Before and After AKA Upcycle

I purchased a sun dress last year.  Off the rack. In a gas store. What can I say?  It was pretty. Sturgis was over and the stores were clearing out their Sturgis stuff so it was cheap.  I loved the color. DH said it was cute. I wore it a couple of times at the end of summer and put it away when I made the seasonal wardrobe change.  This year I pulled it out and took pics.Why on earth did DH think this was cute?

It was one of those garments I folded up and put in the donate box.

But it haunted me. I loved the color; design; and ITY fabric. I started seeing these tank top dresses everywhere

Seriously, these were in my catalogs; in the line up at QVC, HSN and Evine.  These things are little more than a  length of fabric gathered to a shortened tank top.  However, the prices make you want to cry. This trend also dove tailed with another style desire of mine: the empire top.  An empire, when done right for me, is very flattering.  I think I can figure out the level the empire on which the empire needs to sit on me.  Also think I can figure out how much ease I need (my empire tops are best when they don’t accent my tummy).  It’s keeping the empire line level that has me buffaloed.  Thank fully, I’m not alone.  I’ve seen a number of these tank dresses and other empire styles; on slim models; and the empire is not level it slants upward at CF.  I really don’t like that look. To me that’s preggars. A look I had to wear for 9 months some 30+years ago and have no desire to repeat.

So I put both ideas together, i.e. the tank top dress trend with my need to adapt the empire for my figure and decide to pull the discarded dress out of the donate box.  I cut away the shoulder straps close to the stitching line.  The elastic shirring was a bit more of a challenge but I managed to get it unraveling and ripped out all 5 rows.  I do have an issue.  There are little holes where the shirring used to be:

I turned the fabric up side down placing what used to be the shirred bodice at hem level.  Hopefully the holes are not noticeable to anyone else. Heck they may even close up a little in the wash.  This is one of those places where my experience trumps Peggy’s opinion.  I don’t get these little holes if I use a ball point needle in a size 10.  I’m sure Peggy is right;  that the manufacturer used a standard size 70 sharp needle and the mfg was not expecting me to remove the shirring.  But I’d rather not have those holes and wish the mfg had followed my experience instead of industry standard as stated by Peggy. . Well, water under the bridge.

The other issue I have is the CB seam at the hem. Well used to be at the shirred bodice.  It’s a little rough

Ok pic doesn’t show my concern so hopefully no one else will notice either.

From my stash I retrieved  a black ponte remnant.  Looking back, I think I saved the remnant  with the thought of using it for bindings.  It is a little heavy but for a test garment probably OK.

And this is a test. Because I don’t know precisely what to do to make my empire line level.  I traced the front and back of my knit sloper from shoulder to waist.  I saw no point in tracing below the waist when I planned to discard all that anyway.  I started by altering the back pattern piece. I tried on a striped top that I like and measured down to the stripe level equal to where I thought I wanted my empire. That number is 4.5″.  I measured down the side seam 4.5″ drew a horizontal line across to CB.  From there to the hem was 1.25″ excess tissue which I trimmed away.  My sloper contains a neckline dart the result of rotating my RBA so that I don’t need a center back seam. I rotated the neckline dart to shoulder; moved it to armscye edge  and  trimmed away.  I trimmed all the excess tissue

and proceeded to alter the front.

I had trimmed 1.25″ from the back to make the side seam 4.5″ long. So now I trimmed 1.25″ from the bottom of the front.    Suzy Furrer has you move the bust dart to the hem when converting your sloper to a knit block. How would that work since I’d already cut off the hem?  I didn’t know. So instead I slashed from side seam to CF 4 times.  Each of the resulting wedges were overlapped until my front side seam was the same length as my back side seam, 4.5″. Unfortunately, my CF looks like the dog’s hind leg i.e. bent.

My front sloper has an armscye dart. If left In my tank top, the armacye will gap or I’ll need to sew a dart. Instead I rotated it to the empire line which thankfully straightened out my CF once again.

I turned my attention to the neckline and armscye of both pieces. My sloper is drafted for the typical high  T-shirt neckline and shoulder.  I want my tank top neckline to be lower both in front and back and I want a narrower shoulder. About 2.5″ at the shoulder should do but I’ll want seam allowances too.  I drafted from front neckline to be 6.5″ deep and 1″ further away from my physical neck. I changed my back neckline to be 3″ deep and 1.25″ away from my physical  neck. Why the difference? Something I learned from Suzy Furrer is that if you move the back neckline just 1/4″ further from the neck than the front , the back will pull on the front and remove any gaping. I drafted my shoulder to be 3″ wide.  Trimmed all the excess tissue and stepped back to take a look:

The back looks about as expected. I’m really cautious about the front piece. The empire line sweeps upward pretty sharply. I walked the side seam about 3 times just to be sure front and back side seams were the same length.

I serged one shoulder. Added FOE to the neckline then stitched the other shoulder. I stitched the right-shoulder 1/8″ deeper than the left to accommodate my lower shoulder. Then I basted the side seams and slipped it on. While it is hard to tell much at that fitting,  I did decide to trim 1/2″ width both front and back but only at the empire. IOW removing  a wedge from the side seam which was  1/2″ wide at the empire zeroing at the armscye.

On these type dresses,  the skirt is usually gathered to the tank top. I’m not a fan of that look especially on me. It says preggars, again. But I wanted all the hem circumference.  I could have cut the fabric into an A-line shape. I opted instead to pleat the skirt to my top. The result:

Fit02 above

 

Sleek and smooth. Just what I wanted. Tank and skirt smoothly joined. No gathers to pucker or emphasize my tummy. Joy of all joys, my empire is sitting level.  That odd front piece works. My criticism is that I think I want the bodice longer.  I should have made the top at 6 or 7″ long.   After this fitting, I added a 1″ finished band to add at the bottom. I agree with Peggy that it’s a better look to stop the eye at certain places.  The neckline is one. The hem  another. So I have solid black at the hem (bottom) and again at my neckline (top) framing my stature.

 

I’m really pleased with this project.  I have a wearable dress and a good beginning empire.  I will not alter my empire tissue further. I will however copy it and make changes.  In addition to the empire being shorter than I prefer, my tank shoulders are still too wide. Possibly I could just indicate that a seam allowance needs to be trimmed if using FOE. I might also deepen either or both front/back neckline. Because it’s a tank.  Finally, the armscye is a bit high, especially for a tank.  But I’m still pleased.  I’ve made a very good start; and definitely have some impressive before and afters

Too much flare at the hem

oh and the humongous bust dart continue to occupy my mind. I do like a tent top but I don’t want every top I wear to stick out at the hem.  I decided to leave the bust dart alone, after all it is working and turned my attention to reducing the flare at the hem.  I aligned my hip curve by the waist and pivoted back and forth until I could remove about 1.5″ from the hem

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Which creased a nice smooth side seam

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At the same time, I tweaked my sleeve

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I like to change the ease of the sleeve on the fly (so to speak) and folded out the excess. This sleeve makes a cylinder shape on my arm.

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Could be a little tighter at the wrist or I may have stretched the wrist when I cover-stitched the hem. Basically it’s a nice sleeve neither too tight nor too loose.

I added a V-shaped embroidery

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Not wanting to use FOE or a ribbing, I created facings, both front and back ..

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… using a light-weight, white knit which I interfaced with nylon tricot.

I’m not thrilled with the finished garment:

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The ridge is from my back support.

For starters, this was forgotten in the closet whilst I was ill. After being ill for so long, I’m noticing that I have to deliberately get up and straighten my posture or I will walk about hunched over. No doubt my wonky posture is affecting the look.  The fabric has about 200% stretch, (I exaggerate) while my pattern was fit for about 30%. About half way through construction, I remembered why this particular fabric has been marinating in the stash for so long (about 25 years).  It’s mostly cotton. Not sure there’s any poly or nylon or other fiber.  Interestingly,  it recovers quickly the first few times it is stretched. But after that, it doesn’t recover as quickly or completely.  I remember that the longer I wore the first garment (made from this exact same fabric), the further it drooped. The scooped neckline was below my bra shortly after noon.  Also it tends to reveal rather than conceal as seen by the ridge in the pic above which is my back support (also needed more since my illness).

It’s one of those fabrics that has me asking, “Did I fit this pattern at all?”

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Sigh. Unfortunately I changed the pattern so even though fabric is clearly an issue, I can’t be sure I don’t have a pattern problem.

You know, sometimes I think I need to remove every elderly fabric from my stash. Even the 100% wools and silks. Modern fabrics are so much kinder to my figure. And easier to sew with.

 

 

Issues with CS1201 Knit Block

ETA: I wore this T-shirt half a morning and decided the sleeves were too tight. I turned them into quarter sleeves; laundered and placed my new summer T in with the other summer clothes. It is not a loss; a wadder; a big mistake. I still have a pretty, wearable garment. I just can’t wear it until late Spring. The pattern absolutely needs to altered with ease added from elbow to wrist. 

The biggest issue by far, is the rounding of my back and increased shoulder slope. They go hand in hand or at least correcting one seems to affect the other. I knew I needed to increase the back shoulder slope. Unfortunately it needs to be different amounts for each shoulder. (3/4″ right shoulder; 1/2″ left shoulder).  More critically is that the slope cannot be increased evenly.  I mean I can’t make a mark 1/2″ and then draw a line up to the shoulder point.  My shoulders have distinct angles and have double angles:

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Maintaining the 1/2″ seam allowance, I tried offsetting the back shoulder 3/4″ at the armscye zeroing at about half way. Did the same on the right except it was offset 3/4″.

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Above: shoulders basted after offsetting for shoulder slope.

While the remaining diagonals and scoops disappeared across the back and below the shoulders, the back crept upward, easily visible from the front on both sides

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as well as the side views;

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My first thought, well was that I didn’t smooth everything into place. When that didn’t work, I thought maybe that 1/4″ tuck on the tissue removed too much ease.  I let out the center back seam as far as possible. Nope. Didn’t help. Not one iota.

Letting out the shoulder seams was a dumb idea and didn’t work either.  So I look around and think, ” where can I sew a wedge that will remove those drag lines?”    A few of the drag lines are just below the bust most are higher.  I didn’t think a wedge below the waist would help. Didn’t think just above the waist would help either.  Between underarm and bust dart did occur to me, but I really don’t have much length in that area.  The only logical place to me was the armscye. I opted to make a wedge 1″ above the cross back. Which worked perfectly  (the shoulders hug my own) but looked wonky.

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I’ve never seen a dart in a back armscye.  Seen lots of yokes but just a dart? No. Never that I can recall.  I decided to stitch the wedges (one for each side) permanently and join them with a very narrow tuck (less than 1/8″). The result:

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I dislike adding prominent lines on-the-fly like this.  I prefer to make such things on the tissue and cut while the fabric is flat. I’m pretty sure that I made the right amount of adjustment, but because I was fussing, trying to smooth out fabric, the right wedge was placed lower than the left. Which resulted in the slanted line above.

I may still have an issue lower down where drag lines typical of needed RBA have developed:

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I question that because the lines were not there before hemming:

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Also, I made a 1/4″, then 1/2″ and finally 3/4″ RBA on the woven sloper. The woven sloper showed no improvement with the 3/4″ RBA; only the 1/4 and 1/2″. Seemed at the time, that a 1/2″ RBA was the right choice. I made the RBA on the cross back line. Should it have been made further down?

Further considering the wedges, I wonder if the issue at the shoulder seam/back neck was due to the 1/2″ seam allowance.  I know for a fact that I can easily join 1/4″ seam allowances where a 1/2″ in the same place would have been a struggle.  I was reluctant to trim the shoulder seam allowances to 1/4″.  Maybe I should have been bolder.

Converting the wedges to a yoke has lots of possibilities since a yoke could be placed anywhere along the armscye although I probably should adjust the sleeve cap as well. (I didn’t this time. I eased the sleeve into the armscye. 1/4″ seam allowances helped with that.) Not sure that I want the yoke to be as low or lower than the front bust. I’m afraid that would require adjusting the side seams and hem.   I wonder if the wedges can be combined with the RBA.  Fit for Art recommends making the RBA and rotating to the neckline. That works, but I’d rather sew a single back seam than 2 darts.  I’d also prefer a single yoke seam to the 4-square thingy I’ve got up above.  I wonder if the wedges which are already noted on the pattern:

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could be slashed 2″ (the length needed for the shoulder) and overlapped?  No the slash would have to go all the way across the back or I would have bubble. But I don’t want it to go all the way across because it would offset the RBA some.

The FRONT caused me only slight concern and that was the bust dart. Bit by the issue on the woven sloper, I cut a big box along the side seam at the end of the dart instead of cutting exactly on the lines. During fitting I carefully draped the bust dart; trimmed the seam allowances to 1/2″ and transferred the change to the pattern. Glad I did that because I added a bunch of fabric.  See the purple ink below:

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All added fabric during fitting.  I’m just a mess at folding out a nice bust dart on tissue!

Ah, time to think.

 

********** I may update this post as I find other options.

 

 

CS1201: The Knit Block

I copied the final fitting changes back to my original tracing of size 16, CS1201.  After copying the changes, I folded the bust darts and adjusted the side seam. Spent an hour adjusting the bust dart depth and lines. Then I trued the seams and had to completely revise the bust dart. What a pain. But this block is now a wealth of information. It is showing a dart every place where I needed to make depth changes.  It’s possible I could move some of the darts to seams or merge with other darts. If I had the figure of 12-year-old boy (1) I could move the darts anywhere and (2) I probably wouldn’t need most of those darts. But I have a roly poly figure otherwise known as the mature-female body and there’s no question in my mind that some darts will not be able to move or not move in their entirety while retaining the fit I desire and have worked so hard to achieve.

Finally satisfied I labeled the original tracing ‘WOVEN 20170128″ on all pieces and proceeded to develop a Knit block/sloper. First up, make a clean copy with all final notations. I have several references for converting a woven block to knit block. I’m not a fan of the ‘cut one size smaller’ theory. Neither did I care for “Thousand Teeny Changes” two of my sources recommended.  I sorted through them and realized that (1) there is no standard; no reliable set of steps that will guarantee a fitted knit sloper. Whatever I do, the next step will be “make a test garment and adjust as desired”.  Once that realization struck me, I did some fast calculations and opted to take a 1/4″ tuck at cross back and cross front; and another 1/4″ tuck from shoulder through hem.  I took a 1/4″ tuck across the cap of the sleeve and then had to redraw the cap slightly.  This will be my basis. I plan to update it with needed fitting changes. But like the original tracing of CS1201, I don’t want to lose or mess-up this clean copy and so made a 2nd working copy.  On the working copy  starting with the BACK

(Back) move neckline darts to the center back. I will plan on always using a center back seam when using this back.  Move half the shoulder dart width to the armscye; the other half to the neckline.  Move 1/2″ the back waist dart to the center dart. Redraw the center back seam to include the new curvature.  I’d like to move the other 1/2″ of the waist dart to the side seam, but I’m worried the back side seam won’t match and work well with the front side seam  because….

Front mark the armscye dart as unsewn. Retain 1-3/4″ (7/8 deep dart); rotate the rest of the bust dart to the hem. I’m hoping that will add a little tummy room.  I realize I’m creating a bit of a ‘swing’ hem. For now, I’m just accepting that. Later I will consider how and how much of the swing to remove.   My front doesn’t need a waist dart. So nothing to move to the side seam.  Which is why I hesitated to move any portion of the back waist dart to the side seam.  This will be reconsidered in future garments.

I chose a rayon knit with 30% stretch. I actually purchased a few knits recently. I realized I didn’t have knit fabrics that would make good test garments. They were either too dark or didn’t have the right stretch or I didn’t have enough yardage for a front, back, plus long sleeve.   Hope for wearable test garments (I’m tired of throwing fabric into the trash), I looked specifically for busy prints that would hide fitting issues. I gave my fabric a whiff of starch as I was pressing; laid it out and cut only the front and back.

I used all-purpose thread in the bobbin and needle for stay stitching and the bust dart.  Switched to water-soluble thread for the seams.  I was really pleased with the first fitting. I think I have only 1 issue that I will correct (there’s another I’m ignoring) but I’ll write about that tomorrow.   It’s an issue that I need to think through. Considering, my actions and the results as well as possible options and then writing it all out will help me do the needed thinking…. and planning.  So with minimal fitting, I was done. The 1/4″ tucks were perfect. The sleeve cap was good.  Rotating a portion of the bust dart worked as expected.

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I finished the neckline with FOE; hemmed by top stitching. Another goof, I like my sleeves marked with minimum ease. I made it too little. I opted to create a vent in the cuff but my T-shirt may be a candidate for half or 3/4 sleeves later on.

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Not surprising, my left side is smoother and looks better than the right. I did work on the uneven shoulder issue, but it needs more consideration. As you can see, the drag lines from the bust are nothing like they were on the finished woven sloper. I’m not entirely sure if I removed too much ease from the front or if I need to take up more in the bust darts and then of course rotate to the hem. I did hate those big honkin’ nearly 3″ bust darts the woven sloper ended up having. Over all, to me, this looks good. Better than any RTW, I can buy.

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In only one fitting, I’m in the tweaking stage. I’ll talk more about the back tomorrow but today just let me say, I’m not terribly unhappy with the back but I do see that a drag line formed starting at the shoulder. This is a typical line that says “Add an RBA ” or make it bigger.

Again, things I’ll think about when I write tomorrows post.  For now, I’m just terribly, terribly pleased with myself and my new sloper.

 

Knit Sloper

Lesson 11 Sloper Design Options

Somethings I do for fun. Just to see. Creating the Knit Sloper is something I’m dead serious about. I did not expect this to be ‘the one’.  I’m seriously concerned about the incorrect personal levels and circumferences. Until I correct those in Muslin 4 I can’t make the real sloper. I can however familiarize myself with the process and maybe go into making the final sloper with a bit of confidence.

Before we get to the knit sloper, Suzy talks about simple options for changing the sloper and a few guidelines of which to be aware. I took note of only a few

  • If you extend the shoulder, extend the cross front/back half the amount before redrawing the armscye.
  • Easy way to add jacket and coat ease: cut open the sloper along the princess line and separate 1/4, 3/4 or 1/2″
  • The Waist Shaping if needed for fitted garments otherwise there will be a wrinkle around the waist. On loose garments just ignore.
  • Sloper storage
    • Convert your slopers to tag or other durable media.
    • Then punch a hole (industry uses a Pattern/Rabbit punch) and hang with Pattern Hooks.

For me, the most important part of Lesson 11 was converting the Close Fitting Woven Sloper into a Knit Sloper.  Taking copious notes, I watched the lesson first. I started creating the sloper; stopped and ran the video as I was making the specified changes.  I’m totally unhappy with the resulting sloper:

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I used a green permanent marker to draw the final lines. You can still see some of the pencil lines. Over all the knit sloper should be about 1″ shorter and have negative ease. Exactly how much negative ease Suzy didn’t specify.  I think its a combination of your desired fit and the amount the fabric stretches.  I promise, I carefully watched took notes and then watched again as I made the changes. I’ve gotten a routine down where I can stop the video immediately. Unfortunately on my IPAD the 30sec replay is missing and rewinding is guess-work with lots of rewatching.

The side seams horrified me.  I know part of this is my shape. I have very little waist indention in the front, while the back needs a deeper dart.  I often make 2 darts on the back and 3 sometimes on pants. Nonetheless, the deeply indented waist on the back compared with hardly a hint of front waist stunned me.  I thought it wouldn’t walk (front and back side seam would be the same length).  It did, by swinging the paper back and forth sharply.  Being intended for knits, I suppose it will stitch together somewhat easier than walk. Still I doubt that it will hang smoothly from the waist down.

The armscyes are another horror.  This sloper is for knit garments. The armscye will be big enough to fit around my belly.  Obviously, I’ve misunderstood the directions. Twice. Which fills me with horror.  I used to pride myself on the ability to read and follow directions.  Apparently I don’t do well at all at watching videos and following directions.

Even as I was following the instructions, I was uncomfortable with the negative ease being developed. I want a knit outer garment to smoothly flow over my curves in a  very similar way to my woven garment. I’m not interested in revealing all my bits and bots. The only negative-ease garments in my wardrobe are tights and other underwear.

Unless I learn something new from the book, it’s doubtful that I will develop my personal knit sloper from Suzy’s directions.  I like far better  Gayle’s suggestion to develop the knit sloper from the moulage. Makes more sense then upsizing to a woven sloper and downsizing to the knit.

************My notes:

Watch the video lesson first. Don’t take my notes below and run with them. You will have missed important choices. Besides, based on the results above, I’m not sure I understood what I should have done.

DRAFTING A KNIT SLOPER

Nearly the same steps are done front and back.  Instead of listing them twice, I’m annotating “Front” which means do this to front only.

  • Trace the woven sloper
  • Remove Waist Shaping
    • Neck down 1/2″ at CB/CF
    • High Neck point down 1/2″
    • End of shoulder down 1/4″
    • Redraw neck and shoulder
  • Move Shoulder Dart to armscye
  • FRONT:  REMOVE ARMSCYE DART
    • cut
      • 1 leg of armscye dart
      • 1 leg of bust dart
    • Slide armhole dart close
    • Fill in empty bust dart.
  • FRONT: REMOVE BUST DART
    • Measure new bust dart width
    • Mark the same distance up from low hip at side seam as the new bust dart width
    • Redraw Low hip starting from Mid want on the Low Hip to the Mark just made.
    • Low hip is no longer a straight line

Continuing with Back and front directions

  • Move waist dart to side seam
  • Develop negative ease at armscye
    • Starting at shoulder
    • Mark 1/2″ along armscye but leave the original under arm
      • 1/2″ good for jersey/double knits 3/4″ better for slinky
    • Redraw armscye (22:37 in video) meeting original underarm
  • Starting at original underarm, come in 1/2″ all along the modified side seam
    • modified though moving waist dart and armscye/bust dart on front
  • Raise the High Hip 1/2″
    • Fold out 1/2″ between waist and High Hip
    • Smooth that curve

Back is done. Cut it out.

Front

  • Align back on front at underarm and new hem.
  • Trace the side seam
  • Mark the new waist notch to correspond with the back waist notch
  • True back and front shoulders, armscye and neck connections

FINISHING

  • Trace front and back to tag
  • Add numbers, any remarks
  • Label with date and “KNIT”
  • Also helps to trace the Knit sloper onto different color paper.

Muslin 5

I  thought, I was going to pull out the tissue of Muslin 3; make a T-shirt; adjust the right shoulder a little and be done.  Didn’t work that way. Muslin 4 was so wonky, I think must not have transferred my alterations to the tissue.   I did end up with a wearable Muslin 4 that fit as well as Muslin 3 but not without a lot of effort and still not the TNT I want.  I want a knit TNT/sloper that fits across my shoulders and upper bodice and then drapes smoothly to the hem. Not satisfied with Muslin 4, I started with Muslin 5.

There are some changes that must be made at the tissue stage. Muslin 5 required some of type changes. I made a full copy of each piece ( full front with left and right sides. Same with back).  Which preserves the previous tissue in case I have to restart the process, and also allows me to record the alterations I’m making for my asymmetrical shoulders.  Besides I’ll need full pattern pieces when working with stripes, plaids and large prints. May as well have a TNT ready to go for those types of fabrics.

I think the ease changes I’ve made on Muslin 4 are good. So with Muslin 5 my biggest question is going to be how to adapt the armscye.  On Muslin 4, I lowered the underarm. Didn’t work. Combined with removing excess ease, the drag lines were visibly worse.  This time I’m extending the armscye  1/2″ at the underarm side-seam which will be tapered back to the previous side seam at a point just under the bust.  (Adding a little ease at the bust as well.)

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Back: Extend armscye 1/2″
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Adding line to connect to side seam
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Repeat on front adding to bust area

2nd Question was how to handle the ‘way too big’ factor. On the new tissue, I marked 1/4″ lines from the original centerline. Muslin 4 designated Line 2 or 1/2″ as the Center when placed on a fold.  Two quarter-inch marks away (total of 1″ from the original centerline) is a new line titled “CB/CF 50% Stretch”.  It will be the centerline when placed on a fold.  When making a CF/CB seam,  I prefer  1/4″ seam allowances. However for the purposes of   Muslin 5, I cut along the 1/2″ line giving me a CB/CF seam and some fit insurance i.e. a place to let it out if the 50% line makes the garment too tight.  I envisioned a V neck and 4 body seams, 2 side seams and center front + center back seams.

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3rd Question was how to  perfect the right shoulder.  I think I’m only doing half or a third of what is required for my asymmetrical shoulders. Currently, I stitch the right-shoulder seam-allowance  at 1/2″ (left at 1/4″).  Effectively I’m pinching the right shoulder an additional 1/2″ which shortens the armscye 1/2″ on each side.  The next step after shortening the armscye by pinching, should be restoring the full armscye length.  I’m positively doing that on the left and consequently the left side of the bodice always looks nicer than the right.  My conclusion is that I need to lower the right armscye another 1/2″  to compensate for the effect of the pinch/deeper seam.   The pattern looks wonky, but I do expect at least some success for now.  In the future, I may need to develop a right sleeve and a left sleeve to reflect the asymmetry of my shoulders..

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Draw line at top where shoulder will be lowered 1/2″. Align previous tissue with the side seam and shoulder, then redraw the armscye.

My next fabric was also an interlock with 50% stretch. It however was cotton not a string of lycra anywhere.  I’ve only had it a few years. Purchased about the time Mill Ends closed.  No idea how old it was when Mill Ends got it.

I laid my front and back pattern pieces on the fold and cut the left-side shape. Next I trimmed 1/2″ at the folded edge. This should left me  1/2″ CB/CF seam allowances.  I wanted a front V neckline and I wanted the back neckline a little lower. I cut both those changes while the fabric was still RST.  I separated each of the pieces of front and back. Replaced the Right-side tissue of back and front on the respective fabric pieces; then re-cut the right shoulder and underarm 1/2″ lower.  Any number of cutting procedures could have been used to reach the same end-point (fabric pieces adapted for my asymmetry and ready to sew). This was my choice.

Unsure of how much handling this muslin will receive, I taped the necklines and the back shoulders before serge finishing all edges.  Then  popped the bobbin with water-soluble thread in the sewing machine and basted everything together. I intend to wear shoulder pads, so I grabbed a pair and basted them.

The first fitting was encouraging but doesn’t quite look right. There are fewer drag lines and I’m happy that the left and right sides have nearly the same drag lines.

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My Right Side                             My Left Side

The left does indeed look better than the right, suggesting that the right underarm may need a little more scooping.  Despite adding 3/8″ to the side seam along the bust dart, there are distinctive pull lines at the bust as if more ease is needed.  The tummy certainly would like more:

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Although the sleeves feel fine, I do wonder if a more ease is needed right from elbow to forearm. I note with glee (almost) that the shoulders of the garment are matching the shoulders of my body.  I’m assuming that’s the taping I did of back shoulders and neckline.   My goal was to keep the neckline both front and back from stretching during handling and later on during wear. But I’m not unhappy to have added a stay as well.

 

And then I spent 5 fitting session unsuccessfully trying to remove the remaining drag lines from the bodice.

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I increased the depth of the bust dart as well as moving it’s position due to lowering the armscye a total of 1.5″. While the sides are improved from Fit01, this still is what I want.

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I added a back neck dart, shaped the CB seam and added back darts–something I think is anathema  for a T-shirt. Removed them all too, because they made the back worse not better.

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The front looks worse after Fit05 then it did with Fit01.  I cut new sleeves after adding 2.5″ to the sleeve and pattern because lowering the armscyes created a 2.5″ difference in length.  There really was not choice. Before cutting new sleeves, horizontal drag lines had formed in the cap. At least, I don’t have deep horizontal lines in the elbow.  Rather annoying because after all this work, I hardly think it looks better than Muslin 4

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In fact, I dont think it’s  even the same caliber as Muslin 2

 

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This may partly be the effect of fabric. Muslin 2 and 3 were single knit/jersey fabrics. Muslin 4 and 5 are both interlock knits. I seem to recall a fight with interlock fabrics last year in which I finally decided old interlock knits were definitely not to be trusted and removed the 5-years and older interlocks from my stash.

This is nuts. I’m making no progress. Every muslin I make seems to be a recreation of Muslin 2 which I then wrestle into Muslin 3 condition. I’m no closer to a TNT than when I started.  Not only that I was appalled at the final sleeve pattern.  I needed 23.5 inches for the cap. I’m expecting a 19 or 20″ armscye. This is a knit with lots of stretch. Why did it need such a deep armscye to achieve Muslin 2 fit? And still didn’t shake all the wrinkles.  If I could buy decent fitting RTW, I’d quit sewing.

Muslin 4??

When I finished Muslin 3 I thought I was 1 tweak away from TNT (as perfect as possible).

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I thought it was time to make a full front and back. Permanently compensating for my lower right shoulder with appropriate alterations.

Then I got distracted.  Christmas was around the corner. I needed to get my 200 needle knitting project done.  I converted my almost perfect block into a dartless block (using instructions at Ikat Blog) and my custom knit into cut-n-sew.   My cut-n-sew didn’t turn out badly

The hem flared instead of hugging the body.  I over-corrected by using elastic in the hem. But it’s in the OK/not-bad category of knitting/sewing projects.  I was confident enough to then use my dartless block on a Tissue Knit which did turn out badly.

I looked at these side views and wondered if I had used the same pattern. Did the bulk of a sport-weight yarn make that much of a difference?  Did converting from darted to dartless ruin the fit?  Was it the self-lining?  Or tricot lining of the sleeves?   I’m really not sure what caused the issue. I’m almost glad this is fabric which I estimate to be flimsy and not durable. This year I can wear vests and cardigans; discarding it at the end of the season without regret.  Except for the fit.

Since I wasn’t sure if the issue was fabric, the dartless block or conversion thereto, I decided to step all the way back to the almost perfect Muslin 3 Tissue.

I started by walking the seams. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered that in making some alteration, I’ve skewed the length of the seams.  To my horror I discovered that the front side seam allowance was 1/2″ longer than the back side seam and that the armscyes were 1″ shorter than the sleeve cap (1/2″ on front and back portions).  I hesitated to make the change to the side seam allowances. I couldn’t remember exactly if that was part of a cheater FBA. Which didn’t seem logical because I had a 1-1/8″ deep dart. Why add a cheater at the same time??  The sleeve cap/armscye also perplexed me. It’s not unusual for a sleeve cap to be longer than the armscye in which it is set. But it is rare in a knit.  Ease may be added to the sleeve cap for style or to increase the range of movement. With knits, range of movement is not a concern. I would not have added ease for that. Also, this was to be a basic knit. The pattern with all my fitting and style, minimum requirements. I would not have added style ease.  So what happened? And, what shoulder I correct?

I chose rayon/lycra interlock fabric with a big print.  I loved it on the catalog page but hesitated to use when it arrived. I kept wondering how to place the giant print.  I’ve played this game before and lost. The last time I centered a bull’s-eye right over my tummy– the very last place I want the eye drawn to.  With its good weight, neither as light as the rayon-lycra single knit of Muslin 3 nor as heavy as the 200-needle sports-weight yarn, I thought it would be a good candidate for Muslin 4.

I laid out and cut my fabric in typical fashion except that I cut a piece and ran to the serger to finish the edges. This might not have been absolutely necessary. This is an interlock. However I’ve had so much trouble with the last few knits curling practically as they were cut that its habit to serge finish and stabilize those edges immediately.  I did not compensate for the side seam difference but I did cut the underarms 1/2″ deeper. I measured down the side seam 1/2″ then cut an arc to meet the original. Note: I made no permanent changes to the pattern at this time.  I stitched the darts permanently. Changed to water-soluble thread in the bobbin and stitched together all the pieces.

I was stunned by the first fitting.

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How did this get so big? I didn’t see this excess ease with either the sweater knit or tissue knit.  Did I not transfer my adjustments from Muslin 2 ?  I basted CF and CB seams at 1/4″ then at 1/2″.  With this fabrics 50% stretch, I might even be able to take in more than that.

I couldn’t believe how much the shoulders were hanging over my own:

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That was another thing I thought correct with Muslin 2. So as with Muslin 2, I cut a stay from a very light fusible tricot interfacing. I’ve seen ribbon stays on sweaters and very wide necklined knit tops. I know that tailored garments have lots of interfacing with acts as both a stay and body building for the fabric.  I’m even adding strips of tricot interfacing along the side seams of my pants because it helps the seam to skim the bumps and dips. But I just can’t wrap my head around needing to add a stay to a T-Shirt.  It did work.   I also rewalked the side seams, this time carefully aligning notches. Ah! Ha!  When I added length, I added more to the front then I did to the back. By an even 1/2″.  Easy fix. I made a 1/4″ deep tuck completely across the front.  Basted everything together again and …

started looking at the U’s on the sides:

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The angle shows the U’s more clearly on the right. The U’s are on both right and left side and there are more on the right side (my lower shoulder side).

So far the wisdom I’ve encountered has said pinch at the shoulder, increasing the shoulder angle, until that doesn’t work. Then pinch at the underarm and that should fix these drag lines.  I discovered on my own, that a rounding back also contributes.  I do have a dart built-in for my rounding back.  It’s a ‘cheater’ dart. When I cut my fabric the back neckline appears to have a little hump at CB. I know without the neckband to force the back and it’s dart into place, I won’t be able to remove all the drag lines but I should at least reduce the number and make them less deep by pinching.  If anything, the U’s got worse.

Finally totally in desperation, I wondered if there was another issue involved.  What if, there wasn’t enough ease under the arm?  On the left side, I ripped out the underarm seam and basted it as close as possible to my serging.

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So not all corrected but improved.  Now I’m asking should I have lowered the armscye, as I did, or should I have carved it deeper into the front? I also remember removing 1″ ease from the CF and again CB. Could there have been too much ease there because the armscye was not positioned correctly?

I considered ripping the stitching and carving into the armscye but decided that wouldn’t tell me exactly which issue was in play because I’d already lowered the armscye. I think the experience justifies my fear of messing with the armscye and sleeve cap. It’s really not as simple as “t both must be the same length + ease added for style”.   I could add a gusset. Same issue, I’ve already lowered the armscye. Already added 1/2″. If that works, I’d be asking do I carve deeper; add more????  Plus, my gussets added after-the-fact then to be messy.  I add a gusset at the crotch point frequently.  It’s a good way to reduce the amount of fabric needed. But I do it before I cut the fabric for the back leg. Not the same as trying to add a diamond-shaped patch later on.  Frustrated. Not knowing what to do. I simply finished the garment with the thought “It’s winter.  I can always wear a vest.”

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I may not to. The left side looks near perfect. most of the visible lines are the fabric print rather than drag lines.

I look back at my pattern pieces trying to decide which alterations to transfer from garment to tissue.

The 50% stretch has me worried. If I transfer the full 2″ ease adjustment,  will my pattern work for ITY and Jersey knits? Or only Interlock and Slinky?  (I’ve heard someone say that if you’re making separate woven and knit blocks, you need a knit block for each range of ease.)

Lowering the armscye 1/2″ didn’t work; so should I scoop out more armscye or add length at the side seam?  (The later might also add a little more bust room.)

Obviously the right shoulder needs more than what I’m doing (which is stitching a 1/2″ SA on the right and 1/4″ SA on the left shoulder).  When I fix that, will I  need to change the right armscye yet again?

Looking back at that bust dart, does it need to be lowered a smidge?  Don’t know if you can tell but it’s really close to the underarm.  If I move it, I think I want to angle it down the side seam as well.

I had intended a loosely fitting garment. Blocky i.e. straight sides but well-fitting through  the shoulders bust and underarm. Now I’m wondering if I might not be more pleased with more shaping.  I know I love the Rochelle and Madagascar (both Loes Hinse patterns) but thought I had room for a more relaxed silhouette. Truth is, I’m just not WOW’ed by this back

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Is that inevitable? I mean if I don’t add darts, CB or side seam shaping is that always going to be the view as I’m walking away?

Sigh,,,  well at least I feel like I can wear this one without a vest.

 

Muslin 3 PJ Top 2

I need one more set of PJ’s. For winter, I need 3  PJ sets.  I was raised with the one-to-wear one-to-wash philosophy but I’ve found  a ‘spare’ can be a Godsend.  You just never know when a baby is going to spit up or, more likely in my case, when you’re going to snort coffee through your nose laughing at something you just read.  Since I’m still not entirely pleased with Otto 2/2006 #02, I may as well make another T-shirt for PJ’s. Kill 2 birds with one stone, eh?

In addition to the list of changes shared previously, I moved the bust dart down 1/2″.  I had forgotten to mention taking in the side seams under the arm and I transferred  those changes too.  This tissue which is close to fitting me the way I want, no longer has the smooth curve Otto drafted. Although I’m in the ‘curvy’ category, my side seams are not very curvy.   I carefully hung Tissues 1, 2 and 3.  Eventually, they will go in the trash. For now I appreciate having a reference. I’ve also tossed Muslin 1 (the water melon pink knit). Muslin 2 has already warmed me during my evening rest and I’m pleased to say that the bicep/elbow area stretched enough to be comfortable.

I chose my next fabric to make a coordinating PJ set with jean styled legging purchased 2 winters ago at Walmart. I am surprised at how well these jeggings have held up. I’m hard on PJ’s.  I change PJ’s once a week. Whether they need it or not. They are washed in hot water. Baked on high heat until dry.  My chosen fabric has about 30% stretch. It will stretch to 40% if I pull hard but it shows that hard pull.  I prefer not to wear garments stretched that far.  My fabric has a combination of fibers or else some really good polyester.  Feels like cotton with lycra but could be poly with lycra. I had no intentions of burning and sniffing to figure out fiber content. It’s the stretch factor I’m most concerned with; 30% fits my needs just fine.

I cut my new fabric using Tissue 4. I immediately reinforced the back shoulder with fusible bias tape and serge finished all the edges.  I stitched the bust darts permanently ie. poly thread in needle and bobbin before switching to water-soluble thread in the bobbin for fitting.  I cut right and left shoulders the same. When it came time to baste the shoulders together I offset the front right shoulder 1/4″ below the back.

When I basted the sleeves into the armscyes I experienced an extreme  “WTF” moment.  With Muslin 2, I was stretching the sleeve to fit the armscye and thought I needed to shorten the sleeve cap.  With this, Muslin 3, I’m gathering the sleeve cap.  Lots.  In my mind, you don’t gather a T-shirt sleeve. Nor the armscye.  The sleeve cap and armscye should fit together very smoothly.  I’m not saying I’d never add gathering or extra ease in a knit sleeve.  I’m saying that typically,  especially for what is to become my basic knit block, I want a smooth seam armscye and sleeve cap join.  And I’m flummoxed that I’m not anywhere near that standard.

I made a 1/4″ tuck (total 1/2″ length removed) in the sleeve cap and then tried to pin the armscye and sleeve. Nope.  Still too much length along the sleeve cap edge. Increased the tuck to 3/8″ (total 3/4″ removed).  Better but NOPE.  Increased the tuck to 1/2″ (total 1″ removed.).  Close. Maybe no cigar though but close. Every time I handle the sleeve and armscye, I’m lightly pressing. I fear that I am lightly distorting as well. I decide this is close enough this time.  I really don’t want to take out too much and be back to gathering the armscye to fit the sleeve cap. Been there. Done that. Don’t like the resulting wrinkles around the armscye.  I alter my tissue to reflect the new sleeve cap shape and then re-cut the 2nd sleeve to match the first. Baste the other sleeve into the armscye and baste both side seams at 1/2″ — my preferred side seam allowance. In the mirror, front looks pretty good. Sides not bad. But from the mirror, I never know for sure whether the back is good or bad.  I take pics. Waddle upstairs to do a little editing and evaluation.

I do very little to my pics.  I’m not smart enough and don’t want to be.  I rotate so my pics arent at a slant.  I also crop because I want to see and share details of my garment vs all the stuff in my sewing rooms. I will lighten a picture so that I can see (and share) drag lines. Just before sharing on my blog, I resize my pix.  I don’t  want to post a pic so big it can’t be displayed on your screen.  I did all the above to these pics. Because my fabric has a black background, I lightened my pics 97%. Boy was I surprised

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and pleased.  The back and front arent’ half bad.  Ignore the hem on the back. The fabric is rolling dreadfully and I think the camera snapped just as I was tweaking the lie of the back.

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The sides aren’t half bad.  I’m not seeing huge drag lines either side although I admit one side looks nicer.  It’s hard to see but I may have unnecessarily lowered the bust dart.  I’m not going to change the pattern just yet.  It’s one of those things I’ll watch.

What really surprises me at this first fitting, is the shoulder width. While the shoulders of Muslin 2 seemed to fit nicely at the shoulders, Muslin 3 is way off:’

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I’m not sure how well these 2 pics show, but Muslin 2 (brown print) shoulders are sitting much closer to my own than Muslin 3(black/blue/green etc print).

I decided to try a ‘stay’. Pulled out some light weight fusible interfacing and cut cross-grain, a narrow stay in the shape of the back  shoulders and neckline.

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I’m happy to say it worked perfectly.

I think I’m finished.  I think I’ve got my basic knit block. There’s still a little extra ease in the front neck and I’ve just noticed that in adding the shoulder shaping to the tissue as a dart just below the shoulder seam, caused the CF and CB to buckle a little. They’re no longer perfectly straight.  I may be able to fix both issues at the same time.  For now, I applied a band and gatheredthe front neckline to it.

After hemming:

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I’ve ditched tissues 1-3.  Tissue 4 becomes my block with a note about adapting for the right shoulder, and checking the front neckline.  This fabric could have stretched out of shape. The back did, why not the front? Except I’ve been noticing that the garment front necklines aren’t hugging my neck the way I would like.  As for the CF and CB angle, I sliced off, not more than 1/8″ at the neck which turns to nothing long before the hem is reached.  I would like my block to contain a little more shaping.  That’s something I’ll work on in future knit tops. I know I will because the way I’m fitting now starts with pulling out my block and adapting the pattern to my block. Adding a little more shape is something of which I will be reminded. I may also tweak the fit in other ways. For example at some point I’m going to want full instead of half patterns to match stripes and large prints. I may as well do that soon and adapt the right shoulders.

You know, it’s a relief to have this done.  I almost don’t believe it.  BTW, I’m not trying to correct or disguise my shape even the asymmetrical shoulders. Not trying to highlight any particular part of my body ala /<ardasians.  My goal is a smooth fit that skims the curves. No drag lines, fabric puddles or unstitched darts. Just smooth fit from which I can develop any style I want.

 

PJ Top (Muslin 2) Finished!

What really happened is the weather turned cold and it snowed 6″.  I crawled onto an ice block at bedtime and immediately hopped off. I distinctly remember turning the heater on low. Like set at 55F.  The mattress should be cool but not iced over.  I check the heater. DH has turned the heater off.  I can’t convince him that just because the red power light is on doesn’t mean it is heating the room.  I turn the heater on and face it towards the wall so he can’t see the lights. Then I hunt for something warmer to wear for sleeping.

Next morning, I finish this top; this PJ top.  I replace all the water-soluble thread stitching with durable thread in both needle and bobbin.  I increase the front yoke darts from 1/2 to 5/8″.   Fold out 1/2″ (a 1/4″ tuck) in the sleeve cap; fold out 1″ length (1/2″ tuck) and add 1″ to each side seam.  I’m hoping that’s enough because the basic sleeve draft has zero ease.  Might be OK with slinky but I don’t want any of my other knits to have zero ease.  Then I serged it together. No I didn’t test.  I need this PJ set NOW.

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I’m still at the wearable but not wonderful stage with this pattern.  Folding out the tuck in the sleeve cap has turned out to be an error. I reduced the cap height because I had reduced the armscye depth.  I wanted the armscye higher. Everything I’ve read has said if the depth of the armscye is reduced, the cap height must also be reduced.  I’m missing something in that correlation. For now, I’ve restored the cap height but left the armscye modified because I like that depth.  I’m pretty sure The drag lines I’m seeing around the armscye are due to the fact that I had to stretch the armscye to fit the sleeve cap.  I’d also say that I’m seeing more circumference in the back then I would prefer but that is something I can fix when it really matters.

I did make a good choice on sleeve length.  My other concern was the ease around my bicep and elbow.  Had this been a stretchier knit, I would be good. But I’m really feeling the limited stretch of this knit.

Despite obvious issues, I’m frankly pleased with the side views.

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My left side is looking really good. The right still needs some more tweaking.  I suspect that when finished, the right shoulder and armscye will be very different from the left.

I curved the hem and finished it with FOE. Mostly because I wanted to get this done.

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I’m truly chuffed with how well I’m able to apply FOE.  My Brother Dream Machine stitches beautifully without the Even Feed or Move-it foot. It’s taken a few tries but I’m finally to the point of understanding how much to stretch the FOE during application.   I trimmed an inch from the neckline and applied FOE around the neckline too. The sleeve is turned up 1″ and top stitched.

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BTW all the pics above were taken of the PJ top and its bottom;  a pair of leggings purchased at Walmart about 2 years ago.  I wouldn’t wear these in public, but at home or in a hotel room they’re fine.

The final step of this particular sewing project is evaluation of the tissue and changes.  I think Tissue 3 is good enough for hanging onto until I’m sure of the next set of changes i.e. the ones I pinched and draped on the PJ top aka  Muslin 2.  So I traced Tissue 4 from Tissue 3 then copied the changes made to Muslin 2.

 

ACCUMULATED TISSUE CHANGES

FRONT BACK
NSA 1″ 1′
NSA Hem Rotation x x
Bust Dart 1-1/8″
BWL 0 1″
Upper Bodice Tuck 1/4″
Shoulder Slope dart 5/8″ 1/2″ 3/4″ on right front
Armscye lowered 1/2′ 1/2″
Length add at hem 2″ 2″
SLEEVE Length -2
SEAM ALLOWANCES
Side Front, Back Sleeve 1″ 1.5″
Armscye 1/4″
Sleeve Cap 4-Jan
Shoulder 4-Jan 5/8″ for 3/8 Shoulder Pads

A considerable list to be sure. Probably the reason RTW doesn’t fit well and probably the reason I haven’t been able to fit my favorite patterns either.  A thought occurs to be that I’ve been detailing, micro-detailing every change made.  At one time this served a purpose because I knew I could make the same changes to every subsequent pattern I wanted to use and I would start with a tissue close to fitting.  This year, 2016, I moved from fitting tissues to adapting detail onto my block. This fall I’ve realized I can’t believe the patterns which say “I’ve made all the changes for you!”.  Sad really, because that used to work for me. But as my body has continued to mature, I find that ‘all the changes’ sometimes cloud the issue of what I need done.  I find myself discovering to the 1/4″ what the designer has done and then reversing their hard work.  I’m still in favor of your trying these patterns with all their changes.  There was  a time when they were golden for me. This could be your time.

Muslin 2 Fitting

Not surprisingly,  Muslin 2 looked like I had a long way to go. Why was I not surprised?  I knew I had not included the upper bodice fitting tweaks. Nor I had I restored the armscye. But I had made numerous changes (about 19) that could all go wrong.  So I was not surprised and not really disappointed.  Most of the fitting issues were in fact, expected.

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These are all typical drag lines that I see even on RTW (and why I don’t buy RTW).  They aren’t as deep nor as many as with Tissue 1, Muslin 1.  I started by folding along the yoke lines I drew on the front and back and stitching 3/8″ deep darts both front and back

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That made the armscye feel and look a whole lot better but did nothing for the drag lines under the bust.  I decided to stitch the side seam deeper between underarm and 1″ below bust dart.

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Now THAT made a difference. It had reduced the lower bodice drag lines about half (not entirely sure why the back looks worse here then in the 2 previous pics).  For the next round, I increase the ‘yoke’ darts from 3/8″ deep to 1/2″ and extend them completely across the front and back. It creates a little tuck about 1/8″ and  gives the appearance of a real yoke.   I had problems deciding if the bust dart or the side seam at the underarm needed to be made deeper. For 10 minutes,  I stood in front of the mirror  pinching  each to see what looked improved. Finally I decide to increase the side seam from 1″ to 1.50″ which would return that part of the side seam to the original Otto draft.

Finally with this 3rd fitting , I’m seeing real improvement.  I think most of the issues are on the right side, the side with the lower shoulder.

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There’s still the task of restoring the armscye which I believe will correct the horizontal lines immediately beneath the underarm. There’s also an interesting effect caused by raising the arm

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Raised arm, no drag lines. Interesting?

The problem with restoring the armscye, is I don’t think I want to restore the entire length. If I don’t, I’ll need to adjust the cap height of the sleeve.  There’s another issue. I’m not sure that the armscye is too high.  Once I install the sleeve it will automatically be lowered 1/4″. Do I want to lower the armscye at all even 1/4″?

The left armscye seems to hug my body, while the right is still gaping. My question now is whether to take in more at the ‘yoke’ or at the shoulder seam?  If I increase the dart at the yoke, that line will become asymmetrical.  The same thing is likely to happen if the shoulder seam is tampered with.  Additionally when I change at the shoulder seam, I also change the length. Something I’d really rather not do.

…… What to do????