Friday, May 15, 2009

It’s the FRONT AH, Dummy!

This week, I have made (and REmade...scroll to the end!) yet another knit top. I wore it yesterday for a 'test drive' to evaluate and make a list of its faults! Most of the issues are correctable next time, I think.

I STILL need to work on the FRONT ARMHOLE SHAPE! And, duh, the problem was there on that first top...the teal one...and it is STILL there on this recent one...and duh, it won't go away unless I do something about it!!! If you look at the lower F-AH on the TEAL top, you can maybe see that the AH seam appears to be more 'on the arm' than 'on the body'...and I totally forgot to address that when I made this latest the AH on the new top is the same way!!! Duh. I will certainly address it on the next one….and I *may* have to take this one apart to ‘address’ it now!

I am also thinking this is STILL something that needs to be done on EVERY PMB top I ever make…not just knits/dartless things. I have been manually ‘scooping’ my front armholes on my PMB patterns for years, but I thought perhaps I could get away from doing it in Version 4, as there were some slight drafting changes made in this version…but it appears not. At first I thought my last woven/darted top (Empire) was a bit low in the armhole depth, then I decided it wasn't...but I am now thinking it probably *really* is too low! I bet it needs to have the front AH reshaped/scooped and the overall AH depth raised!

This goes along with what Belinda is saying about it being easier to use commercial patterns and alter them than start from scratch! BTW, Belinda, you REALLY did say it oh, so well! I was nodding and saying "uh huh, yep" as I read your blog...even though *I* stubbornly continue to use PMB. But I have long ago accepted that PMB needs--‘adjustments’ (shall we say?)--and I basically use these patterns as blocks from which to design my own styles.

Have you ever read the Minott Method books? Minott advocated ‘coding’ a pattern…you’d figure out what you needed to do to a company’s basic fitting shell, then make that adjustment to all patterns produced by that company. Well, that is kinda my philosophy with PMB. Figure out what works and what doesn’t…use what works and change what doesn’t.

But back to that F-AH…On a commercial pattern, if I did a FBA (full bust adjustment), it would change the shape of the F-AH to become more like a 'J' and less like a ')' .

Ok, maybe that’s not a great illustration, but I am limited by the keyboard’s available characters! Take a look at the examples on Debbie Cook’s photo site. She has created some great tutorials! Here is a comparison of her AH ‘before’ and ‘after’ doing a FBA.…see the difference in shape?

My point is, fuller busts need a more-deeply-scooped F-AH than what PMB is drawing...scooped down and inward, not just what you get by reducing the FSW (front shoulder width).

But PMB doesn't change the shape of the armhole with the cup size.

If the lower front armhole is the wrong shape, then the F-AH length...the length of the AH seam probably wrong, too...which means the sleeve draft isn't right either! And the sleeve issue seems to be worse in V4 than it was in 3, although that could be my imagination...but I do KNOW that the front ah notch is higher now, when it SHOULD be lower on the armhole...

As a result of my evaluation of this latest top, I have been drafting and comparing YET AGAIN to figure out HOW to correct the ah length and the sleeve. As I said before, I have been scooping my lower front AHs for years, but I generally used the sleeve that came with the armhole…I didn’t TRY to create a longer ah seam before reshaping it. But now I can see that is only half the solution…the sleeve needs to fit the ah. Basically, I have to figure out how long I need for the armhole seam to be in order to draft a sleeve that will fit into the armhole AFTER I reshape it! Working backwards...

But I have now SAVED a new pattern to try! For this one, I did change some measurements, though, to do some of the manipulations for me....on the last one, I used my measurement chart 'as is'….but this time, I created a new chart (with a new name that indicates it’s for Dartless Knits) and changed a few numbers. Oh, I don't think I've even TOLD you what I did to that first one yet!

OK…basically, what I did was-- I started with my basic blouse block with side and waist darts, and back shoulder dart...and long sleeve. Then, on the pattern, in PE,

  • I 'slid' the front AH down 1", which made the front shoulder VERY slanted...ok, though, because this is for a knit (I lengthened the back shoulder to match this longer front SHL by rotating out the upper back AH arc).
  • Plus, I 'slid' the lower sideseam UPWARD 1" to make the side bust dart smaller...redrew front hem as an arc (center 1" lower than side).
  • Then I redrew the upper sideseam, between underarm and waist, as a more-straight line...using an arc, though, so it has some curve.
  • There was still a small amount of bust dart leftover in the sideseam, so I 'rotated' some of it to the front armhole, but then closed it by moving/shifting the whole front sideseam and the part of the ah that is between the sideseam and that new little 'dart' (that I just rotated there)...I just moved it inward (medially) to close the little ah dart I just created.
  • The end result is that the front ah is BARELY changed in shape from how it started...just barely less 'scooped' at the lower arc area, and the SS/Armpoint is just BARELY lower than it was before.
  • There is STILL a little bit of the bust dart left in the front sideseam (about .5") that I will ease to the back sideseam when I sew this.
I DID also do a few changes to the back pattern...
  • as I said, I had to lengthen the back shoulder because the front shoulder *seam length* became longer when it had to *angle* between the existing ah and the neck...and there was no back shoulder dart to the back SHP needed to be moved outward.
  • Plus, I wanted to add a shaped CB seam, so I 'selected' the back AH and SS, and rotated them (by units) outward 0.75" (at hip), pivot point is SHP. This also adds a bit of ease over the upper back but is primarily to add to the side/hip area what I will be removing from the centerback/hip area by using a shaped center back seam.

Don’t worry about trying to understand ALL this…as some of it will change for the next one anyway! I tried a few things…some worked, some didn’t…and I will eventually share (and illustrate) what DID work best!

Ok, that was the most recent top...the one finished Wednesday night! It is a blue and white checked print with sunflowers and strawberries scattered on it...the fabric was given to me from my mother's stash. The fit is not awful…it is much better than those yellow tops from the PMB NO DART silhouette…but as I said, it certainly isn’t perfect, that’s for sure!

It's that %$#+ front armhole...

Ok, so as I said, I have drafted and compared, and come of with a NEW game plan!

For the next one, as I said, I DID change a few measurements.
This time,

  • I reduced the FSS measurement by 1" to lower that front SHP for me.
  • I had to increase the SHoulder Length measurement by .375" to keep the SHoulder Point and Neck Points where they were before (because of the new shoulder angle)....and this longer SHL made the back shoulder match the front (so I don't have to rotate out the upper back ah as I mentioned before).
  • Then I used the AH SHAPE TOOL to reshape the front ah...doing 10 additional clicks downward.
My thinking here is-

  • Since I lowered the top of the front armhole (at shoulder) by 1" (by reducing the FSS measurement) and
  • I lowered the bottom of the front armhole (at Underarm Point) by 1” (by using the Dart Override Tool, setting= -0.5),
  • I also wanted to lower the midpoint of the ah by 1"...hence, the 10 additional clicks downward ( was already using 7 clicks down).

This downward clicking made my F-AH really 'square'...but was necessary to gain additional seam length so that, when I redraw the lower part with an arc, the new AH will be the same length as this square AH’s seam length, but will be a different shape. THIS WAY, the sleeve that drafts to fit this square ah will still fit the armhole after I reshape it (in PE), since the overall length of the F-AH will remain the same (before and after reshaping). So, the shape of the F-ah is less important to me at this point than the length of the seam line.

I am NOT going to do the rotating of the back ah and sideseam on the next one like I did on this checked one...that didn't please me. The CB shaping is better, but I shouldn't have rotated the back AH/SS outward. I ended up removing that extra that was added from underarm to hem on the back at sideseam, as well as tightening up the waist on both front and back sideseams.

Really, if I am using a CB seam, I can just put the uptake of the waist dart there at the waist and leave the hip as is....and I will try a little LESS hip ease this time, along with a different front/back distribution at hip. I cannot decide if I think the CB seam is worth it or not...although it is no trouble and I don't really 'feel' it or anything.

So, once I made these changes to my measurement chart and setting choices, I could duplicate the previous pattern with far fewer manual alterations needed. PLUS, the sleeve draft now matches the length of the new (manually-altered) F-armhole….this sleeve is larger than the previous one (because the F-ah seam is longer) so I can use a TALLER sleeve cap and get the same width at bicep.

This is my new AH compared to the original one on this checkered top. Original is brown...NEW is blue and green (The lower, more-square ah is the NEW one..for some reason, this picture won't enlarge).

I located a point on the upper AH that is 1" above that NEW front notch...this point was about the same level as the OLD notch. I used the scissors tool to BREAK the upper AH at this point. Then I created an arc from that point to the Underarm Point...making sure the length of NEW armhole equalled the length of the AH before my changes (NOT the brown one on the old/first pattern).

Since the new sleeve was larger, I used ZERO for the cap height instead of -.5, as used on the original. New sleeve is the PINK one.

Ok, this is too tempting to wait until I make the next top…I want to try it NOW!

So I guess you know what I have been doing today (Friday)!

Ripping out the sleeves on my brand new checkered top to reshape the F-ah and insert NEW SLEEVES!!!


And guess what! I think it worked! I think it is better!



The whole things sits a bit differently…because of the sleeve changes. It’s hard to explain how it feels.

See the BEFORE on the left (jeans) and the AFTER on the right (yellow pants).

Now, the armhole IS too low…there’s nothing I can do about that short of taking it apart to pull the whole thing upwards by resewing the shoulders deeper/lower (and cutting new sleeves yet again!!!) and I am not gonna do that ‘cause the AH is not that low…not that bad! I can stand it this time!

By getting the right SHAPE on the lower front AH, I will be able to use a higher AH Depth setting…I won’t need to use a lower AH depth to prevent that ‘biting’ into the front of the armpit that sometimes occurs. Plus, my sleeve will have a better shape and be more comfortable.

See the BEFORE on the left (jeans) and the AFTER on the right (yellow pants).

Ok, I am ready to be finished with THIS top!

And I had just enough left-over fabric to cut a few caps for chemo-therapy patients!


Sew4Fun said...

>>even though *I* stubbornly continue to use PMB

Yes but you love it! :)

As you know I also scoop all my PMB front armholes and I have about the same cup size as you. I think you may be onto something about it being related to cup size. Good detective work!

As we know Müller already creates this scooped armhole which fits much better. :)

Marilyn said...

Here's hoping you got a close shave, so no one scrolls that photo into your armpit!! Oh I couldn't help myself.

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