Monday, January 18, 2021


Fitting a Pattern for a Blouse or Top

Fitting Topic No. 3:  Sewing a Mockup for the Blouse or Top 

This is a continuation of Fitting Topics Nos. 1 and 2 in my series of posts on Fitting a Pattern for a Blouse or Top.  The first two topics were posted Dec. 27, 2020 and Jan. 3, 2021.  After making a full bust adjustment to the front pattern piece of Simplicity 8061, I cut out the pattern and sewed a mockup for the top.   A mockup can be made from muslin or any other fabric that is of similar weight to what you will use for your final garment.  I am using a piece of fabric from my stash.  It is something I won’t mind throwing away after I get the pattern to fit me and before I cut my fashion fabric intended for the final garment.  I did not make any changes to the back piece of my pattern, but I did make sure to mark the horizontal balance line (HBL) and checked to see it lined up with the HBL I marked on the front pattern piece. 

I placed the front, back, and sleeve pieces of Simplicity 8061 onto my fabric and cut out the mockup.  Then I transferred all markings to the mockup.  I marked the HBL lines in ink on the right side of the fabric so it will show in photos.  Of course, I would not do this with fabric for a garment.  I did it on the mockup so it will be easier to see in a photo.  I used large basting stitches on the mockup so it will be easier to rip out stitches and make adjustments when I try on the mockup. 

For making adjustments to the mockup, I will use information found in The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen and a CD published by Threads titled Create a Master Bodice Pattern with Sarah Veblen.   Both the book and the CD teach you how to read the drag lines and folds of the fabric to make the necessary adjustments to your test garment (mockup).  I really like the 2-disc set, Create a Master Bodice Pattern, because it shows Sarah Veblen fitting a mockup on a real person while she explains each adjustment.


I can’t possibly show you every adjustment you might need in a few posts, but I will tell you about the ones I needed to do and will mention a few others.  The way to learn to fit a mockup is to do it yourself.  It is easier if you have someone to help you, but it is also possible to do it yourself by looking in a mirror or fitting it on a dress form.  Doing it by yourself will take longer because you will be removing the mockup frequently to make your changes.  I realize that during this pandemic most of us don’t have another skilled sewer to help us.  I had to enlist the help of my husband.  Although his help was limited, it did make fitting a little easier.  He was able to pin the seams for me and help me decide if the mockup’s HBLs were straight.

If you prefer to fit the pattern tissue pieces directly to your body instead of making a mockup, you should follow the instructions for that given in Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto.  That book gives detailed instructions for fitting the tissue pieces with pictures and explanations of how to make alterations.  I use both Fit for Real People and The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting as research tools when I am trying to fit a pattern.  Both are full of excellent information regarding fitting. 

I sewed the front and backs together with long stitches before I put the mockup on for the first fitting.  As planned in my previous post, I sewed 1/4 inch side seams and a 1/4 inch center back seam instead of the 5/8 inch allowed on the pattern to get the extra room I needed.  I did not sew in the sleeves. 

The front fit reasonably well.  I noticed I will need to lower the bust probably another 3/4 - 1 inch. The back had wrinkles from under the arms pointing towards the shoulders and the shoulder lines were not in the right spot.  These two issues may indicate there is not enough room in the back to go over the rounded part of my back.  My shoulders roll forward so the shoulder seams do not sit where my shoulder line is.  I will do an adjustment on my pattern for round shoulders and this adjustment may take care of some of the wrinkles from under my arms by adding more fabric to go over the curve of my back.  I may also make a forward shoulder adjustment to my pattern to correct the shoulder line.  I have three changes to make to my pattern before I cut out another mockup:  1.  Make round back adjustment; 2. Make forward shoulder adjustment; 3. Lower the bust.

It is important to write down each of the adjustments you need so you will remembe to transfer all of them to your pattern.  You can write them on paper or even on your mockup if it is a solid light color.  Check them off as you add them to your pattern.

I traced another back pattern piece.  I decided not to increase the center back seam as I did on the first mockup because that would increase the neckline.  Instead, I decided to add another 1/8 inch to each side seam in addition to the 3/8 inch I added when I took 1/4 inch side seams on the mockup instead of the 5/8 inch allowed on the pattern.  Therefore,  I added 1/2 inch (3/8 + 1/8) to each side seam.  I will need to add the corresponding amount to the seam allowance on the sleeves also.  

I decided not to make the forward shoulder adjustment to the back pattern piece.  Instead, I will adjust the shoulder seam line after I sew the next mockup.  I want to see if the round back adjustment changes the shoulder line enough that I may not need the forward shoulder adjustment.  

The next change I made to my pattern was the round back adjustment.  I marked the seam allowance for the neckline and the armscye.  Then I drew a line one inch down from the neckline seam on the center back straight across to the seamline at the armscye.  I made sure I did not cut through the seamline.  Then I clipped from the armscye up to but not through the seamline.  This made a hinge for the back to slide up 3/8 inch on the center back but remain attached at the armscye.  It is very important to keep the lower portion of the back on the straight of grain when doing this!  I placed a strip of paper under the open section and taped in place.  When I made this adjustment, the center back curved in slightly at the neckline, so I straightened the center back.  This will probably not affect the neckline because the small amount of extra fabric can be eased into the facing.  If you have a larger amount, you could add a neckline dart.     

I traced another front pattern piece so I can make the changes necessary for the front.  First, I added 1/2 inch to the front side seam just as I did for the back.   Then to lower the bust, I drew a box around the dart.   I kept the upper and lower edges of the box parallel.  Then I cut out the box and moved it so the point of the dart was ¾ inch down from the apex.  I added a strip of paper under the dart area and taped the box in place.  I used a red pen to mark the box, but it is still difficult to see in a photo.  The two photos below show the box as it was drawn and the box after it was moved down and taped in place. 


Now I am ready to cut out my second mockup and baste it together.  I will let you know in my next post how that turns out.  If you have not started fitting a pattern, I hope you will give it a try.  Just be sure to do some reading on the subject and be ready to experiment!





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