Back in January I resolved to make a series of vintage or vintage reproduction patterns this year. So, I recognize I have not been posting much progress, but the truth is that I have slowly but surely been working my way through the goal. Step one in completing my New Year's Sewing Resolutions is making the necessary pattern alterations in tissue.
In early January the fantastic Marilyn Elliott did it again, she custom fit a pattern to my shape, size, and physical nuances like a pro. And the best part is, this time the pattern was from my personal collection! It is a mail order pattern - 9213 - a shirtwaist dress with uniquely flattering skirt seaming and options for collar cuffs. And I secured the dress in a size 46 inch bust, so alterations were feasible.
I can't say I am thrilled with these photos you see here, but I am thrilled with the fit results, and so I post them to be education (I am so generous!). The paper pattern fits like a glove. Like a very fragile, stiff, crinkly glove. With grid lines.
To achieve this fit, first we took in the back by about 2 inches (1 inch per side). Turns out I am more of a size 22 in the back, and more of a size 24 or 26 in the front. Note that what you do to the back, you must do to the front, so I took in the front of the pattern with a 1 tuck per side, even though I later went back and added much of this fullness to the bust and the middle again with targeted adjustments. However the decrease at the shoulders and upper bust was permanent. Then we decreased the depth of the back darts to accommodate my wide waist. I added a tad to the side seam to accommodate the wide waist and trued the stitch line between the added waist width and the curve of the armpit seam. Viola, the back fit.
Next we started with a full bust adjustment, a VERY full Y-bust adjustment of almost five inches. This meant adding a side bust dart. We knew we needed to decrease and almost eliminate the vertical waist dart to accommodate my wide waist, narrowing it to a sliver that Marylin calls the "essence of dart." However, a five inch bust dart is to big and unwieldy, so to keep the FBA manageable and maintain more waist dart, we ended up moving three inches of the bust dart into a the waist dart. Then, to accommodate my wide waist we took some of this waist dart back out. Ultimately, I ended up with a three inch deep bust dart and a 2 inch deep waist dart.
I have what Marylin describes as a sway bust, which means there is a dramatic curve, almost a valley, between my chest from the shoulder and the fullest point of my bust. In other words, rather than a gradual slop from shoulder to full bust apex, I have a dramatic vertical slope to the start of my bust, and then a transition to a large but more gentle slope along the curve of the breast to the apex. It is confusing to describe in words, but in short this creates a "hollow" or a gap between the way fabric falls from the shoulder to the bust (similar to the swayback on a fully bottomed gal). We did not find a suitable alteration for this, so if you have suggestions, please share.
For the skirt, it was only a matter of adding enough waist width to cover my larger front side. The back of the skirt required no changes, except a few width tweaks to help it match the bodice. The front of the skirts required 6 and 1/2 inches added to accommodate the wide waist. Based on the design of the skirt, which includes a center panel and hip panels, we opted to add only to the hip panels and leave the front panel as drafted. The skirt was taken up 4 inches, allowing for a 1 inch hem.
I will post more soon, with from the muslin fitting. Step two in my 2010 vintage dress goal is sewing the patterns into a muslin. I hope to make them both "wearable" muslin, despite the ironic contradiction of that term. But since all this hard work went into the pattern fitting, perhaps a wearable muslin is in my future. I am at the very least resolved to find out.