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Coloring within the lines

March 26, 2007

What does coloring within the lines have to do with sewing, you ask? Well, when you first picked up a crayon and tried your hand at art, didn’t your parents and teachers keep after you to color within the lines? They wanted your coloring to look nice and not messy, right? Right.

Well, after enough time, you start to understand why people do things the way they do and suggest certain processes for things. For instance, with sewing, you start to understand why people trace off their patterns onto other paper, or sew up test garments before cutting into the really luscious fabric. When I was growing up and learning to sew, no one ever mentioned making a “muslin” or any of these sage pieces of advice. You simply pulled the pattern out of the envelope, cut it according to your size (usually erroneously choosing the same size you wear in store-bought clothing), placed it on your favorite fabric, and cut and sewed. Voila! In theory, you had an immaculately sewn, perfectly fitting garment.

In reality, it rarely works that way. At least not for me. No wonder I struggled with sewing so much and tended to gravitate towards easy projects – like kids clothes, which typically have few fitting issues. They were smaller projects, allowed a fair amount of creativity, and lent themselves to instant (or fairly fast) gratification. And admittedly, when I was younger, I was much, much slimmer and didn’t have the fitting issues I have these days. I suppose then I could just cut right off the untested pattern.

Today, my sewing (and my body) has evolved. I have projects for myself where I can have the instant gratification, but I now want to have garments that fit well and last – not garments that make me feel self conscious or that I want to immediately toss in the trash. Because of that,  and because I really like the look of this Vogue skirt, and I want to do it “right”. I want a skirt that will look great, fit great, and last for quite some time.

For the first time ever (ever? really? yes), I traced off the pattern and am working to create a test garment. I knew that from the measurements on the pattern envelope that the pattern would require some adjustments and extra room around the hip. I also knew that since the pattern has identical front and back patterns, I’d want to alter the back one to allow more ‘fluff’ room for my swayback, and eliminate the problems I have all the time with the extra fabric at the back waist area.

So, here are some pictures of the pattern pinned to my dressform, and some of the issues I’m encountering so far. The front, all pinned together:

Vogue Tissue Fit 1

First, I may have to adjust the upper body area as I have it pinned with no seam allowance showing around the waist, so once I re-pin it higher, it might look different. Plus, I have left both lines on for view A or B length. I haven’t made up my mind yet.

The first problem I noticed with the pattern, not the fit, is this:

Vogue Tissue Fit 2

Notice how the side seam lines don’t match up. I have the center front markings aligned, but somehow, this doesn’t look right to me.

Speaking of center front, look at all this junky mess in the center.

Vogue Tissue Fit 3

It certainly isn’t hanging perpendicular and that weird bend in the seam (at the top of the picture) is odd. It looks great in the drawing, but so far, with the tissue it has a weird fold at that point. I’m not quite sure how to fix it, and I don’t think it is entirely because of the extra tissue around the seam lines. This is quite soft tissue, almost lightweight fabric-like.

Speaking of drawing, as I was pinning this together, I noticed this difference in the drawings between A and B – notice the angle of the top right seam (goes off to the left as you are looking at it.) To me, one looks more straight up and down in the blue one and the other doesn’t.


How to fix these first issues? I’m not sure. I’m open to any suggestions. I think to create the added width across the hips that I want, I might move that skirt point to the right (or left as you are wearing it) some, adding the extra width in the center front. That will also move all that puffiness over a bit – or I could add some extra length to that pointy area, moving it closer to the knee area. I’m not sure. I have to think on this a bit. Plus, my fitting book doesn’t address skirts specifically, so I’m going to have to do a bit of research.

I’m so glad I’m going through this process. If I had just cut into the final fabric I would have instantly had a wadder. And that would have made me cry like a two year old.

  1. March 26, 2007 1:02 pm

    for a pattern like this, a muslin is definitely a good idea….if for no other reason than to work out the kinks of the drafting and how the pieces go together. as for things not lining up on the side seam….could be a drafting error. i hope you are using a soft fabric. where all those seams meet could end up being a bumpy mess. i notice vogue only shows an artist rendition….no actual garment. i wonder how well this design translates to real lift. kwim?
    if you can get it to work, it will be very cool.

  2. March 27, 2007 5:08 am

    Ah, don’t you hate it when the patterns show artsy drawings, not actual pictures? Artsy drawing are nice, but it’d be good to have both.

    Basting a muslin would probably be helpful; I think it would give you a better idea of the problems.
    I’m sure you’ll get it to work! 🙂

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