Friday, April 5, 2013

What Now?

When I thought about it some more, I wondered why I was sewing a back dart into the bodice when my back is quite flat so I pinned it out and the wrinkles disappeared as did the ones in the front after slashing the bodice and allowing the bust point to fall into place. It needed another inch - basically up a cup size. I've made those adjustments to the tissue and will sew another muslin at some point in the near future so I can evaluate further and think about the suggestions Ruth made in the comments yesterday. Right now...

... I really, Really, REALLY would rather sew something pretty like New Look 6130 with its pleated peplum. You might be wondering BUT... what now ? ? ? why did you make that fitting shell ? ? ? what good is it ? ? ? Here's how I used it to prep the pattern.

I started by tracing my size based on my upper bust measurement knowing that my waist is wider. When it was time to trace the side seam, I compared the bottom of my fitting shell block with the bottom of the traced tissue pattern and went out one size. This allowed an extra 5/8" that I may not need however, it's easier to take in than out at the side seams. I then compared the fitting shell to the traced tissue at the underarm point and maintained the size even though it had a slight difference in width. A fitting shell has a close fit. The blouse will need more ease.

The method I'm using is outlined in Lynda Maynard's book Demystifying Fit. The next step was to align the center back waist of the traced tissue with the center back waist of my fitting shell and compare the differences at the shoulder point. The ruler in the above image is parallel to center back. The difference is 1 3/8" so I removed that amount from the center back length. When I made the fitting shell, the amount I removed was 1" which illustrates that the amount will vary pattern to pattern. The only thing consistent is the fitting shell which fits me. My goal is to make the garment fit me too.

Then I compared the center back width. Mine is 14 1/2" or 7 1/4" each side. The traced tissue equals 8 1/8" less the 5/8" seam allowance to equal a difference of 1/4" so I narrowed the back by that amount.  With the fitting shell, I made a 5/8" narrow back adjustment which again shows that the amount is not consistent pattern to pattern. Since the tuck goes from the shoulder to the waist, it affects the back waist width however, since I already had extra width there, I did not make another adjustment.

That long line in the image above is me figuring things out. The short one the arrow is pointing to is the original shoulder slope on the traced tissue. Once the narrow back adjustment was made, the original shoulder slope on the traced tissue matched the shoulder slope on my fitting shell. If it had not, I would have redrawn the shoulder angle to match the fitting shell and would have used the new shoulder point to align the top of the armhole. For me, this shoulder slope works however, my shoulder slope had been raised 1/4" already so this pattern has a square shoulder. Someone who has sloped shoulders would need to make a completely different adjustment.

The underarm on the traced tissue was 3/4" lower than the underarm of my fitting shell. Both begin at the same (correct for me) shoulder point. The sleeve of the fitting shell fit me well so I traced the armhole shape from the fitting shell on to the tissue raising the underarm 3/4".

The back pattern tissue has now been adjusted to match the fitting shell which has a close fit. I'm not sure that I want this garment to fit that closely so I added 3/8" to the side seam to allow for extra ease if desired. I'll use a similar process to compare the front of the traced tissue to the front of the fitting shell keeping in mind the position of the bust point and the fullness of the bust and then I'll compare the sleeve to the sleeve and make any necessary changes. The result will be a traced tissue that has been adjusted to match my body as much as possible and that can be fine tuned during the sewing process.

To follow the process outlined in Lynda's book, you need a moulage which is basically your body no ease and what I'm describing as my fitting shell block. When I started working on the fitting shell, I had two goals. The first was to determine the now or never adjustments that needed to be made in advance before cutting out the garment as opposed to those that could be fine tuned while sewing. Adjustments such as raising the shoulder point and armhole, shortening center back and center front lengths, the narrow back and narrow chest adjustments, and the full bust adjustment. The other goal was to figure out why I had so much fabric behind the back armhole. The answer had several parts - a narrow back adjustment, utilizing the new underarm point, scooping out the back lower armhole slightly using a pivot and slide method, and eliminating the back waist darts. Most of these can't be done after the fact. All are easier to do in advance.

The fitting shell block guides in determining how much of an adjustment to make and - by making these adjustments in advance - significantly ups the potential for success in sewing the garment which is why I went to all the work of making a fitting shell. The information gathered allows me to make a bodice and skirt block and then use them to make any now or never adjustments before cutting out the garment. It wasn't just for the "fun" of it; it was to improve accuracy and increase creative potential. Using what I learned, I should get to YES much quicker.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - cutting out a "real" top

YOU ! are...

... interrupting my nap.


  1. Hi Myrna,

    Nice to see your shell in action!

    I'm picking up The Thoughtful Dresser this weekend; I think I'll be ordering Lynda Maynard's book next!

    1. Thanks. Nice to be putting it into action. Enjoy the books. They're both great. Lynda's is written using case studies so you need to read it with sticky notes and a pen in hand and make notes for yourself to refer to. FABULOUS information.


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