11 May 2009

Look Ma, it Fits! (Part II)

I am humbled and thrilled to see that people actually take the time to read what I write. For that matter, I apologize for taking so long to post. Many things happened (end of school, family drama, new semester of classes I am taking, not teaching) in a short period of time and I became quite busy and unmotivated. Thank you for reading!

Now that I have regained some sanity, I am ready to continue detailing how I am close to finally getting a woven blouse to fit. In the mini-update, I said that I would address:
  1. reasons why I chose to tackle McCall's 5522
  2. how I made the FBA on the front pattern piece and other alterations.
  3. how sewing the same pattern with some of my sewing friends has provided wonderful enlightenment and many a-ha moments
  4. revelations about how fitting sleeves is a royal pain in the ass and reasons why this blouse is on its way to becoming sleeveless, for the summer at least.
So that this post isn't insanely long, I will talk about items 1 and 2 and save the others for the next post.

1. Reasons Why I Chose to Tackle McCall's 5522

Let's consider the details. The pattern has an empire waist seam, princess seamed front and back lower sections, gathers at the bustline, gathers at the sleeve cap, and a separate front band for the buttons. The pattern also has separate pieces for different cup sizes. With this many features, I thought it offered the most options in perfecting the fit.

In past attempts, full bust adjustments (FBAs) always yielded massive amounts of width at the waist - some of it necessary, but most of it excessive. With separate pieces for the front/back upper and lower sections, I could do any size FBA and not have to significantly alter the waist sections. In order to keep the empire waist seam length the same on the upper and lower sections, I can just adjust the gathers accordingly.

The separate piece for the front band gives me the chance to add up to 1/2" of extra width if needed later on in the construction process. With this extra piece, I can cut it as wide or narrow as I'd like and use no less than 3/8" as a seam allowance if necessary.

Because I am short-waisted, I can lower the empire waist seam as much as needed to ensure that the seam is sitting in the right spot beneath my chest.

The gathers on the sleeve cap allow me the opportunity to camouflage any changes made when fitting the sleeves. They also hide my hit-or-miss skill at setting in sleeves. =)

2. How I Made the FBA on the Upper Front and Other Alterations

To make the FBA, I used the slash & spread method. I drew a vertical line parallel to the grainline through my marked bust point, and two diagonal lines: one toward the armscye and the other toward the intersection of the side seam and empire waist seam. Pretty much, this is the standard Fit for Real People (FFRP) method for making an FBA on a bodice. The size of the FBA was 5/8" which would give an extra 1 1/4" across the top. To reconcile the newly created bust dart, I closed it and rotated the dart to the gathers. Here is a picture of the final pattern piece:

Because I am petite, I have to shorten the length between the armscye and bust. I did this right on the muslin by removing 5/8" of length on the front and back.

Before I made this alteration, the front gaped horribly above my chest. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures. Believe me when I say, what you see here is a HUGE improvement.

So far, so good, yes? At this point in the sewing session, I was ecstatic! I mean, really, I can button (pin) the centers front. The waist isn't too big. The shoulder line follows my shoulders beautifully and the back looks great. What could go wrong? I mean, really? What?

The SLEEVES. Damn it! Mind you, I have never, EVER, ever ever ever (cue Smokey from Friday when he met "Janet Jackson") gotten a woven blouse to fit this good, so I had no idea what to expect with the sleeves. Sigh. Over the past year, I learned that I had narrow shoulders - revealed by other garment fittings. So, I lopped off 5/8" measuring from the edge of the shoulder seam, tapering to nothing along the armscye. I did this on both the front and back shoulder pieces. I neglected to make the same adjustment to the sleeve cap, set the sleeves anyway, and got this as the result:

I don't know what happened, but this was SO not right. I don't know if not making the same adjustment to the sleeve cap would have prevented this atrocity, but I didn't investigate. Instead, I put sewed the lopped pieces back to the front and back and reset the sleeves.

Whew, ok. Much better! All is well in the universe as long as I stand just...like...this. Don't try to do anything adventurous...

Grrr....damnit! Ok. So, I can't lift my arms up, nor put them out in front me, comfortably. A couple people on Pattern Review suggested that the cause of the discomfort was a too-low armscye. I was perplexed about this, as I thought I remedied that with the 5/8" reduction in length between the shoulder and bust. But, ok. I submit. In another sewing session, I attempted to raise the lower part of the armhole up 1/2". I think I also took out 5/8" from the sleeve cap to mimic the length reduction done on the bodice. I'll have to check the muslin to be sure. Anyway, here's what the muslin looked like then:

I still think I need a bit more width in the upper chest area. I remember the muslin being a bit tight there.

So, this is pretty much where I am right now. A few weeks ago, I transferred my muslin alterations to the paper pattern, cut a new upper front, back, and sleeves, and sewed it up. I don't know if something went wrong in my transfer, but the newest muslin was just like the one with the hunched shoulders. The shoulder seam stood away from my shoulders and the top was tight across the chest. Sigh. So, what I'll do is just trace the pattern pieces that produced the four pictures above and go from there.

Whew! More details to come... Comments/suggestions are always welcomed!



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