Resurrecting the beast

Sewaholic Robson pattern pieces

Guess what I dug out of my pattern storage bin this weekend?  My Robson trench!  Yeah!!!  You may recall that I did a ton of work on this pattern in January during a week-long sewcation, which ultimately resulted in me throwing out my back.  Not fun.  But you know what IS fun?  Returning to a complicated pattern with nearly all of the hard work (muslining and fitting) already done.

The keyword being NEARLY.

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Sewcation Day 7: Alteration exasperation

Sewcation Day 7 - exasperation

This is the face of exasperation.  Do you recognize it?  It’s when you take a week off from work, spend the bulk of 7 full days working on a pattern, and don’t even get to the part where you get to play with nice fabric.  I am tired of working on this muslin.  I am DONE.

Noteworthy happenings from today:

  • I firmly decided to stick with the Robson, after getting *this close* to pulling the trigger on this Burda trench.  Morgan, you crafty temptress!  You almost had me.  If I’m making a mistake, I only have myself to blame!
  • I pre-washed all my fabric.  Everything went through 2 wash cycles on warm and into the dryer.  No disasters to report, thankfully.
  • I transferred all my muslin alterations back to the paper patterns.  I hate that part.
  • I re-drafted the front and back trench coat flaps, which proved to be rather unpleasant.  Details below.
  • I didn’t draft the lining pieces yet, but I’m brainstorming strategies.  Will have to take into account the fact that the interlining and lining don’t stretch, but the fashion fabric does.  What’s the solution – pleats?

Ok, flaps.  FLAPS!!  The back flap wasn’t too bad, but the front flap drove me insane.  I need a cocktail.  I need a cabin boy to bring me a cocktail.  I need a cabin boy who will draft my flaps for me AND bring me a cocktail.

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Adjusting a pattern for high shoulders

High shoulder adjustment

Let’s talk about shoulders today.  If you are like me and have “Amazon woman” shoulders, you know how tricky it can be to achieve a good fit in this area.  My shoulders are both wide and high.  Adjusting a pattern for wide shoulders and/or a wide upper back can be done rather easily with a broad back adjustment, but I propose that adjusting for high shoulders can be a bit more difficult, especially on a garment with sleeves.  While fiddling with my Carolyn Pajama top a few weeks ago, I think I gained some new-to-me insight on how to accomplish this.  Hence, the high shoulder adjustment was born.

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Altered pink cowl-neck top

Pink cowl-neck top - finished narrow   Pink cowl-neck top - altered front

Remember my wrinkly pink top with the not-so-drapey cowl from last week?  I decided to chop off 3 inches from the hem to reduce the wrinkles around the midsection and help the top hang a little more smoothly.  The original top is on the left, and the altered (shorter) version is on the right.  What do you think?  Did I save this top or just make it worse??

Pink cowl-neck top - back narrow   Pink cowl-neck top - altered back

I’m happier with how the top looks in the shorter version, but honestly, it feels a little too short during wear.  When I lift my arms up, my midriff is on display!  Definitely not ok for wearing to work, and I certainly won’t be able to wear this top with jeans.  With a skirt that sits close to my natural waist, like the one I’m wearing here, I think I can *just* get away with it.

As a test run, I wore this outfit to work one day last week, and everything went ok.  No wardrobe malfunctions to report, thankfully!  I hope I wind up wearing this top a few more times before the summer is over.  The bright pink color is too fun to waste.  🙂

I spent this past weekend hacking my Renfrew pattern even more and will have another top to share later in the week.  I’m sewing my way through 3 knits that I picked up on a recent day trip to Portland, Maine.  I believe it is a federal offense not to purchase fabric while on vacation, right??  🙂

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, whether you’re melting in the summer heat or in the midst of a polar vortex!

Fitting broad shoulders: a pattern comparison

Fitting broad shoulders - the problem

Shoulders.  While I’ve grown to accept my genetic makeup and everything that comes along with it, having broad shoulders definitely presents a challenge in my sewing.  Maybe I’m biased, but I feel like adjusting the fit in the shoulder area is one of the trickiest adjustments to make, perhaps second only to the mystical crotch curve.  There’s just so much going on in that area, and a simple change can easily affect nearly every major pattern piece.  The fit issue is really noticeable too – just look at how far away the shoulder seam of my Renfrew is from my actual shoulder point!

There are plenty of sewists out where who are similarly blessed with broad shoulders and a broad upper back, including Morgan, Sunni, Erin, and countless others.  Morgan recently wrote a great post on fitting her broad shoulders, essentially an open letter to the sewing community for suggestions and support.  Go read the comments on that post – they’re full of shoulder fitting wisdom and camaraderie!

Inspired by Morgan’s post, I wanted to add a bit to the conversation.  Specifically, I wanted to illustrate how fundamentally different the drafting has to be to accommodate broad shoulders, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience.  So, I whipped out my bodice sloper and compared it to my adjusted Renfrew pattern, focusing on the back bodice pieces.  Granted, the sloper is drafted for a woven fabric, and the Renfrew is drafted for a stable knit, so they aren’t really directly comparable.  However, I still think the comparison nicely illustrates a few basic points, even if the numerical differences have to be taken with a grain of salt.

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Fit comparison: Renfrew vs. ready-to-wear

Comparison - two Renfrews and RTW t-shirt - front

With two Renfrews complete and some ongoing musings about fit, I decided to compare my two handmade knit tops to one of my favorite and often-worn ready-to-wear t-shirts.  The RTW top is from Ann Taylor in a size small, and I got it for $15 (50% off) in late spring/early summer earlier this year.  I’ve been loving and wearing this top all summer and really like how it fits, and when you compare it side-by-side with my Renfrews, there are definitely noticeable differences.

Click on any of the photos to make them larger.

When viewed from the front, the RTW top sits a little higher on my hips and is substantially less baggy in the bottom half.  Most importantly in my case, the shoulders are cut a little wider than in the Renfrews, creating less strain across the upper chest.  The shoulder seams hit closer to my actual shoulders, especially compared to the long-sleeved Renfrew (that I totally cut too narrow on the top).

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An educated guess at initial blazer alterations

Initial blazer adjustments - front and side front

My initial set of pattern alterations to Simplicity 2446 (a classic-cut blazer) is complete.  Granted, the last time I made alterations before a muslin resulted in a hot mess, but this time I hope (?) I’ll have better luck.  Unlike last time, I drew in the seam lines on my traced pattern pieces and did some flat-measuring on the pattern in an attempt to avoid too much guessing.  However, I was comparing the pattern measurements to my own measurements that I took myself, and man is it difficult to take your own measurements!  So who knows how this will come out.  : )

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I am sick of muslins!

Turquoise and yellow dress - second muslin complete - front

My turquoise and yellow dress is still in the muslin phase… and the end of the fitting process can’t come soon enough.  Oh sewing gods, please save me from this fitting odyssey!!  Blargh!  The good news is that my second muslin really did come out better than the first.  The photo above was taken after I re-installed the zipper, and I’m pretty satisfied with the fit.  Finally.  As they say on Seinfeld, serenity now!!

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Good news: second muslin appears to be less ginormous

I spent most of the day today working on my turquoise and yellow dress, and I’m happy to report that the second muslin appears to be much less enormous and much less ridiculous than the first.  I’m not sure that I’m 100% satisfied with the fit just yet, but we’re making leaps and bounds compared to my triangular-alien muslin.  Woo hoo!

Turquoise and yellow dress - deconstructed first muslin

Step 1: I ripped out all the seams of the first muslin, collecting all the little threads in a neat pile, as usual.  : )  I was so glad to see this fabric in a flat pile as opposed to a huge mess hanging off my shoulders!

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Making progress, slowly but surely

01 Black and white dress - in progressThe black and white dress is moving along, slowly but surely!  I’m starting to realize that garment construction, at least for a beginner, is a very slooooow process.  However, despite the glacier-like pace of this project, I’ve been really enjoying both the sewing and the uphill climb of the learning curve.  I like to take on projects that will challenge me a bit, and this is all very new and challenging at this point.  : )  Above you can see the current state of the dress, with the print and lining sandwiched together.  I’m happy with the look of it so far, but I have a long way to go, including the black neckband and fixing some mistakes.

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