A Pause …

originally published Sep 15, 2012


Finished. This blouse is really me.

…for fitting.I thought I was intensely working towards an elegant fitting procedure. That is a the smallest number of tissue alterations which will create a garment that only needs tweaking. When  I recognized that the old 1″NSA and 1″BWL no longer produced good fitting garments, I started trying to develop a new fitting procedure. That was  back in mid-June with Mccalls 6077.   Initially it seemed that maybe larger side seam allowances might do. But no, as the ball gets rounder it takes more length as well as width to cover it. I also thought that maybe FBA’s front and back would be an elegant solution.  I have to say I was really surprised at the diagonals which developed.  Keeping the grain correctly aligned is more important that I previously realized.  I still don’t want to draft my own patterns.  It sounds like the perfect solution until tried.  That’s when you learn about the thousands of decisions made and how the placement of the standard french curve can make tremendous differences.

What I want to do is  develop a perfect-for-me top that I can then use to quickly evaluate and adapt new commercial patterns to my size and shape.

What I am doing is trimming and tracing  pattern after pattern and making top after top which never quite fit. I need to pause in creating the 2012 Autumn 6PAC and concentrate my efforts on developing my fitting procedure.

So what I did was pulled out the 130 Burda Style pattern and re-evaluate.  The 130 is not a basic block.  It is the basic shirt/blouse style which  I love.  I prefer the one-piece collar (AKA convertible collar).  A collar with stand or stand only irritate my neck and I have the skin tags to prove that statement. The one-piece collar, when open creates a very flattering V for my face.  I’d say I prefer a separate front facing/button band just because it saves fabric.  But I like the cut-on facing for ease of construction and face it, sometimes there’s no point in “saving” fabric.  1/2 yard of dressmaking fabric is hardly enough to do anything with; sometimes it’s better to save the time than the fabric. The 130 style has a drop sleeve.  This is not shoulder extended until it’s too big.  The shoulder clearly curves over the shoulders edge to meet the sleeve head.

Actually I’d prefer to work with a blouse pattern which ends at the shoulder point. But this pattern is already traced. I already have experience with it AND it is a style I like to wear.  So I pulled the tissue back out and started comparing with the failed 106 and also several of my recent tops made from woven fabrics.  I didn’t consider the knit garments/patterns because there are substantial draft and fit changes between knit and woven fabrics which  I didn’t want complicating my process.  I retrieved the big pattern sheet from the BS magazine and began comparing the tissues from all these patterns to the master pattern.  It took a while.  But what I came up with is that my body is multi-sized.  I need one size for the shoulders, a second for the bust,3rd for the waist and 5th for the tummy/hip.  Also, my back needs a different size from my front.  I traced the pattern with my new sizes, blending between sizes.  I added seam allowances, applied the 1″ BWL and then trimmed away the extra tissue.  Next I marked bust, waist, tummy and hip lines horizontally across both front and back. Then I measured and recorded the expected finished measurements. I’m not only going in a general direction, but I want to be able to repeat the final result.

My fabric is a firm shirting purchased from Fabric.com (I think).  Pretty sure it is cotton + something, but mostly cotton.  It feels comfortable and will wrinkle but also presses  easily and beautifully.   I didn’t need to make the contrasting cuff and collar, but I wanted them.  In the first picture you will see that I used 8 small buttons.  I grouped them in two’s about 1 inch apart and spaced the groups 3″ apart.  I wasn’t sure that I needed all 8 buttons but I had them.  I’ve loved this use of buttons for a long time but seldom have the right top and the right amount of buttons to create it.

I took the first pictures before adding button/buttonholes.

The blouse looked great in the mirror but  felt a little “close” to me.  I wondered if the problem was that I’m so used to wearing knits or if I still needed more ease.  If I’d judged this garment strictly by looking in the mirror at the side and front views, I would have blamed my discomfort on the fabric. The Pics tell me more.

Even in the pics I think the front fits as expected for a shirt without darts. In this style shirt, the darts are rotated either to the shoulder or to the sides and hem. While the darts can be rotated successfully, in most cases ease is needed where it is needed.  In this style ease is needed for the bust  and  visible diagonal lines will nearly always form if you’re out of training bras.  I think the front fit is fine.

I’m a little more concerned about the back.  Gone are the diagonal lines which developed on the first version.  The armscye feels comfortable but I see the horizontal lines formed at the bottom of the armscye, maybe more like high bust and just below.  I expected the upper back to be smooth as it was with the first version. Instead of a bubble of undetermined original, which has happened in several of my previous blouses, the horizontal wrinkles here would tended to indicate a need for a sway-back alteration.  However the pic I loaded doesn’t show how tight the back is across the hips.   I think the whole back is pushing upward trying to find ease for the hip. In doing so, the sway back wrinkles emerge and the upper back becomes puffy.

The side view tells the store a bit more.

. I took two views because I wanted to see the effect of folding up the cuff.  The side views also clearly show that blouse is hugging my bu!! and the hem slightly higher in the back.  I’d also suggest to myself, that the front needs a bit more ease across the tummy.  The sleeve is just a bit short. It needs no more than 1/2″ length added.  I like the folded cuff best, but then the sleeve is too short by 1.5″.  I’ll wear this blouse with cuffs down and probably bottom button unbuttoned.  I may even add a side vent or just curve the hem a bit more.  The hem at this point is uneven in the front and needs more work.

I could use this blouse for my 6PAC.  It is an orange and white plaid that looks nice with the vest.  I won’t be using the first version of #106. I’ve already removed the buttons and placed trashed the fabric.  I have enough of that fabric to make the originally planned blouse.   I won’t be making it though until I tweak the 130 pattern to perfection.  Right now I’m thinking  go up one more size on the back from underarm to hem. On the front go up one more size at the tummy/hip.



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