Month: May 2022

My Week in Sewing: Bodice Block

My Week in Sewing: Bodice Block

This week I’ve been working on a bodice block.

A bodice block has been on my list for such a long time, and my recent experience trying to fit the Etta dress bodice to my asymmetrical body made me so disillusioned with the idea of fitting a pattern that I finally decided it was time to start on a block. If I can get a block right, then I can compare it to patterns I make in the future and get a clear idea of what adjustments I need to make. Plus, I’m very excited about the idea of drafting my own patterns using the block as a starting point.

I’m actually using the Etta bodice pattern as a base for my block, as I already have the pattern, and it’s shift dress with a bodice that’s reasonably close to what a block pattern would look like:

I chose the high back neck version rather than the V-neckline version that drove me crazy before. To convert it into a basic block I’ve raised the neckline on the front and back, and removed the back neck dart – I already know from my fitting journey that I have a flat upper back so it won’t be missed. I also moved the closure from the back to the front by drawing in a seam allowance at the front centre and adding in the centre line at the back. This makes it way easier to fit (just with pins) and I don’t need to bother with zips. (I wasted loads of time on zips with my Etta).

So far I have done three rounds of fitting on one toile. I failed to photograph it on my actual body, so you’re going to have to use your mind’s eye for the next few paragraphs. Sorry friends 🤷🏻

First I did a toile with my standard shoulder slope modification. To do this, I cut out the armscye, lower it parallel to the grain by 1/2″, and then redraw the shoulder seam line. I do this on the front and back. It’s a dead easy adjustment that took me ages to discover – but now I do it on every pattern.

I sewed up this first version and found that the bust dart was a good size (Tilly and the Buttons draft with a B cup, which is a 2″ difference between high bust and full, which matches my measurements). But the apex was too high, causing the bodice to ride up a bit as the toile naturally wanted to sit with the apex in the right place. This led to wrinkling above the bust. So I pulled the bodice down to smooth out the wrinkles, drew on the correct apex, then unpicked the dart and sewed it with the new angle, pointing at the next apex. This worked perfectly! I’m pretty happy with the fit of the front at this point.

First toile, showing the lowered bust darts. It looks better on me, I promise! I think my dress form is an dressmaker’s A cup

Next I turned to the back, which is where I had all the issues on my Etta toile. The upper bodice was super baggy, which I expected after my Etta trials – but this time it was WAY less complicated to diagnose and fix because there was no V-neck or back dart! I just took a horizontal 3/8″ slice straight across the back. I also took a dart out of the centre back.

The fit looked reasonable at this point, although it is definitely more slack on my right shoulder than my left. So at this stage I decided to transfer all my adjustments to paper for my second toile. I moved the bust dart down properly rather than just pivoting it, and I converted that centre back dart by slicing the whole thing vertically and rotating out that excess all the way down to the waist. I also moved the shoulder seam forwards by an inch (really what is up with my shoulders? answer: scoliosis)

Pattern pieces after round 1. Not pictured is the adjustment I made to the sleeve head to match the 3/8″ removed from the upper back.

Feeling pretty good about round 1. I suspect I’ll still need to make an upper back adjustment of some form, and I’ll also look at the neck, length, and sleeve in the next toile.

As ever, here are some cat pics from the week! All taken from the same vantage point this time.

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

My Week in Sewing, 20th May 2022

My Week in Sewing, 20th May 2022

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote – and my news is that I’m back on the sewing train!

I have an event to attend this weekend and I fancied making a nice dress for it, as my wardrobe is lacking in the “nice day dress” department. I have a couple of workhorse dresses that I always turn to, but I want more choices.

I’ve got a bit of post-viral fatigue going on, so I chose a familiar project to keep the effort level relatively low. I’ve made the Lyra dress by Tilly and the Buttons a couple of times before, and I had plenty of appropriate fabric in my stash. (Full disclosure – I was actually a pattern tester so I got my copy of the pattern for free.)

Proper photos coming soon. I just finished sewing the buttons on this afternoon and my hair is categorically not camera friendly today.

What didn’t click for me until I’d started cutting out the fabric was that I’m actually using the same fabric as is used in Tilly and the Buttons’ marketing for the pattern! Whoops. I usually try to steer clear of copying other people’s makes, but I don’t really mind with this one. I mean, the fabric really really does work for this dress. (Plus, I made the midi-length, so mine’s different anyway!)

While I was assembling the bodice, I tried it on and I got really excited about the idea of a sleeveless cropped shirt in this fabric – doesn’t it look great with these pink shorts?

I have a little leftover fabric, so I’m going to see if I have enough to make this happen. I’m thinking of using the Helen’s Closet Gilbert shirt pattern.

One thing I’m not super happy about is the collar stand. I find collar stands really fiddly to sew evenly, so I unpick and re-press and re-stitch until it works. This, obviously, takes ages. In the name of “perfect is the enemy of done”, I’ve allowed myself to have some sloppy stitching on this dress (where it’s not visible), but I’ve vowed to invest some effort into learning a good technique. So I’ve picked my copy of Shirtmaking off the shelf.

I first read this years ago, before I’d ever tried to make a proper shirt. But I think the information will be more meaningful to me now that I have a few stand collars under my belt (as it were). Looking forward to learning some more precise techniques.

On the knitting front, I now have two projects on the go. Here’s the Birthday Sweater (by Ankestrick) – so very close to done!

Annoyingly I ran out of the dark pink just before the end of the first sleeve – but I think the light pink cuff situation is effective.

I’ve cast on my Marzipan Pullover (by Sari Nordlund) for knit club, too – in Drops Nepal:

The cables have only just started – but I’m already enjoying them! It’s been literally 9 years since I last knitted a complex cable pattern – I made a whopping great big Umaro blanket as a gift for family:

Cables are super satisfying. A bit slow, but they look like magic.

Last but very much not least, a selection of cat photos from the last week. Today I am featuring cats asleep on the sofa in ridiculous positions.

Thanks for reading. See you next week!

My Week in Sewing, 6th May 2022

My Week in Sewing, 6th May 2022

I mentioned last week that I was planning to take a couple weeks off sewing, because life is super busy right now. Well. I didn’t expect to get ill and be forced to do absolutely nothing all week! At least I’ve watched Heartstopper 3 times through and read through half of Alice Oseman’s body of work. (I may have gone on one of my obsessive deep dives on the Heartstopper/Solitaire universe. It may also not be over.)

Although sewing’s been on pause, I have started to pick up the pace on my knitting over the last couple of days. But I’m definitely not going to finish this Ankestrick Birthday jumper before my knit club starts a new project at the weekend:

I don’t think I’ve ever managed to post about this jumper without also mentioning how slow it is to knit! It’s taking forever due to it being 4-ply (skinny yarn) and half-brioche stitch (2 rows required for every 1 row visible). My upcoming project, the Marzipan Pullover by Sari Nordlund, is going to be a very different experience since it’s on a thicker yarn (worsted weight). And although it does have cables to slow things down, they’re only on the yoke. The rest of the body and sleeves are on blessed rib stitch. I am excited for the feeling of knitting on turbo mode.

Ready for Marzipan madness. This will be my first time knitting with Drops yarn. I’ve heard such good things about it, and it’s so cheap I had to do a double take.

For cat photo time today, I am blessing you with a Rocket montage:

You’re welcome.

And of course, some Moon and Philip content:

Thanks for reading – see you next week!