, and with this cardi, the outfit is adorable!

And to play with the dead leaves it is just perfect!

(And promised, as soon as I understand the mistake, I will make an edit to this post!) (And why Clémence? Because I sewed this dress while a dear friend was preparing to give life again, that this friend’s name is Clémence, that she loves plaid fabric and that I discovered the Agnès B sales in her company: the Clémence dress, so. ❤)

EDIT: I wrote this article over several days, and that’s it, I understood! The mistake came from my drafting job: by lowering the middle front waist seam, I didn’t check that the top of the skirt would fit perfectly at the bottom of the bodice, and it was missing 1cm on the middle of the front skirt ! AH, believe me, I was tortured by this thing for days and I finally feel liberated! Not necessarily more comfortable in the dress but at least, I will check my seams better in the future. “I never lose: I either win or learn”, right? 😉

Nice week girls, and take care of yourself. ❤


Leave a Reply