I use my fitted blocks all the time. Yes blocks. I want my blocks to contain my minimum wearing-ease and some neck/hemline notations. For quick access I like blocks for woven fabrics, knit fabrics, sleeved and sleeveless garments. While I don’t like drafting (too detailed and picky for me), I do like pattern making if I can I start with my block. Sometimes I’ll make a block for a particular style (like princess) which I use over and over. Eventually I’ll have morphed my blocks into become favorite patterns like shirt with all the details from Loes Hines’ Tunic Blouse but perfect fitted and suited for me. I especially like is the ability to quickly check a new pattern for fit and make adjustments or discard immediately. (There have been patterns I could just tell by comparing with my block that they wouldn’t work.) I don’t just want a block, I need my block.
I decided to work again with Connie Crawford’s set of slopers, CS1201. (Don’t know why, but I can’t make a link to the pix on Connie’s site.) As I recall, CS1201 was amazingly easy to fit last year — before my body made yet another change. Connie says she has measured thousands of plus-sized ladies over the years. She created her own pattern line based on the consistent variations she found on plus sized women. I don’t know what all the variations all but she gets heaps of praise from women who’d given up on sewing or even having nice fitting clothing. I hasten to add, that not everyone loves Connie. That’s to be expected. As it should be expected that my body may not need all the built-in variations or may need even more. I remember fondly the ease of fitting the sloper and the frustration of fitting most of her patterns. I understand the criticism because I myself do not love all things Connie. But I liked CS1201 enough to give it another shot.
Using the measurements I’ve taken, checked and rechecked again and again, I selected size 16 to trace. Once traced, I couldn’t stop myself from checking measurements of the pattern and comparing to my own measured and preferences. The front shoulder measured 4-5/8″; back 5. Front does not have a dart, back does. Net shoulder measurements are 4-5/8″ front; 4-1/2″ back. I need 4-1/2″. Connie Crawford’s patterns are practically the only patterns I’ve ever had where the shoulder is the right width to begin with! OK the front was 1/8″ too much. After a little thought, (Was this intentional? i.e. Was Connie adding a bit more ease for the busty? Did I err during tracing? Was my pen nib too fat? etc), I rotated the 1/8″ excess from the shoulder through the waist dart-said dart is expected by me not to be sewn. Connie even says there are some figures that don’t need the front waist dart. The neck width was wider and deeper than the moulage by close to the amounts that Suzy Furrer specified when converting the moulage to a sloper. The differences (about 1/8 and 1/16) were small enough that I ignore them. While I noted with pleasure the back neck was already slid over 1/4″. That’s what Suzy recommends and I need for controlling front neck gaping. As expected, cross front and cross back were about 1/4″ wider. At this point I hadn’t marked in the seam allowances and was measuring and subtracting. I acknowledge I could have small errors. I like and strive for semi-fitted to loose garments. I don’t like sewing and fussing with close-fitting garments. If 1/16 is going to ruin that fit, I don’t want wear the that garment. Certainly don’t want to spend time sewing it.
But I digressed. Hmm, differences in the pattern’s measurements with my measurements. I wasn’t sure there was enough ease bust, waist and hip and questioned if these guide lines were at the right levels. Additionally, I experienced some reticence because without including the CF 1″ SA, the front was wider than the back. I’m forever adding 1/2-1″ extra ease on commercial patterns to the back pattern piece. I’ve sometimes wondered if I was in the group Sandra Betzina mentions that needs a different size front and back. I was bothered enough to add 1/2″ along the front side seam and 1″ along the back side seam. I also added a 1/2″ CB seam. I’m still contemplating the round curvature I see in the side views of me. A CB seam offers the opportunity to add a little width if needed.
I traced the short sleeve pattern (that’s all I can find in the package) at the same times as the front and back. Now I made no measures or adjustments to it. Until I know what the front and back need, I have no idea what to do to the sleeve. However, I’d prefer not to sort through the original pattern pieces yet again. There are quite a few. So traced before and set aside now. Then I trimmed the excess tissue and laid my tissues aside.
I’m using the same fabric as for Moulage 4. It’s a cotton/poly blend. Mostly cotton. I can smell the aroma of cotton when I press with a hot iron and steam. With a whiff of starch and high heat, it pressed crisply. I laid out the fabric. Laid the pattern on top. Turned out the lights and went upstairs for dinner.
This has become a habit of mine i.e. tracing the pattern, making adjustments, selecting fabric and laying it all out ready for the next sewing session. I’ve found that the break at this point gives me a chance for second thoughts before irrevocably cutting fabric. It’s that measure-twice-cut-once philosophy, slightly modified. It’s saved me grief several times. Yes, many times I’ve made only small changes and could have cut the day . Point is, I often make changes before cutting the fabric because my left brain had time to think and feel more confident in my sewing/fitting for allowing that thinking time.