The drive yesterday went well. I stopped in Golden and had lunch with my friend Patti and her daughter and son-in-law at a place I would have driven right by... but not next time... the food was really yummy. I had Curry Bliss - a curried stew on top of rice and a bed of lettuce with a balsamic like dressing. Need to figure that one out for another time.
With stops, the drive is about nine hours. That's plenty of time to think. I thought about sewing and my dress and the coat I made in June before leaving for the workshop. With both, I adjusted the pattern based on my fitting shell, checked the finished measurements, cut, and trusted. It's a lot more work up front but the sewing is more focused and... franky... more fun. So it seems to me that if I will have more success, more often if I pay more attention to the pattern information, my fitting shell, and what I know about fabric.
The Vogue 8876 dress shown yesterday could have fit ever so slightly better however... as a first try... and basically a wearable muslin... it's pretty darn close. What's left is fine tuning. The reviews helped. They mentioned there was a significant amount of ease in this garment and that it was short. That prompted me to be aware of the finished pattern measurements... which are printed right on the tissue... for my sewing comfort. Why not use them?
And then there's the fabric factor. Each fabric will preform different but the suggested fabrics on the back of the envelope combined with what I know about fabric are meant to help me decide both whether the fabric I want to use is suitable and what adjustments I might make to accommodate my fabric choice. It's a learning curve. One we're constantly on. One thing I know for sure, the fabrics Marcy chooses all have lovely drape. After the workshop last year - 2012 - I came home with a different awareness of fabric quality.
The fabric I chose was a very light-weight, firmly woven, non-stretch, cotton polyester blend. It's not soft and flowing and it's not overly forgiving. If given the ability to stick straight out from the body, it will which made it excellent for the bottom shaping of the dress and something to be aware of with the fullness.
I chose my pattern size based on the finished full bust measurement which meant I needed to add length for my full bust but not width. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was the best choice as it may be partly to blame for the diagonal wrinkles at the back underarm. In the past, my better choice has been to choose my size based on my upper bust measurement and then make a narrow chest and narrow back adjustment and a full bust adjustment because these resolve both the bicep width and the underarm depth issues. I debated that on the drive and will try the other way next time.
It's important to me to have the right armhole shape through the underarm to avoid those wrinkles in the back and I've learned they are caused by the curve of the armhole starting too soon. The shape needs to come straight out from the underarm more before it turns upward to the shoulder. I'm learning to eyeball that shape. This dress was close but not quite right.
I chose the pattern size by the bust and then maintained that size through the entire garment even though I normally grade out over three or four sizes. I need waist definition. With the size chosen, there was 9" of waist ease. For this style of garment, that was plenty. I wouldn't have wanted less - or more - however...
... my back hips are 2" wider than my front hips. There was 24" of ease at hip level and even so, next time I'll cut the back hip a size or two larger to allow for my physical differences. Enough ease isn't always the answer. Nor is fabric factor. It's always a combination of the two and we're always gathering information as we sew. If I'd used a softer fabric, it would have flowed better. If I'd used a firmer fabric, it wouldn't have flowed at all.
I'm glad I paid attention to the reviews. The finished length is short although the measurement is printed on the pattern so I'm not sure why no one noticed in advance. I measured my body, compared, and added 2" knowing that I could adjust back before adding the hem band if I wanted to. I didn't. Because the hem is...
... narrower at the bottom of the band, it pulls the garment in with a pegged look. The dress ends just below my knee where it indents which is a flattering length.
Although I added 1/2" to each side of the underarm seam, it wasn't enough. There's plenty of ease and even so the sleeve looks (or maybe it feels) too tight to me. It's because the hem is not wide enough. The sleeve catches on my arm and rides up. As I said yesterday, the width of the sleeve hem is a measurement that I'm working on.
Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns is always saying how important it is to know your numbers. I'm starting to know mine and sewing is more successful more often. I know as I keep working in that direction, it'll get even better. When I get back from Calgary, I intend to fine tune this pattern and sew it again.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - the repair man accidentally left the hot water turned off in bathroom of the apartment last night and we didn't notice until too late. This morning, my son-in-law carried hot water from the kitchen to the bathroom to fill up the tub. How sweet is that.