Monday, July 18, 2016

Sewing for fit

Making clothes that fit is one of my major reasons for sewing. But most of what I've sewn over the years has been out of knit fabric, or it's loose fitting, or pajamas - not much call for fit. I did make this Burda jacket/cardigan thingy, which was my first attempt at doing a full bust adjustment (FBA) on a pattern. It sort of worked but wasn't perfect.

My latest project is a tunic top from the May 2016 Knipmode (second project out that issue!). I'm using an embroidered fabric I bought a long time ago from Gorgeous Fabrics, and since I really like the fabric and brought it from my stash in the US all the way to Germany in my suitcase, I want this top to be wearable. So I'm making a muslin first so that I can make corrections for fit before I cut into the fabric.

First, let me say that tracing Knipmode patterns is a real challenge. Some time last year they started publishing every pattern in every size, from 34 to 54. I love that there no longer is a plus range - just sizes and women large and small can sew the same cute clothes. But, the downside to this is that eleven sizes are crammed onto the pattern sheet. Needless to say the lines can get a bit crazy to follow. First I study the pattern lines, making sure I know what each piece looks like and the location of any notches or marks, and then I put down sticky notes to help guide me. But it's still hard to find the lines under the tracing paper.

The first and only thing I've made from Knipmode so far was the knit top from this same issue. For that top I went by my measurements and traced and cut a size 44 with no changes (and no muslin). It came out a bit big in the upper chest, something I've had happen with Burda patterns as well. So for this tunic top I traced a 42 in the upper chest, a 44 in the mid region and blended to a 46 in the hip. Then I cut out a muslin of the front and back and quickly sewed it together, anxious to see how a 42-44-46 combo worked for me straight off the pattern. I've always heard "the drag lines point to the problem" and it's true - they were like an arrow to my "boobs". No surprise that I needed an FBA. I also needed to lower the bust dart and take in the center back seam in the upper back. You can see some of my messy adjustments on the pattern.

I did cut out one sleeve in muslin - I didn't want to waste any more of my muslin (expensive to buy here) so I only cut one. But it's important to check the fit with a sleeve because the extra weight on the shoulder can change the way the neck and chest fit.

I'm pretty satisfied with the fit now, so I think I'll proceed with cutting into my good fabric...but tomorrow because it's super hot today and hotter in the afternoon.

Oh, and there's another good reason for making a muslin first: catching stupid mistakes. When I traced the pattern, I assumed there was a center front seam and added seam allowances to the center front. I cut out the muslin assuming a center front seam but then I looked at the pattern layout in the magazine and saw that it was supposed to be cut on the fold. Instead of looking at my pattern and seeing that I had added seam allowances, I thought I'd made a huge mistake and cut at the fold line. To correct my "error" I needlessly sewed an extra strip to the front pattern pieces to make up for the "missing" seam allowance. Still not realizing the error, I made the adjustments to the pattern for the FBA (even with the erroneously added fabric at center front, I still needed one). Then I cut out a new muslin of the front piece - with the fold at the cut edge - still not seeing the seam allowances I'd added at center front! I blame the heat. Thankfully I finally caught the mistake. I stitched out the seam allowance on the muslin and the top fits better without that extra 1 1/4 inches. Imagine that.

So I think I'm good to go. No more mistakes...I hope.


  1. I love your fabric and pattern - this will look great on you. - Heather

  2. Oy! I've had days like that in the cutting room... ;-)