Adjustments, OSP, Sewing

The Wrap Dress Project – Fitting the Bodice Part 1

Somewhere there is some saying about starting at the top and working down when making fit adjustments to patterns, so I started where I always start with adjustments when making clothes for myself – with a full bust adjustment (FBA).

As always seems to happen, my high bust adjustment matches to largest size in the pattern, so patterns usually fit my neck and shoulders nicely, but I need do a FBA to have the bodice fit properly. My measurements mean I needed to add 2.5 inches to both sides of the front.

I decided to do a ‘Y cut’ FBA on this pattern for two reasons:

  1. So that the bust dart didn’t end up ridiculously huge – a common issue when doing ‘large’ FBAs; and
  2. I figured that in this style of top I some extra width across the top of the bust wouldn’t hurt – we’re all about avoiding wardrobe malfunctions in my world!

I always carry the full width I add at the bust doing a FBA down to the waistline, as I usually need extra inches at the waist too. Once I’d added the width and taped the pattern up I worked out where my bust point needed to be – that black dot in the middle of the addition – far, far away from the bust point marked on the pattern. From there I measured and marked 2 inches below, and towards the side seam (no Madonna looking cones for me, 🙅🏼 thank you very much) these formed the point of my new darts.

The original pattern didn’t have a bust dart, only a waist dart. I added the bust dart – marking from the end point of the dart out to the edges of sections that were added during the FBA, folded the dart closed (I taped it up actually) and trued up the side seam.

While the bust dart was taped closed I did a bit of tissue fitting to work out what size the waist dart needed to be – you can see it’s significantly smaller than what it would have been if I’d just closed the original waist dart.

When making muslins I don’t usually make any adjustments to the back of the bodice, most of the time the fit is fine, so I followed my usual practices and left the back bodice pattern alone.

Cutting time!! ✂️✂️✂️

I marked, pressed and stitched all of the darts closed, then pressed them again before sewing up the side and shoulder seams – time to see how well this first round of adjustments worked… 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

And, honestly, not bad for the first round of adjustments to a pattern style I haven’t tired before… I did have a minor heart attack when I first put it on – I thought that I’d made the bust darts too low!! But on closer inspection the shoulder seams were sitting too far forward, and when I pulled them up and pinned them where they should sit – magically the bust darts were in the right place!! I’m not too worried right now about the shoulder seams sitting that far forward – this shirt still has a collar and facing to go on, and there are seam allowances involved in attaching them that may well fix that issue, so for my next muslin I’m going to make up and attach the collar and facing as well to check on that.

I did decide that there was just a little more gape in the front that I’d like – it’s not very obvious from the front, but it was from above… I pinned out about 5/8in on both sides.

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I’m pretty happy with how this round of adjustments has gone – it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing this or how many times I’ve adjusted patterns I’m always pleasantly surprised when the adjustments turn out the way I wanted them too… 😘😌

For the next muslin the plan is:

  • Fix that neckline gape issues – I found a tutorial on Craftsy which I’m going to give a whirl, it looks like it should do the trick
  • Test out the collar and facing as well as the main bodice pieces – this will tell me whether I need to do something about where the should seam is – also means I have to redraft the front facing as I’ve changed the length and am planning to change the shape a little with the neckline gape fix…
  • Think about whether I want to lengthen the front at all – I’m considering it, but I’m also conscious that adding the skirt (and the layers involved in the wrap and my planned lining) may add enough weight that it pulls the bodice down a bit… something to ponder… 🤔🤔

On to round two…

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Adjustments, OSP, Sewing

The Wrap Dress Project – an Introduction

A while back I was scrolling Pinterest on my train to or from work. It’s my brain unwind, and I find it surprisingly inspirational for helping solve random work related challenges, something about distracting one side of the brain to let the other one just work… anyway, I digress. I was scrolling, and I came across this picture:

At first I thought it was a photo of someone in a bought dress, but I clicked through anyway to Emily Hallman Designs blog and discovered that she made this marvellous creation – and that was it, I knew I had to try something like this.

I read her blog post about the alterations she made to the style of the dress – adding fullness to the skirt, shortening the sleeve and adding a cuff, and fully lining it, and I thought to myself – ‘I really like how this looks I could probably do all of that, but it’s an open wrap dress 🤔 not super thrilled about the wardrobe-malfunction risk that goes along with that 🤔’ and I think that ‘no press stud in the world is really that good’ also ran through my mind.

I pinned it to my Style Ideas board and promptly parked the idea and went on with making other things. But I couldn’t totally disregard it, and I kept coming back to that pin when scrolling through that board choosing patterns to buy.

I’m not sure where the idea started but as I kept coming back to the pin I began to wonder if I could possibly convert the open wrap to a closed wrap and install a zipper in the side seam to get into the dress… was I up for the multi-step adjustment challenge? I was! 💪🏻

I’m approaching this as a series of steps, and will be working through multiple muslins as I progress until I get to the end result – if I get to the end result… I have a feeling I may be making a few tried and true patterns here and there throughout this process as a sanity break…

The plan as it stands (each of these steps will be muslined at least once)

  • Adjust bodice for fit (FBA on a wrap dress – that’ll be a first for me)
  • Adjust sleeve length & add cuff
  • Adjust skirt to fit
  • Add fullness to skirt and lengthen
  • Draft lining
  • Add side seam zip to construction
  • Convert to closed wrap (construction sequence)

Then if all of that has worked, I’ll finally get to make it up in the good fabric!!

I’m planning to blog about each of these steps as I go – at the moment I’m onto muslin #2 of the adjusting the bodice for fit step… so there will be a post up soon about for first part of that step, complete with lots of photos!!

Wish me luck… 🍀🍀

Adjustments, Sewing

The miracle of the perfect fit the first time!

Christine Haynes of City Stitching has just released her latest pattern, the Varda top and dress. It's a nice blend between shift and sheath with classic french darts giving it some gentle shaping.

I'm a long time fan of Christine's Emery Dress pattern, I have *goes to count*, uh-hem, 34 of them 🙊😳🙈, ok, so that's a lot…

When I saw the technical drawings for this new pattern I was very interested – I've got a top pattern with french darts in it that I hacked down from a dress that I make and wear all the time, so I knew I liked the shape, and I liked the option of sleeveless if I wanted to go that way. I've made up View B for now, and will probably try out A and C at some point soon.

I'm right at the very top end of the size range in this pattern, as in my high bust measurement is the same as the bust measurement for the largest size of the pattern, so I knew I'd need to do a significant full bust adjustment right off.

Because I also usually need to grade up the hips of most patterns, I do that by just using the added width from the full bust adjustment all the way down to the hem line. Only very rarely do I need to grade up any further (I think I've only had that happen once out of all the patterns I've adjusted), and I never have to grade the waist down at all…

I did some research into dart rotations before I started the full bust adjustment. I'd never tried it before and I wanted to do something about reducing some of that I knew was going to become an enormous french dart once I'd added the 2.5 inch full bust adjustment!! But… I also didn't want to detract from the clean and simple lines of the garment by adding shoulder pleats or a traditional bust dart…

I settled on rotating an inch from the french dart up to the armscye, and while an inch doesn't sound like much when you just added a 2.5 FBA and made the french dart so big you could probably have driven a truck through, it did the trick!

There was some serious stick tape and guesstimating voodoo going on to work out exactly where I was going where to draft that armscye dart! But when I taped the paper together to close the dart and tried it 'on' it seemed to have worked, so I proceeded to cut out my muslin and get on with it!


Look at that fit!! The print of the fabric means you can't really even see the darts, but believe me, they're there.

I made the pattern up exactly according to the instructions until I got to inserting the zipper, and I even got as far as pinning one side of the invisible zip in before I remembered that sometimes apple-shaped people like me can get away without centre back zips in some styles.

I'll be honest, this has never been the case for me before, and I was highly sceptical that it would work this time, but I figured that it was worth a shot – if I could make these tops without needing to use expensive invisible zips, I was all for it. So I pinned the back seam allowance closed, half pinned in zipper and all, and tried the shirt on, miracle of miracles it fit! And it was looking good!! I removed that half pinned invisible zip quick smart and stitched the back seam closed.

The back darts meant no need for any swayback adjustment on this pattern – hurray!

I've since made another one in a solid colour (finally something to wear with the skirts!). You can see the darts on this plainer version, but I think you'll agree that the added armscye dart doesn't detract from the original design style of the shirt, and I think it certainly helps with the fit!!