Friday, March 29, 2013

Zero-ease Torso Block

A friend asked about the measurements and settings I am using now to sew this dress.  I couldn't really give a short answer.  I had to do some research!

So...I guess I should back up a bit and start this story from the beginning.

After trying on a gazillion RTW dresses and being made to feel that my body is sub-optimal deciding I could do better, I decided to sew a dress.  I pulled out that red crinkle sheath and tried it on for evaluation.  I didn't trust the shoulder changes that I had made because that fabric was, after all, a crinkle rayon! has 'give'!  But the need to raise the waist level and increase the bust cup were undeniable.  So I set about creating a new chart and pulled out some fabric to test it.

I used a striped polished cotton and cut a ZERO- ease torso block from it. 
I put a zipper in the back seam. 
No sleeves yet.
Well, as you can see by the pattern, there are some suspicious areas!
I used one waist dart in front and back.

I chose an F bust-cup.  Remember? the red crinkle sheath discussion, I decided that I needed to go up, but wasn't sure whether to go to E or F.  Since this was to be very fitted, I decided the F was the right choice.***Spoiler alert!!!  This decision will come back to haunt me!

Look at how sloped that back shoulder is!  Way too sloped.  This was one of the changes that I made based on the red crinkle sheath that I was REALLY suspicious about...and it turned out to be way too much slope.

But at this point, I couldn't tell that, though, because I couldn't get this shell zipped over my hips!  I had used my hip measurement, taken at hip level.  But my body is larger at high-hip level!

Look at the hips on that pattern!  Very narrow.  But my hips ARE fairly narrow...
I decided to add some hip ease, then move the SIDE/WAIST and SIDE/HIP points so that ALL the ease I was adding would be in the back.  It seemed like that was were it was needed.

I took the shell apart and printed a new back pattern. I scabbed on some fabric to the sides of the back and re-cut it...then resewed it.  Bad!

I won't go through every detail of every iteration, but I did learn some things as a result of this exercise.
  • For one thing...I need for my waist darts to be very long.  These were way too short in the above pattern.  In front, my darts should be 8" long below the waist.  In back, the dart should be 7" long below the waist. 
  • My new hip depth is 9" since the waist was moved upward.
  • I should NEVER move the SIDE/WAIST and SIDE/HIP points on my torso garments!  I need to have the same amount of dart uptake in front as in back...and that amount is 2" per pattern.*
  • *In order to get waist darts that are large enough (to give me that 2" per pattern), I have to reduce my real WAIST MEASUREMENT by 2"...then manually add .5" at each side/waist to blend that sharp waist indention that PMB creates.
  • I should NEVER draft with 2 waist darts and only sew one UNLESS I am doing that front and back (maybe). I have to keep the uptake equal, F and B.
  • My front WAIST DARTS look better when I make the BUST DART HORIZONTAL setting a smaller number...4"...and increase the UPPER FRONT DART LENGTH SETTING to cause the dart to end farther from the bust point.  I chose 2"...This keeps the dart tip of the side bust dart in about the same place as before, but allows the waist darts to be closer to the center of the body for a more flattering look.
  • I use a ZERO setting for the UPPER BACK DART LENGTH SETTING. 
  • I use 3.5" for my  FIRST BACK DART POSITION setting....not sure this is set in stone yet.
  • To get under-bust contouring, I should sew the front waist darts straight up from waist for about 3.5"...then begin to curve in an "S" shape  before coming to a point.

Now, here is a VERY important lesson learned...I CANNOT use ZERO hip ease if my largest circumference is at the HIGH HIP ...especially when I also use long torso/waist darts!  I would either have to use the HIGH HIP MEASUREMENT as the hip measurement or add ease.  I chose to keep the measurement as is and add ease (for now).

I had to increase the hip ease setting to 3.5" to have enough width in the pattern to cover the high hip and  replace what I was removing in the torso/waist darts.  So, to create a "ZERO-EASE" shell, I  STILL have to add hip ease so I can dart it out with the long waist darts!  My body needs the interior darting for needs a wider pattern with more interior darting.

Eventually, I decided to go with 4.5" hip ease...this ease setting left me with 1" of actual hip ease, I think.  Once I went to the actual dress, I also added a tiny bit of ease to the waist as well.

Here is what my pattern looks like once I make all the right choices:

Notice the difference in the size of these waist darts as compared to the tiny ones in the original pattern (way up in this story).  The back shoulder angle is less steep now,**more about that later.

BTW, I raised this hem up a bit above hip level for the dress style...that is why it looks shorter.

***And, I DID have to make manual changes to the back neck and shoulder dart!***
Because PMB5 will not draft a back neck opening that is wider than the front neck opening,
I must manually slide the back neck over and reduce the size of the shoulder dart
I'll show that  in a future post.

Ok, here is a little about the fitting:

As you can see on the shoulder and armhole of this FRONT piece, I scabbed on some fabric at the very tip of the shoulder and have drawn marks where the armhole will be trimmed.  This is so I can continue using the same fabric piece without starting over...the next pattern has a wider shoulder, but I scooped the armholes by using the ARMHOLE SHAPE TOOL.

Below, you can see where I scabbed on a chunk of fabric so I could recut the front and add to the width of the hips and waist, according to the next pattern to be tried.

On my dress form, I hung a weighted string from the neck area, making sure it crossed the shoulder at the SHOULDER POINT.  This way, I could observe the side seam.
Notice...although it touches the string at the underarm and almost touches at the hip, the string is far behind the sideseam at the waist. 
Or, rather, the sideseam swings too far forward at the waist!
This tells me that my DART UPTAKE (and side seam position)  is not right...the distribution of the waist/torso dart uptake  is wrong.  The front darts are taking out too much fabric and the back darts not enough...and/or, I have placed the sideseam incorrectly. 
This was one of the iterations where I had tried moving the S/W and S/H points forward to allow the back to have more fabric over the bum.  Bad idea, but now I know!  Eventually, I realized that my darts much be equal front and back and my side/waist and side/hip must be at the zero position.
My pictures are awful...I know.  Shaky cell phone camera in poor lighting reflected in a dirty mirror.  But perhaps you'll get the idea--

The bust dart was too high and had an ugly ending.
The front waist darts were too far 'out', creating a plateau on my belly!

Funky dart, look at the diagonal wrinkles behind that arm!

To eliminate those diagonal folds in back, I reshaped the back armhole using the ARMHOLE SHAPE TOOL.  First, I went back to my HELPING MEASUREMENTS as determined before.  I had measured my body from the shoulder point down the back armhole to the V where the arm meets the body...this measures 5".  I decided that the upper section of my back pattern also needed to measure 5", so I used the DOWNWARD ARROW to move the back  notch down until the upper section of that armhole measured 5".  This caused the back armhole to become more scooped.
I also increased my bust measurement by 1"...that is why the RED pattern is .25" wider at underarm level.  But the important note here is the lower notch on the RED one...the upper section of the back armhole seamline is now 5" long (between shoulder and notch), which matches my body.  The arc of the armhole will start where my underarm actually is!
Here is an attempt at photographing that back armhole.  There are 5/8" seam allowances still on the armholes...but the wrinkles were better.  In hindsight, I also think I should have decreased the Back Shoulder Slope measurement by a little, as well as make the Back Shoulder Width a bit smaller, because, after all, this is a zero ease garment...I might have too much ease in the back shoulder.  Hindsight.
I DID NOT make the same change to the front pattern.  That is, I did not lower the front notch so that the upper part of the FRONT ARMHOLE would match the measurement on the front of my body.  I tried, but in PMB, that causes the lower arc of the front armhole to become WAY too scooped.  So I just lowered it as far as looked 'right'.
Remember, the bust dart was too high.
So I lowered it.
Then I raised it up a little. 
Then lowered it again...
I stopped it farther from the bust point.

I moved that dart up and down, in and out...

...but still, the awful fold at the end of the dart was present!

In the end, I FINALLY realized it was the BUST CUP! 
I had used an F cup...
What if I only needed an E?
So I sewed a pleat across the whole front to similate how it would be had I used an E cup...

I hadn't thought the front waist was too low, but once it was higher, it DID look better! 
(Using an F-cup also adds 3/8" more front length.) 
Moving the front waist up that 3/8" (by reducing the cup size) was actually an improvement!
I also considered that perhaps a single side bust dart would not ever sew smoothly. 
I am hoping that will not be the case!
I KNOW the darts look awful in this...I would normally sew 4 front torso darts instead of only 2, as well as 4 back torso darts...but on this shell, I was going for speed not beauty.
At this point, I decided I was close enough and started designing the pattern for the actual dress.
NOTE...I decided to raise the front neckline just a little for the dress....this one still has a 5/8" seam allowance on it and seems like a good depth, so I raised it for the real thing.
I guess I should post some measurements and settings, although I am not entirely sure what I should post!  I made more changes based on sewing the dress and would probably make the shoulders even more narrow!  See, I go back and forth on the best way to handle that 'V' that forms at my shoulder when the front and back are sewn together at the shoulder:
If you zoom in close, perhaps you can see the inward-V that forms there.
It will pull the tip of the sleeve up into it, creating a point.  I hate that!

So, I draft with the shoulders extra-wide, then use the ARMHOLE SHAPE TOOL to bump the notches INWARD on both front and back.  I have also drawn an ARC to smooth the upper armhole, creating a nicer transition from front to back.

I have tried using a narrower shoulder measurement, but forgetting to manually extend the shoulder tip to prevent the V is a problelm for me!  By doing it this way (drafting wide and trimming), if I cut out the garment BEFORE I remember to make a modification, I am still ok...I don't have to ADD anthing to fill in the little V...if I forget to scoop out around it, I will see it as soon as I set the sleeves...and can still fix it. 
This is still not set in stone!
Ok, if you are still reading, this is what I ended up deciding was my "zero ease" block.

Style Name:    130320_sleeveB_4_MOG_DRESS

Chart:    Trish_EcupShrtr _130306G_WA

Program: Boutique x5

Date:     3/20/2013


Garment Type:                  Sheath

Body Shape:                      All

Difficulty Level: All


Style:                                   Classic

Closure:                              Back Zipper


Front Neckline:                Scoop

Back Neckline:                  Jewel

Front Neckline Depth:     5.5

Back Neckline Depth:      0.5

Neckline Width:                0.5

Neckline Point:              0

Front Neckline Shape Up:              0.7 clicks

Front Neckline Shape Right:          -0.3 clicks


Front Darts:                       Side

Back Darts:                        Shoulder

Front Torso:                       1

Back Torso:                       1


Dart Override:                   0

Bust Pt Vertical:                              10.5

Bust Pt Horizontal:                          4

Upper Front Dart Length:              2

Upper Back Dart Length:               0

Lower Front Dart Length:              8

Lower Back Dart Length:               7

Back Shoulder Dart Length:          3

First Back Dart Position:                3.5


Sideseam Shape:                             Fitted

Armhole Depth:                               0.25

Side/Arm Point:                               -1.25

Side/Waist Point:                            0

Side/Hip Point:                               0


Cf/Extension:                                   0

Cb/Extension:                                  0


Shoulder Pad:                                   0

Shoulder Length:                             0


Sheath Length:                            Knee

Finished Cb/Hem Length:              22


Hemline Sweep:                         Straight

Hemline Shape:                          Straight


Hip Depth:                                         9




Sleeve Style:                                     Set In

Sleeve Underarm Seam:                Straight

Sleeve Hemline Shape:                   Straight

Sleeve Length:                                 Short

Sleeve Cap Ease:                             0.47

Sleeve Underarm Length:              2

Sleeve Overarm Length:                6.939

Sleeve Hem Circumference:         12

Sleeve Elbow Depth:                       10

Sleeve Elbow Circum.:                    10

Sleeve Cap Height Adj:                   -1

Sleeve Hem Width:                          1

Front Armhole Shape Down:         -0.4 clicks

Front Armhole Shape Right:          -0.2 clicks

Back Armhole Shape Down:          -1.1 clicks

Back Armhole Shape Left:             -0.2 clicks



Seam Allowance:                             0.625

Hem Allowance:                               2

Facing Width:                                   2


Chest Ease:                                       0

Waist Ease:                                       0.5

Hip Ease:                                           3.5


Body Measurements

Side of the Body:                             Left


Chest Circumference:                     42

Back Shoulder Width:                     17

Neck Circumference:                      13.5

Natural Waist:                                  31

Hip Circumference:                         39

Crotch Length:                                 29

Height:                                               66

Weight:                                              143

Bra Cup Size:                                    E

Center Front Length:                      14

Front Shoulder Width:                    15.5

Front Shoulder Slope:                     17

Center Back Length:                       15.5

Back Shoulder Slope:                      17

Bicep Circumference:                     12

Bust Radius:                                     4.5


new- increased BSW by 1 and BSS by 1

and .5" to FSW

--reduced waist to 31


E cup

Use -1 cap height

Lower armhole depth .25


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sleeves, take two!

The new sleeve pattern was MUCH better! 
I probably could have even lowered the sleeve cap a bit more for some additional mobility, but I think this sleeve is fine since it is so short.
I used a CAP HEIGHT of -1 on this SET IN SLEEVE.
Which means I could probably have used a CP HT of -1.5, I think.
On the PREVIOUS sleeve, I did use a CP HT of -1.5, but it was a different sleeve choice...
That was the CAP SLEEVE.
So, the correct cap height choice depends on WHICH sleeve style you make!
After printing my sleeve pattern, I was STILL a bit concerned about that dramatic upward swoop of the hem.
The shape just seemed so...severe.
So I added .5" to the overall cap length by redrawing (with pencil on the paper) as indicated by the blue line on this pattern.  That blue line became my cutting line.
I used .375" seam allowance on the lower/hem edge...5/8" on the others, simply because that is what I had used on the dress.
I really prefer using smaller...3/8"...seam allowances, but when the outcome is uncertain, best to use larger!
I once again cut each sleeve from the lace and from the gold mesh.
I aligned the pieces RST and sewed the lower/hem edge.
Then I understitched that edge, pressing the seam allowances toward the gold mesh.

 I folded the mesh to the inside and positioned the pieces WST, pinning carefully along the hem edge to align the layers without letting either side shift backwards or forward at that hem seam. 
Then I pressed well.
After basting the cap edges together, these sleeves were inserted into the dress without major incidents!
Lastly, I serged the armhole seam, cutting off most of the seam allowance, as it would be pressed out toward the sleeve and I didn't want a big seam allowance showing through the lace. 
1/4 inch was fine.
Yes, it would probably have been nice to bind that seam in lining fabric...I didn't.
Now it was time for a closure at the back neck edge.
I had already tried a small hook and eye on the inside, but it kept coming loose during way was it going to hold during dancing!
I needed a button.
Looking through my stash, hoping to find a set of buttons to cover with the dress fabric didn't produce any buttons small enough.
So I started looking for 'regular' buttons, holding little hope of finding any the right color but making the effort anyway. 
 But what do you know!?  In my grandmother's button stash, there was a little plastic ziplock bag containing 6 small purple buttons!
These buttons were just right! 
Not too big.
Not too small.
Not too  shiny.
Just right!
So I sewed one of these buttons onto the left neck edge of my dress, then made a thread loop on the right side.
The dress closes nicely now!
I haven't tried dancing yet, but if it will hold tight long enough for me to put the dress on and get the hem marked, then I think I will trust it for the night!

Oh, and have you  noticed the color of these images? 
All different.
This purple shows up as blue much of the time.
No telling HOW this dress will show up in the official photos!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Making progress...

Yes, I am sewing. 
A dress. 
But not just any, this is a Mother of the Groom dress! 
What possessed me to do this? 
...especially when the wedding is less than 3 weeks away! 
Well, I really didn't want to make my dress
I wanted to buy one.
Already ready already.
I put off shopping, because I didn't want to find out that I couldn't buy a dress.
If I didn't shop, I could continue to delude myself that I would be able to buy off the rack.
But the time came.
I had to shop.
I tried on a gazillion RTW dresses, and although many of them were nice, there was always something I wanted to change about each one.  MANY (, ALL!) needed alterations to make them fit me. 
I was seeing a trend.
Apparently, I am short-waisted for my circumference.
A size 10 is the right length through the body, but MAN is it tight!
By the time I get into the 12s and 14s, the waist is way too low.
 I figured, why buy an ill-fitting dress and alter it when I can just make a dress from scratch for about the same amount of effort?
Yeah...right.  The same amount of effort?  Pfff.....
But I am plugging away, and, happily, I am nearly finished. 
 But not so fast!
This afternoon, I put in the sleeves...little cap sleeves.  So very confident that this was going to work, I didn't baste them...I sewed with a 'regular' stitch length. 
And now I must rip them out.
I am using PMB5 for my pattern, and things have gone remarkably well, fit-wise.  My construction, though, leaves something to be desired. 
But that is neither here nor there...right now, I am talking about the sleeves.
I drafted the PMB cap sleeve.  I wanted it to be about 3.5" tall at the mid-cap, so I (stupidly) lowered the cap height until it was the desired size.
I cut these sleeves, both layers...a lace and the gold mesh that goes under it. 
 I stitched the layers together along the hem, then understitched, turned, sewed the underarm seam, then aligned the layers to be sewn as one. 
I inserted the sleeves...both of them!...into the dress using a 2.5mm stitch length. 
Luckily, before I trimmed the seam allowances, I decided to try this on to be sure these sleeves were good.
They were not good.
Not good at all!
What was I thinking...lowering the sleeve cap?  Yes, I wanted the sleeve to be 'shorter' but that was NOT the way to do it!  That was a rookie mistake!  I know better.
So now I am printing a new pattern for my sleeve.

This time, I started with the basic SET IN sleeve (above), then drew a shaped hem (below)
...maintaining the original cap shape as drafted, and manually changing only the hem shape. 
I am not sure that I have the hem shape just right...I had to wing it!
But I will certainly BASTE this time!

 Cross your fingers!
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