Written by Vanessa of @eastandeden
Color blocking is the perfect way to add style and character to garments. Color blocking can be used to add visual interest or break up a garment's style lines. Today I'm going to show you how to easily adapt a pattern piece in preparation for color blocking.
I decided to use color blocking on the Soleil Dress pattern because the long, seamless bodice and cut out back lends itself well to the technique. Adding a bright color to the top of the dress draws eyes upward and also allows the fabulous pockets to really pop.
The Soleil Dress is a knit dress for girls (sized 12M - 12Y) with a gathered skirt, functional pockets and a fun cut out back. The pattern also includes an extra pattern piece if you would prefer a closed back. The pattern's designer, Lauren Dahl, is a pro ... literally. She teaches the class that teaches other pattern designers how to make PDF patterns. She is amazingly talented, super sweet and an all around beautiful person. Can you tell I'm a fan?!? Her pattern writing is spot on. The printed pattern pieces come together easily. The directions and drawings are clear and concise. The Soleil Dresses that I have made for my daughter have been a fun, fairly quick sew. They are very loved and are quite possibly her favorite pieces in her wardrobe.
This simple technique helps prepare your pattern pieces for color blocking by easily adding a seam allowance of your choosing. After cutting the fabric with your new pieces and sewing with your chosen seam allowance, the assembled piece will be the correct dimensions for your pattern. I will be explaining the method using the Soleil Dress pattern pieces, but you could apply this technique to almost anything you sew. I will explain the technique in great detail, but it really is an easy process.
- Pattern pieces to be modified
- Extra sheet of paper (as wide as your pattern piece)
- Scotch tape
- Measuring tape
- Pencil or marker
To apply color blocking to the front of the Soleil Dress, we start with the Bodice Front piece labeled "A" and the Back Bodice Top labeled "B". We will be using the Back Bodice Top piece as a template to cut the curve on the front of our bodice. I like using the same curve because I think it adds harmony to the garment by having the same style lines on the front and back of the dress.
Take the piece that you wish to modify for color blocking (in our case, the Bodice Front "A") and place it on top of your extra sheet of paper. I am using a piece of green construction paper so that you can easily see the difference between it and the pattern piece. Line up the bottom and center straight edges (Figure B). Using your pencil or marker, trace the edge of the pattern from mid-armscye down (Figure C). We are just tracing from mid-armscye down because our color blocking break will happen below the armscye. If you are planning a different spot for your color blocking, you may need to trace higher.
Now cut out the piece you just traced on your extra paper (Figure D). Again, our extra piece is just a partial pattern piece in this example because our color blocking is only happening across the lower half of the pattern piece. Flip over both the pattern piece and the extra piece. Match up the edges and tape the extra piece to the back of the pattern piece (Figure E). I put one small piece of tape across the top and wrap one around the bottom. You will be removing this tape later, so don't overdo the taping.
Flip your pattern piece right side up. The extra paper piece should be taped under your pattern piece.
Place the Bodice Back Top Piece "B" on top of Bodice Front "A" (Figure G). Line up the two pieces at the armscye, center and sides. They should line up perfectly (Figure H).
We are going to be tracing the bottom curve of "B" as it falls on "A". The traced line will be the placement of our color blocking line. The reason we are choosing this placement for the Soleil Dress is that the top of the color blocking will match up with the top of the back, again creating harmony in the garment (see photo).
Hold pattern piece "B" steady over "A" and trace the bottom curve of "B" onto "A" (Figures J & K).
Making sure you are firmly holding pattern piece "A" and the extra paper taped to it, cut along the line you just created. You now have two piece for the Bodice Front, the top piece closely resembling Bodice Back Top "B".
Flip over both of your Front Bodice "A" pieces and gently remove the extra paper. I try to keep the tape attached to the extra paper's edge.
Using a measuring tape or gauge, mark your desired seam allowance at the edge of the piece (Figure R). I chose 3/8" for my seam allowance. Continue marking along the bottom edge of the top extra piece and the top edge of your bottom extra piece (Figure S).
Take the corresponding pattern piece and line it up along the marks you added. Press down over where your tape is to secure the pieces back together. That's it! You now have new pattern pieces that include your desired seam allowance. You are ready to cut your fabric. To assemble the full front bodice piece, place both of your color block pieces right sides together, match up your created seam allowances and sew or serge. I like to also topstitch along the color blocking line for a more professional finish.
One tip for success: If you choose fabrics of different weights or stretch when color blocking (especially with knits), fusible interfacing is a great idea. For the dress in this example, the pink fabric had about half the stretch of the green floral fabric. I fused knit interfacing to the more stretchy fabric (green) to equal out the stretch of the two fabrics. The sewing went much smoother than if I had skipped this step.
Feeling inspired, I hope?! Pick up your copy of the Soleil Dress and start color blocking today!
We hope you find this tutorial helpful. We would love to see your color block projects. Tag us on Instagram @upcraftclub and @eastandeden to share your creations. #soleildress