May 13, 2020

Little experiments in subtraction cutting 1

Didn't I promise you tiny dresses? Quarter scale dresses I made to try out subtraction cutting? Here they are!

I have to start with one big disclaimer: The proportions on most of them are off, sometimes way off because I was lazy and didn't make quarter size bodice pieces. I just sort of free-handed the shapes which got smaller with each tiny dress. So most of my tiny dresses don't actually allow me to calculate how much fabric I would need for a wearable version. However, they still taught me a lot about what does and does not work with this technique.

If you have read anything about subtraction cutting, you will know that you mark your bodice pieces somewhere in the middle of the fabric, you connect them and cut out the negative space surrounding them. And then you also cut pairs of holes large enough for your hips to pass through. Those will be sewn together later, creating twists. I photographed all my fabric/pattern lay-outs as well as the tiny dresses with the hope of learning what does what.
I will include red lines on the lay-out pictures to show you what goes where and show you front, back and side(s) of the dresses.

First dress: Bodice in the simplest set-up with the back towards the horizontal seam and the front facing it. Try-out of different ways of shaping the side seam (angle or curve at the bottom of the bodice). Two sideways displacements and one simple one, high up on the back piece.
Lesson: Don't do that. It doesn't work. You get a crazily bundled up knot of fabric which would be both uncomfortable and unflattering to wear.

Second dress: Back to basics. Bodice pieces in the same place but this time I decided on the sharp angle between the bodice and the connecting side seam. Holes which will be sewn together close to each other. 

Result: That's more like it! It's like a modern bustled ball gown. I'll just have to figure out what to do with that very uneven hemline (I don't mind hi-low but this is just crazy). Oh, and I caught myself trying to shift the bottom of the skirt the whole time so I'd better line up those two sets of holes. 

One thing you can see in both dresses is the difference made by the side seam treatment: the angled seam created a more defined waistline. Of course, because you simply can't find quarter weight fabric, the result is a bit exaggerated in scale model dresses like these.
I more tiny dresses to show you, but too many pictures would make this post too long and it's getting late. I'll be back with more tomorrow!


  1. I really need to do this. I did a few experiments a couple of years ago, but full size is a fabric hog. I like the idea of quarter size versions.

  2. I wish I'd done this before trusting the 'pattern' I tried unsalvageable disaster with some gorgeous linen. Serves me right I suppose! Maybe I'll revisit eventually after all...