Thursday, March 12, 2015

And Then... Progress

To say that I have a lot of patterns would be an understatement. I think of them as a collection. Of course - LOL - I also think of fabric as a collection and thread as a collection and buttons as a collection and....and... and... Can one have too many collections? In studio speak... I think not.

I became aware of the BMV pattern club quite close to my return to fashion sewing and I've taken (very good) advantage of their regular sales to stash up on fashion possibilities. While I did a lot of purging near the beginning, I've gotten a lot clearer on what works for me and what doesn't and most of my collection is of garments I'd like to sew.

With so many, my buying hasn't stopped but it has slowed down. I'm being far more selective about what I buy with the majority of purchases focused on design details as opposed to basics which means that a lot of my basics - like Butterick 5678 - are out of print but basics are basics. There's always a similar pattern somewhere in the mix.

The way I sew has radically changed over the years. It's a bit by bit process. I start by tracing the pattern onto examination paper. For a blouse, I choose the size by my high bust so that the back and chest will fit well and then grade outward from the underarm for my hips using a slide and pivot method. When my size exceeds the size range of the pattern, I make changes within the pattern piece that don't affect the shape of the seams. For example...

... with this pattern, I needed an additional 2" of hip ease through the back of the pattern. I began by drawing a line from the hem to an inch above the waist with a second line that angled slightly toward the seam line. Above left is the center back section. It is cut on fold. If I had opened toward that section, I would have needed to add a seam allowance to center back. Because I made the adjustment without altering that line, the piece was still cut on fold.

I cut open the sections by cutting up from the hem and then outward toward the sides cutting up to but not through the seam allowance and then...

... I inserted a wedge of paper into each cut with a 1/2" split at the hip line. A half multiplied by four equals the complete two inches that was needed. For curvy figures like mine, more pieces and more seam allowances allow for smaller adjustment to each piece which in turn has a more graceful outcome.

Along with adjusting the back hip ease, I shortened the center front and center back length by 1 5/8" so that the resulting length would equal my own and the curve of the waist on the garment would sit correctly at the curve of my waist. Because the pattern comes with cup sizing, I was able to cut a C-cup and not make a full bust adjustment.

I also shortened the length below the waist by 2 1/2" because the garment is designed to be longer and I'm short. A 23" finished length is the most flattering on me. I made a 5/8" narrow chest and a 5/8" narrow back adjustment and added the additional 5/8" to the each side of the sleeve. I raised the underarm by an inch. Both raising the underarm and narrowing the back and chest affect the height of the sleeve cap. For the narrow back and chest adjustments, it would have  raised the cap 5/8" and for the raising the underarm adjustment, it would have lowered the cap 1" which equals a net adjustment of lowering it by 3/8".

AND THEN... I cut out ONLY the front and back pieces of the garment and left the sleeves, the collar band, and the collar uncut.

AND THEN... I basted together the main garment pieces and tried it on to see if I liked the fit or if there were any further adjustments to be made.

AND THEN... I removed the basting and permanently stitched and pressed the princess and shoulder seams. The front and back princess seams meet at the shoulder. I pressed one toward center and one away from center so that they would butt together at the shoulder creating a nicely aligned intersection without bulk. LOL - this was the entire topic of my book Press For Success written back when I was designing traditional quilts. There are quite a few techniques I took from fashion sewing into quilting when I made that switch in the eighties and others that I've brought from quilting back into fashion sewing when I switched back about five years ago. That's the fabulous thing about learning. You take it with you wherever you go.

Once I'm satisfied with the fit of the body of the garment, I analyze to see if any further changes will need to be made to the sleeve before I cut out those pieces. This includes have determining if I have raised the underarm too high. My upper body is petite so raising the underarm 1" typically works for me but it depends on which size I'm cutting out. Making the adjustment automatically means that I'll always have enough fabric and I can cut out some if needed.

AND THEN... I baste a sleeve in place to determine if it has enough or too much cap ease and if it's going to hang the way I hope it will. Above, the sleeve cap fits well but the sleeve length is too long. I'll adjust the length on both sleeves before sewing, pressing, and top stitching them in place.

Once the sleeves are in, the next step will be the collar band and collar. I haven't cut those parts out yet. The fabric is a lilac colored denim and I've used a heavier weight thread in a slightly darker lilac for top stitching. Lilac is a bit too light for me only I love denim so I decided to work with it. I'm debating if I want to use a darker fabric for the collar and or if I want to do some painting and detail work on it.

Other than the top I showed yesterday, I do not own a single woven blouse. I've decided it's time to learn how to sew these so they fit, flatter, and are comfortable. Having experimented with Butterick 5678 before, I knew it was a good one to go to. I'm happy with how it's turning out so far and looking forward to trying other woven blouse patterns.

When I was at Sew Expo, Marcy and I talked about her latest pattern, The Dandy Shirt, Vogue 9089. I have fabric to make a - hopefully - wearable muslin to test the pattern and then - when I'm more confident - some fabulous Marcy fabric to make a finished version for my cruise collection. What I like about this pattern is that it has similarities to one of my favourite knit patterns, Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691. I think there's a good chance the blouse will be quite flattering on although I do think I'll need a shorter length.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progress on a woven blouse

If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. 
- Zig Ziglar


  1. I have that shirt pattern and it's one of the patterns I want to use to try making a woven buttonfront top. I didn't like the way they looked on me when I was heavier but recently wore on and thought I should make a few now. Thanks for sharing your pattern alterations. It will help me refine mine. I also had the same issue when Club BMV first started but like you, I've become more selective in the patterns I'm purchasing - again because like you I own a lot of them!

    1. I'm not sure if it's our weight or some click that happens. I'm at my heaviest and I've suddenly decided this is a good direction to work toward. You're welcome for the alterations. I think the narrow chest and narrow back adjustments might be of interest to you because they also resolve the bicep issue all in one. Email if you want more info.

  2. Thanks for showing those fitting steps!

  3. No! No no no, no no no no! I have had B5678 on my 'I'll buy it next patterns sale - when I'm brave enough to try sew a proper shirt with a collar' list for ages. And now it's gone!
    I've learned a harsh lesson from this - buy ALL the patterns I like as soon as they go on sale, since you never know when they'll be gone. Won't my husband be in for a suprise! :)

    1. Maybe it's not all sold out yet ? ? ? I hope not. It's a great pattern. I buy in all sizes for the same reason. The BMV prices are so reasonable that I can get the full range for when I'm over and below.

  4. Thank you for the details on your fitting process; your explanations are clear and common-sense. The hip-widening process makes sense unless the hip width is in the high hip. Then it seems like a different method would be necessary.

    1. I'm glad they were clear. For the high hip, the adjustment would be at the high hip area instead of lower down. Starting from an inch above the waist makes for less of a sharp increase.

  5. I enjoyed reading your patterns adjustments. Even though my shape (full bust and slim hips) is different from yours I can learn from your clear explanations. Karen


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