I am taking Craftsy’s Sew the Perfect fitting class! This class uses Vogue 8766 as a fitting shell. The pattern isn’t one I would normally choose for myself- I think I look better in V-necks because they help balance out my figure, which is top-heavy. But, I can see why the teacher, Lynda Maynard, chose it- the pattern is nice and simple, without a lot of details to get in the way of fitting. There are some options for fuller skirts, but I will be making the straight skirt option, probably with 3/4 sleeves.
The class emphasizes tracing or copying the pattern instead of cutting into the pattern itself. This is a good habit that I need to start. It also emphasizes the importance of having vertical and horizontal balance lines on your project. This helps you to figure out where the project is hanging correctly and where it is not. The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting emphasizes this as well. Using extra-large seam allowances is important, so you have room to make changes on your muslin.
I recently asked for help fitting my last project (which I have now abandoned for good) on the blog and on Pattern Review, and got some great responses! For one, I need to go up a size. Yes, this is painful to admit- but size is just a number, and overly tight clothes never look good. Size 14, here I come. I have been lying to myself- and for what reason? Because society wants women to weaken themselves through starvation? Ugh. Why buy into that? It is a bit annoying technically, because the difference in my upper and lower halves means I have to grade from a 14 up top to about a 10 at my hips, but I guess I’ll figure it out eventually.
The first adjustment I made was to add a shoulder pad on my right shoulder only. Longtime readers know that I messed up my shoulder by sleeping on my side too much, so now my right shoulder is lower than my left. Let this be a lesson to you! Sleep on your back. I have of course been ignoring this and hoping it would go away- but, sewing is about being honest with what you have to do to look your best. To look my best, I need to admit my problem, and fix it with a shoulder pad on one side only. (Please note that for the muslin, the shoulder pad is not sewn in, just placed on my shoulder).
Going up a size does make a difference- the armholes are less tight, and there isn’t a huge amount of strain across my bust.
The first thing to do is assess the shoulder seems- they shouldn’t show up at shoulder level from either the front or the back- if they show, they need to be moved either forward or backward. I think mine are OK. There’s still some unevenness in the shoulder height, but the shoulder pad helps.
You can see from the horizontal line under my bust that the bodice is riding up a bit. The waist is a little high, especially in front. This also shows up from the side on the line above my bust. There is bagginess on my torso under my bust, a diagonal drag line from my bust to my waist. There is too much fabric on my back, perhaps caused by excess length.
The first change I made was a full bust adjustment, cutting horizontally into the fabric above my bust, and angling the cut down at the sides. This allows the fabric to relax and spread apart. I adjusted the lowered part of the bodice, letting it settle where it seemed to fit, and pinned in a piece of fabric to secure this more flattering fit. This brings the waist, especially the front waist, lower down. I added a little more length later, but didn’t get a picture.
I am not a fitting model, so one change isn’t going to do it for me. Once I did the full bust adjustment, I worked on the baggy back. I think my problem here is that my back is shorter than the fitting models, so I pulled the fabric down and pinned out a horizontal wedge across my lower mid back. This really helped! My goal was to reduce the amount of horizontal fabric, without really changing where the back waist was hitting.
Once I was happier with the back, I needed to address the bagginess at my sides. To to this, I simply pinched the sides in a bit and pinned. This was effective in adding shape and definition. I may deepen the darts more in the next muslin if I need more shape.
After this, I realized the bodice is sitting a bit high on my shoulders. To reduce length here, I pinched the shoulder seams up and pinned out the excess. One shoulder is pinned on the outside, one is pinned on the right side.
The muslin is much better now! The waist is closer to where it should be, the back is smoother and has less excess fabric, and the lower section is less baggy. There are still some issues that I need to resolve in the second muslin: it is a bit loose on my upper bust, there is a diagonal drag line under my bust (that is much more horizontal than before, which I guess is good?), and some wrinkles on my back. I need to assess if the shoulder seems need to be wider so that the outside shoulder seem hits where my arm hinges onto my side. My breasts appear to be a different heights here- this is caused by the asymmetrical pinning in of fabric for the bust adjustment, and should resolve itself naturally when I make the second muslin.
Now comes the hard part- transferring my changes to the pattern. The Craftsy class is excellent at showing you how to do this. I am not overly impressed with the class in terms of it showing you what the problem areas are and how to fix them. I guess this is inevitable thought, because there are endless figure variations, so logistcally speaking, one class simply won’t be able to deal with all of them. You’ll still need a book or a teacher to point out what your particular problems are and what adjustments you make to correct them.