19 August 2014

Converting Big Honkin' Darts Into Shoulder Princess Seams (long & pic heavy post)

Anyone of ample boob size who's had to make an FBA dreads the inevitable BIG HONKIN' DART (haha thanks Debbie) that results; well, at least I do.  I make anywhere between a 1 and 2" FBA just to get the centers front almost close.  The result of this adjustment is usually a large dart that is next to impossible to sew or keep neat.  I got so frustrated with the BHD that I stopped buying patterns that had darted fronts. 

Having had recent success with fitting shoulder princess seams and converting back bodice darts to princess seams, I decided to attempt to do the same with the front.

I'm going to describe how I got New Look 6407 to fit reasonably well by doing an FBA, tackling the big honkin' dart, and changing the front and back to have shoulder princess seams.

The pictures below are my second attempt at the process and are not the pattern pieces I used to construct the actual shirt.  I was so engrossed in the process the first time around, I neglected to take any pictures!  Oops.  I'll explain the differences between the two versions as I go along.

One caveat:  I am by no means an expert.  I did what I thought made sense.  I tried searching the interwebs for guidance, but I am terrible at doing that.

FBA then conversion to princess seams
I couldn't find any information on which to do first, so I tried it both ways.

1.  I started with a traced version of the pattern.  I only had one copy and wanted to preserve the original in case I messed up.  Before you start to do anything, copy the grainline somewhere in the area that will eventually become the side front.  I always forget to do this and have to backtrack to figure out where the grain is.


2.  The horizontal bust dart looked a little high, so I redrew it to point closer to the vertical waist dart.

 
3.  Next I used the slash-n-spread method to make a 2" FBA.  In the first version, I only made a 1.25" FBA because I thought I would have enough room based on the finished garment measurements.  I ended up having to add 1" seam allowances at the bust area

 
Notice to keep an even width down the front, a super large dart is needed.  My dart measured 4.5" (11.4 cm) at the widest point.

4.  To re-establish the vertical dart, I kept the right dart leg and copied the left leg from the original pattern.
 
I don't know if this is right or not, but I realize that redrawing the dart like this takes away some of the additional width that's added by the FBA.  The additional is taken away at and below bust level. I'd have to think about it more should I attempt to do this again.

5.  To find the shoulder princess line, I measured the width of the shoulder, minus seam allowances and divided the result in half.


 

6.  Next I drew a straight line from the middle mark to the top of the vertical dart.  Then I used a curved ruler to soften this line so that the seam curves gently over the upper chest.

7.  Before doing any cutting, make hash marks for notches above and below the bust curve.  Again, this is something I forget to do until after the fact.  I end up having to "walk the seam" to find decent match points.  Things are much easier if you identify these points now!

I cut along the curved line, stopping at the top of the vertical dart.  Then I cut the bottom leg of the horizontal dart also stopping at the top of the vertical dart.  Doing this turns the top of the vertical dart into a pivot point.

8.  Next, I closed and taped the horizontal dart.  This created a shoulder dart and the shoulder princess seamline.


 9.  To separate the panels, I continued cutting along the vertical dart.


Notice that the side front panel has an unsightly point at the bust.  I used a curved ruler to round the area.

Here are the side front and front pattern pieces:



I marked "Add SA" everywhere along these seams as a reminder to...um...add seam allowances. =)

In Threads #170, Connie Crawford suggests adding 1/2" of ease at bust level on the side front panel only.  I didn't do that on my first version, but did so on the second version.  I haven't sewn a muslin of the second attempt, so I don't know if this extra ease is needed. 


Below is a picture of the first and second versions.  Doing a 2" FBA as opposed to a 1.25" FBA appeared to not create that much more bust space.  I find that very odd.

(first attempt on top)

Notice how angled the armhole is on the second version.  Hmm.

Using the pattern pieces from the first attempt, 1" seam allowances at the bust, and 1/2" seam allowances everywhere else, here's how the blouse fits:

 
These are pictures of my for-real fabric.  I liked the muslin enough to proceed with cutting out my fashion fabric.  Not too bad, eh? I could probably use some more tweaking somewhere.

Princess seam conversion then FBA
Doing it this way was less successful, in my opinion.  The resulting armhole on the side front panel was so skewed it looked almost alien-like. 

The process is pretty much the same:
  • find the shoulder princess mark on the shoulder 
  • draw the princess seam line from this mark to the top of the vertical dart
  • cut along this line and along one of the horizontal dart legs
  • close the horizontal dart
  • separate the panels by cutting along the vertical dart
Pictures:




I made a 2" FBA again using the slash-n-spread method:
 

For comparison, the first attempt (FBA then conversion) is on top of the third attempt (conversion then FBA).  As you can see, I definitely have enough room at bust level, however look at the angle of the armhole - that just does not look right. Additionally, the front panel is much longer than on the first two attempts. 
 
 
 
Conclusion
I think doing the FBA first and then converting the result to princess seams is the way to go.  Even though I had to add an extra wide seam allowance, I was able to get the top to fit reasonably well.  As such, I am a bit more motivated to try darted fronts now knowing that I can make this conversion.  I'm not going to go searching for darted fronts because working with already-established shoulder princess seams is so much easier.  However, if I find a design that I like, I am not afraid to tackle it.
 
I hope this was helpful!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.
 
Up next:  I need to finish the blouse!  My iron started smoking and going crazy yesterday, so sewing is stalled until I get another one and/or setup my gravity feed iron.  Did I mention I bought a gravity feed iron? =)
 
L

16 August 2014

Checking In

Many thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes.  I apologize for not commenting to each reply.  I've had a WHIRLWIND of a week and am still recovering.  I drove a dear friend's car from Michigan to DC, spent quality time with my friend, her daughter and ADORABLE 3-year old twin granddaughters, flew back two days after that (although given the crazy weather I probably could have sailed back), and went from quite pleased to majorly pissed with the guy.  He's an asshat who missed out; that is all.

Let's talk about that flight, shall we?  What do you get when you mix an aviation junkie with a three-hour flight delay?

O EM GEE !

Because of the crazy rain we had in the Midwest, my flight out of Baltimore was delayed.  Detroit Metro issued a ground stop and would not let any planes land.  So some of us sat at the gate on our plane; others were allowed to leave and wait inside the airport.  I saw this as a perfect opportunity to ask more flying questions.  I had to get my fix.  I watch Mayday:  Air Crash Investigation for fun.  Seriously.

Whenever I fly, I try to chat up the pilots if they're not busy (or look mad).  I asked the captain a question about the way lift works on the elevators because it seemed contrary to what happens with the ailerons.  (I should have given you a nerd alert.)  Anyway, after getting a short lesson, I was invited to sit in the captain's chair. I was asked questions about the instrument panel (which I got right because...you know...I'm a nerd) and was given a lesson about others that I didn't know.

Then it happened:  jokes and more jokes.  These pilots were frikkin' hilarious.  I dubbed them Captain Curly and First Officer Moe because they were a true comedy team. Then the gate agent and a flight attendant got in on the jokes and the parked plane became a comedy house.  Aah.  Good times.

In all, I had a great birthday weekend by doing what I wanted.  It's sad that the first week of my new year ended on a sad note, but I am better for it and have learned a lot.

***

On the sewing front, I have lots to write about:
  • skinnifying Jalie 2908
  • sewing and fitting Kwik Sew 2960
  • fall sewing plans (yup, a wardrobe)
  • big honkin' darts to princess seams
I'm working on the last dot first because I started sewing my button-front shirt with...wait for it...a COLLAR STAND!  Lord help me.

I neglected to take pictures of my dart-to-princess seams-paper-wizardry, so I'll have to do it again (on a smaller scale) and have the camera ready.

Until next time, peace!

L

08 August 2014

On this day...

...39 years ago, this happened:

 Hah!

A lot has happened since the last anniversary of my hatching.  Nevertheless, I am wiser and stronger.  My plans for today are to do what I want to do - which is pretty much my plan for every day. =)

I do have some sewing news to report.  I've made two pairs of pants for work and fitted another button-front top.  Details soon!

L

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