Monday, April 8, 2013

What The Dart Did

On the weekend, I watched Peggy Sagers' Pants Fitting & Drafting. The section about how the crotch curve is formed not only gave me ideas for fitting pants but made me think about what the back armhole and the back crotch curve have in common. That in turn led to thinking about the role of the back bodice dart. It may seem like a jump but that's how my mind works - LOL.

The green dotted line along the edge of the armhole and side seam shows the shape of the fabric as I cut and sewed it with New Look 6130. The results were better than before but not as good as I'd hoped. Naturally - VBG - I wondered why? My thinking eventually led to wondering what happens when you simply don't sew the dart as opposed to folding it out of the tissue and adjusting accordingly. I imagine some more experienced sewists saw this coming when I said I was going to eliminate the dart because....

... when the dart is stitched, it lowers the armhole. The pink line is the edge of the armhole and side seam with the dart sewn. If I then...

... add back the waist width that the dart eliminated, the pink dotted line is the edge of the fabric and....

... if I compare that with the edge I sewed, you can see that they are the same. The difference between the two methods is the shape of the armhole. With the unstitched dart, the armhole is higher and with the stitched dart, it is lower. What the dart did was lower the armhole which means less fabric behind the armhole and since fabric behind the armhole is my issue along with the narrow back adjustment, this is another part of the answer.

It's hard to see in the picture - you may need to enlarge it - but the overlapped paper along the edges formed by cutting and taping out the (green) dart (and over to the armhole) shows excess fabric that is also removed by removing the dart in the tissue and then adding back the waist width. That's another part of my answer AND... still another part...

... is how I traced the shape of the armhole from the fitting shell to the pattern. When I sewed the fitting shell, I scooped the back of the underarm between the side seam and the notch to allow for more depth. It adds 5/8". The scoop was made after tracing the armhole shape. Except I forgot to do that with the blouse pattern. When I traced the back armhole of the fitting shell onto New Look 6130, instead of scooping inward, I extended the armhole further out as illustrated by the extra length above.

I should have scooped inward and created a shape that is more of an L than a J and that is exactly the same answer I use for my back crotch curve and what Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics talked about in this posting - - - which is how the crotch curve to the armhole shape leap of thinking occurred.

And all of that was to say this - I'm very pleased with how the New Look 6130 top turned out. I feel I learned a lot from the fitting shell that was transferred to this garment and will be transferred to future garments and I know that I'll keep fine tuning fit as I go along because I'm (a little bit) fit crazy BUT... it feels like I've turned a significant corner - like I'll be going on less fact finding missions and making more real clothes in the future. In fact, I'm working on my second REAL garment in less than a week and it's turning out great so far. Hopefully, it will illustrate what I talked about above because...

... while the back is better, it's not quite there yet. You can see the wrinkles caused by the issue I diagrammed above. The armhole was not meant to be pulled upward like that. I am SO GLAD that my mind made the connections and provided answers (quickly) rather than endless frustration. YES YES ! ! !

A few weeks ago, I started to learn more about pattern drafting because I wanted to know how the pattern was made to understand making the alterations better. It was a good decision. I'm starting to see the connection between the wrinkles and the drafting and to see why an alteration would be made this way instead of that and here instead of there. Now, I even get why Peggy Sagers says no crotch scooping with pants and that the crotch depth is altered from the waist but that's a topic for another day.

Right now... with this blouse... I wore it all day yesterday and it was very comfortable. The draft was excellent, the parts fit together well, it was easy to sew, and the zipper matched up perfectly the first time even though it turned out to be completely unnecessary. I can put it on over my head. I like the pleats on the sleeve caps. They are something different for me and at the same time remind me of a favourite dress from the eighties.

If asked does this style suit me and would I sew it again, the answer is yes with changes. Because I have a short waist, angled shaping in the front as opposed to a horizontal line would be more flattering as would less flare to the peplum since I already have plenty of flare of my own. For the same reason, I'd eliminate the pleats in the back. I like the ones in the front along with the asymmetrical shaping. With those changes (and a correction to the armhole) this it fits me pattern has potential. I thought about lengthening it, dividing at center front, adding a button band, and turning it into a sweater coat or making it with less ease in a knit for a t-shirt. 

All in all, I had a delightful weekend of sewing with great results... AND... the other thing that happened was a countertop for the work island made from a sheet of 3/4" melamine built up underneath with trim added around the edges. Garry - our carpenter - made it inexpensively for a fifth of the cost of a kitchen countertop and now my supplies won't fall into the drawers below. Other than decorating and hanging up the design wall, the new studio is finished and it's absolutely wonderful. We are all enjoying how much I'm enjoying it ! ! ! !

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the transfer of information from one idea to the next and how knowledge grows

... tell me again...
... WHY can't we go to the puppy park?
YEAH ! ! ! Sniff... sniff... sniff...


  1. Cute top!! I want to make it with an exposed zipper. It's definitely out on my "project" list :)

    1. Thanks.

      If yours fits over your head like mine does, you could make the exposed zipper decorative rather than functional. A bonus.

  2. Now your making me want to do a fitting shell! I just can't right now. I'm still working on the jeans fit but made significant progress today at the ASG fit group meeting.

    Cute top.I've been drawn to peplums lately. Maybe because they're everywhere!

    1. And I'd really like to be sewing jeans but I'm working through my goals one at a time. So far, I've worked through the correct size, my cup size, the center back length, the shoulder slope, the center front and center back widths, AND... the back armhole. Tomorrow's posting shows my AMAZING progress. Now, I'm working on the sleeve. Once I'm comfortable with all that, I'll move on to pants and then to jeans. I'll be calling - LOL.

  3. Glad to see you're working on getting the fit right too.
    Your top is getting there!

    1. Thanks. Step-by-step it'll get there.


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