Category Archives: Fitting

Crying uncle

Well, my friends, I think I have to give up the ghost on my tweed jumper.  I just can’t get it to fit around the girls right and now the fabric is looking a little forlorn.  Remember, this is how it looked last time:

  1. I tried shortening the fisheye darts — only helped a little.
  2. Then I tried letting out the side seams — no change.

At this point, the fabric doesn’t look good any more, so I didn’t have the heart to take pictures of what it looks like now though.  Trying to take out teensy tiny stitches out of a tweed just about did me in and definitely ruined the tweed.  And for some strange reason, the dress keeps hiking up in front so that the shoulder seams go behind my shoulders a bit.  I think that’s why the darts look so high.  But I can’t figure out why it’s doing that. 

I also can’t figure out why this iteration of a TNT is so drastically different from my other two.  The tweed is actually pretty lightweight and not all that different in thickness from the brocade I used for my fancy dress, so I can’t imagine that it’s a turn of the cloth issue as some of you have suggested.  So strange.

Anyway, I am just going to call it a wadder and move on.  I am pretty disappointed though.  As for the next project?  I have so many end of year projects on the docket that I am a little at a loss as to what to start on next. 

We’ll see what I feel like starting tonight. 

Wishing you a sewing day without wadders.

WTH!!!

People, can you see what’s wrong with the above picture (other than the crappy iPhone quality)?

Two nights ago, I tried on my tweed jumper (aka B5147) and was faced with double trouble.  Let’s just say the girls are not happy.  Now do you see what’s wrong?  There is major boob smooshing going on and not the good kind.

How did this happen?  This is my TNT folks.  Not some random pattern I picked up at a bar.  B5147 and I are going steady.  I thought there might even be a ring in the near future.  I feel betrayed!  Suddenly, B5147 doesn’t return my calls and now this!  Ok, my metaphor is losing steam here.  Seriously though…  My bust dart is about 1 inch too high (looks like I have low hanging fruit, hah!) and the fisheye dart looks too high too. 

What do I do in this situation???  Is it a simple matter of sacrificing the side seam allowances and then the dress will fall to the right level with some room for the girls?  Or do I have to actually release and lower the darts?  FYI, the dress fits everywhere else.  Just the bust is the problem.  Please let me know your suggestions.

I guess all the bad food choices and little exercise are catching up to my meager metabolism, not to mention the too little sleep I’ve been getting of late.  *sigh*  Gravity and aging are not my friends.

In disgust, I turned to knitting Jack’s sweater last night and was hit with another disaster.  My gauge swatch had lied to me and my knitting was 3.5 inches too narrow.  (Is there no loyalty with yarns and fabrics any longer?  They’re just like men!)  I had to frog the entire back and start over.   However, now I am confident I am on the right track with Jack’s sweater, although I am not entirely confident I will get either project done by Sunday when our photo shoot is scheduled.  😦  

Hope your yarn and fabrics are treating you nicer than I have been treated this week.

S2311 muslin

There are two things I want to discuss today folks.  So, buckle up! 

First, my Simplicity 2311 muslin for the sewalong.  Here’s a refresher on what the finished coat looks like (top left, the short camel version).  

S2311

I cut a straight sz 14 in heavy weight muslin (think of it as almost like painting canvas).  I found this weight to be extremely helpful to give an accurate read of how the coating would drape if a bit ravelly.  It took me forever last night to get to a point where I could try on the muslin (more on why later).  Essentially I got to the point where you attach the sleeves.  I believe they instruct you to sew them on in the flat as opposed to in the round.  But it was late and I wanted to see the fit, so I skipped that and basted the side seams.   

The verdict?  I.  LOVE.  THIS.  COAT.  I love the wide lapels.  I love the princess seams in front.  The back needs some fitting but luckily enough there’s a CB seam to play with.  I think I might take some bulk out of the shoulder blade area through to the waist, but that’s about it. This coat is going to rock!!!  I was scared of the princess seams, but they were really easy to sew.  I didn’t need to clip anything to get them to lay flat.  Weird!  The collar and lapel have a great shape and lie around my neck and shoulders beautifully.  And I didn’t even do the inside facing/over collar yet.  This is a really well-drafted pattern.   

I’ve decided that I won’t interline this coat.  I’m intending it to be a fall coat, something transitional and more like an accessory rather than true outerwear.  So, even though I bought cotton flannel for it, I am just going to use the purple wool coating and silk charmeuse lining for this coat.  But I could totally see myself making the longer version for a more substantial winter coat next year.   

I wish I had a picture of me wearing the muslin, but I was too tired and not camera ready last night, so here’s a totally craptastic shot with my iphone to tide you over.  

  

Thea is coming over tonight to help me fit the back and show me how to sew the back to the front better.  I had major problems sewing that part last night and just did a down and dirty job of it in the muslin to see how it looked on.   

And speaking of problems…  I had an awful time using my Featherweight last night.  AWFUL!!!  I almost dragged out my Emerald 183 from retirement.  I couldn’t get the bobbin to wind correctly and smoothly so my bobbin thread kept getting stuck and then breaking.  I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.  One time when it broke, something jolted the needle thread tension discs and now they are really loose.  I hope I didn’t break my “new” Featherweight.  I guess the honeymoon is over.  😦   As a matter of fact, I am probably going to un-retire the Emerald 183 to sew my final coat.  I don’t want to slow down the making of this coat due to machine temperamentality.  

Happy sewing everyone.

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!

Super-duper excited

about my B5147 morph from day into evening-wear project!!!  

So I know Robin’s been experiencing drama here and here with her first version of B5147 and I can’t keep my hands off tweaking the bodice (sounds almost r rated!). But I am excited to report that I have found nirvana with my fit for this bodice.  Here are the changes I made to the bodice to make it more fitting for evening wear (get it?  “fitting”?) AND to be more flattering fit-wise too: 

  • scooped out the neckline by 3 inches to give a more evening look.  I came at this measurement by trying on my silk twill version and measuring down from the existing neckline to where I wanted the evening dress neckline to be.
  • sculpted out the side of the shoulder strap/armscye area to give a more evening look.  Adjusted the width of the back shoulder strap to match the front.
  • widened the top portion of both fisheye darts to pull in the bodice under the girls, thereby giving a more flattering silhouette to the waist of bodice.  I am really proud of this change working out well because I just kind of eyeballed it.  No math involved!
  • increased the bust dart again by 1/4 inch on the top to reduce draglines at the side.
  • added 3/4 inch wedge below the bust dart to restore length to the side seam and maintain integrity of the hip curve after altering the bust dart.
  • pinched out a 1/4 inch of the outer shoulder seam for the front only, tapering to the inner shoulder seam to reduce gaping of the armscye.

B5147 front pattern altered with neck, dart and armscye changes

 

B5147 back pattern with shoulder strap altered to match front

 

fisheye dart widened

 

Bust dart increased and wedge added

 

I might need to tweak the following on the final dress, but will do it during construction, basting as I go: 

  • take a titch out from the front at the armscye side seam, maybe a 1/4 inch tapering to nothing at the dart to reduce armscye gaping.
  • pinch out the same amount from inner shoulder seam to reduce neckline gaping.
  • straighten up side seam after adding the wedge under the bust dart.

I should have taken a picture of the muslin on me, because I was really happy with the fit, but I didn’t insert the zipper.  I just had Thea pin up the back at the seam allowance to mimic the zipper.  Then I forgot to take a picture after we were done with our fitting.  Sorry!  Suffice it to say, that I am very happy with the fit of this dress now.  And I love that I have an evening version of this sheath dress. 

Unfortunately, I won’t have time to sew until next week as Jack and I have a very full weekend planned.   But at least I have figured out all the major stuff and can just cut and start sewing next week.  I am going to underline the brocade with silk organza as it is quite a loose weave and bags out if you just look or breathe on it.  That will add some time to the process, but it will be well worth it in the end.    

Happy sewing everyone!

Crazy!

That’s me.  Crazy Elizabeth.  Didn’t I just say that I would use a different pattern for my next sheath dress?  Well, I always reserve the right to change my mind.

In the interests of saving time and being more efficient, I have decided to use B5147 again for the dress I am making for my cousin’s wedding in early September.  I have so many other things to make besides this dress, that it just makes sense to use this pattern again.  I will, however, tweak the fit in the bodice some more to get it closer fitting.  It still gapes a little at the armscye.  And I have  noticed that a lot of the sheath wearing women at the office are wearing them really fitted.  I know I don’t have a 25 year old’s body, but I do have at least one, ahem two, assets to show off.  May as well make the most of what I’ve got.  😉 

So I will probably play with the bust darts and the fisheyes a little more and maybe consider changing the shape of the armscye/shoulder area a little.  Hopefully I won’t ruin the dress in the process.

Do you want to see the fabric I’m going to use???  It’s one of my favorites I have ever bought.  I’m such a sucker for metallic, shiny things.  Strange enough, when I bought it, I earmarked this fabric to make a dress for this specific wedding.  The fact that I am actually going to do so is probably a minor miracle. 

Vera Wang brocade from Fabricmart

From the get go, I’ve always wanted to use the wrong side of the fabric.  In the picture above, the wrong side is on the left and the right side is on the upper right.  I just love the definition of the flowers on the wrong side better.  Also, it looks edgier on the wrong side.  Take a look at the dress Lindsay T made for her daughter using this fabric.  Isn’t the fit just 100% perfect???  I love that dress!

I’m not sure if I am going to be able to get this version done by the Butterick 5147 Dress Sew Along deadline (August 13th) though.  Check out the progress people have made on their dresses at the sew along!

I’m off to pre-treat my fabric…  Happy sewing everyone!

Still here (small update)

but not much more progress yet.  After I posted the in progress pics of the second B5147 sheath dress, I changed the darts a little, pulling up about 1cm from below the dart and incorporating it within.  That took care of the bust drag lines.  Then I jiggered the side seams until it seemed right.  I really like the fit on this dress.  Not too tight, not too loose.  I’d like it even better if I didn’t have a pooch, but oh well.  I have about an evening’s worth of work left on this dress before I wear it. 

BUT, it is/was my birthday week and now I have a friend staying with me until Tuesday.  It’s not looking good for this little dress to be finished by Monday.  But you never know. 

Until then, happy sewing everyone!

ETA: Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes!!!

A Non-Tutorial on Grain and Fit Check

Thea was over this weekend to give me my remedial lesson on how to find the grain in fabric.  Until now, I have just been matching selvedges, working with a lot of knits and just plain hoping my fabric was on grain.  To be honest, things have worked out so far, but I didn’t want to chance ruining my new silk twill border print dress.  I didn’t want to spend all that time making a beautiful garment only to have it twist on me due to being off grain. 

So Thea showed me how to fray the fabric until you find the straight grain all the way up and down the fabric, meaning no threads left that are shorter than the entire width of the fabric.  Even matching selvedge to selvedge, my fabric was off grain by almost  a whole inch on one side!.  That could have put a serious twist in how my dress would have hung on my body and there would have been serious shouting!  😉  

To fray the fabric, you pull threads one at a time from one selvedge to the other side until there are no more threads to pull.  This is an easy method, but it takes a long time…  I think fraying this fabric took me at least a good 1/2 hour, maybe even 45 minutes.  And you have to find the grain for each pattern piece you cut out.  That’s a serious time commitment my friends.  But as I said earlier, it is important to cut out your fabric on grain.  Good prep work in the beginning means smooth sailing and wearing later on, so it’s worth it to put in the effort now and have no regrets later.

There is another method, but it takes some practice.  Snip into your fabric at the selvedge and pull one thread all the way out.  The difficulty with this method is not breaking the thread before you have pulled it all the way out.  Ask me how I know.  🙂   I was discussing it with Claudine over email yesterday and she suggested cutting as you go so if your thread breaks you can find it again.  Great idea!  I will definitely use that helpful hint in the future as this method is way faster than fraying the fabric.  Actually it was Claudine that started me worrying me thinking about grain issues in the first place.  Here’s an example with a pulled thread…

Ok, once you’ve found your grain, you need to adjust your fabric so it’s on grain and then you cut out your fabric!  How do you do that you ask?  Well, you use your handy dandy quilting ruler or some like thing.  Fold your fabric over enough to fit your pattern piece on it and then measure down from the pulled thread or fringe equally all across the width of your fabric pinning as you go to maintain integrity.  It’s as simple as that!

And voila!  You will then have fabric that’s perfectly on grain and ready for cutting!

Now, I need your opinion please.  I pulled a 5 hour sewing sweatshop last night and got a significant amount of my second Butterick 5147 dress done.  I basted the side seams and now need to determine if I need to make any tweaks.  Working with a non stretch fabric is very different for me especially in such a fitted dress.  Wow!  I think it might be too fitted now in the back and waist.  Here are some pictures of it basted and unhemmed.  Please let me know if I need to release the side seams a little. 

Happy sewing everyone!  And happy universal holiday too!  (it’s my birthday today and I’m going to wear my Christian LaCroix skirt)  🙂

Some progress

I made some good progress on my first iteration of Butterick 5147 this week.  I cut into the stretch cotton chambray and started sewing it.  Since I noticed that the neck was looking a little on the gapey side, I basted the side seams to check the fit of the dress.  Intellectually, I know that different fabrics will behave differently with the same pattern, but the reality of it still annoys me a little bit.  I would like one thing in life to be a little predictable please! 

I remembered to make the left hip side seam a little straighter on the curve having used tracing paper to copy both seam lines (the straighter for the left side and the curvier for the right side) on my muslin pattern piece.  That side fit perfectly.  Yeah!   But, surprisingly, I needed to reduce the right side as well.  Go figure.  I guess this stretch woven needed a little negative ease for this pattern.  Live and learn I guess. 

Trying it on, I was pleasantly surprised with how this dress looks.  It looks just like a real dress!  It always seems like a miracle when something I sew actually looks like it’s supposed to look.  So funny.  I just don’t trust my skills yet.  And there’s something about the process where it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.  You’re concentrating on this tiny detail like the bust dart and worry that it’s too pointy, and then you try it on and the whole is more than the parts.  A minor miracle.  I love it!

See for yourself; some in progress shots of the as yet unfinished dress (again fuzzy pictures — stupid camera)…

I still have to do the following before I can wear this dress to work:

  • sew the back seam of the lining
  • attach the lining to the zipper
  • hem the lining and the dress (not sure if I am going to hem the dress by hand or not)

I am pleased with the fit of the dress, aside from the neck gaping issues which cannot be helped at this stage of the game.  I have minimal drag lines at the bust.  And the dress is comfortable to wear and sit in; so the ease is spot on.  It wears very differently than the muslin though, in a good way. 

I am dying to try this pattern in a regular woven next.  But I think I need remedial lessons on cutting on grain.  I am booking Thea pronto.  I tried so hard to cut the lining on grain and thought I was successful, but in working with this dress, it became immediately apparent that I did not cut it on grain.  *sigh*  Of all the different tasks one has to do to sew a garment, finding the straight of grain is my least favorite and most time-consuming task.  *double sigh*

Happy sewing everyone!

Muslin Surprise

Thea was over last night and we worked on fitting my muslin for the B5147 dress.  Remember how I said that it probably only needed a swayback adjustment?  Well, I was completely off the mark.

If you will recall, I needed to set in the zipper better, so I basted that in more accurately and tried it on again.  As soon as I saw it on me again, I knew no swayback adjustment was necessary.  Then Thea went to work on helping me fit the muslin.  Here’s what we did:

  • raised the back 1 inch (need to remember to increase the bottom by one inch to compensate)
  • added 1/4 inch at the side seams for a total increase of 1 inch
  • my left hip is much straighter in shape than my right hip so I straightened the curve and took in that side seam a little more because it was pooching out
  • lowered the bust dart about 3/4 inch and changed the angle a little lower as it was too high for my bust
  • raised the hem by about 6 inches (man! this dress is long!)
  • changed the back sleeve shape decreasing it about 3/8 inch
  • decreased the side seam under the arm about 3/8 for a closer fit (might add some back as it’s a little tight across the back)

Here’s what the muslin looks like so far.  We only made the changes to one side of the muslin (my left, your right as you look at the picture), although we let out both side seams and raised the back on both shoulders originally.

It looks pretty good as is now, but I still want to tweak it a little further.  I think I overfitted in some areas and removed too much ease.  While I can still sit down in the dress, it’s a little too fitted looking and for my liking.  Also, I still have drag lines pointing to the bust.  I have solution to that (see below).  So here’s what I have to do next:

  • add an inch to the hem of the back pattern piece to account for raising the back
  • add a complete 5/8 SA to the pattern pieces since I let out the side seam by a 1/4 inch
  • add back in a pinch at the left hip SA due to over fitting
  • add a little less than 1/8 inch to bust dart tapering to the point
  • add back about 1/8 inch to under arm SA to get better ease for the back
  • now that the back is raised, I have to cut down the back neck 1 inch to the original placement

So once I have made all those changes and check the fit one last time, I am ready to use this muslin as my pattern.  Once I’ve made sure all the marks are made, I can cut out my good fabric.  I still haven’t chosen which fabric I will use to make my first iteration of this dress.  So many to choose from!  But that’s a happy problem.  And folks, yes, this will be my TNT sheath dress pattern.  I love it!!!

Thoughts on the fitting process: 

  • I’m really glad that I had Thea to help me fit this dress.  I would never have known to raise the back at all; it would not have occurred to me in a million years.
  • I think you really need a fitting buddy, preferably someone who is knowledgeable, if you’re a beginner like me.
  • the change you need is never the one you think of initially, at least for me.  This is NOT intuitive for me at all.
  • It’s almost never just one change.  One thing leads to another to another.  😉 

But the most important lesson learned?  Fitted garments are flattering, no matter what your shape!

Happy fitting everyone!