17 January 2011

Developing a Bodice Sloper: Day 2

Before I go into details about the second day of my sloper class, I have to vent. I consider myself an advanced beginning sewer because there are some techniques that I have yet to try or master. For example, I have never sewn a collar with stand, worked more than one buttonhole on a shirt, made a shirt that fit, or sewed a decent-looking lapped zipper without help.

After today's class, I may increase my level to 'intermediate' anyway because I knew a helluva lot more than almost everyone else. There is one other student who designs clothing and she knows what she's doing. She and I worked alone for most of the time doing our own thing. Folks didn't know how to measure patterns without darts or seamlines, true seams, adjust patterns by slashing/spreading and a bunch of other basic stuff. The suggested skill level for this class is quite high, but apparently not verified. Sigh. Vent over. Now on to the good stuff...

Today we traced our front and back bodice pieces and made alterations. This table shows the adjustments on which I focused.


Body Meas.

Ease

Needed for Pattern

Actual Pattern Meas.

Adjustment

full bust

*

2

*

*

+1.75

full front

*

1

*

*

+4

bust point

*

-

*

*

+0.5

waist

*

1

*

*

+6

front waist length

*

-

*

*

+1.125

back waist length

*

-

*

*

-1

shoulder depth

*

-

*

*

0

full back

*

-

*

*

-1.75



Bust Point & Front Waist Length

bust point: +0.5
front waist length: +1.125

The first thing to do was to add length to lower the bust point so that the bust darts are in the correct positions. I found it interesting that the instructor said not to move the dart itself. Some books tell you to draw a box around the dart and lower it so that it's in the right spot. She said that darts are in their proper places upon drafting and need to be adjusted by adding length above the dart only. Interesting. The red lines show where length was added from left to right. This alteration came before the full bust adjustment so that's why the line is crooked.



The total front waist length adjustment is 1.125 inches. Since one-half an inch in length was added to lower the bust point, the front waist length adjustment is actually smaller. Instead of adding 1.125 inches, I only need to add 0.625" in length. I don't recall adding the extra length to the front, so I'll have to ask the instructor about this at the next class.

Back Waist Length
The back waist length is the length of the back from neckline to waist at the center. I took out a 1" wedge at the waistline for this adjustment. This amounts to correcting the pattern for a swayback. I think I need more than one inch; we'll see if that's the case in muslin.




Full Front, Full Bust, & Waist

full front: +4"
full bust: +1.75"
waist: +6"

My full bust measures 1.75" larger than that of the pattern (front and back). Normally, I would make a 7/8 or 1" FBA. The problem is that not all of the fullness is equally distributed in the front and back. The full front measurement (which only considers the distance from side to side across the front) shows a 4" difference. This means two things: (1) I need a 2" FBA in the front, and (2) I have to take out some of the extra width from the back. I never would have thought of taking width out of the back, but I suppose it makes sense. Perhaps this is why after completing an FBA, the back always feels too loose and the center front of the muslin never reaches my center front.



To determine the amount to remove from the back, we looked at the difference between the full front and full bust adjustment values, and divided the result by 2: (4 - 1.75)/2 = 1.125. We divide by two since the adjustment is made on one pattern piece.

The red area shows where I removed 1.125 inches by slicing from shoulder to just above the armhole-side seam and overlapping. This alteration caused the side seam to rise about 0.75 inches (top blue wedge). To ensure that the front and back side seams matched, I added extra length (bottom blue wedge).

To adjust the front, I slashed through the vertical dart, the bust point, all the way up to the shoulder seam. I also slashed the horizontal dart from cutting line to bust point, creating a hinge. I spread the pattern apart 2" at the bust point, tapering to 1.5" at the waistline.



Since I needed an extra 6" at the waist, I divided this number by 4 to determine how much to add onto the front piece. As I write this, I now question the validity of this calculation. Wouldn't the same issues about equal distribution of fullness be present at the waist too? Again, I'll have to go to the instructor on this one.

The black lines show the new size of the horizontal dart. Can you say, ginormous? Sigh.

This is as far as I got. By this time, class was over and other people consumed most of the time. I did another check of my pattern measurements and found that there are still things that need correcting:
  • The front and back side seams are off by one-half inch.
  • The waist is 3 inches too small; something has to be added to the back, apparently.
  • I have to ask about the front waist length addition of 0.625".
  • What about the full back adjustment? Wasn't I supposed to take out 1.75" or can I ignore it since I took out 1.125 inches already?
For the next class, we are to trace our "completed" bodice patterns onto another piece of paper and have the sleeve and skirt ready. Hmf. Skirts aren't my problem; bodices are. I am not going to trace anything new until I have the issues with this bodice worked out.

L

09 January 2011

Developing a Bodice Sloper: Day 1

It is pretty well known that I have been on a mission to sew a fitted blouse. I've gone through countless muslins, patterns, and FBAs over the years, but have not succeeded in getting the bodice to fit. If the bodice fits well, the sleeves are a mess. If the sleeves fit, the back is too tight. One fitting triumph produces another fitting failure and the miserable cycle continues.

I took a bodice sloper class a couple of years ago with mediocre end results. The sloper doesn't have sleeves (wtf!) and I never learned how to use it to adjust other patterns. Grr... Since I don't give up easily, I decided to enroll in another bodice sloper class. By the end of eight weeks, we should have a customized bodice, sleeve, and skirt sloper. I was skeptical about taking the class at first because we are developing the sloper from a commercial pattern (been there, done that). However after having the first class, I am more optimistic as I've learned much more about where my fit issues occur.

Day 1

Picking the pattern
To make the sloper, we're using one of two fitting shells: Butterick 5746 or Vogue 1004. I chose the Vogue pattern because it was the one on sale at the time. Both patterns are very similar - if not identical. The Vogue pattern has one view with a CF zipper, back shoulder darts, and back/front vertical and horizontal darts. The Vogue pattern also includes different cup sizes; I don't know if Butterick the same.


V1004

The Butterick pattern has an additional view for reasons that I don't know. As you can see, view A is the same as the Vogue pattern.


B5746


Taking measurements
We had to take a series of measurements on both the body and on the pattern:
  • bust point: distance from the neckline (resting place for simple necklace) to the bust point
  • full bust: circumference around the fullest part of the bust
  • full front: length around fullest part of the bust from approximate side to side
  • waist: circumference at natural waist
  • abdomen: all the extra fluff (about 2" below natural waist)
  • waist front: length from neckline over the bust point to the natural waist
  • waist back: length from neckline to the waist at the center back
  • shoulder to elbow: length from shoulder joint to elbow, arm slightly bent
  • shoulder to wrist: length from shoulder joint to wrist bone (or desired equivalent)
  • shoulder depth: length from neckline to shoulder joint
  • shoulder width (front): length from joint to joint
  • shoulder width (back): length from mid armhole to mid armhole across the back
  • bicep: circumference around fullest part of the upper arm
After identifying these measurements on the pattern, I created a chart that compares both sets of numbers. The instructor suggests that we use 2 inches of fit ease at the bust and full hip and 1 inch of ease at the waist.

The biggest observation I had was the difference between the full front measurements.

Body Meas.

Ease

Needed for Pattern

Actual Pattern Meas.

Adj.

full bust

*

2

*

*

+1.75

full front

*

1

*

*

+4

(*omitted data)

If I use the FB measurement, I have to make an FBA of 0.875 inches (one-half of 1.75). This adjustment would not have been enough because there is a 4-inch difference between my body and the pattern's full front measurements (no wonder my FBAs never quite worked). Even though I have a broad back, more than half of my FB measurement comes from the front. The instructor said that we'll adjust to match the FF measurement and remove extra width from the back. I am not quite certain why we are removing extra width from the back, but the instructor assured me that this is what needs to happen. Since she's the one with 30+ years of experience, I assume she knows what she's talking about. =)

In the next class, we will make adjustments to the pattern according to our comparison chart and prepare to sew the first muslin.

On Snoop Shopping...
Thank you all for commenting. I like to read/see how others approach sewing and fitting and it's nice to learn about your experiences.

Heather asked: "That brown Muse-like dress looks hot on you, Lynnelle -- did you wind up sewing the Butterick 5353?"

No, I didn't make the Muse dress. After several muslins, I couldn't get the neck yoke to behave properly. I ended up making Simplicity 2648; my review is here.



06 January 2011

The Benefits of Snoop Shopping

In May of last year, my dear friend Melody and I went snoop shopping for dresses. I was having a hard time fitting a pattern for a cocktail dress and I was getting extremely frustrated. She suggested that we go to the mall and see if there are styles that flatter my body type. What an eye-opening experience! I cannot stress enough the huge benefits of snoop shopping!

It all started with my decision to make a dress for the PR Weekend-Montreal cocktail party. Making the dress was completely optional, but how can I go to a sewing-themed cocktail party and not wear something I made?! I made five muslins of Butterick 5353 which only stood to increase my frustration after I couldn't get the neck yoke to fit properly. Grr...

So, off to the mall we went. We went in search of dresses and styles that may be better suited for my body. We visited Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Nordstrom, and possibly one other store. She wouldn't let me go to Sears or JCPenney and with good reason. She said that designers don't make quality clothes for discount retailers and that to get a good idea of fit and construction, it is better to shop at the higher-end stores. Makes sense.

First up is the Ann Taylor store.



I think the dress looks good from the front. The back, however, showed me why I might struggle so much with bodice fit. I have a massive upper back! If I wasn't a girl, I'd probably try out for the Lions. The dress was a size 12 and was snug in some areas - as you can see.



This dress had a midriff band and thin bodice straps. Ugh, the back! The angle of the armhole area makes my back appear even wider by showing too much skin.



We tried this dress because of the v-neckline. The same problems persist, though the back doesn't appear as wide because the cut of the armhole isn't as angled. All of the dresses were way too long.

Next we went to Lord & Taylor. With this group of dresses, we realized that a size 12 in Ann Taylor was NOT the same as a size 12 with designers for L&T. The Ann Taylor draft appears to be more forgiving of curves and affinities for chocolate.



We both liked this dress. It was definitely too snug, but it had lots of potential design-wise. The bodice had armhole princess seams and a waist seam - designs that are a busty chick's best friend. The bodice style seemed to help minimize my broad back. The front overlay was just too cute!




Um....no. Hell no. Let's do the math: full busts + ruffles = hot ass mess. Keep it moving.



I think the expression on my face says it all about this one. Melody literally started jumping up and down in the dressing room when she saw me with this one. She really liked it. I, on the other hand, was not that impressed! I have to admit though, after staring at this for a few months now, the style is growing on me. I think the folds are still too full and the dress too long. Maybe with some alterations, I can make it work.


We both liked this one. This dress has neckline pleats and a ruched midriff band. Even the print is hot. Winner! We were thinking view A of this New Look pattern can be adapted to knock this off.


This is the actual Suzi Chin dress on which Butterick 5490 is based. It's not too bad.





The dress on the left is another take of the Muse dress (Butterick 5353) I was trying to fit in the beginning. The designer isn't Muse, but the style lines are exactly the same. The dress was made with a stretch cotton sateen. The pink dress is the Muse dress. The fabric was a non-stretch cotton pique. There are elements of both versions that appeal to me. I like the close fit of the brown dress on the skirt only. I like the loose fit of the pink dress doesn't call as much attention to my bust as in the brown dress.



We saw this one at Nordstrom's. We both could not decide what it was that made this so unattractive. We think was the mock pleated bodice, insanely high empire seam, and hideous print that made this a RTW-wadder.

Thanks to Melody's amazing help and guidance, I now recognize the benefits of snoop shopping. This experience has showed me how certain styles, fabrics, and design elements will wear on my body. Knowing this arms me with more information on how to select patterns and fabric. Thanks Mel!

Anyone else ever go snoop shopping? If so, what were your experiences?

L

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