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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Fitting process: example of a basic woven tee

This summer in the Northern Hemisphere has been very hot. It has quickly become apparent to me that knit tops are just too warm for this weather. What a person does not need in the heat is something clinging to her body. As a result I have returned to the idea of a woven tank top - something I haven't made in years. 

To be honest my daughter had great success with the Willow tank but I decided I needed something with a good bust dart. I also thought it was about time I used some of the patterns I had bought in previous bursts of quickly burnt out enthusiasm before I went out shopping again.

That prompted me to try the tiny pocket tank from Grainline. Here is their shot of it done up:

I am fairly scrawny in the neck and shoulders area so even before I attempted this pattern I had my doubts that it would be a success. But I decided to give it a go and work through the issues with my own fitting principles.

Version One:

This one I did on the rule I have made for myself for all new patterns - make it as the designer intended first so I could get a good look at exactly where this particular pattern needed adjustment. It is to easy to assume that you need to make the same alterations to every pattern. However if you are not careful it is very easy to start cutting up the pattern and changing it so drastically right immediately that you never can find your way back to the original.

So here is my first iteration done in a remnant left over from my cotton gauze jacket. Note my bust measurement is between sizes so I cut the smaller of the two possible sizes:

For this one I tried a free background removing program to see if that would be handy for those times when there is a garbage can or something non artistic behind me. What do you think?

Now this top makes me look distressingly matronly and is way too loose IMO. The darts are in the right place though and that is a good thing. I also lengthened this unit by 2" because I am tall, but I am thinking as waists go up and pants get wider that I need to reconsider shorter tops. I have worn this several times in really hot weather however and I have to say frumpy is comfortable and cool.

Version two:

OK I went down a full size to what is actually 4" less than my full bust and did a full bust adjustment. I also hoisted up the shoulders about 1/2" at the front because I have text neck, and added two small darts at the back neck. I also raised the neckline at front 2". I also did not add length to this version.

These were too many pattern alterations to attempt at one time, I know better, and this is what happened:

The neckline and shoulders are more where I need them on this body, and the length is better. The above the bust fit is good but look at those darts! Of course they moved up when I raised the shoulder.

Back to the drawing board. BTW the fabric is a nice cotton gauze from the Grandmothers for grandmothers (Canadian grandmothers helping African grandmothers raising grandchildren) annual fabric and craft sale, which is amazing. I still have a bunch of this left.

Version three:

This one has the darts in the right place and the overall fit is comfortable. I used the block method to move down the darts which is exactly what it sounds like, I cut a square around the dart and just moved that whole block down. Gives a much more accurate dart than just reorienting the point.

But what else is happening here? 

Look at those wrinkles under my arm. Fortunately wrinkles are easy to read - wherever they point is where there is not enough room. In this case I am back to another issue created by my decision take up some fabric in the front shoulder seam - I created a raised front armhole. Good lesson here that one alteration can produce the need for another one - always interesting to me how issues ricochet around a garment.

Fabric was a remnant left over from a shirt I made for my oldest son. These fitting experiments are great for using up leftovers.

Which brings us to:

Version four:

I cut down the underarm for this version a full 3/4" here and most of the wrinkles are gone. It certainly feels better. I do think that I have one more tweak to do and that is to cut out the front of the armhole a bit to reduce the potential to bind when my arms go forward. When that's done I think I am good. The fabric is a stash resident that was bought to line a bag but I have such a weakness for retro prints here it is in a top instead. I have yet to make a bag this summer.

A few thoughts on this whole process.

Generally I don't enjoy fitting. I really love construction and I sort of feel that fitting is a nuisance process I have to do so I can get to the fun part. I have friends who make innumerable muslins of every pattern before they make a garment. I would never do that. I mean my favourite kitchen utensils are the food processor and the crock pot.

That said I really do spend the time to refine a pattern when I feel it is going to be a TNT basic for me. This is now something I can whip up when I want to use a nice print. Also since my travels and my own climate make shell and cardigan combos really practical, I am working now on the idea of tops I can wear in the summer and later wear with some kind of a jacket/cardigan when its cooler. This pattern will work for that.

I am also not a great believer in over fitting. It is certainly possible to obsess over every wrinkle and fold but when you eliminate those completely you often lose mobility, not to mention the over articulation of your own shape, which may or may not be a good thing.

What do you think?