Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fitting Journal: Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse

Hi all!

I didn't intend to take a one-week hiatus, but you know how it is sometimes:  stuff is going on, but nothing really worth writing about.  I did a lot of crafting in the last week, but one (knitted) item is a gift I won't be able to post about until February.  Then I started a BHL Charlotte skirt muslin; it's got some problems that I'll have to work out, so no use writing about that yet.

I put the skirt on the back burner for a while in order to try some of my newly learned fitting techniques on my favorite blouse pattern:  Pattern Runway's Pussy Bow Blouse (which from now will be known as the PR PBB).

I've made this blouse twice before.  The first one was a bit too small across the back and the hips.  The second time I made it, I gave myself a 1/4" broad back adjustment and graded the hip out from XS to S.  And that one fits pretty well - acceptable really.  But I wanted to see if I could tweak the pattern a bit more.  I'm always chasing the dream of a blouse that fits my wonky body perfectly.

So over the weekend I got out my pattern and went to town.  In the interest of clarity, I'm going to show each adjustment separately and how I feel it worked.  What that really means is:  WARNING:  Picture Heavy Post!  But that's better than no pictures, right?!


I increased my Broad Back Adjustment from 1/4" to 3/8".  This did make it more comfortable to wear, but it ends up looking like there is a lot of fabric back there, especially around my waist.  I may consider adding in some vertical fisheye darts in future.


A 1/2" Sway Back Adjustment took care of some of the pooling of fabric in the lower back.  I could probably take more out in the future.


I did a 1/2" Foward Shoulder Adjustment to both shoulders, tapering to nothing at the neck.  This blouse does sit more comfortably on my shoulders than the previous two, and doesn't pull to the back.




I gave myself a little extra space in the back for my shoulder blades with a Prominent Shoulder Blade Adjustment, as shown in Fitting and Pattern Alteration.  I used the "seam method" - you slash the seam line and move it out, so that while you give yourself more space, the length of the seam line remains the same.  (This book was a gift from my mom a year (or two?) ago - it's very expensive, but a super reference book if you can afford it or if you know someone who wants to give you an extravagant gift!)  I think this worked pretty well.


I used that same "seam method" to swing my side seam out front and back by about 1/2", making sure front and back match.  On my first two blouses, I can't really button the bottom button; on this one I can.


Moved shoulder point forward 1/2" to match forward shoulder adjustment.


And cut 1/2" off the front sleeve seam and added it to the back sleeve seam so that the sleeve seam would match up with the side seam.  While the shoulders feel good, I'm not sure this sleeve adjustment is working for me (this is one of the methods recommended in Fit For Real People).  The armscye feels tight, and there is still some pulling on my right arm especially.


The only adjustment I made to the front was to move the bust dart down 1/2", based on trying on my second blouse.  But once this blouse was finished, I decided I was better off with it in its original position, so I moved it back.

I'm having a period of low sewjo - we all get those - so that coupled with wanting to knock this one out to assess the fitting changes means that this isn't the best blouse I've ever made.  It's not horrible, but it's not the awesome blouse I was hoping for.  Part of that is the color - while I like this fabric as fabric, it doesn't really suit my coloring.  I feel it really washes me out, and even with the pink and white designs and the cute red buttons, it still reads GREY.


That said, because I don't LOVE it, that means I will probably actually wear it!  I've noticed I have a tendency NOT to wear the things I love, for fear of messing them up.  (I'm working on it.)


Here's the thing I'm struggling with, and I'd be curious to know if any of you have this problem too.  I'm starting to wonder if the holy grail of a perfectly fitting shirt is a myth.  I've noticed that a lot of my clothing that LOOKS good doesn't feel comfortable to me.  And the things that do feel comfortable tend to look sloppy and frumpy.  I've been operating under the assumption that there's a happy medium, but I'm starting to wonder if that's true.  Technically, this blouse fits better than the first two.  But I much prefer how the second one looks on me, and it's not just about the fabric choice.


Granted, it does look better across the upper back.  On the next one I will move the dart back to its original position, which should take care of some of that frumpiness across the front,  and also shorten the shirt - I think this is 1 or 2 inches too long for me.


I'm also going to consider adjusting for my lower right shoulder.  I haven't wanted to go there - having to make two separate pattern pieces for left and right just seems a step too tedious.  But then I think, what if that's the missing piece of the puzzle?

So, even though this isn't the OMG PERFECT shirt I was hoping for (because let's face it:  that's the hope with every single project, right?) it is wearable, and I learned some things. 

And this is my third make from Stash, so that gets me one step closer to a new fabric allowance :-)

31 comments:

  1. While I admire the tenacity of those who rework and rework, yeah I wonder when the threshold of perfection exceeds some magical limit.

    I would imagine that a garment fit so well as to not have not a single wrinkle in any place might not be the most comfortable. We have to move!

    Also, I am still refusing to cut a second pattern piece to accommodate my crazy left shoulder...I mostly just take a larger SA on the left shoulder seam! Lol!

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  2. Oh and...I like the second one best!

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  3. I have that same book, and also a gift from my mum for my birthday six months ago. I am trying to get my head around the wealth of information there and as yet, have not made a single alteration as I am too scared! Hmmm... Not good.

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    1. I've only started recently. I use the book as a reference, but I really should read it at some point, LOL!

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  4. I totally know what you mean about the myth of fitting - I have to regularly remind myself to look at my RTW clothes and notice that *they* don't fit me the way I'm expecting my self-made stuff to. If you look at these things for too long they jump out at you, and yet (at least for me) I'd never notice it if my attention wasn't drawn there. Anyway - I think the shirt looks fab, and I'm totally going to do a forward shoulder adjustment on my next Archer so thanks for the tip!

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    1. I agree completely, Jenny. Part of why I want to sew is to get the good fit I don't get with RTW, and I think I may put a bit too much pressure on myself, like a lot of us do. It's still better than a lot of my RTW stuff though!

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  5. I'm no fitting expert by any means, but I think you can overfit, so that although something looks "perfect", it doesn't feel comfortable. I also wonder if it doesn't feel as comfortable because you're not used to that fit - if you know what I mean.

    Having said that, I think it looks good on you and I love the fabric. I'm a hude fan of grey lately.

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    1. It could be that I'm not used to this fit - because honestly, on a day-to-day basis, what I really wear is oversized, old t-shirts! It's hard to get any more comfortable than that, LOL!

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  6. lol. I love this post, like LOVE it. It is like you crawled up in my head and typed all my thoughts ;-)
    I too am always chasing the dream; to the point where it no longer becomes fun, but agonizing.
    I did enjoy reading about all your fitting changes because we have many of the same. I can agree that most clothes that fit "well" aren't as comfortable and I don't wear my loves either. sigh. perhaps we were separated at birth? :P
    The blouse is pretty though, that fabric choice is great.

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    1. It's like a Sewcialist Mind-Meld, LOL! Maybe we were separated at birth!

      Right now I'm at the point where it's still interesting to do the fitting stuff, because it's a new skill. In reality, I didn't have to do this many things to this pattern - it was pretty good already. But you know how it is - I just wanted to try it out! I think for the next round, I'll crank it back a notch ;-)

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  7. i do think "perfect fit" is a rather elusive dream. not that we shouldn't strive for good fit, but at a certain point i think it's okay to move on and let an adjustment here or there slide. i do like this fabric, and i am a big fan of grey, but maybe i'm so used to seeing you in bright colors that this feels a little drab as is! i think it would br great tucked into a skirt and/or paired with a colorful sweater to brighten it up.

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    1. I agree - as I said to Kristin, this was mostly an experiment. I don't need to do all this stuff every time. "Perfect" for me is something that both looks flattering and is comfortable because it doesn't pull anywhere, no matter how I move. A pretty tall order for anything made in a woven with no stretch! May not be possible!

      I like charcoal grey, but this shade is a bit drab. I do intend to try this top tucked into my red Madeleine skirt. Which is buried at the back of my closet at the moment!

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  8. forgot to say... this is how i've done forward shoulder adjustments, but i wonder if i should also be taking a slice out of the armhole on the shirt front. if the shoulder is forward, it does stand to reason that you would need a little extra room on the back, and a little less on the front. might explain the armhole tightness you're experiencing.

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    1. Hmmm, maybe. Although I don't want to narrow the front any more, and I've already added a bunch of width at the back. I read a lot about people raising or lowering the armscye, and that's something I haven't tried yet that may work out. I'm trying to avoid having to redraft the sleeve cap, but that might have to be done . . .

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  9. Cute material. Kudos to you how you persevere and make adjustments with each try. Everyone is shaped differently. You can't try on patterns beforehand to see how the fit is.

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    1. That's for sure! Well, you sort of can with tissue-fitting, but I didn't do that! And it's not like knitwear that can stretch and be more forgiving! This is the kind of stuff that keeps sewing interesting for me :-)

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  10. Interesting post! Some stuff I can't get my head around that well, like how you have to move the underarm seam because of the forward shoulder. Doesn't moving the shoulder dot on the sleeve fix it? Oops, brain going into meltdown. Now if anyone is guilty of chasing the perfect fit, it's definitely me. And I think you're right, there's a limit. But I do think this looks really good! :)

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    1. Well, pay no attention to me, and just read Andrea's comment below, LOL!

      It does seem that different people have different understandings, doesn't it? I know you like the Sarah Veblen fitting book, but it makes absolutely no sense to me! I often wish there was just one pat answer for all of this, but sadly, we all have to find our own way :-)

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  11. You know, I got a comment on my fitting post asking why I had done the Forward Shoulder Adjustment different from what the book recommends, so I went back to read the book and noticed that it explicitly says not to move the shoulder point but to leave it where it was. So now I am totally confused! I think that by adding the broad back adjustment and side seam extra room you have made this blouse larger at the waist and that is probably why you don't like the fit as much - nothing some fish eye darts can't fix. As for the armscye, maybe an e-mail to Janet would solve the mystery? She did say she would be willing to answer questions.

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    1. Whaaaa? OK, I have to confess that I didn't read the book - I just "remembered" (wrongly!) what we did in class! I have now gone back and read the book and you're right! Oh well, something to try for the next one, LOL!

      I may end up asking Janet about the armholes, because it happens on just about every (woven) shirt with sleeves I have, RTW or hand made.

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  12. I think your shirt looks great! For me comfort trumps fit perfection every time, but I admire your quest for the perfect shirt, if it exists. (As you say, "perfect" in one dimension may negate perfection in another!)

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! Comfort usually trumps everything for me too. But I'm trying so hard not to look frumpy as I get older!

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  13. I'm sure you were super scrutinizing this shirt because of your fitting goals. You'll wear it and you learned some things so I would call it a win! I really like it (especially the pop of the buttons). I had put my traced PR PBB aside, but this makes me want to get going on it!

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    1. Exactly, Shar - this was an experiment, to see how these fitting changes work. And like I said, I think I'm going to back it up a bit. I'm planning on re-reworking (LOL!) my pattern today, and then hoping to start another one over the weekend. So I have another chance to get some pictures for you, if the weather cooperates!

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  14. I think I like version 2 on you better, but as you say fabric choice may have a lot to do with it. I certainly never scrutinised the fit of my RTW clothing before I really got into garment sewing, beyond 'does it do up', 'can I move my arms' and 'is my backside and/or muffin top too exposed'.... Comfort is important, but feeling chic and stylish is too. There's so much variation in how different companies draft fit..... Great work on explaining it all so thoroughly!

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    1. I must say: I'm wearing this today (Thursday) and I think I can definitely say now that I like version 2 better. And it turns out I may have done the forward shoulder adjustment wrong, according to Andrea! Going to take it back in and try again :-)

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  15. These fit posts from you and Andrea are fascinating! And I'm not ashamed to say that they hurt my poor brain a wee bit! It looks never ending (though I get your point about doing more than is probably necessary to put your new skills to use) and I wonder if I will ever have the stamina to chase a better fit. SInce taking up sewing again I definitely pay a lot more attention to how everything fits and I've come to realize that I have a ridiculously critical eye when I am looking at my me-mades! For example, pooling at my lower back? Drives me insane when I see it on the shirts, dresses, etc that I have made but when I put on some of my RTW, I see the same pooling and it never bothers me! So why the double standard?

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    1. I know what you mean: I often have a hard time wading through other people's fitting posts, LOL! It's like my mind is only wired to understand what applies to meeeeee!

      You're right: I think a lot of us are much more critical of our handmades than we are of RTW! We should start a protest or something!

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  16. I really like your shirt and I am amazed by all the adjustments you made! How long did it take you? Did you make a muslin before cutting into your fashion fabric - which I love by the way! Grey and pink is such a lovely combination! I am fitting an simplicity amazing fit pattern at the moment - I started a week ago and I still not done. And yes I think you are right about that perfectly fitted clothes are sometimes that cosy. We "just" have to find the middle between perfect fit and comfy!

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    1. Hmmm, I don't remember! I think I probably spent an hour or two making the adjustments to the flat pattern. I did the sewing over two days, maybe a total of 8 hours? It's really hard for me to say, because I'm always doing something else (laundry, cooking, emailing) while I sew :-)

      I was considering this shirt to be a wearable muslin of these changes. I used this fabric because although I like it, I don't love it, so I knew I wouldn't be too disappointed if it didn't work out :-)

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