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That Katherine Hepburn Frock

CostumerVal | Posted in General Discussion on

O.K.  Gotta make it!

The scarf is removeable.  That super tiny picture on the envelope shows a round neckline, not a funnel, if I’m seeing it correctly.  The top of the sleeves are cut-on, kimono style, and it looks like a basic cowl design at the bicep.  On that picture of Hepburn, do I see a seam above her elbow at the base of the cowl seam, separating the top sleeve w/ cowl from the bottom tight sleeve?  I can’t visualize how to draft that cowl without making the lower part of the sleeve a separate piece.  Any pattern makers out there?   I don’t detect any darts, so the dart control is moved to the CB and side seams.  Hey, I just noticed that the back is cut on the bias.  Love those plaids.  Looks like the stripes are matched on the sleeve, so the front would be cut on the bias too.  Interresting.

So, I’ll take my sloper top, leave the bust dart open, move the waist dart to CF, and redraft CF  from the neck curve out to about the opposite bust point, then curve to the side seam about a good inch above the waist.  How am I doing so far?  On the back, I’ll move half the dart width to CB and half to side seam.  The shoulder dart to the upper back?  Or doesn’t that matter because the sleeves are cut on? (and it’s on the bias)

I’ll draft on the sleeve  to the elbow from the side seam.  The top should follow the shoulder slope straight out to mid bicep and come back at 90 degrees and curve into the elbow to get the cowl.  Right?  The rest looks pretty easy.  One last thing, would this be considered fitted with a 4″ ease, or semi with a 5″ ease thereabouts?



  1. user-51823 | | #1

    i seem to have missed the picture /description of what you are referring to. please post picture or pattern source/info? thanks-

    1. User avater
      CostumerVal | | #2

      The pattern envelope is on the homepage of this website and the picture of Katherine Hepburn and the article are in the recent issue of Threads

  2. fabricholic | | #3

    Hi CostumerVal,You are way over my head, but did you see the picture on page 48 of the new Threads? The top looks similar to the frock on the home page. Maybe you can figure it out from this picture. Good luck and I hope you will post a picture when you are done.Marcy

    1. User avater
      CostumerVal | | #4

      Thanks for the encouragement Marcy.  I have the feeling I'm going to need alot of it.

      I made a draft on 1/4" gridded notebook paper.  I'm leaving out all darts and extending the front shoulder to meet the back shoulder.  It is a jacket after all.

      The sleeves, Hmm.  Historically, tunic sleeves are just an extension of the garment and perpendicular to center front and back.   So, on the notebook page I drafted them on straight out from the arm pit and added a 3" deep gusset.  I measured out the sleeve from the armpit, the same distance as down the sideseam to the waist.  (My elbow lands at my waist) On the top of the sleeve draft I put my triangle ruler and moved the 90 degree corner upwards until the sides hit the shoulder seam and the elbow seam.    Well, it's way up there.  Had my doubts 'til I put the ruler at a 45 to center front and the stripes in my plaid are going to lay nicely along the cowl, just like the picture.  Now I'm getting excited!  I just gotta get this to work out in a full scale draft.  I'll work on the draft in the next couple of days and go dig up some "muslin" material from the stash.  I'll keep you updated.  Val.


      Nope,  didn't work.  cut out the paper and pinned the seamlines.  She's a no-go.  Still liking the 3 piece sleeve at the moment.  But maybe a sewn sleeve rather than cut-on.  I'm trying real hard to look at the drawing on the front of the envelope.  The other views look like there is a funny shaped sleeve cap seam.  I just can't make it out.  I may have to just simplify this thing and make my version with a fitted sleeve that has the traditional cowl.  I sketched a 1 piece loosely tonight.  I'll explore that further over breakfast tomarrow.

      Edited 7/8/2007 10:32 pm ET by CostumerVal

      Edited 7/8/2007 10:34 pm ET by CostumerVal

      1. mouseshadow2001 | | #5

        This pattern ( not yet having my magazine, it's still wending it's way to the UK) is available from http://www.Evadress.com.  I've ordered it in advance of the magazine arriving  

        1. jatman | | #6

          Thank you for posting the site Mouseshadow!


        2. JanF | | #7

          This site looks brill - thanks! jan

      2. fabricholic | | #9

        It sounds complicated and I am sure your version will be very nice. Would love to see when you get started on it. Upload some pics.Marcy

        1. Josefly | | #10

          I'm eager to see what you do with this, also. It appears to me, especially after looking at the web site posted above, that the plaid part is actually a jacket, with dress underneath - is that what you think? If so, I wonder what the top of the dress looks like.

          1. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #11

            Mouseshadow, thanks for the website.  Yes, that's the pattern but now that I've already drafted a pattern, I'm pretty determined to try to figure this out myself.  I have to admit though, that the cut on sleeve still has me a little stumped.  I see on the pattern envelope that the striped fabric doesn't exactly follow the shoulder opening.  That's a relief.  My first draft didn't work out.I just found a site from another post that has complete books on line, the one I looked at is vintagesewing.info and the book is Ladies Garment Cutting and Making by F.R. Morris.  There's a section on how to make a large cowl on the sleeve cap of a set in style sleeve.  I'll have to play with that a bit.I've designed the jacket body so that the front overlap can be folded back and buttoned on one of those scarf buttons.  That way I can wear it open or closed.  The buttons aren't as spaced out as on the pattern.  I'm really leaning toward the set-in sleeve as opposed to the cut-on sleeve on the pattern, only because I can put a dart in the elbow and I wont have a seam binding up my arm movement there.  Also, I can ditch the gusset and put the armscye where I want it.I have a few yards of a black and white tweed.  It almost looks like a check, but the squares are more rectangle.  It has bits of red, yellow and green in it.  I'm torn about the lining.  White would probably look best, although I hate white,  red might be cool.  I thought about making the dress black, simply because I don't have a "little black dress"  I think that the dress is a simple sleeveless shift.  It only has side seams and 2 back darts.  You know, I think I might have some white brocade looking table cloths in my fabric stash.  Danger Danger...

            Edited 7/17/2007 9:44 am ET by CostumerVal

          2. Josefly | | #12

            This is sounding very elegant!

          3. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #13

            Had to stop and make a blouse while I thought this through.  Last night I did some more sketches in the notepad.  Sketched a 1 piece set-in with a cowl in the bicep, and the coolest thing happened.  The front and back bodice look perfectly natural (on a sketchpad) attached to the distorted armscye of the sleeve.  I'm getting motivated again.  Can it be that this is a 2 piece jacket?  A left side, and right side, with only a center back seam and a shoulder dart?  I should have drafted the sleeve first and then the bodice, but I was thinking of a 3 piece sleeve attached to a jacket, not a jacket attached to a 1 piece sleeve!  Aaagggh!

            I really need to get some housework done before I spread out the paper on the bar, but I just have to attempt this!  Keep the notes coming, I get distracted easily.

          4. solosmocker | | #14

            Val, I have been following your journey closely. I love that outfit. It is positively stunning. Now that you have invited the possibility of it being a two piece garment, well, that is a whole new ballgame. I will be watching for next installment in your saga. Please keep us posted. Did you say what fabric you are using? How about those buttons?solo

          5. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #15

            Well, whipped out half a muslin today.  I pinned the CB to a shirt and put the shirt on.  The 1 piece looked great but felt like it was sliding off my shoulder.  The front looked good around the armscye, the back had bulked up fabric below the shoulder.  So I cut the sleeve off and shaped a set-in armscye out of the now 3 pieces and pinned them back together.  The feel was better, the sleeve looked a little flatter.  I took photo's.  Can someone tell me how to attach them to this post?

            Edited 7/19/2007 2:36 pm ET by CostumerVal

          6. User avater
            CostumerVal | | #16

            Did an advanced search,  lets see if this works.

            The blue shirt is the one I pinned the 1 piece jacket and sleeve to.  The orange shirt is the 3 piece set-in sleeve.  I didn't pin the back to my shirt though.  The only difference in the 2 is that I cut up the sleeve on the 1 piece to create the 2nd.

            Tell me what you think.

            Wow, 32's a really lousy photo.  I'm amazed I did this.  I have to figure out how to make all my photo's look like 31.  Oh, yea, I have a nice tweed fabric but nothing in the stash that I like as a lining.  The seam allowance is on the outside on the mus.

            Edited 7/19/2007 2:53 pm ET by CostumerVal

  3. user-51823 | | #8

    that is a lovely 'frock'! what are you making out of?and yes- wonderful site!! i am considering buying that pattern since they have reproduced it.

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