Thursday, February 11, 2010

1950's Collar Confection Blouse: Pattern Alterations

That pattern featured above is my newly altered Decades of Style 1950's Collar Confection Blouse, tissue fit and modified to (hopefully) perfection. I spent a long morning with Marilyn, San Antonio's premier Palmer/Pletsch fit instructor (the same woman who worked with me a few months ago on my custom fitting lessons), and together we have updated this pattern for my own little (or rather, large) figure nuances.

You can see the original pattern laying on top of the larger, modified pattern. The biggest alteration was, of course, a full bust alteration and the addition of a dart. The FBA was a whopping five inches, so we did a Y-full bust, which added a dart. The additional of the dart indeed changes the design ever so slightly, but it is a necessity.

New to me during this fitting what the realization that I may require an alternation for a "hollow chest." Apparently, hollow chest is a posture problem characterized by a depression in the upper chest area above the bust line, as a result of shoulders pulling forward. My hollow is not really much of a depression, but rather it is just a tiny concave area where the line of my profile dips in toward my body before jutting back outward where the breast starts (As opposed to a straight grade from bust curve into shoulder area). The hollow chest causes fabric to lay off of my body in this area, and wrinkle. Only by pulling my shoulder blades tightly together can I stretch my chest to a point when the "hollows" stretch to an even plain of chest. The quirk causes clothing to fall in horizontal folds across the chest and the grain line to drop at center front. You can see an illustration of a hollow chest here.

Marylin has never dealt with a hollow chest before, so she suggested taking an angled dart in at the shoulder to gather the extra material. You can see the draft of the alteration below. It worked in tissue to pinch out this extra fabric, because a tissue fit is already lumpy and wrinkled. However, having started to mock this blouse up in muslin, I am not convinced this is the appropriate alteration. Adding a dart leaves a weird, pointy protrusion above my bust that is unflattering.

I am beginning to recognize the hollow chest will be a constant figure issue for me. Remember the trouble with Everybody's Favorite Claire McCardell? Have any of you dealt with a hollow chest? Can you offer any pointers?

p.s. That yellow fabric is my muslin fabric. It is an old sheet. I perceived it to be soft and drapey when I first choose it, but now I wonder if a sheet is actually a bit stiff for a blouse. How do you think the fabric choice will affect the fit of this blouse?

I also leave these images of the darted muslin for your review and comment. Adding the dart shifted the side seam line in a way I did not expect (and have not seen with commercial patterns). I simple trued the seam from the armpit down to the side seam, as you can see, but it shifted the side in an extra inch or so in some areas. I wonder if this will affect fit?


lsaspacey said...

Thanks for leading me to the Texas Ag publications! I love these sort of things, I found one from the Tennessee program on how to make your own pressing tools and another on fabric grain that really helped me out. I'm going to write about these sort of resources on my blog soon. Thanks again.

Goatberry said...

I am working on an 1840s dress & the hollow chest is making me crazy. You have that, a large bust & then the waist. 3 different sizes & a dropped shoulder to deal with. I'm going quite mad. Any suggestions?

Kate said...

Goatberry - This is the only online resource I have come across, It seems to mimic what my Fit for Real People suggests for a hollow chest. They do a great job of describing the fit issue, "Hollow chest is a posture problem characterized by a depression in the upper chest area above the bust line. It causes clothing to fall in horizontal folds across the chest and the grain line to drop at center front. This well-illustrated publication shows how to alter patterns for basic, raglan, kimono and princess bodices and for those with attached front facing." I will keep you posted if I discover any good solutions, and please do the same. For us, I think the large bust adds a whole new element of complication. Best of luck!