Alterations

I found out last night that I didn’t make it to the finals of the PatternReview Natural Fibers contest.  I am a little disappointed, but not surprised; the other entries in the silk category were stunning. 

But in more exciting sewing news…  I finally started my dress for the wedding next week, another iteration of B5147.  It’s probably going to be a fingernail biting race to the finish.  Hey, maybe I should hire a play-by-play announcer.  “Will Elizabeth finish the dress in time for her cousin’s wedding?  Will she be hand sewing the hem on the flight?  Stay tuned next time to find out!”  Hahah!

So, I think part of the reason for my procrastination, I mean hesitation in starting this next dress was that I had to transfer all my alteration changes to the pattern and then cut out 3 fabrics (the underlining, the lining and the fashion fabric).  I have decided that tracing and cutting are my least favorite activities associated with sewing.  Can we get to the sewing part already??? 

If you will recall, the changes I made to the B5147 sheath dress were to deepen the neckline, decrease the shoulder strap width, change the shape of the armscye and increase the fisheye darts for a more fitted look and a bit more dressy/evening-ish look.   Once I transferred the change markings to the original muslin, I found I had a problem.  Can you see it below?

The pattern wasn’t flat.  I had known that I would have to change the side seam somewhat because of the wedge I added, but I didn’t expect that the pattern wouldn’t be flat.  As you can see above, there’s a pouf on the CF fold edge and the CF fold was no longer straight.  That’s not a very practical CF fold then, now is it? 

My first thought was to make a perpendicular cut on the CF fold line and then fold out the pouf until it was flat, but then I would have had to distort the fish eye dart.  Also, by doing that, I would swing the CF line out by almost 4.5 inches.  Then I would have to completely redraw the entire skirt of the dress, both sides.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated, and had no idea how to proceed. 

My next thought was to call Thea.  But as we all know by now, Elizabeth is a visual person.  So Thea’s explanations over the phone were next to incomprehensible to me. 

Next thought?  Wait for it… it’s brilliant.  Consult one of the many fit books in my sewing library.  You know, the ones I haven’t read at all?  The first book to find its way into my hands was Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  I looked at the section about increasing a dart which is how I got into this whole mess in the first place.  I won’t go into great detail about her methods but the gist of this alteration is you have to increase the length of your pattern by the amount you increased your bust dart.  This makes total sense.  When you increase the bust dart, you are actually shortening the side seam of your pattern once the dart is sewn.  Remember, if you make a change in one place on a pattern, you will most likely have to make a change elsewhere to maintain the integrity and shape of the pattern.  Nancy (we’re on a first name basis now that I’ve actually opened her book) uses the pivot and slide method.  Basically you move around the original pattern making marks on a blank paper to create a new pattern with your own alterations.  So for the increase a bust dart instructions, you determine how much you will increase your dart and use that measurement to increase the length to the pattern piece.  This was a lightbulb moment for me.  Essentially, that’s what Thea and I did with the wedge we added at the side seam to keep the hip curve in the right place after increasing the dart.  But I needed to add the length across the entire piece, not just at the side.  So the wedge became a rectangle added below the dart but above the hip curve.  Ta da!

As you can see in the picture of above, I had to redraw the fisheye dart after adding in my rectangle (that’s the fisheye dart that I widened at the top under the bust so I had a more fitted look in front).  Now I didn’t sew this up again, but I did pin up the bust dart and made sure the front side seam matched the back side seam all the way from the armscye to the hem.  And it did.  Perfectly. 

I made some progress on my dress so far.  I cut out the fashion fabric and the underlining.  I basted the front pattern pieces together with silk thread and staystitched the neck and armscyes.  Next up is basting the back pieces of the underlining and fashion fabric together then stay stitching and cutting out the lining.  Since the fashion fabric I’m using  is very different from the silk twill I used for the last version of this dress, I am only going to baste the side seams to check for fit one last time before I sew this puppy up. 

I have four more evenings and three nap times (Jack’s, not mine) before the wedding.  I think I might just be able to finish this.  It will definitely be a nail biter though!

Tonight though, this momma has a date!  Should I wear the Christian LaCroix skirt or the silk twill dress?

Happy sewing everyone!

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9 responses to “Alterations

  1. I’m sorry your silk dress didn’t make it 😦 There’s always next year – and maybe you will be able to go and model your garment that time!

    Thanks for sharing your thought process on the fitting – I also have Nancy’s book but haven’t used it much as it didn’t address my main fitting issue – being short from shoulder to bust. There are mixed reviews on it, but I personally found Sandra Betzina’s book to be very helpful – “Fast Fit – Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure”.

  2. E – Sorry your dress didn’t mae the cut for the contest at PR. I too am guilty of having so many reference books (including Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting With Confidence) and not having read them. I tend to read through them when I hit a wall :o). You can finish the dress for the wedding. You have plenty of time. I cannot wait to see the dress.

  3. Silk twill dress for the date! Good luck on the date!

  4. Good for you for figuring out the alterations on your own! I second the silk twill dress for the date, hope it goes well!
    Personally I love cutting. It’s my favourite part. In a perfect world, I’d pick fabric and pattern, cut it out carefully and lovingly, and then poof! It would be all sewn up 🙂

  5. There’s always next time for the PR contest! Good for you for entering.

    Fabulous sleuthing work for figuring out your fitting issues and how to correct that darn pattern. It’s going to be a knockout, and I’m confident that you’ll get it done before the wedding. Go-go-Gadget!

    I’m on board with wearing the silk twill dress, too. I love that dress. And I’m sure that your mystery man will, too. 🙂

  6. Hey – and people think that landing a man on the moon is tricky to calculate – that’s nothing to what us sewists have to work out in order to make a few dress alterations!!! Sounds like this dress is coming along very nicely – it’s going to be gorgeous.

  7. Good for you for figuring out what you needed to to – those fitting books make no sense to just read, but are brilliant when you hit a real life pattern problem. I’m sure you will get your dress done in time. Whatever you wore for tonights date wear the other outfit for date #2!!

  8. Great progress! Nancy and I are also best friends! I use the same fitting book for all of my sewing and I love the results! Good luck with your dress, I’m sure it will be beautiful!

  9. Oh dear, I’m having flashbacks to my nailbiter of a finish for a silk gown I started making a whooping 12 days before the event for which is was required. :/ BUT! I finished it, it was fabulous and I know you can do it too! Go Elizabeth Go!

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