Just going for a stroll - The Joan Dress


Hello all my sewing friends. Fall weather has finally found us in PA and I alternate between sighing with happiness and freaking out that I don't have enough warm clothing. Why haven't I been sewing wool clothing since August?  Didn't Past me know that Future me wanted some new wool dresses to shimmy around in before old man winter arrived? I hear her whining about sewing wool in 90 degree heat and all I can do is frown sternly at her lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion  Fall wardrobes.
In truth I can't blame Past Heather too much because planning has never been a strong point for any Heather, no matter what time continuum she's currently in. All we can do it put our forehead to the side of the sewing machine, sew like the wind and hope the weather holds. Which is pretty much all I did last week with the exception of getting some teeth filled, making my kid do homework and cooking meals for the family.  There's currently ironing strewn across the floor in the main part of the house and the bathroom hasn't seen the back of a sponge in two weeks.  Listen, some things need to be sacified for fashion.
On the flip side, procrastination does pay off when it comes to the release of new Fall patterns. If I'd been sewing in August who knows what this shiny piece of wool might have become.  Instead it was still sleeping in the wool box at the time Sew Over It released their newest pattern The Joan Dress. When it popped up on their instagram feed it was an immediate "Add to the mental buy list." I probably would have bought it right away if it wasn't for the surprise dental bill my teeth earned me this month.  I'm sure my cake consumption has nothing to do with those new cavities, nothing! The tooth fairy gave me a special dietary clearance and everything.

I was going to be a good girl and wait till next month to buy this pattern when an email from Pattern Review popped into my inbox. Would I like a copy of the Joan Dress pattern to blog about?  Are you guys reading my mind because I've currently staring at it with longing in my web browser. Yes, yes, please hook me up.  So Deepika emailed me a digital copy and I banged the dress out in a week.  What can I say, this baby was easy to put together, including that sassy collar.
Unlike my last Sew Over It project I didn't make any major changes to the pattern. This garment only has fitting adjustments and the sleeves/hem were lengthened a tad.  Am I the only one that puts unhemmed muslins on and suddenly decides the final garment needs to be the same length? It's like once my brain has seen the garment at that length there's no going back to the drafted hem allowance.  On this dress that meant adding 5/8" of length to the sleeves and 2" of length to the skirt. Oh and I did make one more change, I reduced the kick pleat high by about 5".  It literally started right under my backside and while I do like extra walking room, no one needs to see the much of the back of my legs.

Fitting notes - This pattern has a lot of darts in it which usually makes fitting easier for me. For example my wide upper back adjustment creates a shoulder dart. In this case the pattern already has a dart there, so I only need to make the dart bigger when adding the extra width. For the most part I plugged in all my standard fitting adjustments and the dress fit great. There were two areas where I had to make extra adjustments, the bodice length and the sleeve width.  The bodice length must be on the short side because I actually have a short torso and usually have to reduce the length of bodices. On this dress I lengthened it a 1/4" and probably should have gone for a full 1/2".  Something I only really noticed when trying to keep a belt on that seam while taking pictures.  As for the arms, those of you which sender ones will probably be fine with the sleeve width.  But if you carry a bit of fluff on your upper arms like I do you might need to split the sleeve open to add extra width for bending your arms.  On my dress I added a 1/2" along the whole sleeve width. I have this problem with some designers and not others, so it's more of a "second tier" adjustment for me.  You'll see all the alterations listed in the regular place in the review if you're interested.

Warning non-sewing tangent ahead:
Gillian's better pictures project has given me a bit of a kick in the butt when it comes to my photo routine. This year it's felt like I've been going to the same 3 places and doing all my standard poses. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially if you have to knock some blog photos out in a limited amount of time. Still I was in the mood to do something different this week and had a bit of fun choosing a new location in my favorite park. (The one that houses the white door patio and the rock wall. )  Over on this side of the park there is another lovely historic building which would be a great backdrop if it wasn't in full sun all morning. Drat.  But this Sunday I noticed the walking path next to it had a fair amount of tree cover.  Only problem, all that sunlight in the background messes with the camera's foreground brightness setting and I was coming out all dark.  Nooo what's a girl who doesn't really know anything about photography to do?  Answer - Mess around with random camera settings and accidentally stumble on a solution.  I shoot with a Canon Rebel T5i and here's the settings that were used. After setting the camera to Creative Audio mode I hit the camera button so I can see the "backdrop" in my view finder. Then I hit the Q button to get the additional option menus.
I change Flash firing to "Off", Background to "Max blurred", Ambience based shots to "Brighter" and finally Effect to "Medium." All other settings were left at their default locations. This brightened up the foreground so that you could actually see me against the backlit background. Now if you're someone who does know someone who does know something about photography and has a better way to do this then fill me in. I would love to know.

(P.S. I thought some of you might like a photo of the dress without the hat and gloves to get an idea of how it would look in a more modern wardrobe.)

The Joan Dress from Sew Over It.  PR offers all the Sew Over it Patterns as digital downloads and if you're a PR member, which I am, you can get a nice little 10% discount.  I often go that route when it comes to UK based patterns so that the "Paying for shipping money" can become "buying fabric money."

I sewed a 12/14 combo but easily could have sewn a straight 12. I found the lower half to be plenty roomy.

Fabrics used
All fabrics were rather old purchases that have been lurking in my stash.
Gray/metallic silver/lycra wool suiting, originally from Emmaonesock.com
Poly acetate lining, origially from GorgeousFabrics.com

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Lengthened bodice 1/4".

2. Dropped front dart 1" and increased back dart intake by 1".

3. Added standard 1/2" wide upper back adjustment.

4. Dropped armholes 1/2".

5. Made 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to the bodice shoulder and the sleeve cap

6. Split the sleeve down the middle and widened it by 1/2"

7.  Lengthened skirt by 2".

8. Increased back skirt dart by 1" to match the bodice.

9. Cut down kick pleat length by 5".

- The lycra and metallic content of the fabric made pressing a bit of a challenge especially in the collar area.
I got around this by spritzing the collar with water, then folding it over and holding it with small binder clips. The collar was left to dry overnight and then removed the clips. Essentially I wet set that sucker.

- Instead of hemming the skirt and lining as one I kept them separate. This was more of a personal preference in construction issue. Doing it the way described in the directions will give you a prettier finish on the kick pleat.

- The metallic fibers in the wool really seem to show A Lot of drag lines.  Other than the bodice length I do think the fit of this garment is correct and most of the lines are just from posing. I did put a non-stretch lining in a stretch woven shell which could be a source of some of the problems. Need to add some stretch linings to the stash in the future.

Husband Comment
"You look like you should be in a black and white movie. Swinging your curves around the pool hall...or maybe courthouse."

My Final Thoughts
I'm grandfather clausing this pattern into my FESA list since it wasn't released when the list was drafted. Otherwise I would have put this on the top of the Fall sewing list. Something about Fall weather just makes me want to sew sexy wiggle dresses. Meow!
Pattern Review provided me this pattern free of charge for a blog post. Which means you got to see it this month instead of in November because I was making this baby no matter what. 

More FESA Makes - The Smooth Sailing Trousers


Pants.  We've had a long and somewhat traumatic history. I think my pants fitting rant was the first blog post that was written purely for "laughs."  Laughs really meaning cathartic venting/sobbing into my sewing machine.  Two years later my pants fitting has improved all that much when it comes to fitted pants. The perfect crotch length/depth ratio seems to be an elusive number that forever tap dances out of reach. So I did the only sensible thing, stopped wearing pants.  OK, maybe not sensible, but it was an effective way not to have to deal with pants fitting for awhile. For the most part being an exclusive wearer of dresses and skirts has worked out just fine.  I've got my emergency pair of RTW jeans in the dresser for really dicey weather, but wool tights get me through most of winter.

Being a happy dress wearer does not stop me from occasionally having sexy pants daydreams.  You might be saying, "Listen Heather, we all daydream about sexy men in pants sometimes. I mean have seen Tom Hiddleston dancing?"  Oh yes I have and I'm a strong proponent of his "snake hips", but that's not really what I'm talking about here.  The kind of pants daydreams I have are of completed outfits that are not actually in my closet. Red capri pants are featured heavily, but it seems planning outfits in your head does not make them magically appear. My window for red capri pants is quickly closing so I decided to put the second most wished for pant on my FESA list, a pair of wide legged cuffed pants.
For several years if I put on a pair of pants, it was a close fitting capri or jeans style. But Vivien of Holloway's Swing Trousers got me thinking about wearing wide leg pant. So roomy, yet elegant!  I toyed with just buying a pair, but my inner seamstress was very adamant that saving money through sewing was the way to go.  "You know there's a shit ton of wool in the stash. Sew that stuff up!!!" OK inner voice, you win this time.
There's a couple of nice wide legged pants out there but I decided to go with the Smooth Sailing Trousers from Wearing History.  They were the closest in style to the Vivien of Holloway pants with the waistband at the natural waist and a seam seam entry.  The Smooth Sailing Trousers use a zipper instead of buttons, but that was just fine with me. I can confidently say that I don't need more "visual interest" in that particular area of my body.

So pants fitting, how does that work out when you're making wide leg pants?  A lot better than it does with fitted pants!  Only the waistband area is supposed to be close to the body so it's a lot more like fitting a skirt than pants.   I did need to lengthen the back rise because hello big butt.  It might still be too long or too short, I honestly don't know.  There might be some sort of black hole vortex thing going on back there bending time/distance so that no rise will ever be right.  But I do know that you don't have to worry about under butt wrinkles in these pants. Huzzah!
See? And any wrinkles there I can just use the excuse, "It's how I'm standing." Muhaaa, Big Pants!

As a sewing project these pants were pretty boring.  While a good wardrobe staple, plain navy wool is enough to put anyone to sleep. This lead to a lot of procrastination, especially since they needed to be lined. My brain knows that skipping lining is a bad bad move that I will forever regret later. That doesn't make it any more fun cut and sew.  I need to hire some lining elves or to promote froggie to linings. He says he needs a pay raise for that and a cake every Monday morning.
But enough about my frog contract negotiations, let's get back to pants for a minute. During the boring sewing I kept telling myself that once these babies were done I'd be pleased a punch.  Happy to report that this is 100% true.  The Smooth Sailing Trousers pattern was exactly what I had in mind when daydreaming about big wide legged pants. Now I can finally get my 40's vibe on and/or climb things in a reckless fashion.

Smooth Sailing Trousers from Wearing History  (I bought the PDF version.)

Fabrics used
Lightweight wool suiting and poly blend lining.

Pattern changes/alterations
- To accommodate my tilted waist, the front waistline of the pants was cut down 1/2" and graded out to nothing at the side seams.

- Added 1" of length to the crotch.

- Straighten out the front crotch curve to give an additional 1/4" of ease on waistline at the CF. (For cake babies and such.)

- Shortened the leg length by 3/4".

- To line the pants I used the same pattern piece but shortened the pants length an inch.

- My muslin showed I needed more waist ease. Then my real pants were a little too big in the waist.  Curse you muslin! (Or maybe I need to start putting zippers in muslins. Sigh.)

Husband Comment
"Wait, did you make those? Really? Pants?   They're BIG."

My Final Thoughts
Swishing around in giant pant legs is weirdly addictive and I might.....might have to make another pair. Or maybe I'll wait until I've got my child labor trained.  Sew Desmond, Sew! No, put the scissors down! On second thought child labor might be more work in the long run.  Sigh.
P.S.  I finally did my Better Photos Project homework and scoped out a new photo location near my house. Or how the police might term it, "Trespassing on a local law office for inexplicable reasons." Don't worry though, I'm non threatening enough that no one pays attention to me dancing around on a lawn....
other than one very loud squirrel. I almost started hollering, "Go eat those nuts loudly somewhere else!!" Blog picture taking is much more important than your winter preparations Mr. squirrel. ;)  Anyway lighting was a little dicey here and I wound up trying out 5 different angles. Took so many pictures that I fully depleted the camera battery and had to hope some of those shots were OK. Thank the sewing goddess that several of the pictures were fine.  Meanwhile Gillian has far surpassed me and is taking street photos. Oh My Lord how cool is her last post?! 

Seriously Gillian, you're too cool for school...which might make your job hard to do. ;)  Thanks for having me on your blog pal. I'm looking forward to next month's Better Photos Project posts so I can learn a thing or two.

In which I pretend to be a 40/50's era Gillian Anderson


Last year my husband and I decided to watch season 1 of "The Fall" together.  It was an enjoyable if super creepy time until the end. At that point I might have shouted, "You Bastards!" at the cliffhanger ending. (I come from a long line of TV yellers.)  My take away from the the series was, A. My brain will always be semi scared of poor Jamie Dornan, who I'm sure is actually a lovely person. And B. Who ever was dressing Gillian Anderson needs to take me shopping.  If you've never watched "The Fall", it's about a serial killer with Gillian Anderson playing the detective trying to find him. Her wardrobe is full of tailored suits paired with silk blouses of various colors. She comes off as professional but coldly sensious, which seems to drive some of her male co-workers a little crazy.
Obviously I wasn't the only one taken with her collection of silk blouses since Lisa Comfort decided to design a pattern inspired by the show.  When it was posted on the Sew Over It instagram feed last year I was sobbing lightly after reading it was only available in a class. But I wants the precious and I don't live in the UK. *Sniff, sniff* Thankfully all I had to do was wait and now the pattern is available as a PDF for those of us who reside across the pond.
I'd classify this pattern as beginner level blouse pattern since there's no darts, collars/collar stands, button bands to deal with. The cuffs do call for button holes, but having to sew two is a lot easier than making a standard button down shirt. So here's the thing about me and beginner level patterns.....I can't leave well enough alone.  At first I'm all like, "Oh and easy project that I can zone out on." But I never really do that. Instead I start redrafting the pattern because I'm not a beginner and I'm dangerously equipped with "textbook" pattern drafting knowledge. That said, there wasn't any major redrafting done on the Anderson blouse. I think this pattern has a solid base, but there were one or two details of the drafting that weren't to my liking. Then add to that my usual personal preference changes that have nothing to do with the draft of the pattern. The things you change because it's your garment and you can. So here's a breakdown of what I liked and didn't like, and what was changed just for my tastes.

Things I liked about the pattern as drafted
- The back neckline is finished with bias binding that is slip stitched down.  This gives you a pretty clean edge that won't flip out like a facing would.
- The fronts are finished with fold over facings. I found these to be drafted wide enough that they weren't prone to flapping out the neckline.

- The sleeve caps have just the right amount of ease. Just a little for movement, but not so much that you have problems setting the sleeves pucker free.  I'm also like the width of the sleeve itself. Feel like it would have been easy to stray into 80's puffy sleeve land, but these perfect.

Things I didn't like as drafted
- If you make this blouse as instructed then the sleeve slit is part of the underarm seam. When scanning the directions I saw this and said NOPE.  On the good side it will take you all of 10 minutes to move the pleat, add a slit and draft a piece of continuous binding. (Steps for this are under the Confessions/Advice section.)
- The bottom of the blouse is cut straight across and finished by sewing a casting and inserting some ribbon to gather it up. As someone who has always had a "large for her frame" butt, anything that gathers around that area sends me into a fit of hives.  I did some brainstorming for alternate finishes and didn't come up with anything that would look all that great if the blouse was worn untucked. So I procrastinated another day and then decided that I didn't really want to wear the blouse untucked and finished it with a rolled hem.

Things I changed just because I'm picky about clothing in a way that drove my mother crazy when it was her job to clothe me.
-  Instead of gathering the shoulders I turned that area into pleats.  It's more of a 40's look which appeals to me, but might not appeal to everyone.
- The pattern comes with a narrow cuff. After making a muslin I didn't care for the narrow cuff and widened it to the same width as some button down patterns in the stash.
With my mods I'm pretty pleased with this blouse. It's got a bit of a vintage-ish vibe when paired with a pencil skirt that is gonna work great with my wardrobe. Now on to all the review details!

Sew Over It's Anderson Blouse

Fabrics used
Double silk georgette (This was purchased from Tessuti fabrics years and years ago. Sorry because I know a lot of you like it.)

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to the sleeve and shoulder.

2. Took the shoulder width in 1/4".

3. Changed the side seam from a straight line to a curved one to remove a bit of the ease at the waist. Removed around 1/2" on the quarter for 2" of ease removed at the waist through the entire garment

4. Changed the gathers to pleats.

5. Redrafted the sleeve to be a standard shirtmakers sleeve with a continuous bias binding.

6. Increased width of the cuff to a finished width of 2 1/4".

7. Sleeve length was reduced 1" since I'd increased the size of the cuff.

- The sleeve redraft is super simple because the only thing missing is the cut line to make the slit. I converted one side of the pleat to the cut line and moved the pleat.

1. The left side of the pleat will be converted to the slash line so first we will move the pleat to the right.  Measure out the 1 1/4" from the right pleat mark.

2. Cross out the old pleat fold marking and draw in an arrow over the new pleat location.

3. Go back to the leftmost mark and extent to up to the length you want the sleeve slit to be.  Mine is 2 1/2" finished. (So 2 1/2" plus the 5/8" seam allowance for the cuff, 3 1/4 total.)

4. Last step is to draft a rectangle to be the bias binding for the slit.  The rectangle should be twice as long as your slit length plus seam allowance.  Mine is 6 1/2" line.  The width depends on what seam allowance you will use to attach the piece and how wide you want the finished binding to look.  I sew sleeve bindings on with a 1/4" SA and like them to be around 1/4" finished. My binding piece is drafted to be 1 1/2" wide.

- I was a dum dum and transferred one of my slit markings incorrectly to the cutting paper. Didn't notice it until I'd cut the slit in the fabric and tried to sew the binding on.  So on this blouse the sleeve slits are 3 1/2" instead of the drafted 2 1/2".

- In my humble opinion this is not a blouse to wear untucked. Here's my photographic evidence. Having it tucked into a fitted bottom makes all that ease look good. Hanging on it own....not so much. Tucked in though, it's sooo good.

- Want to convert the gathered area on the shoulder to pleats like I did? Here's a look at my pattern.
The 3 pleats are around 1 3/8". There's a bit of fudging here to make everything fit in the marked out gather area. Between the pleats is 1" so that they don't stack right on top of each other.  All the pleats were folded towards the neck.

- I used the old stiffen it with gelatin trick on this double georgette and had a very pleasant sewing experience. Here's a link to the Threads article which explained it to me.

Husband Comment
"Ooooh, blousey. That's a cool fabric."

My Final Thoughts
Even with my anal retentive tweaking this project sewed up really fast. It took me only a week even with the time suck of cutting silk between paper. Speaking of silk, this is the perfect pattern for using some of those long stashed lengths in the stash. I'm thrilled how great this almost 5 year old georgette looks sewn up and how the blouse pairs with my collection of pencil skirts.  I'm pretty sure another Anderson blouse is in my future.
So that was a good start to my FESA sewing. Froggie thinks that the Smooth Sailing trousers might also pair well with an Anderson blouse. He's probably right, but I started another pencil skirt instead.  Trouser fitting will wait for another day or until someone prods me into doing it. Please someone prod me a little. Or come sew some pant for me. I have cookies! Please?

Changing Seasons


It's still hot as blazes here in Pennsylvania, the sweating in your house sort of hot. The forecast is low 90's - high 80's for the next two weeks and I'm sort of tempted to ignore the fact that it's September and sew another summer garment. All that chiffon in the stash is still waiting.
Speaking of summer garments, let me just say a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Sundress Sew-a-long. As always I'm just delighted that anyone wants to sew along with little old me. Then I get the added bonus of looking at everyone's completed dress pictures. So many beautiful dresses, you are ALL amazing! (A couple of you might find you dresses missing and replaced with a bag of cookies.....it was the frogs idea.)

I'd probably be tracing off another short sleeve dress right now if it wasn't for my lizard brain. It's noticed that the daylight hours are getting shorter and has been complicating matters by screaming for Fall clothing. "PLAID, we need more PLAID!!! Maybe some corduroy and anything with apples on it. For god sakes women it's September!" Umm OK, but it won't be cold for at least another month. Don't you want to sew some florals? Lizard voice - "NOOOOO PLAID!"  Woah, Woah, just calm down there. How about we do some Fall planning instead? Hey look, it's time for the Fall Essentials Sew-Along again. Let's do that.

Some of you may remember that I did this sew-along last year and actually sewed/knit at least 3/4 of the things that were planned. That's a pretty good result for someone who gets distracted by new projects pretty easily. Now I'm not implying that I will be such a good sewist this year, because there are less real wardrobe holes to fill.  I'm back to "sewing according to my whims" status after having been in, "Need clothing to actually cover by body," for about a year. That seems to be how long it takes to resew/buy a new wardrobe after losing a dress size or two. Right now garment planning is more about trying to pair stashed fabrics with patterns than anything else. 

Fashionable Foundations
1. Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers.  I might have talked Lelia into making a similar pair of trousers last year and haven't stopped thinking about having some myself. Then a girl can pretend to be Katharine Hepburn and say witty things to Cary Grant. Be cool if I could also put some "cheek bones that will cut glass" on order.
Thanks to a local sewing store closing, the stash has yards and yards of navy wool suiting which will now become a pair of these pants. Maybe about 5 other things too.

2. Toying with making another Betsy pencil skirt out of black pleather. That might be a little too cool for my wardrobe. Maybe that's why all the pleather has been sitting around for 4 years. Pretty soon it's going to get itself adopted by someone who doesn't think a hot Saturday night is watching PBS and drinking tea.

Chic Chemises
1. Sew Over it Anderson Blouse.  I already have this one nearly completed because the pattern would not stop dancing around in my brain. "Pretend you're Gillian Anderson without the red hair or talent." I can manage that!  The blouse being sewn up in this stashed double georgette. Meanwhile I'm practicing my, "Don't make me hit you upside the head Mulder," type stare.

Fabulous Frocks
1. The Wiggle dress from Gertie's first book has been on my mental sewing list...since the book came out. I've been waiting for it to appear fully formed in my closet, but for some reason this isn't happening. Did my husband trap all the sewing mice?  Or did they unionize and decide to sew mouse sized clothing?  Did Froggie send them on an overseas trip because they were eating too many of his cookies? Whatever the reason it seems I have to sew this pattern all by myself.

Underneath it All
Remember this vintage slip pattern? Still wanna be wearing it, but still haven't sewn it. Froggie, get me a fluffy powder puff immediately. 

Tender Tootsies
Just like last year I have some wool socks on the needles that could be finished in this time period. Or they could sit there for a few more months while I cackle madly in the sewing area. Froggie's currently taking bets on the outcome.

Those Cozy Nights
Not planning to make any sleepwear this year unless some knits jump on the serger themselves. Stranger things have happened.

Baby It's Cold Outside
Last year I entered a weird groundhog day situation where I was always knitting a red beret but it never was finished to satisfaction. This year the goal is to finish the sew-along with berets on my head. No particular patterns or colors have been chosen yet because it's 95 degrees and I can't even think about it. Now an ice pack holding vest, I could get on board with that.

Those are all my fall sewing/knitting plans at the moment. I'm sure that new items will pop on the list as the weather cools or new patterns appear before my eyes. It's also possible that I'll find myself suddenly cutting out a sundress and this list will get tabled. All that's certain is that there is ice cream in my future. Nom, nom, nom.

Sewing Notes - Butterick 6167 Low bust adjustments


Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Do they hang out near your waist instead of being up by your face? Are they pointing toward the ground while you're walking around town. Do your boobs hang low? Oh yeah, that just happened and you're welcome. Now that we've gotten the juvenile humor out of the way, let's talk about how having a low bust complicates a dress with a bust shelf element.

One could make the argument that those of us with low busts should just pass on this trend. When your bust just rolls off the shelf into the "floor" is there really any reason to put a shelf there in the first place?  The answer for me would have easily been "No!" if I hadn't purchased a Bernie Dexter Paris dress. (Here's a photo of that particular RTW dress.)
Bernie Dexter dress day.
Wearing that dress convinced me that girls with low busts can enjoy a bust shelf as long as you mentally relabel it as a rufflely bust dickie. It's there to cover your bust root and fill some your large upper chest area with fluffy goodness. To that I say, "Thumbs up to fluffy goodness. Let's sew some more bust dickies."

To do so we are going to have to brace ourselves for some pattern alterations.  Even on a pattern that offers different cup sizes*, the bust ease is not going to be in the correct place for those of us with "low hanging fruit." To see what I mean, let's take a look at the bust stay piece.
The bust apex is clearly marked more than half way up of the bust shelf with not much shelf height above it. (1.5" to be exact)  From this I can infer that the drafter is expecting there to a lot of breast fullness at the top of the dress.
To give you a colorful mental image of what I'm talking about let's think of the breast as a cupcake. The bust shelf is the ruffled cupcake liner with the top half of the breast, the icing, sitting above it. This is all well and good if your apex matches this point and you have plenty of "icing" to fill out the top of the bodice.  But what does this bodice look like if you have a low bust point?  Or to further our metaphor, your breasts are more like creme filled donuts than cupcakes? (Just as delicious but with less fluff on top) What you are going to get is a bodice with MAJOR gapituts along the top edge of the inset.
Looks like someone is going to be doing some redrafting. #butterick6167
Sorry about the poor quality photo but I was a bad girl and threw this muslin alway some time in the last 3 months. You can still see that I have literally inches of extra fabric along the top edge since all my bust fullness in in the lower part of the bodice. What you can't see is that the front part of the lower bodice feels tight because that's where my apex actually is. My face also says, "Crap, I need to do some major fitting work on this pattern."

That muslin might make the pattern look like a lost cause, but never fear because the bust ruching is going to allow us to make an easy fix.  All we really need is elastic!  That's right ladies, we're gonna sew elastic into the upper edge of the bust shelf and make all our problems go away.  Woot, Woot, fitting short cuts!  But first let's make few minor adjustments to the front bodice.

First you can remove a bit of that extra ease at the upper edge by changing the curve of the bust stay. This will keep the lower part of the seam the same width, which is good because your boobs are in that area. On my dress I was also changing the location of the seam, so some of the width removed here was added onto the bodice piece.  (Note - I changed the height of the bust stay for aesthetic reasons, not fitting ones.)
On the lower bodice you'll want to add some extra ease to the princess line seam for your low bust point. I added 1/4" to each side of the seam. (You can also see that I added a bit to the outside curve and changed the length of the bodice. The lengthening was more for portional reasons than bust fitting reasons since my bust won't actually hit the shelf area.)
Then you may want to reduce the width of the bust inset. On this pattern the ruching ration is fairly high on the bust inset. Adding elastic to that area is only going to increase it and it may get poofier than you'd like. Of course this is more of a personal taste than fitting issue, so use your own discretion. On my dress I reduced the inset by making the same curve change to it as was made on the bust stay. Then made the pattern smaller by moving the CF fold line in and cutting off some of the ease. In total I removed 2 3/4" on the half.

To assemble this area follow the pattern instructions for gathering the bust inset, sewing it to the lower bodice and the top edge to the bust stay. Before you do any edge stitching on the top edge, open the bodice like so.
We are going to sew in some 1/4" elastic onto the seam allowance to tighten up the area.  On my dress the inset area was 13" wide without elastic.  I wanted to gather it down to around 10" to get a nice snug fit against my chest.  After much trial and error, meaning sewing and seam ripping, I ended up inserting an 8" long piece of elastic.  Long story short, I recommend basting in the elastic and checking the fit before "really" sewing it in.

The elastic is going to be basted into the seam allowance of the bust inset area. First fold the seam allowances the same way you would for stay stitching. Pin the edges of the elastic near the edge of the bust seam.  I found it's a good idea to baste both ends of the elastic first before attaching all of it.

Stretch the elastic to that it sits flat against the inset and baste it to the seam allowance. At this point try on the dress to see if the upper edge fit is to your liking. If not you can rip out the elastic and try a different length.

Once the you're happy with the elastic length, it can be secured with some edge stitching.  On my dress I edge stitched the entire upper edge of the bodice at once, but you could just do the inset area.
Go back and remove any basting left over. Then press the edge so that the lining rolls toward the inside of the garment

Ta Da! A perfect fitting bodice. See that actually wasn't all that hard to do. Thanks elastic!

* Note about cup sizes on this pattern - The shelf pieces vary 1/4" in height between each cup size but are the same width. I did go with the recommended cup size for my bust, but don't think it's as important for women with low busts.  You could just choose the height of the shelf you prefer the look of the most. 

A sundress just under the wire - Butterick 6167


Oh hi there, where did those almost 3 weeks go? All I remember doing was laying in bed coughing and then decorating for Mr. D's 5th birthday party.  Maybe I happened upon "The Doctor" and some weird timey whimey crap happened and suddenly it's the end of August and I have strange dreams of giant bugs. AHHHHH, AHHHH, get away bee!  In truth I've been suffering from a rather long case of lost sewing mojo this summer. Usually warm weather puts me all in a froth to sew as many dresses as possible before being forced once again to layer in wool. However this summer's mostly been spent knitting said wool and binge watching TV series most people saw years ago. Maybe I just have too many giant stashes of supplies that make me slightly nervous. Gosh darn hoarding gene.

I have been doing a bit of sewing at about a quarter of my usual pace. You might say that Butterick 6167 is a perfect encapsulation of this. A perfectly fine project that was then complicated by second guessing, procrastination and general laziness. In total it took more than 3 months from start of muslining to finished dress. This is honestly terrifying since it's a cute summer dress and I've made lined coats in less time than that. I'm sorry Butterick 6167, you deserved better!
Originally this pattern was going to be one of my first summer projects.  The design caught my fancy when Butterick released their Spring line and I thought the version Amy sewed up was very pretty. Coincidentally after Amy's FO post JoAnn's had a Butterick sale, so you know I "had" to buy a copy. Pattern in hand I excitedly muslined up the bodice to find that there were going to be major fit issues due to my low bust. You'd think that would have been my stopping point, but no. Sometimes I need to show my dominance by pounding fitting issues into the ground with a steely gaze much like Robert Patrick as the T-1000.
Ooooh yeah....I will kill you fitting issues/John Conner with merely a gaze.  Side note - Anyone else find the T-1000 weirdly hot. He's trying to kill us all, but he looks so good doing it. I'm all a flutter just thinking about his intense running. Stupid sexy evil robot. Anyway, let's just say I put this face on and the fitting problems magically melted away...with the liberal use of elastic. If that sounds vague it's because I'll be going into detail about my low bust alterations in a "Sewing Notes" post tomorrow. I compare boobs to baked goods.......so you've got that look forward to.

Now back to actual sewing talk....having completed the musling process all I had to do was pick a fabric and get sewing.  Usually this is not a hard decision for me because A. I have a lot of fabric and B. I have no problems buying more fabric.  There should have been at least 7 different applicable fabrics in the stash, but for whatever reason I just wasn't excited about using them for this particular pattern.  One sewing lesson I have learned is not to shoehorn fabric into a project if it doesn't feel right. You are never going to be happy about sewing that fabric up. Better just to put the project on the back burner until the right fabric comes along.  So poor Butterick 6167 got put on the back burner a looooong time.  I did try to find it some new fabric but my usual crack fabric dealers just didn't come through for me this time.
I'd just about written this pattern off for this summer when my pal Margo mailed me a surprise package of fabric. Margo has impeccable taste, so I basically squeed all over myself when I found she'd send me a tropical print on a black background. The fabric said, "I'm here for the Butterick dress! Aren't you glad you waited for me?"  YES fabric, YES! You are so worth it. We hugged and I put it in the washer for a prewash.

It's all smooth sailing from here right?  Wrong.  Turns out that if I make a muslin in April and then pick it up in August my little brain decides maybe the whole thing needs to be tinkered with. Maybe it needs to be more like the Bernie Dexter Paris dress I'd been wearing all summer.  The general look between the two was very similar, but I liked some of the details on the Paris dress more.  Why not get the pattern out and just change one or two things?

The great thing about sewing is that you can make a garment just how you want it. It's also the worst thing because you can get caught up in a series of fiddly changes that had nothing to do with the fit of the garment. You end up wondering if you're really just trying to drive yourself crazy and/or find an excuse to abandon the sewing project for you knitting project. "I can't possibly think of pattern edits right now. Guess I have NO CHOICE but to knit this sock and watch The Americans. Yeah baby, Wigs!" Seriously though, the wigs in that show are great. This blonde one....uhhh I want to marry it.
Eventually I burned through all cold war era spy craft available to me and finally buckled down to make those pattern edits. Based on the look of the Bernie Dexter dress I decided to make the following changes:

- Changed the ratio of bust shelf to lower bodice.  The height of the bust shelf was reduced and added to the lower bodice instead.

- Added a bust band under the ruched area.  I thought the band gave a nice transition between the two areas.  I've put my drafting and construction details for this in the Confessions/Advice area.
- Thinned the shoulder straps to about the same width as the Bernie Dexter dress.

- Added a lot more width to the skirt for more gathered volume. Since this made the pieces very large the skirt was cut on the cross grain even though my fabric wasn't a border print. I think the skirt as drafted is nice, just wanted to turn it up to 11.

- Added side seam pockets because why doesn't this dress have some in the first place?
I kept some of the nicer elements of the Butterick pattern that the Bernie Dexter dress doesn't have, like a full lining and a deep hem. If you're cherry picking you might as well have it all, don't you think? Just nod your head and we'll move on.

Butterick 6167. Started with a straight size 14 with a C cup.

Fabrics used
Stretch cotton shirting from the most excellent Margo. Thank You Margo!!!

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Added 1/4" at the waist to each side of the front princess line seam.

2. Changed the proportion of the front bodice of the dress.  The overall height was nice but I wanted the ruched area to be a bit smaller.  Removed 5/16" from the bust pieces, added the same to the lower bodice pieces. (Back needs no alteration since the overall height remains the same.)

3. Changed the angle of the bust shelf. On the bodice side added 1/2" at the very top of the curve and graded it out to nothing. Removed the  3/4" from the bust stay and bust inset because that area needed to be taken in.

4. Additionally reduced the length of the bust inset 2" for a total of 2 3/4" of width removed.

5. Added 8" long elastic to the top of the bust shelf to get rid of the rest of the gapping.

6. Added a bias band to the bottom of the bust shelf.  Finished width is 5/8".

7. Reduced shoulder strap width to a finished width of 8/16".

8. Added 11" to both the front and back skirt pattern pieces to increase the skirt fullness by 44".

9. Added pockets to the side seams. I used the pockets from the Odette dress.

10. Made the hem slightly smaller at 1.25" when pattern calls for 1.75" hem.

11. Omitted the boning called for in the back of the bodice.

12. Went back into the finished garment and took the side seams in a 1/2". Think I didn't make my muslin small enough to account for the lycra in the real fabric.

- Just a note that my fabric choice was a lighter weight than the cotton sateen the pattern sample is sewn in. I probably wouldn't have added as much volume to the skirt if using a sateen weight.

- I'm not opposed to boning in dresses, but don't think one piece makes sense for the design. I could see adding additional boning into the side seams/front princess lines seams if you wanted to make the garment really sturdy. I also think this design works fine with no boning at all. (Bonus, you don't have to worry about dry cleaning the dress because of spiral steel boning.)
- The hem was machine sewn because I wasn't feeling it in the hand hemming department.

- Also skipped the lapped zipper and put in an invisible one. Screw you lapped zipper.

- Looking at these pictures I should have done a bit more seam allowance grading at the waist.

- If you like the underbust band, here's how to add one to the dress.  First measure the curved seam of the lower bodice to get an idea of the length needed.  Double that and add an extra 1" of wiggle room. This will be the length of your underbust strap pattern piece.
Decide how wide you want the finished band to be. The fabric piece will be folded in half when it is attached, so double that measurement and then add seam allowance.  For example my finished band is 5/8" so the finished pattern width is 2.5"  After drafting the pattern add a bias grain line to it.  You'll want the band cut on the bias so that it bends around the curved part of the bust seam.
The band is added before sewing in the bust inset. To attach the piece, fold it in half and then baste it to the lower bodice edge.  Change to a regular stitch width and then edge stitch the folded edge to the bodice.  Try to make the curved area as flat as possible. You may need to manipulate the curved area of the bias with your fingers as you stitch.   Once the folded edge is secured you can remove the basting, or leave it in until the bust inset is attached.

Husband Comment
"It's bunchy...and all the cleavage is hidden under the bunches." *Insert sad face emoji here* (I even showed him my Marilyn Monroe impression photo and he was not impressed.)

My Final Thoughts
The husband and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one because I felt pretty darn good taking pictures out on the sidewalk today.  I even got an unsolicited "Beautiful dress," comment from someone's husband.  (His wife chose not to comment, but I'm going to pretend he spoke for both of them.)  I also like being able to bend over in a dress and not worry about my girls falling out. Flashing cleavage all over town has never been my MO anyway.  Flashing collarbones, now that's another story.
Don't let my long list of alterations scare you off. Remember that half of them didn't really need to be made to get a pretty end result.  The only thing really had to be tinkered with was the front of the bodice/inset area. If your bust apex is in a "normal" location or if you are smaller busted this area would not be as tricky to fit. For those of you with low bust apexes like me, check out tomorrow's fitting post.  A little elastic in the inset area hides a lot of sins. :)
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