Adventures in Full Bust Adjustments

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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.

Colette Trunk Show and the Anise Jacket

Colette just released two new patterns, the Anise jacket and the Juniper pants. To celebrate they held a series of trunk shows along the west coast. I was lucky enough to attend a Colette trunk show on Saturday, where Sarai graciously signed my copy of The Colette Sewing Handbook , I had an opportunity to meet other local sewing enthusiasts, and I picked up a few patterns and some really gorgeous fabric. It was wonderful to see everyone there in their darling Colette creations! I haven’t sewn up any of the Colette patterns aside from the Sorbetto. Seeing so many of the designs in person was very inspiring, and I can’t wait to make some up for myself!

Speaking of Colette designs – I’m really in love with the Anise jacket! What a cute, classic little number! I knew I’d be picking this pattern up at the trunk show, so I stopped by one of my favorite local fabric stores, Stonemountain & Daughter, beforehand to see if I might be able to find the right fabric. Lucky me, I found a really gorgeous soft wool in a dark burgundy shade in the clearance section for 50% off. Perfect! I can’t wait to get started on this. I’m excited to try some new techniques, such as the welt pockets. While I was going through my stash last night trying to find an appropriate lining, I ran across a beautiful piece of very soft black leather that I’d forgotten about. I don’t have much of it, but there’s definitely enough to use for the welt pockets and some bound buttonholes on the jacket. I’d really like to use the leather for these details, but I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough – especially since this will be my first time trying these techniques at all!

I’m a little nervous about fitting the jacket, as I know I’ll need to do an FBA and the pattern does not have bust darts. I was hoping to avoid adding darts in since I really like the lines of the pattern as-is, but I don’t think that’s going to be an option. I’ve ordered some tracing paper and am going to make a couple muslins, one based on high bust and one based on bust, to see which gives me the correct fit. I’m planning on participating in the Anise Sew-Along on the Colette forums, which started this week. I’ll post my progress here. Stay tuned!

Anise Jacket Sewalong

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