Monday, May 19, 2014

What Do You Call A Non-Success (When You're Not Interested in Failure)?

Work with me. This version of the Hepworth Dress is not, forgive the phrasing, worth getting hepped over.

What's worse is that the error is all mine. I altered the back bodice (removing the wedge from the centre back, tapering to nothing at side seams), and somehow thought it would be a good idea to add the length back in below the (smushed out) dart. I don't know why. I've never done it before.

So, amazingly, this thing fits pretty perfectly on me in the front bodice (sadly, not on the stupid waste-of-money dress form):

I modified the neckline to a high V. The dress, as drafted, has a very high jewel neckline.
The reason it's so gapey at the underarms parallel with the bust is that the bust on the dress form is not as projectile as mine. It's not exactly observable, but the bust needs more padding (than the dress form's) in order to fit at the side underarm.

Anyway, I'm not showing this to get praise. I will never wear this thing. My sister, if the other Hepworth fits, is about to inherit a second. Otherwise, it's lawn fodder.

Have a look at the back:

Yup, that's a dealbreaker.

Here's the thing - this (hopefully) will illustrate clearly the rationale behind my swayback adjustment as mitigator of the full bust adjustment:
  • I need more length in the front bodice than the back. I actually added 1.5 inches to the front bodice and (when I redid the back alteration after this debac(k)le (ha!)) I removed 1.5 inches from the centre back length. That means that the centre front is 3 inches longer than the centre back. Of course, they come to the same length at the side seam or this alteration wouldn't work. BTW, the waist seam lies completely horizontal to the floor, so it works.
  • My breasts project immediately and are very close set. My body, esp. my upper back, is narrow. They offset each other, to some extent - making my fitting issues easier than they otherwise would be. Mind you, if I were wider, the standard FBA (which doesn't work for me) would likely work much better. So maybe it's no easier...  Let's say it is a useful proportion for me in the absence of the one that suits the standard FBA.
  • When I "FBA" princess seamed garments (only necessary with a woven or stretch woven bodice) I have to add a ton of extra width on the side front piece at a very specific area that quickly tapers to nothing above and below. I add practically no width to the front because my breasts are close-set and I don't want the move the seam off the apex. (Talk about nightmare easing. Trust me people, there are few who can ease a bust line seam like me.) What I do to offset the width on the side front is to is add a ton of length to the centre front. That way the seam that connects the side front to the front piece (the princess seam) is of equivalent length on both pieces. You've got to walk the seams to confirm...
I don't have a sway back at all. Years of yoga have beat that out of me (not that it was my shape tendency in the first place). But I do have a much longer front torso than back torso because my boobs are the inverse of the swayback - and then some! Sure, if I were wide or long waisted, I don't think this technique would work. But I'm not.

So, if you are short of waist, have proportionately close-set large breasts of immediate projection and you're narrow, consider this alteration and do let me know if it works for you!

But let's talk about the dress...

Now, onto Hepworth number 3. I've already cut out the fabric* and I'll sew it up next weekend. If it doesn't fit, after I threaten suicide, I imagine I'll make it again (though I really hope it doesn't come to that). I'm actually very close. And I'm simply not prepared to wear anything that doesn't fit almost perfectly. (Perfection is an illusion and I'm not into magic tricks.)

Now, do I like the dress? I don't know. It's borderline "suburban soccer mom", though (as drafted) it fits (sexily) 2 inches above my knee and I'm short. (BTW, if you are even of moderate height or long of leg - or you don't like showing off your legs - add at least 2 inches to the bottom...) Also, the V neck and boobs do downplay the suburban soccer element.

Here's the thing: I think I can work it. I don't know that this pattern does much to obviate the twee, but I can make it in another fabric once I perfect the fit. In a stiff fabric, this could look kind of Jetson. In a lace overlay, it could look very elegant. As is, with a slim cardigan and the right shoes it looks quite urban. Alas, I don't wear those shoes much these days, but that's not the point.

So here's to non-success that isn't failure!


* Here's where having bought 3 yards of that rayon challis is going to stand me in good stead. Sorry to be utterly wasteful, but it's the cost of producing garments that fit well. I did have to cut out the back facing in another fabric (and I could care less, truthfully, it's the fun of handmade to be quirky). Anyway, I bought 3 yards of challis to muslin the Rosie top and I've used every square inch on the Hepworth. Hmmm...


  1. i've got the same-sh deal (HEY STOP LAUGHING AT MY 36Bs). back bodice is long on me, and you'd think i have a sway back but that adjustment doesn't work like taking 5/8s off the back shoulder seam! i think i read somewhere to start fitting at the top, and it clicked.

    1. Fascinating - I've thought of taking the fabric off of the back shoulder but it's usually fraught with design of some variety - whereas the waist area is usually plain. I'm going to consider this though...

  2. I actually think I must've started using a similar alteration on the front of both of my new blouses, because it sounds very similar (and I too am getting good at easing in a bust line seam--even with 5/8" seam allowances). And I don't have a swayback either--I have an ass...there's a difference, but I'm not sure if perhaps the alterations would be the same for that. I seem to be getting better at making it work with darts or princess seams though.

    1. You are hilarious! I have an ass too! It's weird how the sway back and ass alterations have merged into one :-)

  3. Look at it this way - wouldn't it throw the whole 'summer sewing plan' thing out of whack if one of your projects was completed successfully before the end of the May 2-4?
    So really, it's not a non-success: you're just making sure you keep your successes paced out...

    1. You're totally right. That's really where I'm at. If one project takes longer than anticipated, then the next one is delayed. But the world isn't going to end. I'm taking that perspective...

  4. The 3 yards of rayon challis ... Great idea. It's often so hard to visualize or correct the fit in muslin, or any different test fabric, really. Every fabric behaves so differently! I admire your patience in working with a not-so-easy fabric over and over.

    1. I know! This approach is rarely adopted because it's expensive and wasteful (in some ways). But if you consider the gains, they really make all the difference. I get to learn about the same (fashion) fabric twice for every new project and sometimes the original garment is salvageable (for another wearer, for myself or for parts). It gives me a much better knowledge of particular fabric and how it works when I fit it (the mark of knowing a fabric, IMO). It can be more wasteful to muslin with a crappy fabric you will definitely never wear. And, as far as cost goes, most of the time we're talking about a max of 40 bucks of fabric. I don't like to waste it, but it costs more than that to go to the movies.

  5. Hmm, as to the back waist, well, I've done foolish things like that before, so it does happen sometimes. It is best to learn to walk away when we start second-guessing ourselves. I think having extra fabric is a good idea. In time, you have a broader base of knowledge, and my experience has always been that whatever I spend, I couldn't buy the finished result for what I spent on the materials.. the time however, well the time is a joy to me and I don't even consider that.

    I don't have a sway back, but I always take out about an inch at the back waist tapering to nothing at the sides. I do that in knitting patterns, either as a reverse short row, or through other techniques depending on the patterns. I also take out some at the top, just about at the bra strap line but not a whole inch, then I add an inch back in higher up, at the base of the neck. It sounds weird and it works for me. The good news is that when I did the blouse fitting with Kenneth King, he basically did the same thing for me, he just perfected my positioning and the amounts removed/added. I have an ass too, but my back positioning is basically the opposite of a sway back, a tilted pelvis, due to my fusion, so if I were making pants, I would have to add length to accommodate the bun curves but remove fabric just below the waist.

    1. That's exactly what it was - foolish! I don't know what I was(n't) thinking. And I'm fascinated to hear about how your fix was sanctioned by KK. Of course, if it works, you don't need an expert to concur, but it's nice to get that corroboration - especially after years of honing your skills.