The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

Do you have a technique that gives you issues every time you try it? Or a weakness for a certain type of garment or fabric that just drives you nuts later?


Mine is too thick fabrics. I always pick too thick fabrics for the project no matter how much I tell myself to follow the suggestions, I always go rogue!

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 OOOOH... happens to me everytime.even when I do a back zipper..the neck edges wont come out even..

so frustrating.. 'The joys of sewing".ha.Judy

I'm really trying to sew things that fit me well - not just "close enough"... this has caused my latest achilles heel - pattern alteration. I'm not in proportion - the vintage patterns I have that fit my waist and hips are 3" too big for my bust. I can't seem to find a way to take off 3" off the bust without taking anything off the waist. I don't have any formal skills in this area and there are no courses where I live! I have no idea how much I should try and alter at a "flat pattern" level and how much I should try and do by just trial and error/pinning on me/my mannequin. Plus, the pinning/countless muslins method is so long and time consuming it's really getting to me! I just want to sew dresses that fit me!

I hear your pain. My figure is similar. I find it easier to use patterns that fit my bust and just make the waist and hips bigger. ie. I generally just taper out from the underarm to the waist , then add a bit to the hip and make darts a bit smaller. But to make the bust on a flat pattern smaller is more complicated. I hope I can explain this in words for you!

Are you at all familiar with grading?  This is a great site, but be warned.. it will look a little frightening at first.

When you're grading a whole size evenly it's a matter of drawing horizontal and vertical lines on the pattern and either adding in (cut and spread) or taking out (fold or cut and overlap) a set amount at each line.  (there is another way which involves shifting the pattern up and down and tracing as you go.. but I'd recommend starting with the cut method until you have the hang of it!)

For your problem I would try (I should mention I've never tried this!) 

1. draw the grade lines on the pattern (on a traced copy!) - this is for the half front & half back bodice.

You will need parallel vertical lines running from neck to waist,  shoulder to waist, underarm to waist. (see the sketches in the link below for a more precise idea on placement)

2. Cut along the lines. Overlap the pattern pieces at the top to take out excess, but leave them meeting at the waist. You need to remove 5mm on the neck gradeline, 5mm on the shoulder and 9mm at the underarm, all tapering to nothing at the waist. That way you'll get a full 76mm (3") grade down on the bust but leave the waist as is. (make sure the cf and cb section stays square - overlap towards cf & cb)

3. Now the problem part - Because you've done an uneven grade you will see that you now need to draw new smooth lines along the shoulder and underarm. And... the waistline on the pattern will have moved up at the side - but I'm not sure that this is anything to worry about, or just part of the new 'uneven size'.

(make a muslin at this stage and see if it works!  - then decide if something needs to change at the waist area)

note - You will need to trace new facings from your bodice pattern.

I would love to hear how you go with this if you decide to try it! As I may need to do this one day too!

Amanda.. I think I've just had an epiphany about the waist issue. I'm going to think it all through and get back to you. in a nutshell I think the basis of what I said above is right.. but instead,  if we draw the lower horizontal grade line on the pattern, cut along that - and then just grade the upper half of the bodice down evenly.. leaving the waist as is.  ta da. hmm. I sound like a raving lunatic. I'll see if I can do you some pics. - but will probably be later in the week.

Ok Amanda.. I'm following through on this because it's helping me too!

I found some templates in my old college books and have made these pics for you. 1st up is the basic grade rules for one even size up or down. The numbers represent the mm you take out or add in along these lines. The second picture is your personal grade which removes 3" or 76mm from around the bust only. I haven't taken out anything in the length as you mentioned you are tall, so I thought maybe you don't need to.  If anyone thinks I've made a mistake with this... please let me know!!!

I am also a pear shape with the same waist and hip issues - Casey makes a great point about grading; have you seen the book "Fit for Real People"? It's a wonderful resource for fitting patterns to your body! I used to be very intimidated by this type of thing (I mean come on! Can't I just find a pattern that fits off the rack!?) but it gets easier each time you try it!
I think mine is trying to sew on a decorative edging with a machine. I just can't do it and end up hand sewing every time. It's in my head at the moment because it's happened with the past 2 projects!
My achilles heel is being delusional about what suits my shape and size. I see patterns I like and will have a go without considering if it will work on me.
I have the opposite problem with patterns - I keep buying ones that are very similar in style - I need to branch out a bit!
lol... me too! I'm worried I'll start boring you all with dresses that have fitted tops and flared skirts!
I know what you mean!  I've been trying to force myself to get some patterns that aren't 1950's full-skirted dresses, in a vague attempt to add some variety.  ;-)


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