I picked up an old UFO (muslin) this past week during our heat wave and trashed it. The fit was so off, there was no help for it. I love the style, and it's perfect for this coming summer, so I pulled out the original pattern again and started from scratch.
This pattern has cup sizes all the way to D, which is great, but it's also what tripped me up in the beginning. I selected my correct size and chose a larger cup size, based on my bra size. Whipped it up and... the shoulders and upper chest fit great. The back was almost perfect Everything from the waist down was just right. The front bust, however, was terrible! Way too much ease and gaping arm holes. And the dart...it was so big, it just looked BAD.
On the advice of my favorite English Heckler over at Prolific Project Starter I ended up cutting another muslin front in the same size, but two cup sizes smaller. Muslin number two was worlds better! Seems that while I have a very small ribcage resulting in the need for a small band size and large cup size for bras, that is not the best way to select a cup size in garment patterns. It feels more like the ratio between how far your gut sticks out compared to how much your bust sticks out is a far better guide. In my case, those to things are much more balanced. I guess that makes sense as this top isn't going to cut in and cling to your rib cage before sliding over your belly.
The armholes were still too low for me, and had just a bit too much side boob exposure. I made a handful of minor adjustments to the flat pattern before cutting out a real and true version:
1. 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment, as always.
2. Raised the armhole at front and back by 1 full inch, blending in at the lower armpit curve.
3. Shaved 1/4 inch off the side seam at the under arm, tapering to nothing by the side notches (2-3 inches down).
4. Reduced the length by 4 full inches to bring the top above that magic spot on my hips that denotes the line between flattering and frumpy.
Additionally, I took 3/4 inches swayback out at the L & S line, adding it back in at the bottom. This gives the back more shape where I'm narrow and provides more curve at the backside where it's needed.
There's not much to constructing the top itself. This first version is made from a very soft red cotton voile. The shoulders and side seams are sewn with French Seams. I made self-fabric 3/4 inch single fold bias tape to finish the neck, armholes and hem, all of which were sewn with 3/8 seam allowance, rather than the pattern-directed 5/8, then top stitched at 1/4 inch. I did manage to slice into my binding at the hem while grading the seams. A little fray check and it seems to be fine.
The back neck is split open on this top, so I could not french seam the center back. Instead, I pressed it open, tucked under the raw seam edges and top stitched them down all the way through from the outside. Lots of slow careful pressing followed by slow careful stitching made for a really pretty stitch detail on the back. I chose to use a heavier top stitching weighted thread for this and all the edge top stitching. The result is subtle, but very nice.
The pattern has you finishing the top back neck with a small hook and eye. Not only is that a pain in the ass to sew (they are just so slippery), but it's not very secure. In the small amount of time I wore this around the house, it kept falling open. A button and thread bar, or little ribbon ties, maybe, would be a better solution. And a nice little touch seeing how in the hot months I always wear my hair up.
I have at least 3 more versions of this, plus a dress, planned to happen in the next few weeks.
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