Adventures in Full Bust Adjustments


Well, here are the pattern pieces for M6163 all adjusted for a 2″ FBA. This took a lot more adjusting than usual. Rather than two mirror image pieces, this dress has one large piece that is the front of the dress (1), and a smaller panel that is sewn under the larger piece on the left side (2).


I had to adjust both sides individually, then make a second adjustment on the opposite side of the center line of each piece to ensure everything still lined up.


Now that I have everything adjusted and theoretically ready, I’m second guessing myself. The adjusted pattern pieces look HUGE. I measured, and adjusting for seam allowance the finished dress should be about 3″ bigger than my measurement at the hips, which is about where I want it to be. But I just can’t get past how huge it looks sitting there on the table!

I’m not sure I want to cut in to my fashion fabric without sewing up a second muslin, and unfortunately I don’t have any suitable knits in my stash. I think I’ll sleep on this for tonight, and if I’m still feeling doubtful I’ll make a quick trip to Fabrix tomorrow to try to find some inexpensive knit for a muslin.

Sometimes I drive myself a little nuts with doubting my own abilities. Does anyone else struggle with that? It’s definitely one of the things I’m hoping my participation in the RTW challenge will help me with.


V1292 – A momentum boost!

Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately!  I started working on M6163 right after I finished the Jasmine blouse.  My muslin showed I needed an FBA, as expected, and this dress doesn’t have “normal” arms (the dress front and back are not connected at the shoulder), so it’s going to take some thought and planning.  After spending a few days trying to figure out how to accomplish the adjustment I was beginning to lose my momentum and decided to shelf M6163 for now and move on to something a little easier.


I’d had V1292 sitting in my pattern stash for a while, but never found any ruffled knit I liked enough to make it up.  What really drew me to this pattern was the origami edge at the bottom.  While the suggested stripes and ruffles and the pattern layout really make this skirt unique, I felt that the origami edge on version A would be just as dramatic in a solid.  I had a nice piece of lavender wool knit in my stash leftover from a top I made last year, and decided to give it a shot.

Origami edge

The skirt turned out really, really well!  I love the edge effect, even in the solid.  The bias cut of these pieces and the way they’re stitched together give them a really nice kick when I move.  There are twelve of them in total, so they do take a bit of time to stitch together and attach, but the end result is totally worth it.

The way the panels of the skirt are cut make it hug your curves just right.  Very flattering!  The length works well with the wool knit with boots for the cooler weather.  If I made this in a lighter weight fabric, I might shorten it just a bit (I’m 5’3″ and didn’t shorten the skirt, so this is probably a little longer than intended on me as-is).

Back view

I used a lightweight cotton jersey in a light gray for the lining.  When you add the lining to the skirt, it is supposed to fall just short of the bottom of the origami edge.  You attach the two at the bottom edge, then pull the lining up and baste at the waist.  The lining is supposed to be slightly shorter than the skirt, which creates a slight “bubble” effect at the bottom.  I found that my lining was actually about the same length as the skirt, and actually peeked out a little at the bottom.  This didn’t work well since the lining was a different color.  Plus, I didn’t want to lose the bubble effect.  I pulled the lining up and cut about an inch off at the top.  This reduced the lining length by just enough to create the “bubble” effect at the bottom.

I really like the quick and easy elastic waist on this skirt as well.  The instructions have you cut a length of elastic that is 4″ shorter than your “honest waist measurement”, but the ends together over a scrap of fabric, and zigzag together.  You then mark the elastic and skirt at the quarter marks, match the marks right sides together, and zigzag the elastic to the skirt at the top, stretching as you sew.  You then turn under and zigzag to the skirt at the bottom of the elastic as well.  I thought this would be tight on my waist, but it’s actually very comfortable.

I sewed the whole thing up on my new Bernina, which sews like an absolute dream!  It was a good test run for the new addition.  I really, really love the end result, and think it has definitely had the desired result of renewing my motivation.  I’m hoping to figure out that FBA this weekend and forge ahead with M6163!

Jasmine, and a new addition.

The beginnings of my creative process..

Didn’t I say I was going to sew up a few easy things to help me get over my frustration with Anise?  Ok, to be fair, Jasmine was actually very easy, but you can see from my notes that I had to make several modifications.  I anticipated having to do an FBA (but 3.5″?! Ugh!), but I didn’t expect to have to do much else.  As you can see, there were a couple more adjustments that needed to be made.

Based on my high bust, I cut a size 6.  I don’t know if it’s because I cut such a small size, or if it’s just the way the pattern is drafted (or maybe I just have really large upper arms…), but the sleeve bands were really tiny.  I added 3″ to the sleeve band, but realized that this would mean that if I didn’t adjust the arm as well I was going to lose the gathering effect.  I really wanted to keep the nice gathered sleeves, so I went ahead and added 3″ to the sleeve as well by just cutting the pattern piece in half right in the middle and adding in tissue to expand by 3″.  The original sleeve design has gathering stitches just at the top of the sleevehead.  Because of the amount of expansion, this would mean that I’d have an extra 3″ of gathering in the sleevehead.  This looked sloppy and bulky, so I extended the gathering stitches to run almost the entire length of the sleeve.  This resulted in a more uniform gathering and a puffier look throughout the top of the sleeve.  It’s much more along the lines of the way the sleeve should have looked prior to the adjustments I made.

 One of the things I really like about this blouse is the high back.  I have a tattoo on my upper back between my shoulder blades, and I work in an office and position where visible tattoos aren’t encouraged. Believe it or not, it can be a little difficult to find blouses other than standard collared button up shirts that don’t drop so low in the back as to expose my tattoo!  The cut of this blouse is perfect in that regard.

Overall I really like this top!  I think I may have added just a smidge too much in the FBA, so I might take that down a bit in my next version.  I’d like to make one with a contrasting collar and sleeve bands, and I’m also cooking up an idea for modifying the collar in a few different ways to achieve some different looks.  Another success for me with a Colette pattern!  I’m planning on picking up the Beignet skirt pattern and making that soon.  I’m totally sold on Colette!

In other news…..

We have a new addition to the Redd’s Threads clan!

I just brought this baby home yesterday!  A Bernina Artista 200, complete with embroidery module and a bunch of extras.  This girl has literally only 10:56 sewing time, and 7 minutes embroidery time.  She’s practically brand new, she sews like a dream, and I got her for a song!  I’ve not done any embroidery before, but I’m looking forward to playing around with it.  At the price I got her for, I’ll be happy even if I never do anything more than sew garments on her.

I played around a little with some of the decorative stitches tonight, and my verdict on this machine is that she is…


Introducing….. Anise!

Anise is done!

I have to admit, this project was a challenge for me.  I had to add in a bust dart to a pattern that didn’t originally have one in order to accomodate an FBA.   I’ve never sewn a lined jacket before, and had never even attempted welt pockets or bound buttonholes.  The pattern was rated for intermediate, which intimidated me as I’m very much a beginner.  But I loved this pattern and was determined to push myself, and I think I did fairly well.

Welt pocket detail

I made more than a few mistakes with this project.  For starters, I chose a fabric that is heavier than recommended, which  added to my frustration level during construction.  My machine really had a difficult time with the fabric when contructing the finer details like the buttonholes and pockets.  But in the end, I really like the end result in the heavier wool.  I think it adds to the vintage feel of the coat, particularly when coupled with the faux Persian Lamb collar.

Collar detail

My type A personality really took hold with this project.  I am not a huge fan of hand sewing, and this pattern required a lot of it.  I got frustrated and sloppy with the lining hem, and had to unpick and redo the whole thing.  I had to remove and reattach three buttons to get them perfect aligned.  I had to unpick and reattach one of the sleeves to get it lined up with the other, and I still don’t think they’re perfect.  I spent so much time working on this jacket, and I found that as I neared the end of construction I was looking on my work with such a critical eye that all I could see were its flaws.  I had to walk away from the jacket for a few days, so that I could come back and look on it with fresh eyes to really appreciate what I’d accomplished.  This is something I really need to work on – I absolutely do not want my OCD perfectionism to interfere with my ability to enjoy sewing.  I think I’ll take the next week or so to whip up a few quick, easy projects to help me regain my sewing mojo.

Despite my frustrations, I really do love both the pattern and the jacket, and would definitely recommend it to others.  This was my first experience with Colette patterns, and I was very impressed with both the pattern and the instructions.  They were very clear and well written, and I really appreciate the step by step illustrations.  Having access to Sarai, the sew-alongs, and helpful tips in the Colette forums is also a HUGE bonus.  I am definitely a fan, and plan on picking up several more of the Colette patterns in the near future.

I think the jacket is a perfect compliment to my mini-tophat, don’t you?

(I really need a new camera – this one does not capture colors well at all!)

Anise progress

Now that I have the fit right, it’s time to move along to constructing the jacket!  I found some really lovely fabric for this project: a wonderful burgundy novelty wool from Stonemountain & Daughter that has a very very soft feel to it – almost like a very nice quality fleece; some gorgeous multi-colored silk organza (I think it may be a silk/cotton blend, actually) from Fabric Mart that picks up the burgundy from the jacket body for the lining; and – the crowning glory – some wonderful faux Persian Lamb (not pictured) for the collar, which I think will really add to the vintage feel of the design!

Anise jacket fabric choices. Can you tell I have a thing for purple?

Originally I had planned to use the lambskin in the photo for the pocket welts and the bound buttonholes, but I decided against it as this is my first time working with those particular design elements, and I felt that adding leather to the mix might make it a bit too challenging.  Also, I really want the Persian Lamb collar to be a focal point on the jacket, and I think the leather might have detracted from that.

I think these add to the vintage look of the jacket.

I also found these wonderful metal buttons with a sort of gray mother-of-pearl looking accent in the middle.  They compliment the black of the collar very nicely.

I recently ordered a case of Dynarex Medical Paper to use as tracing paper after reading a thread on Pattern Review.  This stuff is FANTASTIC for pattern tracing!  It’s a bit more heavy duty so won’t tear as easily, but still lightweight and see-through, making tracing easy.  I traced the pattern pieces for the jacket front, lining front and front facing, and made the adjustments for a 2.5″ FBA (I nearly forgot I would have to make the adjustments on the lining and facing too – DUH moment!) per my earlier fitting, then cut my fashion fabric and jumped in to jacket construction!  This is the first time I’ve underlined anything, and I have to say that I really do like the way the jacket feels and looks with the underlining.  It adds a nice weight and drape that the fabric alone wouldn’t have.  As suspected, adding the 2.5″ FBA resulted in some ENORMOUS bust darts.  I trimmed these and pressed flat to reduce bulk, then used a loose catchstitch to attach the trimmed darts to the underlining.

I have planned from the beginning to do bound buttonholes on this jacket, but as I got further and further in to construction I began second guessing my decision.  I had never done them before, and I was really nervous about it! I had pretty much made up my mind to just go ahead with machine

My first ever bound buttonhole!

buttonholes when Sarai posted a wonderful Bound Buttonhole Tutorial on the Coletterie forums.  This was by far the simplest and most easy to understand tutorial I had ever seen for bound buttonholes.  It really helped to reassure me that I could do it, and I knew the jacket would look better with them, so I forged ahead and, voila!  My first ever bound buttonhole!  It really was an easier process than I had imagined it being, although time consuming.  The top two are not the best in the world, but you can tell by the third buttonhole I was definitely feeling more confident with them!

After adding the bound buttonholes, I also stitched matching faux buttonholes on the opposite side of the center line of the right front jacket piece.  I’ll sew my decorative buttons on top of these faux buttonholes.

After adding the buttonholes, I stitched the front to the back at the shoulders.  I was still on a high from the buttonhole success, and decided to sew up the facing and collar as well.  Here’s Matilda modelling my progress so far.  I think it’s coming along very well!  Hope you are all making good progress on your projects, too!

Stage one of construction on the Anise jacket – DONE!

Fitting the Anise jacket

I’m a little behind in the Anise sew-along, as I’ve had company the past week and haven’t had much time to sew.  I did find a few spare minutes here and there to cut the pattern, make a muslin, and check for fitting issues.  This is the first time I’ve sewed a full muslin and not just relied on a tissue fitting, so I was interested to see the difference it would make in fit.

I didn’t have a lot in my stash that was comparable in weight and feel to the wool I’m using for the coat, but I did manage to find some novelty fabric that I thought was close enough.  I cut the pattern according to my full bust measurements as recommended by Sarai, and sewed up a quick version in

First muslin. Seems OK enough so far….

the muslin fabric.  When the jacket is on and draping open, it seems to fit OK.  There are a few wrinkles in the shoulder area that indicate there may be a problem somewhere, but nothing major.  If I was going to wear the jacket open all the time, I’d probably leave as-is.  But, being this is a jacket and I want it to keep me warm, I’m not planning on wearing it open all the time!  You can’t see it well in the photo, but there is a chalkline on the front of the jacket marking the center front.  When I pulled the front pieces so that the centers matched, I got a very different result.

You can see that closing the jacket eliminated the wrinkles in the shoulder from the first picture, but if you look closely you will also notice that we now have a new set of wrinkles in the armpit.  The jacket is also very tight across my chest, despite garment measurements saying I should have 3 inches of ease.  When I stretch or move my arms in any way, the tightness increases and the wrinkles/draglines become much more obvious. 

Starting to get a little wrinkly in the armpit…

Yep, it’s as I expected – I’m not going to be able to get away without an FBA on this one :-/  In order to determine the amount of adjustment I would need, I let the jacket hang naturally and measured the distance between the center chalkline and my center at the bust apex.  The difference between the two was 2.5″, meaning I was going to have to add 2.5″ at the bust apex in order to achieve a proper fit.  There are a couple of different ways to do this – if I wanted to preserve the lines of the jacket I could slash and spread the pattern without adding a bust dart, which would add length to the overall design.  I really like where the

Ugh! Not attractive!

jacket hits me in the muslin version, and I don’t really want to do that.  I traced my pattern pieces and used the Palmer and Pletsch FFRP method to add in a bust dart.  I then redrew all the button markings to make sure they would still sit where they should.  I was concerned the FBA might interfere with button placement, but actually I think it looks fine.  After adjusting the front jacket pattern, I also adjusted the front lining piece in the same way, and made a length adjustment to the front facing so that it would match up with the jacket front.

I didn’t really have another suitable fabric in my stash to make a second muslin from, but I did have some Sewable Swedish Tracing Paper that I had never tried, and thought I’d give that a whirl.  I cut the pattern pieces from the paper, sewed them together, and tried on the new paper muslin.  I have to say, I’m fairly impressed with this stuff!  You definitely still have to be gentle with it (I got a little tear in the armhole when trying it on), but it is absolutely sewable and able to tell you if you’ve achieved a good fit. 

According to the new muslin, the bust dart did the trick!  Because I had to add 2.5″, it’s a pretty deep dart.  I’m working with wool, so that dart is going to create a lot of bulk.  I plan on trimming the excess, pressing, and catchstitching to the underlining to reduce the bulk.

Last night I cut in to my fashion fabric, attached the interfacing, and basted the underlining to the front, back and side back.  I think I’m all caught up and ready to go!  I’m hoping to begin sewing the real deal on Wednesday.  Wish me luck!  I’ll post an update on my progress later this week.

Knit (and fit!) success!

About a year ago I bought myself a Brother 1034D serger.  I had some lovely knit fabric in my stash that I wanted to make up in to a dress, my trusty vintage Singer did not do great on knits, and this machine had rave reviews on Pattern Review.  I received the box and set the machine up right away. It came pre-threaded with different colored threads.  I tried it out on a few scraps of fabric.  It made beautiful seams, and seemed easy enough.  I made plans to cut my fabric for my dress right away.

And then I didn’t.  And the machine sat.

The serger was a little intimidating to me.  While the ability to make, finish and trim a seam all at once is pretty awesome, you don’t have the same leeway with a serger that you do with a regular sewing machine.  If you mess up a seam or need to adjust fit, it’s not just a matter of unpicking and redoing.  The serger is not at all forgiving!

I’ve been focusing mostly on work clothes in the make-my-own-clothes challenge, and I needed dresses.  That lovely black and tourquise knit was sitting on my fabric shelf, staring at me, daring me to make something of it.  Part of resigning to make my own clothes was to challenge myself and learn new techniques, and if becoming confident on the serger didn’t qualify, well, I don’t know what does!  So out came the fabric and the shears, and three days later I have a new knit dress.

A GORGEOUS knit dress.



I chose McCall’s 5974, the Palmer/Pletsch perfect knit dress.  It had some great reviews on Pattern Review, and seemed like it would be a fairly easy dress for the beginning sergist.  I made view D with a few minor changes – leaving off the side ties and leaving out the back zipper.  One of the things I’ve struggled with in the past is cutting the correct pattern size.  With knits especially, it’s important to check the final measurements of the completed garment, and make sizing decisions with those measurements in mind.  I cut a size 14 based on high bust and final measurements.  To be honest, I was really, REALLY worried it wasn’t going to fit – 14 is a much smaller size than I usually cut to accomodate my waist and hip measurements.  But I think you can see it ended up fitting pretty darn well!

Although this was a knit with a lot of stretch, I did end up doing a 1.5″ FBA per the Palmer/Pletsch instructions included with the pattern.  I don’t like the look of things stretching and straining across my chest.  I think the FBA really did the trick with this dress.  The bodice lays quite nicely over my bust, and creates some really great lines.  I even like the low cut neckline – it’s great for a night out, although for the office I’ll wear something under it!

Whoops! Maybe NSFW….

I’m really proud of the fit I accomplished with this dress.  I love the color, the lines, and the way the dress flows.  It’s a lovely article of clothing, and I think I’ll definitely make at least one more.  I have a gorgeous J. Crew knit in white with small geometric shapes in coral and gray from Fabric Mart that would look wonderful in this design.

There are a few things that I need to work on before I tackle this again: I need to be MUCH more careful when matching up pieces.  I inadvertently shortened this dress by more than an inch because I serged the skirt front on to the waistback backwards.  Ugh.  I had to slice the skirt off just beneath the seam, then reattach the correct way.  Luckily I’m short (wow, never thought I’d say THAT!), so shortening the dress works in my favor. I also need to figure out a better way to do hems.  My vintage Singer, while a lovely machine that works marvelously for most things, doesn’t really like knits – especially multiple layers of knits.  The neckline, arms, and hem on this dress are a bit wavy from where my machine stretched them out while feeding through.  Also, I think I may be using the wrong needle as the holes in the seam seem really large.  I’m going to research this a bit more, and if I find a solution soon I may go ahead and fix the arms and the hem.  They’re both long enough that I can remove the existing hem to shorten a bit, and put in a new one. Overall though, I’m very pleased with myself.  I feel like I’ve made my first wearable garment in my self-imposed challenge, and I’m now on my way to filling my closet with self made clothes.  I plan to wear this dress to work tomorrow, in fact!

When I put the dress on today for pictures, my wonderful boyfriend and photographer told me, “That dress just screams for a hat!”  I think he’s right – a big, floppy black hat would look wonderful with this dress!  All I had that seemed appropriate in my hat collection was this cloche.  It works, but I think I may need to add a nice big fancy black hat to my collection soon!

Previous Older Entries