Friday, March 30, 2012

So, I thought I might update you on making fit alterations to the Sorbetto pattern seeing as it's been a month since I decided to sew the pattern.

Fig. 1  These are the best-fitting 80s clothes
I've seen in a couple decades.
I received Fit for Real People as a Christmas present from my Darling Husband, so I first read everything except the details of each of the adjustments.  There's a lot of good information in there about how patterns are drafted by the major sewing companies, ease, etc.  That is all really helpful as background information although you can find much of that on the 'net these days.  The book really shines in the chapters focusing on diagnosing fit problems and making the proper adjustments.  The problem diagnosis is really invaluable.  (Okay, so there are wrinkles leading away from the armscye but what does that mean?)

Fig. 2.  Fitting would be so much easier
if I had one of these.
In the Palmer-Plestch method, you do tissue-fitting, that is, you pin together tissue pattern pieces and see what the problems are and then make adjustments to the tissue.  Sorbetto does not come as a tissue pattern, rather it is a free, downloadable pdf that you print out on regular 8.5 x 11 paper and tape together.  Therefore, I first needed to trace the pattern onto tissue.

Actually, first, I needed to determine what size to trace.  P-P recommends using the upper bust measurement to determine your size which I did even though it seemed like pure folly to trace out a size 8 when I know I wear a 12 or 14 in RTW.  But hey, they're the fit experts, so I traced out the 8 and did the tissue-fitting.

As a result of that fitting, I made the following adjustments:
  • Broad Back
  • Full Bust
  • Swayback
Fig. 3.  Fitting would also be
easier with an extra pair
of hands.
I should have done the FBA a little differently.  I used the standard method, but that made the armhole really wonky.  I then futzed with the armhole for quite some time trying to get it to fit right.  This might have been avoided if I had noticed this sentence under the heading The "Y" Bust Dart Alteration, "Use this technique for a full bust alteration when more than 1 1/2' is needed to bring the center front of the pattern to your center front."  Live and learn.

Anyway, I made the alterations to the tissue, tried on the tissue again, then traced it onto a clean piece of tissue because the original had just about had it.  Then, I did a muslin.

Now, the P-P method does not have you do a muslin.  They have you tissue-fit and then "fit as you sew," meaning that you cut your garment out of the (potentially expensive) fashion fabric, pin it together, fine-tune the adjustments, and then sew.  Well.  This seemed a little too cavalier for me.  I mean,  I realize that, from their perspective, if you did the tissue-fitting properly, there shouldn't be too much for you to have to fix at this stage.  But, seeing as how this was the first time I'd done most of these adjustments, I wasn't at all sure I had done the tissue-fitting properly.  So, I used some inexpensive cotton broadcloth to make a muslin that I then pinned together and tried on.* 

Right away, I could see there were some issues.  One was that the bust darts were a little too low and weren't pointing at my apex.  Frankly, considering the HUGE FBA I did, I was amazed that they were as close as they were.  But, close wasn't going to cut it.  I mean, why go through all of this trouble if you are just going to settle for good enough?  So, I used a marker to mark my apex, unpinned the darts and redid them so they pointed to the apex.

Fig. 4.  Artist's rendition of the fit in
the waist and hips in my muslin.
The next issue was that there was too much ease in the waist and hips.  Now, as you recall, I traced out a size that would have been far too small in the store, so I was a little surprised to see that I had too much room in the waist and hips.  However, as a result of the FBA, I had increased the width of the front by 5 inches and the broad back adjustment had increased the width of the back by 1 inch.  So, I could see how that might have made things a little too roomy.  I pinched out the excess and pinned the seam back together.

At that point, everything looked okay, so I sewed the shoulders and the side seams and tried it on.  The result was pretty darn good.  There were some diagonal wrinkles coming from the armscye heading toward the shoulder, which I determined were due to sloping shoulders.  I pinched out the excess in the shoulder and the wrinkles disappeared.  The hem was lower than I liked, perhaps I'm short-waisted?  That wasn't a problem because I just pinned the hem up higher.  The underarm is still a little wonky, but when you make the sloped shoulder adjustment on the flat pattern, you alter the underarm, too, so maybe that will take care of the issue?

And that's where it currently stands.  I wrote everything down and left the muslin to hang in my closet for the last week.  I need to transfer the new adjustments to the flat pattern and then I might try a "wearable muslin" in a fabric I don't care that much about.  If the fit is good, I'll finish the neckline and armholes with bias-tape (which is what the pattern calls for) and sew the hem!

One of the best things about the Sorbetto pattern is that--minus the pleat--it's pretty much as simple as you can get with a bodice pattern.  Therefore, when I'm done with this, I'll essentially have a bodice block/sloper.  So, once I have everything exactly right, I'll remove the seam allowances and the pleat and copy the pattern onto oak tag or posterboard or some other stiff, papery product and keep it forever and ever, or until I lose that 30 lbs I've gained since high school (so, really, forever and ever).  I think a sloper usually has a jewel neckline and the Sorbetto has a scoop neckline but that's not a huge deal.

I'm hoping that all of this effort will also pay off when I make up the Violet pattern.  By comparing the unaltered pattern to my sloper, I will hopefully be able to see at least some of the adjustments I need to make to the pattern and can start a little bit ahead of the game.

*The Sorbetto has a pleat down the front which I sewed down right away so that it wouldn't be a factor during the fitting.  I might leave it out for the next fitting because it's mostly a hassle at this stage.