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

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The Clothe-Me-Myself Challenge

Recently I’ve lost a bit of weight.  Enough that most of my clothes are getting too loose on me.  I’ve ventured out on a few shopping trips in an effort to replace the too-big items, but I’m discovering that since I’ve begun sewing again I am having a difficult time buying ready-to-wear items.  It’s not that I don’t find nice things that I like.  I find plenty of wonderful things that I love.  The problem comes when I look at the price tag.  Holy hell, RTW clothing is expensive!  And most of it is pretty cheaply made (translation: not worth the asking price).  More and more I find that I’m talking myself out of buying something by telling myself, “Self, you can make that for much, much less.”

The other night I had a few hours to kill, and sat down at the machine to attempt a pattern I’d had for a while but had been putting

My first Sorbetto Top

off.  The Sorbetto Top is a free pattern available from Colette Patterns.  It is quick, easy, and takes very little fabric.  I threw my Sorbetto together in about 2 hours, including cutting out the pattern pieces.  I was very pleased with the finished product.  This was a cute top that I could dress up or down – something I could wear for work or play.  It could be customized in many different ways quite easily (omit the pleat, add embelishments, etc.), meaning that with very little work I could have several new tops based on the same basic pattern and achieve very different looks.  I decided to sew up a few different versions of the Sorbetto Top to replace some of the too-big things in my closet, and as I sewed one and then another, a somewhat crazy thought occurred to me:

“Why don’t you rebuild your whole wardrobe by making all new clothes for yourself?”

Huh.  Well that was an interesting thought.  I consider myself very much a beginner when it comes to sewing, and really have not produced a whole lot I feel confident wearing in public, so the idea of trying to create a whole new wardrobe was a little daunting.  But my skills have been steadily improving, and giving myself a challenge such as sewing myself a new business wardrobe, which would require learning and using new and more “advanced” techniques, would certainly help me grow and advance as a seamstress.  Plus, I desperately need new clothes, and I would really rather spend all that money on yummy fabric that I can use to create something unique to me than on cheap mass produced RTW clothing.

So I’m going to give it a shot.  I’m challenging myself to clothe myself for the next few months, at least.  I plan on making several pairs of slacks, tops, and a tailored jacket or two.  I am not going to buy any RTW clothing aside from things like undergarments.  And I’ll document my progress here.  I’m hoping to complete one garment a week or so, although complicated things like jackets may take a bit longer as I learn new techniques.  I have my first project – a pair of cuffed slacks – all cut and ready to go.  Stay tuned for the first update in a day or so!