Let me back up a little. A few months ago I came across a lovely new blog via the Colette Patterns group on Flickr, Blanca Pate, written by the equally lovely Amanda. Let me just interject that not only do I love Amanda's style, I also love her attitude toward sewing - she seems to take her time and focus on creating a beautiful finished garment that is "just so" - inside and out. I should take a leaf from her book . . .
Anyway, Amanda had made a Hazel sundress, and it caught my eye. It was a pattern that I had loved from afar since its release, but had always assumed wouldn't work for me because of, you know, "the girls" (or rather, lack thereof). I clicked through to Amanda's post about her dress anyway, and: "Wait a minute! What?! She did a SBA?!?!?! You can do that with this pattern?!?" Seriously, it had never occurred to me! The following week found me at the Needle Shop, buying the pattern. And since I was there, I picked up Lily too.
And then . . . nothing. I wasn't really sure how to proceed. I consulted my books regarding the SBA; I googled and googled looking for information. But nowhere could I find instructions for doing bust adjustments on Dior darts (a.k.a side bust darts). Plain old darts, sure. Princess seams: easy. But put the two together and I was baffled! Amanda had very kindly directed me to this post by Symondezyn on doing a FBA for this pattern, but even after reading through it a few times, I still couldn't quite wrap my head around it.
I put the project on the back burner for a while, and then shortly before we left for SF, I decided to trace out the pattern and just give it a try. I'd read all the reviews I could find; some said the bodice fit was loose, others felt it was on the small side. Because I span several sizes in Colette, I decided to start at size 4, although my chest measurement puts me in a size 0 and my waist comes in at a size 6. Also, my limited experience with Colette patterns has lead me to believe that they're drafted for women whose "apex" is front and center. My "apices" kind of veer off to the side, so I wanted to give them some room.
Anyhow, I got as far as doing the SBA on the tracing and cutting out my fabric, and then it sat some more. But the other day, prompted by Miss Lulu's commitment to dealing with her UFO pile, I decided to get back to it. I sewed up my adjusted size 4 bodice muslin and was surprised that the fit wasn't really too bad. It was just a tad large overall, so I decided to make a second muslin one size down. Yep, you read that right: TWO muslins! I'm killin'!
This afternoon, after finishing all my chores, I sat down with it again. I retraced the pattern in a size 2, then made my markings and shifted the front piece for the SBA:
The overlap is about 3/16" - so I guess that's a SBA of 3/8" because you're taking that off twice? I still don't quite get that part!
Shifting the pieces takes the seam lines out of true (see upper left corner):
It was easier for me to retrace the whole thing with the seamlines trued before proceeding. Once I'd done that, I walked this and the adjoining piece together to figure out how much length I needed to remove:
Then I re-traced the whole thing one more time so I'd have a nice, neat pattern piece to work from.
I ended up not shaving any of the curve off the side bodice, because it wasn't that pronounced to begin with. It just looked right to me.
You can see that on all my pieces, I drew in the seam lines, which made it a lot easier to walk the seams and be accurate.
So imagine my surprise and elation when it fit PERFECTLY! Well, at least across the front, which is the problematic part. I'll have to get Hubby to pin the back closed for me over the weekend so I can get a true assessment of the fit. But hey - even if it's a little off, the major hurtle has been jumped.
And I was quite surprised to see when I held it together in the back that even the waist is a good fit. I'm a little long-waisted, so this hits about an inch and half above my waist - an area that I believe measures larger than my natural waist - so, go figure. I did try to take flat pattern measurements of the bodice at the bust (to no avail) but forgot to do it at the waist, so I was kind of flying blind. But it all worked out.
So what have I learned? Well, SBAs aren't really as difficult and tricky as I'd been imagining, and the small investment of time gives a big pay-off. Also, a muslin is a very useful thing. I may be changing my ways . . . at least for more fitted garments like this.
So now I have a small dilemma. I had planned to work on my PJs over the weekend for Karen's Pyjama Party - are you guys in? But now I'm feeling that I'd like to work up a first go of this dress! Meanwhile, I have three finished garments I need to photograph so I can show you guys: one I finished before the trip and two I've made since coming back. I'm planning on wearing the first one to a jazz concert tonight, so I may get a pic of it today. We're finally having some decent weather around here!