Monday, April 15, 2013

Cut And Sew On The Lines

This morning, for the third morning in a row, I woke up to snow in mid April. There is something rather wrong with this although today was the first morning when I could really relate to the feelings of enough now, we have other - spring - things to do.




I finished the black and white version of Katherine Tilton's V8691 and it fits wonderfully. I traced the pattern in a single size and then added the hip differential in the back.




The back of the armhole is smooth. YEAH. I tried the sleeve that came with the pattern and then substituted my T & T sleeve. It has a narrower, higher sleeve cap that fits my arm better.




The frill didn't work for me. It looked cute and felt like pregnant. Not. Me. Instead, I hemmed the bottom edge and used a lace overlay on the neckline.




Backs might be boring but I'm going to show mine off for a little bit longer until good fit starts to be the norm. A camisole might be in order but I really like the way this fits and I've spent a long time getting to this place, the one where I can - sort of - cut and sew on the lines.

YEARS ago, when I returned to fashion sewing, I bought Pattern Master Boutique software so I'd be able to design, print out, and sew without issues and what I learned is that we're always going to have issues. The key is to know what they are and how to deal with them.

With the fitting shell, my main focus was on the bodice and although I mentioned in one posting that I'd added extra width to the back of the skirt, it didn't really click that this was important because I only sewed the skirt to weight the bodice. I intended to focus on the fit of skirts and pants later BUT... the bottom half of a blouse is a "skirt" - DUH!

I know that hip differential is a "discovery" I've made a few times. My back hip measurement is significantly wider than my front hip measurement. It seems I've been hoping this current reality would go away or that it simply wasn't true. It is. Get over it. Sewing for me will be a LOT easier once I accept this measured and documented fact. It would be a LOT easier for all of us if we'd accept our own facts. And that was the point of my fitting shell journey - a fact finding mission. Right now, I'm sewing my second experiment cutting one size and altering the back hips below the waist. It feels like another leap forward - a huge ah ha.

Last night, I traced the pattern and made the alterations. It moved with a certain rhythm and flow. Check the center back length. Adjust. Check the back shoulder width. Make a narrow back adjustment. Mark the correct shoulder width. Raise the shoulder point and redraw the shoulder line. Trace the new armhole. Re-draw the side seam from underarm to waist adding back any waist width that was removed with the narrow back adjustment. Add 2 1/2" to each half of the back hip below the waist only. And then...

... the front has a similar pattern with the addition of checking for cup size and the position of the bust point. In the past, I haven't had to alter the bust point but lately I seem to be moving it up an inch quite frequently. It made me wonder if patterns are now being drafted with a lower bust point ? ? ?

Changing the shoulder slope, raising the shoulder point, narrowing the shoulders, and redrawing the armhole raises the underarm point. That's why I used to think I needed a petite adjustment. Adding extra width to the back hip below the waist only creates a curve along the side seam that forces the fabric to bend in at the waist before flowing over the hips. That's why I used to think I needed a sway back adjustment. It's also why it's important to have the waist at the correct position.

The fitting shell journey clearly identified for me what alterations I need to make and what order to make them in and their impact on the finished garment. It answered in new ways questions I thought I'd answered before which means it was not a waste of time although to continue re-inventing the wheel and looking for different answers now would be a waste of time. These answers have resolved the fit of the back through the armhole and over the waist and hips and give the look I had hoped for. I'm there. At the finish line. Until something significantly changes, these are my answers to embrace, to learn to implement effortlessly, and to move forward with.

These answers are the closest I will ever get to cut and sew on the lines. They change the pattern from one with less than acceptable fit to one with the potential for success and in-between lies my skills as a seamstress and the fabric factor. It was interesting to read the reviews of Katherine's pattern. They ranged from fit well to fit way too big. I've sewn this pattern three times in three sizes and they all fit well. The differences between them are the fabric factor.

The pattern is drafted more along the lines of a woven garment and is intended for a very stable knit. With each of those three sizes I sewed, I made the alterations listed above to bring the center back or center front length and the width, angle, and length of the shoulder in line with my body. After that, the different sizes were about accommodating the stretch of the fabric. The smallest size sewn is five sizes smaller than the largest size sewn and while the amount of the alterations differed, they were still all made. The tweaking was individualized based on the fabric factor and the results desired. Marcy mentioned in a recent blog posting, that she'd sewn five of the same pattern and that each required individualized attention to small details. Yes.

When I was involved with traditional quilting, I described myself as a mathematical quilter. What I meant by that was if the design was drafted with a 1/4" seam allowance, I recognized that it could only work out if you actually sewed a 1/4" seam allowance. My focus was on accuracy and understanding how the pattern was drafted so that I could sew it in that way and achieve the desired results. There's an equivalent with fashion sewing.

What I've learned recently about pattern drafting has allowed me to understand why this or that alteration works, why it needs to be done in a particular order, and how it impacts the fit of the garment. This is good learning and for me, necessary learning. It's not that I don't enjoy draping. I do. But it's a different journey much like the textile art pieces my traditional quilts evolved into and as was the case then, one is the base of the other.

I had a lovely private email on the weekend encouraging me to hang in there, that the frustration with the blouse was the equivalent of the plateau before significant weight loss. YES... that's exactly what it felt like and it's quite wonderful to be on the other side of that "number" and feel confident moving forward. I want to encourage you to keep looking until you find your alterations and your numbers and then when you do, accept them, and move forward with them because great fit looks fabulous on every body and it's so worth the work.

I've been sewing for thirty-nine years and I'm so excited about what I learned over the last few weeks and where that knowledge will take me. Sewing never gets old. When I put the t-shirt on and it fit the way I wanted it to fit and flowed over the back of my waist and hips the way I wanted it to flow with no lumps and wrinkles under the back armhole - YES YES - much happy dancing.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - feeling confident about what I've learned and about achieving the level of fit I desire


14 comments:

  1. Myrna -
    Your tee shirt looks fabulous!! I especially like the lace at the neckline - that is a great touch.

    I wonder if the bust point on the patterns seems lower because you used to raise with the petit alteration? I've always had to lower it, but I haven't done enough sewing with new patterns to notice any change.

    Lois K

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    1. Thank you. The applique on the neckline was a saleman's sample that a friend gave me. Worked like wonderful.

      That's an interesting thought about the bust point. Could be true. I'm working on a darted bodice and it seems that the alteration for the bust point is always different on this style versus princess seaming. When I have more time, I'll try to figure out if there is anything to that thought. For now, it simply flashed into my mind.

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  2. Hi Myrna
    The top looks great, worth all the work you have put in - nice smooth shoulders and armholes. Looking forward to seeing more tops you can now just whip up!

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    1. Thank you. Whipping up sounds good. Wonder what that feels like - LOL.

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  3. Wow, this top is gorgeous on you. Love the lace at the neckline. The fit is fabulous. I have so enjoyed your blogposts on fitting. I'm just starting my fitting purgatory journey. ;)

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    1. LOL - I'm glad you enjoyed the fit postings. Nice to post a good conclusion. I hope it encourages you on your journey through purgatory and onto fitting heaven. YEAH - you can do this.

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  4. I think this is a sure TNT pattern! I love the print, and the hemline really makes it interesting.
    Congratulations, you sure have a wonderful top!

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    1. It does seem to have TNT status... since I've made three already.

      THANKS !

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  5. Great top - great fit, greta pattern, great color and scale for you. Congratulations on getting to this point!

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  6. Fabulous top and great fit! Too bad the frill at the hem didn't work but I do love the neckline treatment.

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    1. Thanks. Isn't it interesting how some aspect like that frill can look great but feel all wrong? The individual in our dressing.

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  7. I think sometimes it all comes down to what you're comfortable with or how you perceive something. I had trouble with tunic length tops for a while and kept cutting them off. It finally dawned on me that they were hitting me at my widest point and I simply needed to lengthen them 2-3". Now I LOVE them!

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    1. Proportion is something I've been paying more attention to lately and it does make a HUGE difference. Peggy Sager's talks about it a lot.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.