I love to create clothing pieces that fit my lifestyle at this point in time. Really what I mean is that I love to create clothing pieces that fit. Period. I know I continue to beat this drum – and will continue to do it until everything I make (or buy off the rack for that matter) fits me like a glove, which brings me to the subject of this week’s rant. Let me take a step back for a moment.
I’m fascinated by the extraordinary cottage industry (and in some cases far beyond the cottage stage) that has sprung up for indie pattern designers/producers.
It boggles the mind of a sewer who had, for many years, slavishly followed the instructions on the patterns from the big commercial manufacturers, which these days seems to consist of the McCall’s company (one that seems to own Vogue and Butterick and be the distributors for a few other line such as Marfy – one of my sewing goals for 2017) and Simplicity. I’ve turned with delight toward many of these independent pattern designers only find fit issues there as well. There are so many swingy, baggy tops and dresses.
I understand this interest in comfortable, easy-wearing, easy-sewing clothing, and I like a loose-fitting top as much as the next woman (as you’ll see below) but it just isn’t always for me, and truthfully, I think that clothing with more ease has to fit, too. My own pattern-making education is taking me ever closer to being able to design this kind of pattern for myself without the help of anyone else. But what I also perceive is that designing these kind of patterns is a lot easier than designing patterns for garments that are fitted or even semi-fitted.
Excluding pants patterns (one of which I have and will try in a few months to see about fit), so much out there seems to be tent-like, flowing and generally loose-fitting, and if it’s not, it’s not as tailored a style as I like. So where does that leave me while I learn to do it myself? Back to McCall’s patterns and the like.
I recently decided to complete what I thought would be a sort-of-at-least-partly-fitted tunic that otherwise flows. I chose McCall’s 7247 because I had it in my pattern file and I liked the cross-over front.
Right out of the envelope it is already clear to me that I will need to do some alterations to the pattern. That accomplished, I cut and sew and fit the bodice before moving on to the neck band and sleeves. A perfect fit! I am in heaven. So, I adhere strictly to the pattern and its instructions for the insertion of the neckband. When in, it looks great. I’m happy. Then the sleeves (I set in a mean sleeve, so the finished product looks pretty darn professional). It’s now almost finished; I just have to find the perfect length for the sleeves – so try it on me (Gloria junior doesn’t’ have arms) –which is when the problem becomes apparent.
The pattern instructions clearly state that you need to stretch the neckband while sewing it in. I dutifully stretch as I go although I do think that it is requiring more than the usual amount of neckline stretching even for a knit fabric. Well, I was right. Now that the neckband is in, finished and edge-stitched into place (permanently affixed as it were), all that requisite stretching was too much. Now it pulls from the shoulders and isn’t perfect across the upper chest any longer.
Damn! See those little wrinkles under the neck band? They weren’t there when I did the pre-neckband fitting. Oh, I’ll probably wear it but it will never feel as perfect as it did when fitting it before the neck band went in. My lesson here: if something seems wrong, it probably is. So on to the next commercial pattern.
Enter Vogue pattern 8886 – a “very easy Vogue.”
I love it because it has a slightly funnel-shaped, collared neckline and well-fitted princess lines. If I can get this one to fit, I’ll be laughing. But this time, I’ll do a muslin.
So, first is sort-of tissue fit and based on this and my sloper, I make a few tweaks. Then I decide to cut the D-cup pattern because this is a “perfect fit” pattern and I wear a D-cup bra. However, I wear a 32-D and when I have done the princess seams in the front of the muslin, it’s so big for me that it’s laughable. I guess they meant 38-D or bigger! I should have cut a smaller cup size, but how was I to know?
Oh. My. God. Just look at it.
Well, the good news is that now I have all this extra fabric on the seams to get it just right. I think I’ll sew it with a machine-basting stitch in case I have to make any more adjustments after the sleeves are in. So another “very easy” pattern that isn’t! But that’s just me!
3 thoughts on “My commercial sewing pattern nightmare: The continuing search for the elusive perfect fit”
First of all, Thank you so much for the reblog of my gown. I am immensely flattered that you think so highly of my sewing skills. I agree with you that there is an absolute deluge of sloppy, loose fitting styles taking over the major pattern companies. Maybe they just don’t want to mess with proper drafting and pattern grading although with so many varied bodies, it’s impossible to print one pattern and expect it to fit everyone. The hallmark of true couture is perfect fit. No matter how beautifully a garment is made, if it doesn’t fit the workmanship doesn’t matter.
No pattern can give you a precise measurement for the neckband; every fabric stretches differently and it is a bit of trial and error to get the neckband correct as each fabric will stretch a little less or more.
I totally agree that the fit of Vogue 8886 is horrendous. It looks to me that they just increased the bust measurement without taking into account the shaping needed for a D cup. The armholes look like they will be way too large. Maybe try using your custom sloper from the Suzy Furrer class, superimposing the neckline from the Vogue pattern. If using a commercial pattern I always choose the size based on the high bust measurement and add for a larger cup. That way the shoulders will fit better.
Good luck with this. I like the knit top and maybe a good steaming will stretch the neckband to size and remove the puckers.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank-you so much for weighing in on the pattern and its oddities. I, too, think that the armholes look too large, but I think I’ll soldier on and see how the muslin turns out! I may have to do it again – but that’s the price I pay for wanting that terrific fit. And I really do love the process.
I think I have the bust line issues solved — more about that in another blog post. I continue to love your own posts! I learn so much. Thank-you for writing for us! ~GG