Thursday, 28 February 2013

The final Peony?

And so to muslin 4. I promised myself that after this one I'd be cutting some pretty fabric out, or it wasn't going to proceed any further.....

A little adjustment at the neckline took care of the front gapage - this was transferred into the side bust dart.

The lower bust darts looked a lot better curved - the points were not quite sharp enough and created a little of that faux nipple effect, but I don't think I can get them any better:

I think on a printed fabric it wont be as obvious.

A fairly massive sway back adjustment helped a lot with excess fabric at the back BUT it was still not enough.....

 It looks worse on the RHS because that seam is pinned, but clearly the bodice is still too long - there's still too much fabric there! Way back when I cut version 1 I thought it was too short, added in 1.5 inches, and progressively have been removing 1/2 inch with each version. It looks like with all the other adjustments I have made that the original length would have been fine dammit! Anyway, easily fixed. I also experimented and made the left back dart a bit longer which I think has helped a bit too.

Just to be sure I did end up tucking up a big chunk the whole way around the bodice to see if shortening it will solve most of the excess back fabric issues:

Which it does. Are you over it? I am SO over it! I really help these posts help someone else with their fit issues! As you can probably tell by now I am a bit of an anal perfectionist, but my lovely fabric is too pretty and too expensive to condemn it to a crappy fitting dress.

At this point, it was sleeve time. Lo and behold, a crapola fitting sleeve:

Way too tight at the front and heaps of loose fabric at the back. Its way worse than these photos - ill fitting and uncomfortable. It pulls across my very carefully fitted and calibrated bodice and is generally devastatingly disappointing.

I had a break. I regrouped. I went to a boxing class and punched someone for 40 minutes. I started googling how to adjust sleeve fit, and measured a shirt with a nice sleeve fit I already had. Then I gave up. At this point I just don't have the knowledge or, quite frankly, the will to now deal with sleeve issues.  Because I know I'd have to start faffing with the bodice again and I JUST CAN'T ANYMORE.  Just out of sheer interest I grabbed my New Look 6000 pattern, quickly traced its sleeve and whacked it in - a much better more even fit in terms of fabric distribution, but still not right:

Apparently its quite common for patterns to have an armscye that is too big compared to RTW clothing - paradoxically the bigger the armscye, the tighter the sleeve and the smaller range of motion. If the seam is tucked up higher under the armpit it is actually more comfortable, which makes sense to me.

I reckon I've spent 15-20 hours on this pattern. I'm reasonably happy with the bodice fit. I've learned an awful lot but there's not a chance in hell I'm making a sleeved Peony. I'm willing to make a sleeveless version (because I adore LLadybird's gingham version) to see how my pattern alterations finally turn out (hopefully something I'm not too embarrassed to wear) but I think if I want something sleeved for this wedding I'm going to have to turn to New Look 6000. Maybe the bodice of NL 6000 with the skirt of the Peony would work......

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Peony's progress

I feel I'm making good progress on my Peony now and feeling much more positive. Version 3 was completed over the weekend and the adjustments I made all worked! At the moment I don't mind that I will pretty much have used my entire 3 metres of muslin poplin on the bodice alone. I'm being blissfully  naive that the sleeves are going to slide in perfectly and look AWESOME.....

Increasing to a size 4 bust and grading up to an 8 waist gave me a little more room over the bust which I needed. The darts are in the right position now and are the right length:

You can see from above on the left that the extra inch I lengthened the waistline by is still too much - so for Version 4 I will drop it back to a half inch. 

There is still a little gapage in the front, but the upper back fits well thanks to angling off about 1/2 inch at the top of the back centre as described in my last post.

The front gapage I have pinned out, to be transferred to the side bust dart in Version 4. 

There was a heap of fabric to remove for the swayback adjustment:

So much easier when someone else is home to take symmetrical non-mirror pics!

Here I roughly stitched in the sway back adjustment - getting better but still too much loose fabric across the back...
Taking in the centre back seam an extra 2/8ths of an inch plus the sway back adjustment looked pretty good to me. This is still version 3 with the extra 1/2 inch waist length.....

The final tinkering before version 4 involved playing with the vertical bust darts. I really wanted a snugger look under the bustline as I feel it is more flattering - the fabric wasn't following the curves of my bod enough! 

Too baggy under the bust line
But pinching out the excess at the top of the dart without changing the bottom seemed to help......
How to adjust it?

I think that a lot of girls who have made this dress have had the same problem - there really aren't that many Peonies that have a really snug fit under the bust - and most likely those sewists were probably happy with it, but I wanted a snugger fit, a bit more like Lauren @ Lladybirds Peonies, and it was REALLY hard to find an answer. My saviour was Gertie. There's a bit out the on the interwebs that talk a little bit about curved darts especially around the bustline, but Gertie has a great little snippet in one of her tutorials about pattern adjustment that shows how to make the dart more flattering by turning it from a triangle shape more into a little triangle on top of a truncated triangle.  What this does is takes in some extra fabric just under the bust without affecting the width of the dart at the waistline. 

 I marked on the muslin the point where I had started to pin it in under my boob, with some texta, and this worked out to be about 4cm down from the apex of the dart, so this is the point where the dart gets widened:

I experimented, and did one side like she suggested, and the other side I sewed it curved, by lining up my french curve with the 3 points on the dart - the apex, the new wider point, and the legs at the waistline...

The dart in the picture on the left (which is actually right boob) follows the lines, the dart in the right picture (left boob) is the truly curved dart. They look pretty similar I think. The outcome is also fairly similar, with possibly the right dart looking a little better...

They're not sewn that great, and so I have those faux nipply puckers, but thats just crapola lazy technique at 10.30pm!

Right bust

Left bust
And so to Version 4 - my last draft bodice muslin...... with no fewer than 7 pattern alterations!!!!!

Friday, 22 February 2013

The painful Peony

In exactly three weeks one of my oldest friends is getting married, and I am yet to make a frock for the wedding! My plan thus far has been to make the Colette Peony. After much research I blithely decided that the Peony was the dress for me, and felt confident that, despite the vast majority of sewists out there struggling to get the bodice to fit well without repeated muslins, I would be able to whip it up fairly easily, and may even be one of the few lucky ones that doesn't need many alterations. Bear in mind I have never, ever made a pattern grading to multiple sizes, let alone made fit changes like dart placement etc. No pressure.....

God, so wrong.

I am up to bodice muslin 3. I initially cut a 2 for the bust, grading out to an 8 based on waist and upper bust measurements. I read somewhere that the shoulder fit is likely to be better if one has a C cup, to cut the bust baised on upper bust measurements rather than the full bust. So far so good. My future mother-in-law used to be a professional seamstress, and she gave me the tip when tracing off my pattern to highlight the lines of the sizes I wanted to trace and cut - so simple but a great idea for a relatively inexperienced dressmaker, especially with a pattern that ranges from a size 0 to 18 on the one pattern - so many lines!

Highlighted where I wanted to trace, grading from a size 2 bust to an 8 waist

Straight up I could see that the bust darts were way too high for me, and it was too short, and maybe a bit tight through the waist. And that was just the front. The back - mega back gapage. The shoulder darts seemed tiny so I made them a little bigger, and subsequently gave myself a ballooning mid back. I ended up unpicking the bust darts and just pinned the fabric in the spot that looked like they lined up with my bust apex. The side bust dart was a little long, and the lower bust dart was too long and maybe too wide at the bottom AND they were weirdly too close together so I narrowed them and moved them out slightly. I chopped these out of my pattern, stuck them in what I thought was the right spot and made a Frankenstein front bodice ready for version 2. I was starting to feel optimistic I was getting somewhere.   (apologies for crapola blurred mirror selfies)

RHS original bust dart placement - crazy high! Plus choking neck. LHS approximate apex dart positioning.
And too short!  
Mega neck gapage.

Should darts widened to address neck gapage creates bubble back! WTF!

Version 2 of the bodice involved extending the length by 1.5inches (probably a little too much), trimming off some of the neckline to a more flattering depth, and repositioning the darts. The back I also extended by 1.5 inches and went back to the original shoulder darts in an attempt to get rid of the back bubble and only have toe deal with neckline gape.  The front was a little better, darts in a better position, but instead of being fitted under the bust the front just hung straight down - no curve hugging! And the back - mega mega sway back issue. So I need extra length in the front and sides, but due to my sway back, there was now way too much fabric in my middle back.  But I know that's not a hard one to correct. I decided to use method 1 of this tutorial to try to remove excess gapage in the neck back, and it seemed to do the trick, until I turned back around, and my lovely smooth neckline on the front suddenly had developed... mega gapage. Dammit! And somehow mucking around with the back centre had done something weird over the front bust, it had become too tight.

Crazy frankenstein pattern with darts chopped, moved and adjusted. 

RHS bust darts better position but a bit long - need to shorten by 0.5-1 inch... Length of bodice better too.

Glamorous side boob view - darts too long but better height BUT loose under bust now - Why? WHY?

Better fitting with upper back and shoulder changes but fabric pooling in lower back due to sway back, and bloody front gapage! 
Sway back adjustment needed! 


So it's looking like I'm going to have to make at least 2 more muslins. Version 3 I intend to:
- cut size 3 bust, size 8 waist
- deepen the front neckline so I'm not choked
- add 1 inch length to the front and back pieces
- shift the side bust dart down, and the lower bust darts out AND shorten them.
- make back shoulder darts slightly bigger but not TOO big to avoid bubble back.
- do a sway back adjustment on back bodice of about 1.5 inches. At least I can see the back length on my back of version 1 was ok.
- possibly take out a wedge of fabric from upper centre back. Actually almost certainly I will have to do this to address inevitable gapage.

If by some freakish miracle I manage to get all these changes correct, I will then have to see if the front neck gapes, and if so do an adjustment following the same tutorial I mentioned above but method 2, where the excess neck gaping gets transferred into the side bust dart. This will technically take me into muslin 4.

And I haven't even got to the sleeves yet.

So I'm a bit despondent. I've got a divine piece of silk cotton poly from The Fabric Store waiting to be made up and I'm chopping through my muslin fabric at an alarming rate. Today I decided that if muslin 3 wasn't close to success I'm going to have a crack at New Look 6000 instead, either as the whole dress or using the bodice and sleeves and add the Peony skirt to it. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A beautiful week.....

And so it is the end of my holiday week, and it has been lovely indeed. A few days at the beach where, in no particular order, I ate, slept, knitted, cut out fabric, was wrapped in paper tape (more on that another time), wandered, op shopped, explored vintage shops, read and teased the cat....

The beach at Jan Juc

Silk cotton ascot scarf for my lovely friend Claire

Cute pavement faces - I do like the Emo 2nd from the right

And then the last few days we have been in the hot hot heat of Echuca at the Riverboat Music Festival which was just great. The artists played in a natural amphitheatre by the river, surround by enormous gum trees and lanterns. Claire Bowditch (who I love and have loved for years) was fab, James Reyne rocked it old school, Gossling was very sweet, and Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes were AWESOME beyond belief. Seriously that girl would have given poor Amy Winehouses' pipes a run for their money.

Just so pretty

And the best thing ever - got engaged right by the river to my beloved Mr M. Was just perfect.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The festival wardrobe - Part 2 - including Colette Iris and Wiksten Tank

Am very excited to be on holidays this week, and had a little trip to the country to visit the parents. Mum was kind enough to be my photographer for some new pieces.....

A while ago I drafted a knit pencil skirt pattern, very simple, based on waist, hip and thigh circumference. The waistband is drafted to be sewn stretched onto the rest of the skirt, eliminating the need for elastic. The waistband is wide - narrow elasticised gathered waist bands don't suit me, they tend to ride up to my waist, and the gathers add bulk around my hips. Whilst I have been loving some of the jersey maxi skirts being made at the moment, I needed something that wouldn't add bulk where I didn't need it! So I thought I'd extend the length of my pencil skirt and see how it went! This is made from a lovely fine navy and cream striped linen jersey, found for a bargain $2/m at Darn Cheap fabrics - one just had to dodge the holes and warped bits throughout! The verdict - a little bit too big as the jersey is pretty stretchy, but very comfy stretchy wear otherwise.

Wide waistband - comfy, no riding up!

Next up are my Colette Iris shorts - these are the wearable muslin and I am very pleased with them. I initially cut and made up a size 6 and was devastated post zip insertion to find them unpleasantly tight, so these are the 8 and they fit perfectly. Its a really easy pattern, and I love the princess seams with pockets. The only thing I'd do differently with the next pair is to extend the pocket piece up to be able to catch it in the waistband, so they don't flip around, and add some extra hem length. I only did one button hole as I couldn't bear the idea of making 4 button holes only to find out they don't fit! You can see they really need the two to keep the pockets flat. I also found them to be fairly short and had no hem allowance left to keep them a decent length, so hemmed them in bias tape. The fabric was given to me as part of a stash donation, and is a cute rough slubby gingham check, and the facings are scraps from the stash.

Very comfortable - perfect for posing and performing stupid lunges

And finally I have my 2nd version of the Wiksten Tank. I've tweaked it a little after making my wearable muslin - the biggest change is scooping a whole heap of excess fabric out of the back neckline - there was massive gapage there, plus I think its nice to have a little bit of a lower neckline at the back. I was very technical, and just used a bread and butter plate to scoop it out, then evened up the shoulder straps. This is the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze called Melody Sketch in dark blue that I bought from this seller on Etsy. It is printed in a slightly graduating pattern, and I had hoped that the contrast from the top of the shoulders down to the hem would be a bit more pronounced, which its not, but its still very beautiful. I made a mistake in binding the  neckline in the double gauze - its too bulky, and its a pretty crappy job. C'est la vie. 
I have made a 3rd Wiksten tank, as a gift for a friend out of my crazy test pattern fabric. Interestingly there was a bit of armpit gapage with that fabric - I think because its a lot stiffer. This pattern works best with really light flowy fabric. I do have some gorgeous silk that was destined for another one of these, but I'm now thinking of trying the Grainline tank instead, just for a change......

This is the best pic of the fabric - some of the dots are silver, so so pretty
So that's most of my newly made Summer/Festival Wardrobe..... I'm heading off to the beach for a couple of days where there is no sewing machine, so instead I'm taking about 5 patterns to cut out in readiness for sewing up when I am home - including my muslin for a Colette Peony, some BurdaStyle pants for work, and a Megan Nielsen Banksia. Very exciting!