‘Well that didn’t work’

13 Nov

Let’s take a look at makes that didn’t work! I did a similar exercise years ago, and discovered every single make that didn’t work came down to either poor finishing or poor fitting, so I took some proper lessons. Best sewing thing I’ve done since actually learning to sew!

Ever since then I’ve keep a list of what I make and how it worked, but it’s good to take a specific look at what doesn’t work, to see what’s to be learnt. Feel free to comment honestly, whether to point out things I’ve missed, or just tell me I’m over-analysing 😛 (And please excuse the mirror-selfies. My christmas wish list is basically ‘GOOD CAMERA‘)

Oh noes! My beautiful jacket? I’m so pleased with myself for having pulled the jacket off, but not so pleased with the actual jacket. Important distinction!

The fit just … Not Happy! Too big in the waist, and I’m not sure I can actually fit it close enough to look good either. The huge waist is the pattern itself. What looks like an hourglass pattern from the line drawings …

Photo

is, when you look at the actual pattern pieces, a box with godets at the waist. And I’m not a box with hips. Look at these piccies  – boxes with godets (with apologies to the women who were so kind to do pattern reviews on it). Gah!

I also adjusted the neckline, the original long rectangular neckline was going to look awful when I wore it open.

The peplum-effect is off too. I based the shape on this Burdastyle top, that I’ve made before and found it quite pleasing, but I didn’t pull it off in the jacket. (May not be clear from the pictures.)

113_0812_b_large

Lessons – good

  • I can actually sew with cotton velveteen in this climate! Weehee!
  • A colour that suits me so beautifully draws attention away from poor fit and shape.

Lessons – bad

  • I’m mad at myself for not going with my gut instinct about the fit not being good for my body.
  • More than two major changes to a pattern (waist, peplum, neckline) … might be better looking for a pattern closer to what I actually want?

The A-line knit skirt in the jacket picture got chopped up to make t-shirt yarn. Why? The style was stupidly hard to style nicely on my figure, and the fabric faded badly.

Lesson:

Green dress with roses 

Disclaimer: I ADORE this dress. It’s easy to wear, cool, comfortable, pretty pretty fabric. Looks gorgeous irl, takes me anywhere.

It just isn’t what I intended! It was supposed to be a loose slouchy casual dress, but irl it’s rather dressy. The slouchy look on the pattern envelope isn’t the style, it’s that it doesn’t fit properly on the model. *sigh* Caught out.

I drafted the collar myself. The shoulders ended up too wide – I have to push my bra straps to the edge so they don’t show. (And if they show they look terrible) The collar doesn’t sit well over the buttons.

Lessons:

  • Pretty pretty fabric (especially poplin) is hard to make slouchy and casual! It is extra-important to use a casual pattern to pull it off. Or casual fabric. Perfectly matching hand-crochet trim and buttons aren’t gonna help either.
  • Duh, necklines duh. I made this one up myself, so it was my bad.

No idea about the collar. Use a proper pattern? Only extend the collar to the beginning of the button placket?

A fitting issue –

Guess what it is! (It isn’t the waist being too tight, trust me, these fit me in the waist.)

Lesson:

I still don’t know how to fit my little short back (or back waist?) properly! However, looking at other photos where it is fitted nicely they can be summed up in one word: Empire line.

I think it might be worth a post unto itself actually, comparing what is well-fitted, and what billows, and try to figure out WHY!

Beautiful! But …

I even managed to fit the back nicely!

What’s wrong? The damned thing kept creeping up over my bust and towards the back. The front nearly choked me. And yes, the shoulder seam was supposedly in the right place.

Lesson:

I don’t know! Another top, from this pattern, did it too. (Yeah, vintage, from an op-shop, why do you ask? :-D)

What was happening with the above pattern was not enough fabric across the front shoulders, so it was ‘borrowing’ from the wider bust area, which of course was lower down, so the whole thing slid backwards. Is this what my lovely white top did? I don’t know. I just know I wish I did know to avoid it ever again! Because a similar thing happened with my ‘walkaway dress’ muslin which was actually a top.

That’s enough! I might do more in my sewing visual diary, see what I come up with. I think I’ll do the opposite next blog post and look at why things work!

ETA: Just saw this post on the Sew Sorry So Fat blog. I might use that template (being nice and asking first because I’m just a naturally courteous person so they ain’t got nothing to snark at ;-P )

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6 Responses to “‘Well that didn’t work’”

  1. ruthlesslypractical November 14, 2014 at 12:41 am #

    Hi Tropical!

    You’re totally welcome to use the checklist, and thanks for asking!

    There’s no such thing as overanalyzing when it comes to sewing, as my GOMI posting career will indicate. There is such a thing, however, as over-perfectionism, which I haven’t mastered yet.

    If I can make a couple of honest suggestions…

    -A-lines and traditional knit fabrics are not the best combination. The a-line silhouette is a structured silhouette – the fabric needs to be able to hold its shape, or else you end up with a silhouette that does not look a-line. Ponte knit might be the knit exception, but I’ve never used it personally, because synthetics. A non-drapey, cut on the straight grain woven will hold an a-line better (more reasons to buy quilting cottons!). In my limited fashion blog browsing experience, I find that knits work best on long, flowing maxi skirts – the drape and stretch factor.

    -A-lines and styling – it’s hard to tell from the pics, but you look like a pear or an hourglass to my eye? If a pear, then, you’re right, an A-line will be harder to style, if the optical illusion you’re looking to achieve conforms with traditional Western standards of beauty (leggy, balanced hourglass). If that’s the case, the lower width-wise volume provided by an a-line has to be balanced on the top half with something like cap sleeves, a boat neck, etc. Sleeveless or tank tops will not do the trick. The best example of this is your green dress with roses – the fullness of the skirt is width-wise balanced by the cap sleeves and the darker green collar edging on top.

    -On the upper back billow, try reading through the suggestions here, but don’t start with the final swayback alteration. http://buzzybeesworld.blogspot.com/2010/12/sway-back-alterations-my-analysis.html

    If an empire waist seam fixes the problem because excess is taken out horizontally on the waist seam, it’s possible that taking in the excess vertically can also work. (Don’t ask me to explain how a horizontal excess can be fixed by a vertical one; I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the geometry of it.)

    -The white lace blouse – your bust darts look like they’re creeping up too close to your bust point (nipple). But it could be because of the creeping up you discussed – hard to tell in the current pics.

    -RP

    Like

    • Tropical Threads November 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi RP,
      Wow, thankyou thankyou thanyou! Taking your points in the order you made them:

      The SSSF checklist: I will then, and thanks to you GOMI guys 🙂

      Hah, overanalysis as opposed to overperfectionism LOL!

      Knits + A-lines, oh duh! that makes perfect sense. I’m not so experienced with knits, due to finding it hard to get hold of decent stuff in natural fabrics. But yup yup, totally. The poor skirt was ill-conceived from the start, if I had but realised it. Much better as t-shirt yarn.
      And Noooo I don’t need more excuses to buy quilting fabric Nooooo!!!!!

      Ponte – I bought some to make a dance skirt. Synthetics are more comfortable to dance in. The ponte pilled during the first wash 😦
      78When I was at Kerryn’s Fabric World, (Kerryn seems very reliable with fabric quality, more so than the chain-fabric-store Spotlight) http://www.kerrynsfabricworld.com/
      I asked if she had ponte that wouldn’t pill. She only had one she’d recommend, all the rest she couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t. Sounds like it’s not as great as it’s being sold as.

      A-line and styling – I’m an hourglass but the top width is shoulders more than bust. The other element is that I’m short. Without waist definition I can look like a box on short legs. I’m not greatly hung up on the traditional western view of perfect figure per se. I think I just like my sillouette to match what it’s actual shape is. (Which might be hourglass but it sure isn’t leggy :-P)

      Taking what you’ve said, what might be causing the difficulty in styling to my satisfaction is the hip emphasis throws out the ‘balance’ of my figure, and needs shoulder emphasis to rebalance it. Eg the green dress. And the width of the neckline helps to draw the eye outwards too.

      Another thing I find with A-line is that tops ending a few inches below my waist work best too. Not sure why that is.

      Excess fabric in back – all these shown already have a sway-back adjustment with help from the info at link you gave. (I’ll reread in case I’ve missed something though) Any deeper an adjustment and the top starts sticking out at the back and causing diagonal creases from waist to shoulders. *headdesk*

      The other day I was wearing an unblogged top with similar excess fabric. I reached forward in it, and checked the back. The fabric had created itself into a neat fold across the bra-area of 1.5cm. It smoothed itself out nicely at mid-armscye. 3cm excess length that theoretically could go, right there. Must try.
      Notable too that that’s where your average empire-line seam sits across the back.

      As for vertical excess fixing horizontal excess, god I don’t know either! I’ve found a back seam helps, so I can shape it nicely. But a curve in the back seam elongates the measurement of the seam, and the sway back adjustment shortens it. Yeah I’m confused too!

      I’m thinking now … what if I thought of my back the same as my front with it’s bust, and took a good look at it’s actual shape and worked from there – where would that get me, I wonder. Yep I’m definitely going to do another post on this issue alone.

      Lace blouse, eh, it long ago went to the op-shop, can’t remember. I did wonder if it was just TOO short in the back, increaing that slipping back tendencies. If I remake it I’ll be doing some serious rethinking and re-measuring and re-darting. You’re right, both front darts are too high.

      It was just so frustrating that a muslin wouldn’t have shown up that tendency to slide backwards. (I did so love that blouse; if only it had worked *sniffles*!)

      Thanks heaps again! You’ve really helped me out. I really appreciate it 🙂

      Like

      • ruthlesslypractical November 15, 2014 at 2:11 am #

        You’re welcome! I’m by no means experienced myself, but I’ve been able to work out some 3-D geometry in my head. And I watched Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class on Craftsy – the horizontal/vertical balance lines method is really helpful.

        “I asked if she had ponte that wouldn’t pill. She only had one she’d recommend, all the rest she couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t. Sounds like it’s not as great as it’s being sold as.”

        Ehh, some fashion and sewing bloggers swear by ponte knit. I can see the appeal, the sewing stability of a woven with the stretchy wearing of a knit, but ponte has way too high of a synthetic content for me to want to wear something sewn from it. It’s not for everyone, for various reasons.

        “I’m an hourglass but the top width is shoulders more than bust.”

        That’s not a bad thing – if you think about the way a real, sand flowing, time-measuring hourglass is shaped, the “shoulder” of an hourglass is the same width or wider than the “bust”.

        “The other element is that I’m short. Without waist definition I can look like a box on short legs.”

        The vertical visual proportions that the human eye has been trained to find the most harmonious approximate the golden ratio – 1/3 to 2/3 or 2/5 to 3/5. So, yes, it is partly about “leggy”, but also about vertical proportions in general. Definition at the natural waist is the golden ratio for most bodies and heights. (Various fashion bloggers have written about this, some more helpfully than others.)

        “The other day I was wearing an unblogged top with similar excess fabric. I reached forward in it, and checked the back. The fabric had created itself into a neat fold across the bra-area of 1.5cm. It smoothed itself out nicely at mid-armscye. 3cm excess length that theoretically could go, right there. Must try.”

        Hm…this sounds like a possible separate fit issue that’s conflated with the swayback. Would need to see pics.

        “As for vertical excess fixing horizontal excess, god I don’t know either! I’ve found a back seam helps, so I can shape it nicely. But a curve in the back seam elongates the measurement of the seam, and the sway back adjustment shortens it. Yeah I’m confused too!”

        If a center back seam helps with the poofing because you can reduce horizontal excess via a vertical seamline, then on a one-piece back pattern, definitely try just narrowing in the back piece at side seams. Basically, below the armscye, grade into a smaller size at the back. It’s ok if your back is a smaller “size” than your front, that’s why we sew!

        “I’m thinking now … what if I thought of my back the same as my front with it’s bust, and took a good look at it’s actual shape and worked from there – where would that get me, I wonder.”

        Yes, definitely – this image was a lightbulb moment: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6zZY2TP5oCk/UPIbXPFTcxI/AAAAAAAAA1c/Ci8L6glfMIM/s1600/darts+for+the+body.jpg

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tropical Threads November 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

        Ponte – yeah I can see the appeal, but I don’t think I’ll bother again. It’s too thick for this climate anyway, really, and a tad too hot for dancing in, though I made a good, cool style for dance.

        The 3d geometry thing, yeah it has helped me too. When I took formal lessons to learn fitting, the teacher suggested I think about it as if I’m trying to shape a sheet of metal to my body. It will take more length to go over my bust and across it, than it will to go down and across my back. That’s what really made fitting click for me. It’s just a lot harder fitting a back I can’t see! I’m also very flexible, especially shoulders, so there’s a lot of movement to take into account.

        I might track down that class on Craftsy. I’ve seen things on horizontal and vertical lines and yup they do help make sense of things.

        That’s true re the hourglass. It’s pretty balanced really, I’m lucky too that weight changes don’t change the proportions. Argh that’s another fitting challenge. My health is so poor my weight goes up and down like a yo-yo. But wotever. I just need to Deal With It. With the golden mean proportions and the waist, I used to avoid defining my waist too much because of my bigger bust, but I think fashions have changed and the waist definition is definitely IN again and so looks much more ‘normal’ to me now. (Teenager of the early-mid 90s here!)

        The middle-back possible fitting issue: I’ve just cut out a princess-line (to the armscye version). It was 5 cm too long for the back, so I took 2.5 out across the middle back and another 2.5 out at the waist to account for a short waist/sway back. When I sew it up and try fitting it, it will be interesting to see the effect.

        I realised, thinking about this convo with you, I DO have a lovely shift dress that fits me like a dream front and back – even in a linen there used to be very few wrinkles in the waist from sagging by the end of the day. (nicely-fitting shift dresses are, I discovered, worth their weight in gold, not just to make nice shift dresses, but to use as a base for other patterns 🙂 and I am pretty sure I did take some extra out of the middle back. I’m gonna fish it out and compare it with the white lace top pattern which looked ok in the back, and the others that puffed out. Definitely another post or two on this subject!

        It’s not even cosmetic, now. I mean the fashion police aren’t stopping me in the street and arresting me for having a puffy-fitting back 😛 It’s the *challenge*. WHAT does it take to fit my back well, so it looks nice and I can still move?

        But first I think I’d like to see what SSSF blog commenters have to say about the jacket and my issues with that. See what I can learn, I think I’m just gonna make a new jacket, but I’d like to stack the odds better in my favour of it working well, this time, by some more research and help! I just have to sort out my almost-never-used flick’r account first, and take some useable photos of very dark blue velvet. Wish me luck on that one!

        On Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 2:11 AM, Tropical Threads wrote:

        >

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  2. Tina Olsson November 27, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    Hello Imogheena! This is very interesting problem for pattern designers, I think. I’ve struggled with it for years..You show a lot of great pictures here to illustrate the problem! This is what works for me: It’s right, the back needs to be shorter, but also wider, so just taking away fabric on the side, or cutting a size smaller, as I think was suggested, will probably not help (in some cases, working vertically to fix a horizontal problem CAN work, but not that easily) So, fold a pattern with a straight back, along the bra-band, where an empire waist line would sit, and at the maximum curve are the best points. This will make the pattern turn into a “banana shape” 🙂 with a nice, curved backside. But the trick is, to keep the original side seam, which means quite a lot of fabric needs to be added at the side. The grainline needs to be adjusted, from middle of shoulder to middle of bottom of the pattern piece is my guess. This all makes the patternpiece look like a true hourglass, and thats what you need. Of course, to get the folds in the pattern exactly in the right place and the side seams to fall perfect takes a few muslins. This doesn’t make any sense without a picture, so I uploaded a quick sketch to my Pinterest, here: http://www.pinterest.com/gavannapatterns/sewing-tutorials/ Hope this helps!! Tina

    Like

    • Tropical Threads November 30, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

      Hi Tina, this is really interesting information. I’ve been wondering for ages what the relationship is between the side-seam and sway-back adjustments.
      It never occurred to me to keep the original side seam. In your diagram it basically means that the widest part of the pattern piece is at my body’s smallest part, my waist.
      However if it was taken in with a dart it whould work.

      I’ve cut out a top to try the adjustment of taking a bit out across the bra-strap region, but it was cut before I read this, so the side-seam was curved around according to the way the folds made it.

      I’ll sew that up and see what happens! And I’ll also try your way after that.

      Thanks for the time taken to do that drawing for me. It’s very clear with it!

      Like

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