My first version wasn't made straight out of the envelope, so I was already tweaking (or ruining, depending on how you want to look at it) the pattern in hopes of making it work for me. I used my sloper to fit, which if you're curious about how I do that, Threads has a great tutorial on using a sloper for fit.
Whoa shoulders! That's a look. Here's what I saw and changed:
- Way too much excess fabric at the shoulders. I took off 2", evenly from the back bodice and sleeve.
- The darts were too high, so I lowered those 1/2".
- I needed more at the back, seemingly all the way down including the waist, so I did a broad back adjustment. This involves drawing a vertical line parallel to CB, slashing and spreading.
Normally, working with my sloper works pretty well. Confident I had made the pattern changes I needed to, I moved on to the fashion fabric. How I wished I had someone else to help me fit, because I would have seen the error of my ways earlier on!
So onto the second version, which was actually a fully finished dress out of fashion fabric. I'll zero in on the places where I still had a few problems.
Here's what I saw:
- That gaping at the back armscye. Oh that gaping!
- I needed a forward shoulder adjustment, which is hard to see in this fashion fabric. I originally thought the sleeve was more of a strap, so I left it behind my shoulder.
- Some wobbly bits in my back, which made me think I needed a larger broad back adjustment.
- The back dipped (if you look closely, you'll see my belt is sitting above the waistband). I was actually seeing this frequently in the dresses I made using my sloper, and was beginning to wonder if I had traced it wrong at some point.
- You can't see this in the fashion fabric really, but the darts were still a touch too high.
For version 3, here were my changes:
- Did a 1 1/4" forward shoulder adjustment.
- I took the excess fabric at the back armscye out at the shoulder curve.
- I lowered the darts another 1/2".
- I increased the broad back by 1/4". At this point, I thought I didn't need anymore at my waist (I was wrong), so I took that 1/4" out at the back darts so most of the fullness was higher on my back.
This ending up working like so.
Welp, that didn't work. Now I couldn't move my arms at all. But I got rid of the gaping! High five.
For version 4, I concentrated on that shoulder area. I made similar changes, but with a less heavy hand. I took a wee bit out as a dart in the area where I had a problem at the back, and made a wee bit of change to the shoulder curve.
Now, at this point, I had pretty much fixed my gaping problem (hurray!), but I realized I had significant problems elsewhere. First off, when did those darts get so pointy? And the back is looking worse by the minute. Too tight with a little bit of gaping up at the top of CB. So I gathered up all my muslins and went to sewing club to beg for some help.
The Trouble in the Back
This is where the epiphanies really started. Thank goodness for the incredibly talented ladies at sewing club! I saw a problem in the back, so I assumed I would need to fix it by adjusting the back bodice. Not so! The adjustment isn't always in the area where you see the problem. It might be the adjacent area that's really the issue.
We tied a piece of string to a tape dispenser and hung it from my underarm. It then became very clear that the problem was in my front. It was pulling around so my side seam wasn't sitting straight down my side. I didn't need anymore broad back adjustments. I needed extra on my front bodice! I added it to the side seam, tapering to nothing up at the armscye.
Problems with my Sloper
Now, remember way back in version 2 in my fashion fabric, I mentioned that it was dipping in the back? Well, I found myself going down an internet rabbit hole one day, and discovered this is actually a problem with Pattern String Code slopers, where mine is from. There is a fascinating article on using Pattern String Code Slopers from Fashion Incubator that documents this issue.
The gist of it is that Pattern String Codes used my CB measurement for my CF. That's not right, because I have boobs. Apparently the correct measurement would be if you take off 1" from your CB measurement, then add 1" for every cup size. I needed 2" more in length. Since this pattern has a waistband the bodice is a bit shorter, I opted to take that 2" off the back instead.
We did this in a really crazy way. I also needed a little bit taken off my CB at the top to remove some gaping, but we wanted to keep everything else intact and I still needed my side seam to match, so taking a full 2" off there would be problematic. So we drew this crazy line across, down, and then straight again and shifted everything down 2" at a slight tilt. This kept the length I needed at the side seam, so I only had a little bit to ease it to match the front, and it fixed my gaping problem at CB. Then we trued up the side seam. Does that make sense? It was crazy, I tell you! Crazy!
We also curved the darts a bit on the front, which tends to help get a better fit for bustier gals (this is a great trick I learned in pattern making), and shortened them again. I swear, someone is sneaking into my sewing room and lengthening these darts overnight. They never seem to be short enough. There were two other tweaks to alter the curve a bit at the bodice area where the sleeve meets that were so amazingly detail-oriented, I could only gape at my sewing club friends. Needless to say, they were things I hadn't even seen.
So here we are on version 5. I'm getting excited now! Those darts are still way too pointy (kapow!), but I can easily adjust the angle on those (knock on wood). I've lost the gaping at the back armscye, and my back is looking pretty good now. I see some wrinkles there at the back, but I think that's just from me pulling the muslin on and off without a zipper in it.
I am contemplating one more muslin to try to adjust those darts, and because I really wanted my second version of this to be a button down. It would be a shame to go through all these fit changes, adjust the pattern pieces to button down the front, and then discover something was off.
What do you think? Do you spot anything I should change for V5, or would you have done things differently? One of the wonderful things about sewing to me is there's so many ways to shine the penny! So tell me your thoughts!