Monday, November 15, 2010

Pattern Manipulations

I just don't sew for myself much these days, so I'm just a little uneasy trying a new pattern.  For one thing, most of my patterns no longer fit me, so I have to alter them.  This is pretty new territory for me, and when I've tried before, it seldom has worked out well.  But, I need a couple of summer dresses for a trip we're taking soon, and it's the wrong time of the year to buy any....I just needed to screw up my courage and do it.

So I pulled out this pattern from my stash, McCall's 9222.  It's a simple shift, and I thought it held the most promise for alterations.  I've always read that it's best to choose a pattern smaller than your measurements and alter to increase rather than to decrease a size.  Well, that's my stash all over, LOL!  So next I pulled out a little booklet I have from Sewing with Nancy written in the 2003 where she describes how to alter a pattern.  I then measured across my chest from armpit crotch to armpit crotch as she directs to determine the best size.  Well, according to  the charts she provided, my size should have been an 18W.  Then, according to the instructions, I had to take the difference between the pattern's bust/waist/hips measurements and my actual measurements.  Well, we're talking double digits here, so I decided to go up to a size 22W and take the difference from those measurements.  That made the adjustment much less drastic and the numbers approached the measurements for my bust and waist.  My problem areas are my back and my midriff which are much larger in proportion to the rest of my body. 

Well, I sewed it up and remarkably the dress works real well around my girth, but the neckline and the arm openings are way too big for me, and of course, it hangs down to my ankles.  The underarm openings fall well below the bottom of my bra, and the neckline falls pretty low, too.  So I decided to just increase the shoulder seams from 5/8" to 2".  This brings it all up fine.  The only thing that could be better and  will need to be changed with the next dress is the placement of the dart points...they are a little too high now.  This is a black jersey print, so the darts aren't readily visible, and it doesn't compromise the fit of this piece.  But it would be with another fabric or print, it would be visible, so I'll have to change that.   Maybe, had I stuck with Nancy's instructions and used the 18W instead, the neckline and arm scythe would have been okay, but this will work, too. 
Pinched excess at shoulder seam

This is where the dress's construction is so far.  This pattern manipulation takes a while to figure out, but if it works, I'll have a pretty versatile pattern I can use again and again...that would be great.  I have to rework the neck facings tonight, so I'll post more about that part next time.  I don't anticipate any problems there, because this dress only has a neck facing.  The sleeves are simply hemmed.

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