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Garment Fitting

Here’s something I discovered today I wanted to share (in case it could help someone else)… I have a new theory on why tops and dresses tend to gape on me at the neckline.  Allow me to demonstrate with a picture…

my-fitting-issue

Yes it makes sense now! Most peoples shoulders slope more than mine, I have quite square shoulders so by taking excess out from the shoulder seam it fits better.

Note: The diagram is exaggerated and inaccurate but you get the idea! Perhaps it counter-intuitive to remove fabric near the neck if you have boxy shoulders, but for some reason it worked for this pattern. I did remove a lot less, and it what I did take out was less slanted than what I drew in mu crude drawing.

Simplicity 1693 was the pattern used. I am not exactly over the moon with the results…

newlook-1693

Anyway this is the top before the alteration…

gapey shirt

And after…

newlook-1693-wm01

newlook-1693-wm02

So it is an improvement, but I don’t know if I like the loose fit on me but I do love the fabric!

I had a dress in the same colour and print when I was a little girl and it was my favorite dress. I have plenty more of this fabric left, so I am sure I will make something much cuter with it.

I am happy I tested out this pattern in a fabric I had plenty of, because I dont know if it is worth making again. If I do make it again, I want to do the bias binding before I sew up the site seams, and it will probably make it 100 times easier!

I did cut out and sew a peter pan collar, for this top, but I left it off, because I felt like the girly fabic and combined with a collar in the same colour would be too sickly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look a bit twee, but I am supposed to be a bit more grown up at this point in my life…

peterpancollar

Perhaps I can use it on something else. I just discovered a quick way to get the collar to look good:

peterpancollar-howto

Tip: Its worth investing in some good quality pinking sheers. I used my new ones to grade the seams on my peter pan collar and it worked a treat! Just grade the seams with the pinking sheers and go over the seam line with a point turner and press. Super quick!

I left of the interfacing, to see how that would change the look of it.

Anyway thats the end of my story.

I have something much more exciting for the next post, it just may be my favorite dress ever.

Heres a teaser (from when it was a W.I.P)…

bestdress

I have enjoyed reading everyones 2013 recaps. All of the sewing blogs I read are full of sewing inspiration but its reassuring to read that everyone has sewing fails from time to time.

Sometimes it’s impossible to predict which projects will be the highlights and which ones will go unworn, but no matter how the projects turn out its good to know we are always learning more and advancing our sewing skills!

Hope everyone is having a good 2014!

-Kath

 So I fell for this pattern. I love the square demure neckline with the fitted skirt and bodice. I did not know what I was in for (fitting wise) but I was not prepared to make a calico muslin/prototype. So I made it up in a fabric that I had a lot of as a sort of wearable muslin. I am 90% finished making the dress.

Below is how the dress (Butterick 5032) looked after I got rid of all the excess fabric in the skirt. But as you will see it took some time to get to this point…The skirt skims the curves but there is still room for movement there, I could afford to get rid of more but I usually over-fit so I tried not to go over board.

Sorry about all the mess in the picture.

If a comerical pattern was to fit someone exactly out of the envelope I am convinced the wearer would have a minuscule waist, breasts above armpit level and either have hips that are disproportionatley big or insist on an absolutely ridiculous/frumpy amount of wearing ease in a “fitted skirt”.

Or perhaps I am the one with the weird body. I always just thought I had an hour glass shape. But in Butterick world I have an enormous waist and tiny hips.

My hips and bust are exactly the same measurement (envelope says: size 10, size 12)  and  My waist is a size 14 ( well according to the pattern envelope).

Above is how I amended the skirt. (The red line is where I cut off the pattern and includes seam allowance).

Then after decreasing the size and roundness at the hips and legs I then added a little extra to the waist. I also tapered the skirt in near the hem (so it would look a bit more like the design on the pattern envelope (it has a vent so you can still move easily).

Above is what I added to the waist. I also added 0.5cm to the side seams of the bodice, now I have a bit of ease and I can still wear the post food bloat (sorry if that was too much information).

So pictured above is my biggest grievance, this gaping effect (sorry about the loo in the background btw). Does this happen to anyone else? It seems to happen with all the fitted dresses I make.

Perhaps it’s because the space above chest and just bellow my collar bones is a lot more concave than the average. Or perhaps its just a bad drafting of the pattern.

Anyway I have fixed it on the pattern for future dresses but I don’t think I will worry about it on this one, It was sort of a wearable muslin anyway.

Also I am LOVING… Underlining!

This is the second time I have tried it. You are essentially just making the fabric thicker by basting another fabric to the backside of your fashion fabric (I do this my basting around it with a long stitch on my machine but some people do it by hand-stitching). I underlined the skirt to give it stability but there was another unexpected benefit.

This is the finished hem of my skirt (I kid you not!) Do you see any stitches? Thats because when I used the invisible hem foot on bernie (my bernina) the stitch picked up the underlining fabric only so that so see absolutely no stitching on the right side of the fabric. How brilliant is that?!

Ok so here is what the stitch looks like from the back. I get soo much joy out of this dam stitch and foot (The skin on my hands is all yucky because of the cold weather sorry again)

Also here is the glorious foot I use to to the invisible hem stitch (stitch 7). OK now we have established that I am a sewing geek.

Now we’re getting somewhere…..I do have a soft spot of the crowded house song for the same name haha. Wow I just discovered that was released a year after I was born hehe… yey 80s!

ANYWAY…Check out my 4th Muslin or Toile for  Simplicity 3823 (Its just the bodice/top part the skirt i’m wearing is just to stop you getting and eyeful/seeing my belly)

LOL I do kind of love my goofy expression!

I almost gave up on this dress but now I figured out the obvious fitting issue that would make the top of the bodice sit better (I am still working on the back and the band).

It was so obvious but for some silly reason I originally resisted my urge to lower the streamline connecting the gathered front halter piece to the midsection/band. It was not sitting under my bust, resulting in a bad fit.

If I just asked myself “How do I differ from a size 10 fitting model?” I would have made the right adjustment a long time ago.

So how do I differ? I am not a small bra cup/size and I am not ahem as erm….lets just say my breasts don’t naturally sit high up near my armpits and I am NOT a teenager.

Moral of the story is WHERE things are sitting can be just as important as HOW things are sitting.

As for the midriff band I made so many dodgey winging-it alterations on things I can sort of see why it would be pulling. But I am addressing that next!

Rather than following the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back I am planning on just adding shirring to the back . I know Betty drapers dress would be a lot more dressy but this is my spin on the dress so I decided its still accepatable.

I have never worked with shirring/shirring elastic before but I found a good tutorial here.

Gertie also has one called “Making a Shirred-Back Dress”. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

That would solve the fitting issues in the back and ensure it stays up rather than the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back.

Rule of thumb: The uglier the pattern pieces become-the better the fit. Haha Amateur pattern adjustments TO THE MAX.

I SHALL FINISH THIS DRESS.

I am going on a big trip to Europe soon so I better keep working on it.

Hmmm  Perhaps I should name every post after songs I like. Would that be wrong?

So far, so….um…. this is the best I can do at the moment!

I have wasted what feels like the whole day on trying to fit this dress.

I  had better remind myself that the things that are the most frustrating are often what you learn the most from.

I don’t even think I should wear/suit a halter neck style dress for reasons I’m not sure I should share (lets just say it is to do with my bust and leave it there).

After my third muslin I decided that I am just going to sew up/in lots of/most of/hopefully all of my corrections  directly onto muslin version 3. I changed the thread I used for different corrections.

I am semi worried about how I am going to transfer all these alterations at least semi-accuratley to my pattern, because I usually do some small corrections then new muslin, small corrections then new muslin etc. But this has a ton of alterations and it is very confusing. Use Muslin as pattern?

Other concerns:

The back is wack as you can see! According to the Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook  “Tight diagonal wrinkles mean that there is not enough fabric to go round the curve. you will need to add fullness to the curve making the area both longer and wider”. Apparently where the wrinkles are pointing too indicates where you need more fullness. Shorten back bodice increase mid to lower waist? or perhaps decrease volume where back goes in and add fabric to side seam. God only knows!

After reading more of the Colette Handbook I realize I need to be using techniques such as spreading or and pivoting to alter my patterns and stop doing things the dodgy way.

Also after all these dodgy changes I made the side seams are not where they are supposed to be.

Another thing to consider: I am not putting boning in so perhaps I should have a elastic in casing on the back. Or I could kill this whole back problem by shirring (which I have never tried before)

Also must add:

Gape darts. Doesn’t look gapey but what about when the lining is added and the excess SA is folded in…

Must make underarm bigger and ensure it covers my bra. Have to wear a one strap bra with this style when you are busty.

Phew I am sure I am missing some more issues but trying to get the fit right on this dress has totally exhausted me.

Simplicity 3823 just may haunt my dreams and continue to trouble me in ways never imagined possible.

“Hello! Me a weirdo? Nah. Just me looking awesome, totally ready for a night on the town”

You can tell I have had a lot of time to sew recently.

I am working tomorrow but I had today off and I did manage to start the muslin or toile process of Vogue 1206.

I also updated my pattern design blog with new wallpaper designs to download. Yay! Lots of blogging and sewing going on! Perhaps that’s why I am feeling so happy and sane at the moment.

Unlike Burda 7494 I am aiming to avoid making less than 6 muslins of this pattern:P. That way I actually feel like I am progressing or getting a bit better at fitting.

Looks like this one wont need as much as Burda 7494.

Anyway here comes the sexy fitting pictures haha.

Overall fit is good but I like a more tailored look so I pinned the bits I am taking in.

I was super excited about the fact that the pattern didn’t gape around the back neckline. I have had this happen quite often but not with this brilliant pattern. Could it be that I don’t have a dowagers hump after all?

As you can see the back bodice is a little loose particularly just before the pleated sleeve thing.

I am very hesitant when it comes to making the back more fitted. I need to be able to move my arms…

This is how I felt

(imge credit http://www.cowboylands.net)

Getting this pattern to fit has proved to be a good learning experience but a tedious one all the same. I have made 7 muslin/toiles.

Because I don’t understand fitting and pattern making that well I am not at the stage where I have standard adjustments that I make to new patterns to suit my body.

But I often notice the same problems. Such as…

Gaping/excess fabric above the bust. (Theory 1: My back is a little hunched or my front is shorter. Theory 2: Because I am a bigger cup/lower or bust size Theory 3: Hollow Chest)

Gaping at my back near the neck  (Theory: Slightly Curved back)

Who knows?

Anyway this is how it fits now  (I win Burda 7494 I win!)

The sewing is not fantastic but it is a trial run so I was messy.

Heres a little break down of what I have been through:

– In early versions I got rid of fabric from the side front bodice only (none on the center front) hoping it would get rid of excess fabric above the bust. This helped only a little little

– I then made a gape dart on the centre front pattern piece and pivoted the excess into the dart. Below is a picture showing how I did it.

Yey no more droopy fabric and the front but THEN I had these darts and the pannel lines that looked like pointy nipples. Not pretty! The darts were WAY too high on the dress.

Another problem was the neckline way WAY too high which is unflattering and uncomfortable.

– I lowered the neckline so I had to re-drafted the collar. I got a similar shape of collar by looking at the finished shape (without seam allowance) sewn up (muslin version 1) tracing that onto my new center front piece and lengthening it slightly. Had to factor in seam allowance to work out where the front of the collar would meet.

OK now to get rid of the darts the picture below shows how bad they looked.

– So to remove the bust darts I had to put the dart excess in my side front piece. It kind of defies explanation so here is an image so I can remember what I did.

– I originally added 2cms to the waistline but that was to much.

So I decided to make the waistline more curved. You can actually see it in the above image how the waistline kind of tapers upwards but is longer on the sides and back.

I shorted the skirt and added a slit but I have yet to figure out how to correctly sew a slit…

– I cut a big chunk out of the back neckline and that got rid of most of the gaping there.

-In my latest version (version 7) I took a little out of the waist. Hopefully with will work out because I am cutting it in my fashion fabric soon.

– I re-drafted facings for the new neckline and then drafted lining pieces to go with the facings.

Phew Perhaps I should sew with another pattern before I sew the Burda 7494 in my fashion fabric. Even writing the pattern number is tiring now.

Making this dress fit well has proved to be a major undertaking. It’s enough to make me take out the well-fitting sun dress pattern I have used 20+ times and make something just so I can sew a quicker project.

But I am learning…I think.

I can definitely see an improvement and after 4 muslins I have gotten rid of all the droopy excess fabric from above the bust/near the neckline.

Btw those are badly sewn darts on the left.

I am not even going to worry about the position of the darts…thats for another life when I am perfect.

What else needs to be done on this **^&#$^ thing?

  • The neckline needs to be lowered. Will be more flattering and I will be able to breath properly.
  • I need to re-draft a collar for the lowered neckline. I have already done this once, when I removed  the excess fabric. See how different the collars on the left and right pictures look? I like the original collar (left picture) better so I want the shape to be more like that.
  • Lengthen the around the armhole. The shape of pattern has changed due to removing excess fabric bellow neckline like the original arm-holey length better (there is no sleeve so I don’t know what to say in order to describe the area).
  • Shorten skirt to desired length. I probably wont bother with a pleat. hmmm more decisions.
  • There is excess near the waist…perhaps that is not a bad thing. Anyone who has eaten a big meal in a fitted dress knows what I am talking about! Plus if I take out some ease in the waist I will have the fun task of altering the entire skirt portion of the dress oh so slightly. ummm.. NO. that wont happen! So I will take in a slither just under the lower bust.
  • Even after altering the back I have a LOT of excess fabric near the back neckline. How to fix? Still unsure.

Oh god this is pretty frikken tedious! I think I am going to go do something non-sewing related like vacuum, dust or cleaning the house. Yes that actually sounds like more fun.

No seriously. I am learning. I do like learning about these things but the process is soooo slow! Either I have a messed up body or Burda patterns are not as well-fitting patterns as I thought. It’s probably a bit of both.