Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fitting Inari, part 1

Yesterday I made an Inari Dress.  I've been wanting to make this dress for a long time - I love pretty much every version I see, and it seems to look great on every body type.  But I had to spend a while figuring out how to fit it.  I couldn't find a lot of fitting information online for this pattern, so I thought I'd share what I did in case it's helpful to some of you.

In Named patterns, I take a size EU 36 at the bust, EU 38 at the waist and EU 42 at the hip.  Not usually a problem to grade among these sizes, and Named patterns are a better starting point for my body than some other companies' blocks.  The problem here is the unusual shape of this dress:  not only does the side seam wrap from the back to the front, but it's a cocoon shape as well!  I wanted to preserve that cocoon shape, but didn't have much experience with it, so I had to ponder for a few days.

I started out by determining how much extra width I'd need for the bottom half, and exactly where.  I looked at the finished garment measurements on the pattern and took flat pattern measurements.  I also did a tissue fitting and made a mark at the place where I needed to expand.  According to all of these, I needed to add a total of about 3" to get the right amount of ease around my hips.

After looking through all my fitting books, I settled on using two different types of adjustments.  For the front, I did a seam line adjustment and for the back I did a slash and spread.  Here's what I did:

Using my rotary cutter, I sliced up the entire side seam line from the hem fold to the underarm seam.  At those two places I clipped in little hinges, then clipped little hinges all along that seam allowance every couple inches so that I could curve the seam allowance out.  At the mark I'd made where I needed the most room, I pulled the seam allowance out about 1/2", then curved the rest of the seam allowance as similarly as possible to the original shape.  I taped all of this to my cutting mat to keep it in place.

Then I put new paper over it and retraced my pattern.

For the back, since it already had a slight A-line shape, I thought a slash and spread would be a good fix.  This adjustment makes an A-line even more so: compare this shape below to the original, which you can see in the two photos above.  It's not too dissimilar.

For this adjustment, I drew a line from the armpit straight down to the hem, parallel to the grain line.  I slashed up this line with my rotary cutter, stopping at the under arm seam allowance, then clipped a hinge into that seam allowance.  I swung the whole thing out until I had 1" extra at the place I'd marked, then filled it all in with extra paper.  Again, I taped it down and traced a new pattern.


EDITED TO ADD:  You may be wondering why I went to all the trouble of cutting along the seam line for the front and slashing and spreading for the back, rather than just adding some extra to the outside of each cutting line.  Sometimes adding to the edge of the pattern works, especially on straighter edges and for smaller additions, and where two adjoining pieces will add the same amount. But in my experiments with fitting over the last few years, I've found that I often make things easier for myself by maintaining the length of the original seam line.  In both the adjustments above, the length of the seam line remained unchanged, and therefore everything matched up like the original when I went to sew the pieces together.  So more and more, I tend to adjust along the seam line when possible.

To illustrate this point, imagine 2 concentric semi-circles, let's say 1/2" apart.  If you could straighten those two lines out, you'd find that the inside line is shorter than the outside line.  Now imagine that those two semi-circles are pattern pieces with the inside line being the seam line and the outside line being the cutting line, and you need to add more room.  If you just add, say another 1/4" to the outside, your new seam line moves out to correspond - but it is now longer than it was originally!  If you did not make a corresponding adjustment to the piece it will be sewn to, they won't fit together.


How did it work?  Really well!  Here's my dress:

I got exactly the amount of ease I wanted through the hips - loose enough to move, but not so loose that you can't see the shape.

I'm happy with this first version of the dress - I have to say I was shocked that this shape works for me!   This pattern produces a magic dress I think - as I said above, it seems to look good on everybody!

That said, there were a couple things I wanted to change.  The most important is that the armholes on this dress are low.  I've seen some other reviews saying the same thing.  I'm not surprised that I need to bring them up - it's an adjustment I sometimes have to do.  I also think this length is a smidge short for me.  This dress is totally wearable, but knowing I could make it better, I started hacking this afternoon.  I did a bunch of adjustments to the armhole, sleeve and shoulder and got it to a place where I think it's just about perfect for me.  Those adjustments are a lot more involved, so I'll write those up for tomorrow.  Stay tuned!


  1. I love this dress on you and the adjustments you made are so clever! The print of your fabric is very beautiful and it suits you!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you! I've had this pattern for a while, but just kept putting it off because I couldn't work out how to get the extra ease I need around the hips. This is so helpful!

    1. Thanks, Shivani! I'm so glad it's helpful for you!

  3. Ooh lovely! I didn't realise how shapely this dress is - I thought it was a straight up and down sack pattern and I didn't need another of those... but now I am seriously tempted!

    1. No, it's quite a bit more interesting than that! I think you should give it a go!

  4. This dress really looks great on you! I'm so glad you detailed your fitting adjustments so I can use them when I get time to make this dress! I love the fabric you used-- is it a rayon?

    1. I hope they work as well for you, Teri! I just love the design of this dress, so I'm glad I was able to make it work. As for the fabric - I'm not really sure!! Shar gave it to me - it was left over from her FABULOUS Robson coat she made a couple years ago. From the hand and drape, I suspect it's at least part linen. Rayon would be perfect though. I think this style really needs a nicely draping fabric on a curvy figure in order not to add weight visually.

  5. I'm so glad your alterations worked out for you! The dress looks great on you!


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