Friday, February 12, 2016

Vogue 8323: Giving it Another Go

Vaguely mollified by this experience, I opted not to start the day with sewing but rather with pattern alterations. Yeah, I don't know if that's a good idea either, but my brain was 'fresh" after a night of sleep.

You may recall this garment, V8323, made in a gorgeous fabric, in September, and relegated to the lawn give-away pile after a series of compounded fit issues. What was the problem with that version? Well, you'll recall that I originally altered the pattern to fit when I was totally new to sewing. At that point, not really clear about what I should be doing (and given that this pattern is drafted for a giraffe having tons of length between the bust apex and shoulder shelf), I chopped off inches from the shoulder seam. I don't know that that's what I'd do at this point - but given the options, it wasn't the worst idea I've ever had.

The problem is that it messed up all of the other vertical proportions (bust apex height, waist height, length at the hem etc.) It also didn't fix the issue of insane shoulder width (a problem corroborated by just about every reviewer) or the position of the princess seams.

I was left with a pattern:
  • Still too wide in the shoulders by about an inch on either side
  • Way too high in the bust apex (even by small-busted young person standards) - like 2.5" too high (the amount I removed from the shoulder height given that I have a short span from my upper bust to my shoulder shelf). This is one of the perks of being a short, small person.
  • Too short in the waist (where the surplice crosses over). The over-high bust apex naturally contributes to the issue but it's like the whole garment rides up.
  • Weirdly proportioned in the princess seams. I've actually learned something during my sewing experiences over the last 2 years (which finally clicked over the past couple of months) that'll likely make my next foray into bra sewing the one that works, fit-wise (if potentially not support-wise). Yeah, Gillian, you read that right. It's not rocket science but I'll give the explanation a go:
    • I've always assumed that my significant bust projection, which really makes itself felt from the centre gore (i.e. chest wall over the breasts to the nipples) means that I need to add lots of length / width / fabric over the interior span of my breasts. In fact, I need to put the extra fabric over the outer breast (where I have very little fullness) from the edge of the breast root (at my side) to the nipple. Why, I really can't say. It's still melting my brain a little. But every princess seam adjustment that I've ever made has  has corroborated this fact. And, as I think about it, every foray into bra sewing has left me with fit issues (too much fabric) in the upper cup. I can see now, I'm going to need to increase the size of the outer cup substantively and decrease the width and length of the (already smaller) lower and upper cups.
    • All this is to say that my (as drafted) princess seams, on this garment, are positioned (over the bust only) a good 1.5 inches too far towards the side seams. 
And after 2 hours, I think I found the fix (or at least a move in the right direction - one doesn't want to get overly confident):

The two pieces that the photo focuses on are the side front and front. (The front has a cut on facing which is that flap piece to the right side.)

What I've done here - though it doesn't look like much - is:
  • Lowered the bust apex by 2.5 inches. This PDF shows you how to do that easily. 
  • Narrow the shoulders: I turned the shoulder princess seamed side front (and back, for that matter) into an armscye princess seam. This got rid of tons of width I couldn't manage, given how many pattern pieces converge at the shoulder. It also meant I had to re-widen the front piece (and back piece) by 0.5" in the shoulder width or things would have been too narrow (given how many times I've already hacked at the width of the pattern pieces).
  • If it works, this will also diminish the excess of fabric over my upper bust (where I'm short and proportionately flat).
  • The crazy new bump-out on the side front is my standard-issue princess seam adjustment to allow for extensive bust apex projection that doesn't extend to the side bust. It's even like a semi-sphere, cuz my breasts are evenly full.  This alteration is what's going to reposition the front/side front princess seam over the bust in the appropriate place (more towards my full bust, rather than the outside of my bust). I had to remove the equivalent fabric from the front piece to maintain the size. Effectively, I cut the bust curve (now on the side front piece) out of the side of the front piece. I then traced it onto new paper because things were getting messy. It's weird, I get it. But my full bust projection is more significant than most patterns ever draft for. Because you rarely see it, it seems that much stranger.
  • Finally (and I'm least sure of this alteration - having never done it on a pattern piece like this before), I lowered the waist (where the surplice and facing attach together to produce the cross over neckline) by extending the facing down by 1.5 inches (the desired amount). To maintain the basic shape of the piece, and the proportions, I added a bit of width, below the facing, at the front side seam, tapering to nothing at the hem.
  • I'm still trying to figure out how to manage the excess fabric (long, straight diagonal line) on the front facing. It doesn't match the concave curve I've created on the seam to which it will attach (the front/side front princess seam). Having just looked at the construction (on my finished top - the one that highlights all of these fit issues) I can see that I'm going to have to mimic the curve. (Off to fix the piece...)
So there you go. It's a Very Easy Vogue knit pattern (you know, the one hour kind) and I've spent 2 hours altering it (and that's just on this go-round). I wonder at what point one just starts to draft patterns for oneself. I guess it's when she's done enough successful altering of wacky patterns, that she feels confident starting from scratch. But then, why bother at that point?

I'd really love for this to work out. I have beautiful fabric with which to make it. I've considered as many fit elements as I have the experience and brain-power to manage and I'd so appreciate a new top that I've sewn (rather than another useful learning opportunity that ends up going to someone else or into the garbage). Wish me luck.

PS: Next up I need to actually sew that Jenna Cardi hack and cut the fabric / sew up V8323.


  1. sigh... I had a V8323 (the basic scoop neck version) that was 80% perfect. Then I lost 70 pounds. I haven't found a princess seamed knit top that I like as much, so I suspect I'm going to need to spend some quality time with the one version of the shirt I kept, a LOT of pins, and some serious pattern redrafting.

    ...or I could just go and try some patterns from Bootstrap Fashion. If they can actually create a workable pattern from my measurements, then I may have found a solution to at least some of my fitting woes. Fingers crossed!

    1. Redrafting is a bitch - but it makes you feel so smart when you get it right! Why not do it and give Bootstrap a go?

  2. I think of anyone whose blog I read should draft their own patterns, you should. Your body is unusual and your standards are exacting (which is not a bad thing)---I think you would probably do very well working from a sloper that fit YOU to start. And if not, it would still be awesome reading. ;) so either way I win. I hope this goes great for you! :D

    1. The more I sew, the more I concur - but I feel like I'm in a really transitional moment, body-wise. Maybe I'll find a tailor to help me figure out my best sloper (once I feel a bit more settled) and take it from there. And thanks for the positive vibes. Still haven't started sewing - spent all of yesterday altering other patterns!

  3. I feel like your extra fabric placement for the bust makes sense, because it's not like your bust is wide and you need extra fabric between your nipples... you need it at the side so that the fabric from side seam to apex covers your projection. Right? The more I think and stare at the picture the more my brain turns to jelly... Happy long weekend!!!

    1. It does make total sense. Why hasn't that ever been clear to me before despite all evidence. Why have I been so fixated on the immediate centre projection. It's been a red herring.

  4. head hurts.'ve got to start drafting your own patterns. You have such a grip on the maths and an astonishing 3D brain. I think you'd have such fun!

    1. My head still hurts and I've had quite a bit of wine to take the edge off :-) I wish I had a great 3D brain but I often feel that I'd be a lot better at all of this alteration stuff if my ability were stronger. I do find that knitting makes more sense to me than sewing. There's something about making the fabric (vs removing fabric to create shape) that really works for me. So I'll have to start by making knitting patterns, I suspect.