Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Fitting, argh!!!!

Warning this is a word heavy post, but please do read it as I am in desperate need of some moral support, help me please!

Every so often I think to myself, “oh Laura, why are you so rubbish at getting your sewing projects underway?” 

Yes I have a bit of a thing against cutting out, all stemming from a childhood inability to follow the dotted line (I couldn’t colour-in very neatly either). But I am tackling that problem and have done ok, for example it only took me a month to get round to cutting out my Beignet.

But yet I avoid starting new projects like a small boy avoids bathtime.  And I had forgotten why, until last weekend when I decided to crack on with fitting the bodice for my frappuccino summer dress (I’ve decided to name it after my favourite summertime drink, plus the polka dot print is a light coffee colour so it ties in nicely).

My biggest fitting problem (figuratively and literally as well I’m afraid) is my boobies.  Previously mentioned here I struggle with full bust adjustments, and yet again the problem has re-emerged. 
The bodice I am fitting can be strapless or has straps that you adjust to fit you, so there’s no shoulder seam to hang the muslin from to gauge what length/width I need to add. 

The dress I am trying to make
 As far as I know you pin the muslin or tissue to the shoulder and the side seams when fitting and work out the extra width you need by measuring the distance from the pattern/muslin centre front to your actual centre front.  This also helps you work out if you need more length.  This is tricky to do with a strapless bodice as I have no clue how high the pattern is supposed to sit.

So I basically put the muslin as high as I wanted it and went from there.  Also I forgot to lower the bust fullness on the princess seam before making the muslin, so worked out where the fullness should be, then calculated the amount needed for the FBA by lowering the actual fullest part of the bodice to the right place, re-pining it there, and working out the distance needed to reach the centre front.

Confused?  I know I am.

Right so after all that I went back to my pattern pieces.  Firstly I moved the fullness down on the pattern piece based on the line I drew on muslin one.

lowering bust fullness
 Then I did an FBA.  I did have a look at the fab tutorial from Sewaholic.  I also referred a lot to Monkeysocks' post on bust fullness and FBA’s on a princess seam.  But these resources couldn’t help me as much as I would have liked.  This is because my princess seam is very much to side, whereas the standard princess seam sits on (or very close to) your apex.  So the standard FBA  is done on the side bodice piece, but my adjustment really needed to be on the front piece as thats where all my bust fullness was.  The main fitting book I use, Fit For Real People said that you can add to the front piece as well as the side if the princess seam is closer to the side.  I’d looked at the fit of my muslin and kinda guessed whether the room was needed at the side or the front.  I went for the front so did a different type of FBA, thankfully my book FFRP explained the process.

 Lastly I added an inch in length to all the bodice pieces as my FBA didn't add any length and muslin number one was too short.

adding length
This is muslin number 2.  Does it look ok?

No it blinking doesn't.  The FBA created a massive amount of excess fabric at the front so this whole top is basically now a shapeless bag!

Not only that but the FBA also added an extra triangle of space near the side seam when doing the whole slash/spread thing.

In the book states that this spread will be minor, and gives no instruction to alter the side piece to account for the extra length in the seam, however on my piece it's almost half an inch longer than before the FBA, so now matching the front seams to the side seams is really hard, hence all the bumpy bits round the bust. 
I have pretty much run out of time to do anything to sort this out and sew up the actual dress before my holiday  so that plan was a big fail.

I’m not experienced at noticing fitting problems when trying on a muslin and have found tissue fitting impossible so have given up on that.  I don’t know how to fix any problems I do spot, and I am constantly confounded because I feel like the problems I have aren’t shown in books or online tutorials.

I am pulling my hair out, not least because as much as I love reading all the other sewing blogs out there it feels like everyone else breezes through these fitting issues and churns out dresses like there's no tomorrow.  Why do I find this process so hard?


  1. I completely agree with the title of this blog post! I don't have much advice, other than perhaps try again, but this time do the FBA to the side piece. It might help get the extra in the right place, as adding to the front piece didn't work. If it's still too big, try a smaller FBA.
    I know how frustrating it is. My boobies are ridiculous. Sometimes I think I should get a reduction just to make my sewing easier! lol
    Keep at it! *hugs*
    Ashley x

  2. I can offer absolutely zero advice, but have a hug anyway :-) And hey, if you pull that much hair out no-ones gonna notice the fit of your dress cos they'll be wondering about the bald spots... ;-) I do someone gives you the right advice you need, and that you are able to take a deep breath and have another go. If I'm really struggling with something I leave it for a bit and make something simple that I know will cheer me up. Best of luck!

  3. I have no advice either but can offer tons of commis-ery? I know exactly how you feel. On the blogs I read, everyone seems so quick at whipping up those dress/ top patterns - all while making tricky fitting adjustments! My solution? I'm going to a little sewing class this fall. Hoping I will benefit from a little professional help ;)

  4. Oh man, I am totally with you on the fitting issues! I am slowly getting better, and I think that's a big thank you to Fit for Real People. They cover all fitting issues. It was a very big help and I would suggest investing in it if, like me, you have fitting issues. Also, big boobs rock, so it's not all bad.


  5. Oh Laura I really feel for you - all the time you've already spent on it and it's still a pain. I've never done a FBA, but I did have a lot of trouble fitting the bodice of my Crepe dress. One thing that helped with the fit was a shaped dart underneath the bust for a more flattering fit. Here's the link to Gerties' blog explaining it
    It may help with the excess fabric at the front. I agree with Reana Louise about Fit for Real People - it's a really useful book. I'll have a look and see what they say about FBA's. Don't give up though, we can all see the potential for a fabulous dress! x

  6. Oh sorry, another one with no advice here! But just wanted to say I feel your pain - having been 'blessed' with a sizable rack, I find buying clothes AND making clothes a nightmare... My lazy solution is jersey, thank god for stretch eh?! You may well have seen this one but there is a good FBA tutorial on the Colette blog. Good luck with it, don't give up!

  7. Thanks for the virtual hugs guys. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has fitting issues, but I do wish that it wasn't so hard to make adjustments!

    I've got Fit for real people, and was using their FBA method for princess seams, altering the front bodice piece.

    Ashley - I don't think an FBA on the side bodice piece will work as the fullness is all in the front.

    I think I need to add a bit to the side bust fullness just to stop the puckering there, and i need to find a way to reduce the bagginess under the bust. I may take in the side seams a little too. All in all I've still got not clue what I am doing though

  8. Oh I so feel your pain. I HATE fitting. and I am currently stuck in a hole of non productivity through fears of it! (to put this into perspective, the top I was doing the FBA on that you mentioned still doesn't exist...really must finish that, the fitting is almost done but I share your fear of cutting out).
    I have been finding it slightly easier since making a dressform, but still pretty much end up redrafting the whole thing by doing a quick and dirty FBA and then moulding the pieces on the form so that I can take all the extra stuff without to much difficulty. Luckily this method isn't (on simple things) much harder or more time-consuming than the tissue changes. You can do it without a dressform by turning yourself into one. If you put on a tight top, mark out where you would like the seam to go on yourself with thin ribbon pinned to the top, and do the same with the side seams (or use the sides of the top if they're in the right sort of place) and centre front. Then just take some material, and pin it along the side seams, and pin another piece and along your centre front. then just pin them together or draw a line on each piece where they meet along the princess line you marked, and where the top of the bodice should go, and the waistline. I usually just do one side, even though I am not symmetrical its still a lot closer than paper alterations seem to end up. Then if its not quite right when assembled you can tweak the back pierce and side seams without messing up the front. Also, as your only really fiddling with the seams on the front, and only on one side, it's much more manageable than trying to fit properly on yourself, which is always a bit of a nightmare!

    If you are sticking with the paper, I would suggest instead of taking the wedge out of the side piece, you take a large wedge out of the front, so that it would curve in again under the bust (why they assume that everyone who has boobs has a matching stomach that starts just under the bust I have no idea). But I am just guessing, my fitting is always a bit rough and ready! Best of luck!

  9. oh I should have mentioned, use muslin for the fiddling about part of my suggestion, then cut the pieces out, trace onto paper (being careful not to distort the fabric), and then use the paper pattern, marking on how you think the grain should go (use the original pattern for this).

  10. Oh Laura, I really feel for you and so admire your tenacity. I found fitting my crepe dress bodice so disheartening, like Jane, and I know this isn't your first fitting challenge. You have already learnt so much about fitting though, that's another plus. I also think having some kind of dress form could help because at least then you would be much better able to get around the whole thing, and pinch and tuck at will! But expensive! I'm still looking! With this dress any chance you could find a bodice piece from another pattern that you've already done the fitting on and adapt to make it strappy? Perhaps a bodice with darts not princess seams? Good luck xx


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