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.

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A Tale of Two Fittings

I mentioned in my last entry that I had made a few Colette Sorbetto tops.  The first I made from a nice blue and white faux brocade that I really loved.  One of the nice things about the Sorbetto is that it takes very little fabric, so it is perfect for those odd pieces you have that are not quite big enough for anything else.

Here’s my first Sorbetto:

Sorbetto number 1

Sorbetto number 2

I was happy enough with the outcome.  It looks the way it should, and as a dress/work shirt under jackets – which was my original intent – it would be great.  But there are some issues with the top as it is.  The bust darts are too high, it’s too tight across the chest, it’s too short, and it is much narrower in the hips than I prefer. While I could wear this top, particularly under jackets, it was apparent that it didn’t fit the way it should. I had initially cut a size 14 pattern.  I decided that I’d try the next size up to see if that solved the problems I was having.  It seemed logical to me – chest and hips too tight must mean that the shirt was too small, right?  Going on this logic, I cut a size 16 pattern and whipped it together in a brown polka dot fabric.  This definitely fixed the issues of length and being too tight across the hips, but it created new issues.  You can’t tell very well in this picture, but the size 16 was ENORMOUS in the top.  The neck and armscyes are huge.  When my shoulders are relaxed, the top is constantly falling off of me.  I thought it would be passable under a sweater and wore it to work on Friday.  I spent the whole day feeling uncomfortable and readjusting my shirt.  That was just not going to work long term.

I’ve known since I started sewing that I really should be doing a full bust adjustment on my tops.  I’m a DD cup bra.  Most patterns are sized for a B cup (Colette patterns are sized slightly larger, for a C cup).  Sometimes patterns will offer customizable cup sizes, but even then they usually only go up to a D. I’ve been avoiding doing an FBA because honestly, the process scared me.  It involved cutting in to the pattern and repositioning pieces.  It seemed pretty daunting, and until now I felt like it was easier just to wear things a little snug in order to avoid it.  But it was pretty apparent with the Sorbetto that if I wanted it to fit right, I needed to go with a size 14 and was going to have to finally attempt the dreaded FBA.  I really wanted to get the fit right, as I’d splurged and ordered some nice burnout silk specifically for this pattern and I didn’t want to “waste” it on an ill-fitted shirt.  With that in mind, I sat down to attempt my first FBA.

The Sorbetto is actually a good pattern to try this out on, since it’s free and you can just print another if you mess up.  The drafting of the pattern makes it fairly easy too.  In addition to the FBA, I decided to also attempt to grade the hips out to a size 16, and lengthen the top a little.

I used one of the FBA methods described in Fit For Real People, involving a tissue fitting (during which I discovered I needed to add 2 inches to the bustline – ugh), slashing the pattern through the bust dart, armscye and down the center and spreading to add size, and actually found it to be much easier than I expected.  What the heck have I been dreading all this time?!

Pattern after FBA modifications

I also decided to make a hybrid pattern of sorts by overlaying the size 14 on

top of the size 16, taping together, and trimming the excess size 16 pattern from the waist up.  This way I got the width around the hips and length that I liked from the size 16 pattern, without the fit issues at the top.

Now that I had my pattern all adjusted, it was time to cut and sew.  I chose a piece of semi-sheer yellow checked cotton that I’d had in my stash

Sorbetto number 3

for a while, and decided to add a little lace embellishment down either side of the center pleat for a fun touch. I also decided to add some sleeves to this one, based on a tutorial I found on The Seasoned Homemaker blog.  The top went together just as easily as it had in the past, although I must admit that the hugely increased size of the bust dart was a little disturbing to see!  I was pretty satisfied with the end result.  Yellow isn’t necessarily my best color, but I think the color and pattern give the top a cute sort of retro feel.

The FBA adjustment on the size 14 definitely corrected the issue with the top being too tight across the chest.  Yay!!  But this top has a couple issues of it’s own.  First off, I don’t like the sleeves.  I just don’t think sleeves work with this pattern.  This is unfortunate, because I don’t like bare arms and rarely wear sleeveless things.  Sigh.  Also, I didn’t realize it beforehand, but the FBA actually results in adding to the width of the garment everywhere – including the hips.  Because I did a 2 inch FBA,  I actually added 4 inches to the garment width.  Because of this, I probably didn’t need to add to the hip width also.  I’ll remember that for next time.  But overall, I think this top turned out OK.  Even with the extra width at the hips.  I think it would be super cute belted and worn with a pencil skirt or white capris – very retro!  For layering under a jacket or sweater, which is how I’ll most likely wear it, it’s perfect!

Me and my Sorbetto