Fitting a Pattern for a Blouse or Top
Fitting Topic No. 2. Preparing the Pattern Before You Cut
This will be a continuation of my post, Fitting a Pattern for a Blouse or Top, from December 27, 2020. After choosing my pattern and my size, I begin to get my pattern ready. Unlike most people, I don’t cut up my pattern. Instead, I start by tracing my pattern on medical exam paper before beginning. This way if I make a major mistake while cutting my size out of the multi-sized pattern pieces, I won’t ruin my original pattern. I know this takes a little longer, but I am too cheap to ruin a pattern that I may want to use for a different size later. You may choose to simply cut around your size on the original pattern and work with that instead of making a copy.
As is the case with most commercial patterns, Simplicity No. 8061 was made for a person with a B bra cup size. Since I am sewing a top for a D bra cup size, I already know I will need to make a full bust adjustment on my pattern. I will do that adjustment before I cut the fabric. If you have never done a full bust adjustment, I suggest you start by reading the instructions given in either of the two books I recommended in my last post. Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto explains how to make the adjustment beginning on page 142. The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen describes the full bust adjustment beginning on page 128. She also gives instructions for a small bust adjustment on page 128. Marta Alto has a CD titled Full Busted? Sew Clothes that Fit!. Marta gives very clear instructions on her CD for the full bust adjustment.
The finished garment measurement at the bust was printed on the front pattern piece of Simplicity 8061. If your pattern doesn’t give you this figure, measure across the front pattern piece at the bust from seamline to seamline. I suggest you mark the seamline on your pattern at the bust when you do this so you will get an accurate measurement. Also, measure from seamline to seamline across the back pattern piece. The total of the front and back will give you the finished garment measurement.
Usually, the amount of ease is given somewhere on the pattern. I found the ease printed on my front pattern piece next to the finished garment measurement. I subtracted the amount of ease from the finished garment measurement and compared that to my bust measurement. The difference was three inches, so I knew I had to find a way to add three inches to the bustline on the pattern. I divided the 3 inches into two because I will cut the front piece on the fold. So, I will need to add 1 1/2 “ to the front pattern piece. I also know my hips are a little larger than the size on the pattern envelope so I will need to add some to the side seams. With that in mind I decided to adjust the pattern piece by only one inch at the bust which will result in an increase of two inches because the piece is cut on the fold. I can get the other one-inch increase by adding ¼ inch at each side seam. Your figures will be different than mine and you may decide to do your total bust adjustment at the bust and not any at the seamline. You really have to just make an attempt and see if it works. You can always make adjustments to your pattern and to your mockup before you cut into your fashion fabric for the actual garment.
On page 130 of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, Sarah Veblen gives suggestions about the maximum amount to be added when using this method of making a full bust adjustment. There is a section in Fit for Real People that details instructions for making a Y bust adjustment. This technique is used when adding more then 1 ½” on each half of the front pattern piece or a total of 3” to the bust of the pattern.
As I copied the front pattern piece, I made sure I transferred all markings from the pattern to my copy including the line for lengthening or shortening the garment. On my pattern the line was about one inch above the waist. I will not need to lengthen or shorten my garment, but I can use this line as a horizontal balance line (HBL). Sara Veblen discusses the HBL in her book, The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, beginning on page 24. HBLs will help you keep your garment in the proper position as you make adjustments. These lines should always be horizontal to the floor and perpendicular to the center front.
Before I began the full bust adjustment, I measured approximately one-third way up on the armhole and marked that point. Make sure the apex is marked on your pattern. The apex is usually marked on the pattern with a circle with a plus sign in it. Don't worry if the marked apex is higher than your bust point. The apex will automatically be lowered by making the full bust adjustment. If it needs to lowered even more, you can do that after sewing and trying on your mockup. Then you can make the changes to your pattern before cutting your fashion fabric. My pattern did not have the apex marked. I marked it a little above the dart and about one inch away from the dart end so that the middle line of the dart will go through the marked apex. I drew a line from the point marked on the armhole to the apex and straight down from the apex to the bottom of the garment. Make sure this line is perpendicular to the bottom. I extended the middle line in the dart to, but not through, the apex. This became line 2 of the full bust adjustment. I drew line 3 just above the HBL from line 1 to the center fold line about one inch above the HBL.
I placed my pattern on my gridded cutting mat to make the cuts on the three lines. If you don’t have a cutting mat with grids, you could use a fold-up cardboard grid. I carefully cut from the bottom of the garment on line 1 up to and through the apex to, but not through, the armhole. Then I cut line 2 from the side to, but not through, the apex. I spread both sides of line A apart and to the side and down. This caused the dart to open. I made sure I kept the center fold line on a grid line and kept both sides of line A parallel to a grid line. I measured the distance between both sides of Line A. When it equaled the amount of increase needed, I use pattern weights to hold my pattern in place. If you used a cardboard grid, you could use pins to hold the pattern in place.
After doing the full bust adjustment, the bottom of the garment was not level. This required truing the pattern. To do this, I cut from the center fold line across line 3 to line 1. Then I pulled the section down so that it was level with the side section using a grid line to make sure the section was level. Pin or use a pattern weight to hold the section in place. Then I carefully added pieces of pattern paper to fill in the spaces on my pattern and taped them.
After marking the center line of the new dart, I folded the bottom dart leg to the top dart leg and then cut the pattern on the cut line. That resulted in forming the dart extension on the pattern piece. The front of the pattern is now ready to be cut.
If you are interested in learning to fit a pattern to your body, I hope you will do some reading on the subject to prepare yourself for this sewing adventure. The two books I recommended are good resources. Fit for Read People focuses on fitting the tissue pattern on your body and making the changes directly to the pattern before you cut your fabric. The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting focuses on comparing your measurements to the pattern measurements and making one or more test garments to use to determine what alterations are needed for your pattern to fit you. There are many photos of fitting problems to help you learn to recognize areas that need adjustment and show you how to make the adjustments. Both these books are filled with helpful information. And there are many other sources of good information on the internet. The important point is for you to begin to research some of the available information so you can train yourself to become proficient at fitting a pattern.