Gearing up for Sew the Perfect Fit, Vogue 8766. Choosing size.

It’s time to make a new shell for my new body. Most of my previous muslins and body blocks and pattern alterations are useless since I did the Atlas Profilax treatment which got rid of the curl in my body and brought my shoulders level and my hips too:

atlasprofilax result atlas profilax before after

I need a new basic pattern to work from.

In the past half year I got a good basic pattern for my skirts.  It’s based on video’s by Corinne Leigh from Craftovision and it works for me.

I’ve been making skirts from it the past few months.

But there’s still the upper body…

Some people are Pear shaped, other people are gracious Goblets. Me, I’m a Door With Two Melons in a Crocheted Grocery Bag Hanging from it.

pic by Marta Rostek

Flat, square and wearing big breasts high up. How do you do.

When I was a twisted door I did the body block measuring and tailoring and it was educational and gave me my body blocks. But ever since my frame changed I haven’t mustered up the courage to go through that whole process again.

Then the chance to purchase Craftsty course Sew the Perfect Fit came along. In it you alter a muslin to fit you, a real woman, perfect. I thought it ‘d be a good place to start anew. And it came with a free pattern: Vogue 8766:

Line Art

Princess lines, just what I want!

And go on, be brave, do sleeves!

I had to order quick and I opted for the sizes 6-12 because the patterns I bought previously were so ridiculously large.
But now I’m doubting my choice…. my measurements clearly state I should be looking at size 14 or 16. I wish I ordered the size 12-20 instead. I missed that that one had 12 in it also…

my upperbust = 36″
(bust 38″)
waist 30″
hip 38″

Vogue’s sizing charts:

in inches:

SIZE
4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
Bust  29 1/2 30 1/2 31 1/2 32 1/2 34 36 38 40 42 44 46  48
Chest  27 1/2 28 1/2 29 1/2 30 1/2 32 34 36 38 40 42 44  46
Waist  22 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 37 39  41 1/2
Hip  31 1/2 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48  50
Back Waist Length  15 1/4 15 1/2 15 3/4 16 16 1/4 16 1/2 16 3/4  17 17 1/4 17 1/2 17 3/4  18
Petite Back Waist Length 14 14 1/4 14 3/4 15 15 1/4 15 1/2 15 3/4 16 16 1/4 16 1/2 16 3/4 17

Yes. Should definitely have ordered the size 16…

Should I take action? Order the bigger size too? Bug Craftsy Customer Service to see if they can change the order? Hope that I can alter the smaller size myself?

I’ve been telling myself there’s solace in the wearing ease that is added to these patterns. The pattern state it’s “fitted” and Vogue’s wearing ease chart tells me they’ll add 3 – 4″ to any dress pattern with that word “fitted”:

Misses’ Ease Allowances
Bust Area Hip Area
Silhouette Dresses, Blouses, Shirts, Tops, Vests Jackets Coats Skirts, Pants, Shorts, Culottes
Lined or Unlined
Close Fitting 0 – 2 78 not applicable 0 – 1 7/8″
Fitted 3 – 4″ 3 3/4 – 4 1/4″ 5 1/4 – 6 3/4″ 2 – 3″
Semi-Fitted 4 1/8 – 5″ 4 3/8 – 5 3/4″ 6 7/8 – 8″ 3 1/8 – 4″
Loose Fitting 5 1/8 – 8″ 5 7/8 – 10″ 8 1/8 – 12″ 4 1/8 – 6″
Very Loose Fitting over 8″ over 10″ over 12″ over 6″

will it be enough? 4″/ 10 cm of ease is a lot! But I’ve been known to underestimate its importance, I’m forever knitting garments too tight. And knitting stretches!

Oh, now I remember that size, wearing ease and actual pattern measurements tripped me up before with Vogue.

Back in 2013 I found quite some discrepencies between stated size 12 and actual size 12 of the pattern parts in Vogue 8648:

I remember I had to take out nearly 4″ to make that dress fit me and I cut a size 16 then, based on Vogue’s sizing chart. The shoulders set appallingly wide. I was swimming in the garment. I was quite annoyed that I had to cut and throw away so much of the good fabric. Look how wide the shoulders were placed, the very part a whole dress gets its posture from:

Ridiculous. Back then I had to take out a lot of fabric and practically graded my size 16 down to a size 12:

Ah yes, now I remember.

One of my conclusions after all the fitting and altering back then even read: “Should try this is size 12 all around, no extra fabric needed at the bust. Even go down to 10. Hips at size 8.

That’s a relief! I feel better now. Added wearing ease to Vogue patterns is my friend. I’ll just wait until the pattern arrives and then we go play 🙂

“Note on V8766: all garments are cut on the crosswise grain of fabric.”
oh-oh…

… will this mean I won’t get a versatile upper body muslin out of this? For fabrics cut on the grain?

the size of Gnomes…

I measured me, my sloper, the pattern V8648 without seam allowance and took note of Vogue pattern sizes, the amount of wearing ease they add and the circumferences noted in the pattern pieces of V8648.

measurements chart

Quite a difference between the measurements Vogue follows for their size 12 and the numbers they state on the pattern. Here’s where the 3″ to 4″ wearing ease they add to all their “fitted” patterns comes into play.

But I also noted a difference between the measurements they state on the pattern pieces and the measurements that I found by measuring the actual paper pieces.

getting a head ache from all this talk about ease?

perhaps your gnome hat is too tight!

I will be following the pattern pieces but adjusting to my own measurements. Because the pattern already includes a 1,5 cm seam allowance I can grade up easily while for the hip I can keep it down. Now I have to decide how much wearing ease I prefer. I know from previous experience that the 4″ the big pattern compagnies add is way too much for me.

I may make a muslin without any ease and decide while I fit how much I want.

NB. I need to correct in height, I only need 36,5 cm from the back neck to the waist. The pattern is much longer.

let me think on it for a bit

UPDATE: I remembered this post where I gathered recommended ease, at the bottom of that post. Based on that information I will sew a muslin with

bust 97 cm + 7,5 cm ease (2.5″)

waist 76 cm + 2,5 cm ease (1″)

hip 96 cm + 5 cm ease (2″)

Now I’ll Just grade the vogue pattern to these sizes. I’ll take size 12 as a guideline, using the seam allowance to find the right line. This will become my stitch line. Then cut generously. Stitch stitchline for visibility. Sew together muslin.

 

making a Sloper

Wearing a handmade dress in town gives a victorious rush. Handmade, well fitting, flattering, unique. Both the accomplishment of having made this and knowing I wear something that flatters my shape really puts a spring in my step.

So on to the next one! There are many things to do better and many things to discover.

Here’s what I’ve set in motion:

– I enrolled in a class over at Craftsy.com: The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje. The Craftsy course is very good!

– I started a sloper, using this tutorial sloper from Leenas.com. Making a sloper is not easy.

– I bought fabric…

For the sloper, I drew my measurements unto paper using that tutorial. It took me two days. Then I made a copy in muslin to try it on. Here’s the back piece:
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All the important lines are ‘drawn’ in contrasting stitching lines. This ensures stability and visibility from both sides of the sloper. This is a tip from Susan Khalje’s course I applied to the process of making a sloper. There are many more!

Then I sewed the darts with their fabric outwards. This way I could concentrate in fit. Not on silhouette, which is what you’d do if this was a dress, then you’d sew the darts with their fabric folded inwards.
A sloper is meant to have little ease and really copy the body form:

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I sewed one side seam together, put it on and pinned the other side seams and the shoulder seams at the lines. Then started hours of adjusting, repinning, drawing on the sloper, restitching, having a cup of tea, trying it on again, repinning it, drawing some more, identifying significant points on my body, ripping out stitching, putting in new stitching lines. All the time keeping good track of what was to be changed and documenting it well on the sloper. I had four colours of pens and made sure to rip out old sewing lines that were no longer accurate.

I really tested this baby. Afterwards it looked a mess: lines of all colours, threads hanging everywhere. But I had my information. I transferred it unto another piece of muslin and this is how my final sloper looks. The front piece:Untitled

Quite different! My shoulder darts are humongous. And still I need little tucks at the armhole. Those I could not transfer, strangely enough. Couldn’t swivel them around, as you usually can do with darts.

You also see how left differs from right. Yeah, there do not exist many women who have identical breasts.

Then there’s a little horizontal dart on the right, near the waist line. Because I am crooked. The picture below, from one dress from the back, shows this. I feel like I am standing straight but you can see clearly I am not. There is an S curve to me:

It is now reflected in my sloper and will be a part of all my future dress patterns. The sloper and any pattern from it may look crooked on the cutting table, but once I put it on it gets cancelled out by my own crooked frame and the waistline of a new dress will lie perfectly perpendicular to the floor and the side seams will be straight vertically.

The sloper also shows slight differences at the left and right at the neck/shoulderline. The reason is also in the dress picture: I carry one shoulder higher than the other. This is very handy for wearing shoulder strap purses and I recommend it to all women.

Over all, the sloper from the tutorial yielded very good base to work from. I merely had to account for the difference between left and right and had to take out the ease that was added during the tutorial because I wanted a tight fitted sloper. I will add ease back in in every pattern I draft using this sloper.

Back and Front:

Untitled

The back has a small shoulder dart on one shoulder and huge darts to follow the shape of my back (which is one of my nice features I feel). And there’s a large wedge in the side because I’m crooked in the side. This wedge presents a problem because when you adjust the length in a pattern you need to take away the fabric along a stretch of the whole width of a pattern piece.

My wedge doesn’t stretch the full width of a (potential) back piece. I cannot put in a dart like that in a solid piece of fabric that spans the width of my back. It will look ridiculous, no matter how straight it makes the waist grain lie.

Solution: a visible waist line. A seam in the pattern piece. I can adjust the length using the seam.

Con: I will not be able to make a dress with long back panels. There will always have to be a waist seam to accomodate this wedge that has to come out.

Pro: this will only apply to patterns where I want a real fitted look and really straight running grain lines. In other patterns I can get away with it. Because I also discovered that although I love the closely fitted look, dresses with a more loose fit are comfortable too.

Con to the Pro:  I’ll confess: my posture echoos the fit on a dress. Wearing a fitted dress I have good posture. Wearing a loosely fitted dress makes me sloughs and bulge my belly and sit with my breast resting on my lower abdomen…

But let’s not dwell on these perfectly normal things. Look, I bought fabric:

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Handdyed quality linnen from Stof tot Verven

Lia is a wizzard. This is dyed using the ice technique which gives these wonderful flowing colours, breaking the dyes in all kind of shades. This fabric looks like opal! The pictures do the colours no justice. They are beautifully saturated and diverse.

She folded the fabric in such a way that it has a mirrored image down the fold. Perfect for a front panel! It’s 1.5 m x 2 m

Lia is all about quality too. Not only is this quality linnen and a light fast dye, she also serged all around the fabric before handling this and it has been preshrunk.

I’m really looking forward to using this linnen in a dress with simple, beautiful lines. Give it an interlining and a lining, just like it’s done in the craftsy course. Silk.

But first a few other practice dresses to really figure out this sloper and the patterns it can provide.

ps. just a little note I jotted down for myself:

these posts I want to read and this site too, the essentialist. Maar de leukste blog is nog steeds under construction

Wriggle Dress: 2D versus 3D

huh?
the back is much smaller than the front:
Untitled

must have occurred when I had to take in the darts in the back so much. I think the sideseam was still in the middle though…
but now I am sitting here, with the front pinned to the back, and I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m sitting in my halfmade dress because, as I was pinning the seam allowance for the side seams, I felt the desire for pockets well up inside. I hunger for pockets!
So here I am, surfing instead of sewing. Sewaholic has a nice tutorial: sew the pockets close as you sew the side seam. One seam. With a nice roll over to hide the inside of the pocket.

But what fabric to chose for my pockets? My cotton lining fabric is mighty flimsy. Won’t hold more than a hankie and I don’t plan on doing any crying in this dress.

The interliningfacing fabric a.k.a. the sheet is very sturdy. It might distort the soupleness of the dress. And/or show through the fabric and the lining.

Using the fashion fabric for the pockets will surely show…

Perhaps I need to excavate the room where all my fabrics live…to search for something appropriate in weight and colour. A fun pocket, hiding.

fixing the body

Pressing did wonders for the understitching of the bodice. It looks really ‘real’ now!

I closed the side seam and the center back seam. I tried it on and the back stood very wide away from my back. So I altered the pattern, gave it more of a hunch back line (which I seem to have).
In the front there’s something wrong too. Too much fabric at the neck line. I know not of fast solutions for than on so I’ll leave it as is.

The fit under the bust is fine. That’s why I will just tailor the darts from the skirts to the fit of the bodice. I have lost interest in alining the vertical seams exactly. I’ll do the best I can but right now I’d really like to work towards a finished dress!

another thing I noticed when trying on the bodice:
Untitled
I’ve got stars at inconvenient places….

I think I can still claim innocence though.

Practice dress: fittings and alterations

the fitting was not perfect. But showed a lot. (aww, it wasn’t that horrible! Still much better than the fitting of original pattern)

  • The extra length in the bodice was uneccessary, it made the waist line sag.
  • there’s not enough curve hugging around, it still looks like a sack. Need wider darts in the skirt, less ease at the waist.
  • the back is wayyyy to big. Size 16 (EU44) is a mockery, my back needs a 12 (EU38).
  • back and front are too low. It’s not that I’m modest, it’s just that I like to move without assets falling out or my adrenals catching a cold
  • the flare is still too much. Have to take more out where the side panels meet the center back and front of the skirt
  • the shoulders are too high

I slept on it. Looked again. Took the bodice apart and altered it. Made notes on the muslin. Put the bodice together again. I now use the practice dress as an exercise tool and the muslin as a notebook.

the second (or third) fitting looks promising:

Untitled
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getting there, getting there.

The bodice fits much better now, the waist line lies horizontal again. The funny thing is I do need to follow the pattern lines size 16 describes for the waist, just below the bust.
It needs a whole lot of more darts and all the other lines need reducing (front top, shoulders and side seams) but the line under the breasts is a good one.

more decreasing in the skirt is needed. I will do this in the darts since they can be adjusted. The seams are pretty much stable at this point. But on the muslin I’ll make notes and adjust the pieces.

I need more following of the curve of my back. Being blessed with a tummy I don’t care for much darts in the front. But my back has this caving which I quite like. Over here we call it “the little hole in the small of your back” = “het holletje van je rug”. “Holletje” is the burrow of a rabbit or small critter. It is also the cup you can make with your hand.

it’s a good thing.

My “holletje” needs more darts to emphasize it. And less flare on the buttocks. Because I don’t have much in that department but I do have slender legs and a flaring skirt obscures that fact.

a quick look at the notes I made on the bodice muslin after two fittings:

Untitled
 

I have taken apart the bodice, once more. Drawing on it with pencil to mark what I’ve done and what I want different.

I have loosened the darts in the skirt. I will sew them a bit wider and will adjust for that difference in circumference in the sideseams of the bodice. I already took them a bit in, then straightened them (I don’t need much room at the underarm) and will skew them now because I need less circumference at the bottom but have reached the limit at the underarms.
Basically I am drafting a size 12 with a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment)

there I go, getting ticked off at Butterick sizing again. No no no, better run to the sewing machine and put this thing together. I hope the next fitting will give me acceptable pattern pieces and then I can cut and sew from the real fabric.

I only have this sewing machine today and tomorrow and I would love to leave here with a dress. Where I’m going there is another sewing machine, not as good as this one. But there’s also a garden and a weaving loom and sheep with fleeces to be processed…

 

altering the toile 2

before:
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after:
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before:
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after:
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I took in the waist dramatically. Then I used the darts in the bodice to fix the difference in width between the skirt and the bodice. This is easily done by sewing the horizontal seam from one side to the (torned loose) dart and then from the other side. The flap of extra fabric will be the dart. In this case the darts have not been sewn and are loose on the inside. Making for the boxy folds that are especially noticeable from the side. Once sewed shut and to one side THe lines will flow effortless.

In the front view you can see how well it is fitted now. There is plenty suggestion of a waist now.

I sewed the darts in the skirt by eye and I was a little too peeved enthousiastic. There’s not enough room for lining or breathing. In the real design I will give an inch or a little more of extra width.

(don’t worry about the uneven height in the side seam. I put in a zipper for better fitting and I sewed it quickly. I would have taken a photo from the other side if I were smarter at balancing iPads and trying to take photo’s with it.)

I took a bit of the seam below the bust to incorporate it in the dress, I need a bit more length now that the bodice has to cave in under the bust to meet the dress. In the real design I’ll probably give it even a little bit of extra length.

I made sure the middle lines matched up. From there I match the other lines. In the real dress I will not sew up the skirt separate from the bodice, I’m more tempted to follow the lead of the vertical lines and make sure they line up first.

What now? take apart the toile and make it into real pattern pieces?

I don’t feel confident enough to start cutting into the dress fabric yet. I think I want a practice dress first. The question is: do I go out and buy cheap fabric or do I cut out the view A and use that flowery sheet? hm. I need to go to the fabric shop to get a zipper anyway …. o wait. New fabric means washing and waiting for it to dry. eh….I’ll think about it.

Oh, one thing:

I’ll never buy a bloody pattern again! I can just as well copy pieces from a dress I have already and make alterations. What a scam, sizing in patterns!

Detecting Ease in the woods

on the search to find the correct amount of ease!

for this pattern, Butterick 5603, I chose size 16 per instruction by Butterick.

because me:  Butterick 16:

chest 36″            36″

bust 38″             38″

waist 30″            30″

hip 38″              40″

we are made for each other! Just slim the hip down to a size 14 and you’re ready to twirl in that dress!

yeah.

well.

Butterick is carrying an invisible little bug inside it called “ease”. Each pattern’s got some. You need a little bit of ease at least, otherwise you couldn’t move in a garment. This is called wearing ease. I have not yet figured out what the required minimum is.

I know with knitting you can work with negative ease because knitting stretches.

Woven fabric doesn’t stretch so negative ease won’t work. Unless you have the Hulk’s sense of fashion:

Hulk smashes negative ease!

Besides ‘wearing ease’ there’s something called ‘designers ease’. This is the amount of ease the designer added to get a certain look. There’s the “fitted look” which follows the body forms and there’s “loose fitted look” which hides them pretty much.

A burlap sack has a lot of designers ease:

“loose fitted silhouette designer foot fashion insures easy victory”

somewhere hidden on the site Butterick mentions the ease they standard add to their patterns. You have to find it by yourself, they do not point to it when they guide you through the size determining process.

They have decided that a “fitted silhouette” needs about 4″ of ease. That statement reminds me a lot of squirrel poo….

I like nuts! I love nuts! I poop nuts!

4″ is the difference between a 12 and a 16! Between a European 40 and a 44! That’s not a “fitted silhouette” that’s the difference between a “Whoa there, foxy lady!” and “Hello there, gnome lady”:

“Hello there.”

I love wearing size 44, don’t get me wrong. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing the sweater on the above picture right now. A nice big handknit sweater. With bustdarts. It looks fine and is very comfortable. But when sewing a retro dress that has “hot mama” written all over it, I would like to know in advance how nutty the designers breakfast was when he decided the amount of ease.

On the pattern pieces there are little gems of ease knowledge hidden away. At the waist and bust area small circles occur with a cross in them. Nearby are measurements. There’s one on pattern piece 10 that reads:

waist.

size 14 = 29,5″ 75cm

size 16 = 31,5″ 80 cm

and one on piece number 5 that reads:

hip.

size 14 = 38″ 96cm

size 16 = 40″ 101 cm

That’s the ease right there! for a 30″ waist (real body) they give you a dress with a 31,5″ waist (wearing ease + designer ease)

And for a 38″ hip you get a 38″ hip! How stupid is tha…hey…..wait a minute! How come the hip on my dress is so much more than 38″?

I better remeasure one or two things….

And after that I’m off to raid the closet to find out what the ease is on some of my favorite dresses. But first let me do some detecting….


art by Bruno

Minimum wearing ease in a fitted garment is approximately 2,5 cm (1″) at the wasitline (to allow for large lunches!), 5 cm over the hip to allow for sitting, 7,5 cm at the bust and 3,5 cm over the upper arms for arm and torso movement.”

quote from The Design Manual

wearing ease bust = 2,5 “; waist = 1″ and hip = 3”

from getcreativeshow

bullet Bodices have 1 1/2″ – 2″ wearing ease at the bust
bullet Dresses have 3/4″ – 1″ wearing ease at the waistline
bullet Skirts and pants have 1/2″ – 3/4″ ease at the waistline
bullet All garments have 2″ – 2 3/4″ wearing ease at the hips

from Scott R. Robinson

and Kenneth King’s Wearing Ease Minimums for Torso:
Bust -3 inches 
Waist – 2 inches
Full hip -2 inches
Armhole- 1 -1/2 inches
Bicep- 1 1/2 inches

from Threads

conclusion: you need a little bit of ease on your patterns but how much exactly is only known by squirrels.

what shall I have for breakfast today?

humbug! size chart lied

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I made the toile and it is too big. 4 inches too big! everywhere! 10 centimeters too much!

only around the bust, that’s where it fits. But the waist, the hips, the back: everything is too big.

I followed the sizing chart of Butterick to the lettre. They must be off their rocker. I bought the 16 as those fit my body measurements exactly.

But after making it it turns out I’m no 16. I’m a 12 or a 10 even. The pattern I bought is 14-16-18-20 so it’s not easily mended either. They lied.
Bah!

is this what “ease” is all about? Butterick says they incorporate 3 to 4 inches of ease into any dress called “fitted”:

Ease Chart
Fitted, close fitting, loose fitting, semi fitted, very loose fitting…these are terms you’ll find in the garment descriptions in this catalog and on our pattern envelopes. They are our standard for fit and are the terms that tell you exactly what to anticipate when it comes to fitting. Each term indicates a general amount of wearing ease and design ease that is built into the pattern. Ease is the amount of “space” in a garment beyond the body measurements; the specific amount of ease will vary from style to style.

Misses’ Ease Allowances for Dresses:

  • Close Fitting = 0 -2 “
  • Fitted             = 3 – 4″
  • Semi-Fitted = 4 1/8 – 5″
  • Loose Fitting = 5 1/8 – 8″
  • Very Loose Fitting = over 8″

from Butterick

is this right? is this wat 4″ of ease is supposed to be like? But it looks ridiculous!

Who dreams of so much ease in a fitted, retro looking Summer dress?? I don’t. And neither does Gertie.

Lesson learned: Butterick is nuts mind the added ease when choosing your pattern size.

Now what?
redraft for a size 12? invent that myself? fiddle with the toile untill it fits and transfer all alterations to the paper pattern? (I’m not good enough to do a good draped fitting)
I’ll sleep on it. I do see a new toile in my future.

Gertie Hirsch says: measure (the ease on) a dress that fits you well. I have that pink galadres my mum made. It fits nice around my tummy. And there’s a red linen dress from Claudia Sträter…I could measure that one.
I’ll be on a quest to find out what my preferred ease is.

 

A plan hatched: I’m going to sew a dress.

This is a copy of the post on my other blog that started all this. I decided to set up this blog to keep all my snippets in one place.

“I’m starting a new project: sewing a dress. There’s a sewing bug going around. It’s buzzing on knitting site Ravelry.com. It’s busy on the BBC in the competition The Sewing Bee. And face it, modern women have been stung by it for years now. We love to make something that flatters us. We feel craftsy and creative. And wearing a dress brings a special kind of festivity to life.

why do they look so gloomy and serious? They must be malnourised.

pic by Bartek Ambrozik

It is so very satisfactory to make something with your own hands, using your wit. Loving the materials and your own skills. If you can make it fit your own body than you’re feeling like a hero! Taking victory over all the clothes in stores that only flatter store models, not real people. Blowing a raspberry to all advertisements and childhood insecurities they sparked. This is real people, people!

Anyway, for me it’s a distraction from having to lay down on the couch more than usual (health reason) and wanting a puzzle to solve. I like to wrap my brain around something! I’ve got enzyme pathways to study, knitting patterns to figure out. But right now I would like to learn more about how to sew a dress.

I purchased two patterns.

Patterns purchased: Butterick 6582 and Butterick 5603:

pics by Butterick

now don’t get distracted by the colour, the models or their bridal tendencies. The trick to patterns is to look for the lines they are sewn with. The long lines. The short lines. Where and how they decrease fabric to suggest a waist or hip. How the neckline falls. Where the lines are to make the flat fabric round a curve.

Me, I am a short, curvy person. Fairly petite were it not for a set of big boobs and broad shoulders to support them. I have no waist, no hips, no buttocks. I would look ridiculous in any poofy ball gown you can imagine. Or in ruffles. Or in Grease-type Rock and Roll skirts.

pic by Sarah Lewis

I will look good in slender long lines that elongate me. I’m “a goblet”. I need ‘prinsess lines’. They run from the top into the skirt. A V-shaped neck will elongate. A skirt that flares below (like a mermaids tail) looks fab on me.

So I did not purchase the patterns for the dresses above. I purchased the line in their patterns:

pattern and pics by Butterick.com

Now you see the lines: long ones. No poofy skirts. No ruffles. Each dress has three variants.

My size: a mystery.

Size converters on the internet throw me off because in the Netherlands I’m a 36, a Small (providing I get a bit of extra room for ‘the ladies’). The converter says that a (German) 36 is a US 8, Medium. A Medium? That sounds big. A US Small is a German 34 however which is way too small for me. Than there’s vanity sizing where clothes companies suddenly called an M an S or the other way around. Has to do with making the customer feel they are smaller than they are? Or guilting them into buying more? I don’t know, I never shop anymore, I’m a hermit in a sheep’s fleece.

pic by Markus Biehal

From knitting I do know a bit about sizing. Size is all about the frame. Your garment has to fit the back of your shoulders and the waist should be about the height of your waist. But you can amend the position of the waist easily (I think). You cannot amend shoulder width easily. Your shoulders is where the garment hangs from, get that size right.

So: I’ll base my ‘size’ for sewing patterns on my frame and plan to adjust the rest. I measured my upperbust and I think for Butterick I’m a 16 with hips going to 14.

(Converter says a US16 is an Xtra Large and a German 44. They are mad. I’d swim in a 44!) Yay, Butterick and Vogue don’t do vanity sizing, they are consistent in their measurements. I’m a 16 in sewing patterns and an 8 when buying of the rack. Mystery solved.

Just let me jot down some numbers here, so I can find them again. A blog is so much more convenient than scribbling on the inside of the carton wrappers of chocolate tablets! It’s Lindt 85% though, so I’ll keep bringing them into the house and scribble away.

pic from lindt.com

my measurements:

upperbust: 92 cm/ 36″

bust: 97 cm/ 38″

waist: 76 cm/30″

hip: 96 cm/ nearly 38″

neck to waist: 40 cm/ 15,75″

bra: 70FF (don’t get me started on bra size converters!)

at 1.61cm/ 5′ 4″ I’m a Miss Petite to Vogue and Butterick patterns. Waist to hip is standard 18 cm/ 7″ in their patterns.

pic by Ariel da Silva Parreira

Things I do not know yet:

Lining. It is important. I believe this is a separate dress you make from the same pattern. You ‘hang’ it in the dress and you attach it to it. It is there to give the outer dress some stability and prevent seeing through and make the outer dress swirl around your body and not cling to it. I think.

O no! I have to learn about ease all over again! knitting stretches and I’ve got a basic of understanding knitting ease now. But sewing!

And seams! There will be seams!

and fabric…. which has bias. And grain. I can’t have grain, I don’t like gluten.

so much more to learn.

A few things to remember:

– make a dummy dress first. This is called a twirl or a voile I believe. Or a toile?

– my sewing machine is a vintage foot treadle. It goes to and fro. No fancy stitches. No fraying fabric. Just keep it simple.

– there’s a lot of hand sewing involved in sewing a garment. That machine is a workhorse. The fine print is done by hand.

– this is a multiple day project (think weeks). Make sure to put your stuff away in an orderly fashion (with notes would be splendid) so you know where to pick it up again. No need to invent the wheel every time you get out the project. A box of its own would be perfect.

– I plan to perfect one pattern, fit it perfectly to my body measurements. Than use that for future dresses.

It will be fun. And for once I showed up on time to participate in a trend!

pic by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Now for fun: go google some pictures of the patterns (try one and try two, not sure these links work), it’s amazing what different dresses these patterns yield. Dresses on real people! I’m already learning so much! Burdastyle.com and PatternReview.com and many more sewing platforms have a lot to offer. So many women generously share their knowledge and experience. I love it and feel part of it, while reposing and reclusing.”