For this post, it's time to move onto the next phase of the transformation - adding a closure. As the dress is a wrap around, it needs to be able to totally open up at either the centre front or centre back. For this reason, I'd say that buttons are your best option for a fastening.
Buttons and buttonholes can be placed on a placket, or you can just add an extension to the centre front or centre back to support them. For a shirt, I would choose to make a placket, but to simplify a design, like this one, I sometimes prefer to leave the placket out.
Adding a button extension
To start, decide whether your buttons will be on the centre front or centre back of the pattern. Take the appropriate pattern.
To save the acrobatics required to do up buttons in the back of the dress when my wardrobe assistant isn't around to help, I decided to put the buttons in the front (I also do really like the aesthetic of buttons up the front).
The buttons will lie on the centre front or centre back, so you will need to add a small extension to the pattern to allow for this (light blue section in image above).
To work out the width of your extension, you will first need to consider your buttonholes.
Will they be horizontal or vertical? (If the buttonholes are vertical, the extension will not have to be as wide as if they were horizontal).
Normally I would make the buttonholes vertical, as generally that is the way it's done in modern ready to wear garments. But as I was working from a garment in my wardrobe, I decided to do it the same way as the dress, which, as you can see in the photo, is horizontal.
If you were making a placket to support the buttonholes, they would need to be vertical, due to the limited width of the placket. But in the case of a button extension it is somewhat up to you.
And how wide should they be?
To do this you will have already needed to have selected your buttons. I normally don't buy my buttons until the garment is made, so I know I have chosen exactly the right button, so if you are the same, just estimate the button size you will be using - it won't make a big difference at this stage.
According to this blog, the width of a button hole is the diametre of your button plus the width of the button, plus 3-4mm "wiggle room." Once I found the width of my button hole (in my example they were 25mm), I added 1cm to determine the length of my extension (total 35mm). This is probably a little extreme, I'm sure a 25mm extension would have been sufficient, but as I said, I was using a dress as a guide, so just went with the flow.
Mark the width of your extension at the neckline and the waistline (or hemline of the pattern if the pattern extends beyond the waist).
Join the end points of these lines, and voila, you have completed the button extension.
It is now time to move onto the facing that will finish the centre front seam and provide extra support for the buttons and button holes.
Determine the width of your facing by doubling the width of your button extension.
Mark this distance at the neckline and hemline of the pattern, measuring horizontally from the end of the extension.
Join the endpoints of these lines together to create the outline of the facing piece.
You can have a facing that is a separate piece (simply trace the facing piece onto a separate piece of paper - as shown above - and add seam allowance to both patterns), but I prefer to attach facings to the main garment, when possible.
To do this, lay your pattern on a separate piece of paper and trace around it. Leave some space on one side of the pattern (close to the centre front or centre back) so that you can transfer the facing pattern in the next step.
When you have traced the pattern, lift it and flip it over so that you can transfer the facing onto the pattern. Match the actual pattern with the traced pattern at the centre line. Once aligned, use a weight to hold in position.
Use a tracing wheel to transfer the facing pattern onto the paper underneath.
Remove the original pattern, to reveal your new pattern underneath.
The line between the body of the pattern and the facing will become a 'fold line.'
After you add seam allowance to the pattern, be sure to add notches at either end of the fold line, so you know where to fold once the fabric is cut.
For most fabrics, you will need to add fusing to the section where the buttons are placed - draft a separate pattern for this section so that it can be cut from the appropriate weight interfacing.
The pattern for this piece will simply be double the facing.
To make this pattern just trace around the facing pattern and cut out on fold.
Your pattern will look like this.
At this stage, the centre front has a finished edge (the facing), but the neckline and armholes are still unfinished. You will now need to make front and back facings.
The next steps will walk you through the process of making a standard all-in-one facing. At the end, I will show you how to make the adjustments so it fits with this particular pattern.
An all-in-one facing is a clean way to finish the neckline and armholes of your garment.
If your garment had sleeves, you would only need a facing for the neckline.
To make the pattern, first take your front pattern pieces.
Place the pattern pieces together as if they have been sewn together. Obviously, in the example, over half of the seam is not matching, but we will be concentrating on the neck and armhole section of the garment, so it doesn't matter that the seam is not matching further down the seam.
For a facing piece, the aim is to have as few design details or seams as possible, as you do not want to have any unnecessary bulk under your garment. Try, when possible, to remove any darts, pleats or panel lines from your facing pieces.
If your pattern has darts in this area, trace the facing pattern, including the dart, and then eliminate the dart.
Work out how far down the centre front and side seam you would like the facing to run.
The style of garment and the fabric type will govern how long (or short) you want to make it.
I like to make quite a sturdy facing, so that it sits smooth and flat and doesn't creep out of the neckline or armhole. In the case of my design, I wanted to make sure that the facing ran above where the two patterns part - otherwise I would need to add a dart in the facing, and that would just create bulk.
In the example, my facing runs 6cm down the side seam and 10cm down the centre front.
Mark these points on your pattern.
Draw a smooth line (in roughly this shape) that connects the two points.
The section above the line just drawn is the front facing pattern.
Trace the facing pattern onto a separate piece of paper. Be sure to mark an armhole notch (this will help when sewing the bodice to the facing) and the grainline (which should be the same as the original pattern - in this case, the centre front panel) before removing the original pattern from underneath.
Label the pattern and move on to the back.
The process for the back is the same as the front.
As an indication, my back facing pattern ran 18cm down the centre back and 6cm down the side seam - the same as the front, so that the two seams fir together.
Check that your patterns match smoothly at the side seam.
As this particular dress has a centre front facing to support the buttons and buttonholes, a few small adjustments will need to be made to the standard all-in-one facing pattern, so that the two facings can be sewn together.
Take the facing pattern.
The example shows how to adjust the pattern for centre front buttons, but the process would be exactly the same for centre back buttons.
Take your front bodice pattern and fold back the centre front facing, as if it has been sewn in place.
Place the facing pattern onto your front bodice pattern, where they match together, making sure that the centre front lines are aligned.
Once the patterns are matching, use a weight to hold the patterns in place.
You will be able to see the line (hopefully your paper is transparent enough) that indicates where the centre front extension ends.
Mark this line on the facing pattern.
Cut along the line, removing the excess that is not required due to the button extension.
Now you have a front facing piece.
As I mentioned earlier, I normally like to join my facings to the main garment, when I can. Unfortunately I was too low on fabric for this pattern, and had to cut my facings from a remnant I had lying around, and therefore they had to be separate pattern pieces.
But, if you would like to join them, like I did in the back of my Mathilde hack pictured above, then it's very easy to do.
Take the front pattern and the front facing pattern.
Flip the facing pattern so it meets with the front pattern (as if they have been sewn together). You may just want to tape them together, or you could retrace the entire pattern as one, onto another piece of paper.
Redraw the line where the patterns meet, as a smoother curve (just stick a small piece of pattern paper behind the two pieces so you can add this smooth line, if you haven't retraced the pattern).
Your new pattern will look something like this.
Make a pattern for the fusing piece, that will cover the facing and part of the centre front (the same as the original facing piece detailed earlier).
You now have all the pattern pieces you require for the bodice of the dress - both front pieces, both back pieces and the facings.