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The Golden Rule Drafting Kit: African Wax Print Dress & Shibori Tent Dress

A couple months back, The Golden Rule (US) sent me their Classic Set, offered to do a collaboration, and I happily agreed. The Classic Set is a drafting kit consisting of a pattern binder with a collection of 280 sewing patterns, French curves or rulers, and the special tape measure that helps you draft patterns with only 2 body measurements. I’ve seen some YouTube videos before about this drafting system and was completely intrigued by it. So when they approached me, I was eager to find out all about it and try my hand at it.

So how does the system work? The following description is a compressed explanation of what I had to do to draft the patterns. First, I took the 2 body measurements required for drafting the patterns: the full bust and hip measurements. Next, I chose the sewing pattern I wanted to draft. This proved to be one of the most challenging tasks since there are 280 to choose from, and my mind was overloaded with options. When I got over my indecision and picked a pattern, then I used the special drafting tool attached to one end of The Golden Rule tape measure, and plotted out the important dots that would make up the pattern. This is done with the help of the pattern guide found on the back of every pattern page. Once this first draft is plotted out, then seam allowances MUST be added to the pattern pieces before cutting out the paper pattern or the fabric. Perhaps this sounds like gibberish when it’s described in words, but please do check out the 2 YouTube videos that I made attached below to get a full understanding of the process. It’s actually not such a complicated endeavour.

The first dress that I made with this system is pattern No. 130, which has a princess-seam bodice, frilly shoulder straps, and a gathered midi skirt. I was drawn to the delicate flounces on the shoulder straps, and the bodice with a slight sweet-heart neckline. I picked out an African wax print that I purchased online from Mood Fabrics. This fabric has red and green colours and I thought it would make a great Christmas outfit. I made some changes to the pattern of the dress. First, I shortened the bodice so that it ends under the bust instead of at the waistline. Second, I switched out the gathered skirt for a half-circle skirt. Third but not least, I added side-seam pockets.

The bodice is very fitted at the bust area, and I had to make a few adjustments so that it would fit well on my body. For this particular pattern, I found that I wouldn’t have been able to get the perfect fit without my One Forms dress form because it really helped me make the necessary changes in the back of the bodice. These adjustments made were not unusual for me when I am sewing up bodices with princess seams. Most of the time, I have to adjust for a small bust, and a relatively wider back. A dress form is one of the pricier investments for a beginner sewer, but I now see it as a necessity for drafting my own patterns, and getting a better fit for my me-made garments. That said, a toile or muslin is non-negotiable when it comes to drafting a pattern that is so close-fitting. My muslin eventually doubled up as the full lining of the bodice, so I didn’t really use up extra fabric for this important step.

I only needed my bust measurement to draft this pattern because this is required for plotting the drafting points at the waist and above the waistline. My bust measurement is 84cm with my bra on. After I got a perfect fit on my muslin, I went ahead and drafted my half-circle skirt based on the measurement of the bottom edge of the bodice. The next challenging step when all the fabric pieces are cut up is figuring out the sewing order of the garment. The trickiest part of all for this dress is putting the shoulder straps and frills together. I have enough sewing experience that this comes easily to me, but I can imagine that this may be a major difficulty for an absolute beginner.

Here’s my full transparency, honest opinion: this drafting system is not for the absolute beginner. Mainly because the sewing patterns don’t come with any sewing instructions. There is a basic sewing instructions section in the pattern binder explaining certain sewing techniques, but basically, one is left to figure out how to sew the different pattern pieces together and the order that it should be done. Now this may be liberating/exhilarating or frustrating/thwarting for you. There are patterns that are beginner-friendly to sew, but generally speaking, it would only be friendly to beginners who are willing to take the plunge and bravely pave their own way in handling sewing construction on their own.

For those of you who view the sewing instructions on any pattern as a suggested or recommended path to take, then The Golden Rule system could be your golden ticket since you would have a plethora of patterns instantly at your fingertips. It may also appeal to your sense of sewing independence, level of creativity and freedom. There’s a financial perk as well: when you do the math, you will see that each pattern costs less than a dollar per pattern. That’s a great deal. On the contrary, if you can’t tackle a sewing pattern without following the instructions as if it’s the bible, then I advise you to acquire more experience and confidence before getting started with The Golden Rule system. Or be prepared to do quite a bit of research on the sewing order of different garments so that the system can be effective for you. The Golden Rule Classic Set came to me at the right time in my sewing journey for me to reap excellent results with it. I am extremely happy with the first dress that I made. I am especially impressed that the shoulder straps are curved so that they fit nicely contoured over the shoulders. Please check out the YouTube video below and follow along on my virgin experience with it:

For my second choice of garment to make with The Golden Rule system, I decided to choose a pattern that is relatively easy to make in terms of sewing construction. I wanted to sew up a pattern that a confident beginner could handle. I settled on pattern No. 151 because it has simple design lines, and requires only 2 pattern pieces to sew up. I also really like the flutter sleeves on this tent dress. The design is quite versatile since it can be worn as a dress on its own, or also as a tunic over a pair of leggings or jeans. And I think it will make a great beach coverup when we get beach weather back in this part of the world again. Best of all, the minimalist design means that it will be a great pattern to showcase an unusual or interesting print on the fabric. I decided to tie-dye my tent dress after it was sewn up. The dress started off as a white 100% viscose purchased from Cadena Fabrics. Just in case you are curious about how the dress looks in a plain fabric, then here are some pics of it before I dyed it:

You can view the drafting, sewing and tie-dyeing journey that I made with this tent dress in the YouTube video here:

Even though the sewing patterns in the Golden Rule System are drafted according to 2 of your body measurements, it seems like each sewing pattern is still based on some kind of grading system that the company uses. There aren’t any body measurements or finished garment measurements charts, so it means that making a toile for fitted garments is essential for sewing up a garment according to this system. Unless you are making a garment with generous ease, then you can afford to skip this step. For my tent dress, I got away with not making a muslin for this exact reason. Also, I had experience with a previous make to know the ball-park of how the size I’m drafting would eventually fit. I see many sewers who regularly sew up pretty garments on social media with this drafting system. For me, having a library of sewing patterns in a pattern binder immediately fuelled my creativity, and my mind was bursting with sewing hacks and mash-ups and endless possibilities for what I could make. In addition, if you find that this system is for you, and 280 patterns are inadequate, then there is a quarterly subscription available where you can get even more patterns to add to your treasure trove. It’s like Santa knocking on your door 4 times a year.

I am not sure if I’ll be able to pop back in before the end of the year. My schedule has been filled with personal and sewing projects that have been burning up my blogging time. I’ll leave you here with an IG post/reel that I made with both of these dresses that I made. If I don’t see you till next year, then happy holidays! And of course, happy sewing!

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