Thursday, March 1, 2001

Alterations: Cheater FBA

With knits lately I've been "cheating." Instead of doing a regular slash/spread FBA, I've just been blending between sizes as I trace or cut, like this:

I'll start with the size that corresponds to my upper bust measurement. For this drawing, that would be the Gray size inside the black outline. Then I move out at armhole level to the size that corresponds to my full bust. Here, it's the Blue size. And then I gradually morph downward to the size that corresponds to my hips. Here, it's the Purple size. I end up with a pattern that resembles the Gray plus Red outline.

This cheating method works for me because I also usually also have to increase the bicep width in sleeves and the morphing shown above does increase the sleeve size needed. But now, instead of actually slash/spreading the sleeve, I just use a similar morph between the sleeve size that matches the Gray size I started with and I extend the underarm seams to the Blue size, like this:

As I said, I use these cheaters mostly for knits. (And before you ask, No, I don't find that the front bottom hem rides up. Your mileage may vary.) I will also sometimes use these morphs as a starting point for wovens too, because then I'll need a much smaller dart/spread when doing a traditional FBA.

Alterations: Full Bust Adjustment for Shirred/Gathered Front

First, the pattern is slashed and spread and a dart is added to the non-darted tee, using the method in Fit For Real People (Palmer/Pletsch), shown here. The alteration shown is a large FBA, even for me, but the pattern I started with was about 1-1/2 sizes down from my usual size and required a bit more extra width.

In order to transfer the horizontal bust dart to the center front shirring, the pattern is slashed 3 times at the shirred center front. The slashes are cut up to, but not through, the bust point (where the horizontal bust dart is currently pointing to). Three slashes are added so the dart can be transferred incrementally over the bust area instead of transferring the dart to just one place.

The horizontal bust dart is closed by sliding the dart "edges" toward the center of the dart. As this dart is closed, the slashes added in the step above spread open, transferring the dart to the shirred front area and at the same time, adding additional length to the area which will be shirred. The additional length is needed by full busts, so this is a good thing!

Spread the slashes evenly (they are not even in this pic!), add additional pattern material underneath and secure the alterations to save as your final pattern.

This is the finished top. The full bust alteration adds needed width at the bust and also extra length to go over a larger bust. By transferring the horizontal dart to the center front shirring, the style of the original pattern is unchanged.

Alterations: Square Shoulders

There's not a whole lot to say. Well, maybe there is, but not from me. ;-)

The above illustration is how I do a square shoulders adjustment on my sewing patterns. I lift the outer edge of the shoulder (usually 3/8" - a little goes a long way here) and also lift the underarm the same amount. This keeps the armhole the same length so that sleeve adjustments are not necessary.

I usually just draw these adjustments on the tissue before I cut out or trace the pattern so I don't have to go back and add tissue for the adjustment later. A straight edge for the shoulder line and a French curve for the armhole are handy.

And that's it.

For sloping shoulders, you would do the opposite. I.e., lower the outer edge of the shoulder and drop the armhole the same amount.

Alterations: X-Wrinkles Wedge Adjustments (Pants)

This is how the back of my pants usually look, RTW or sewn-by-me. I've been calling it the X-wrinkles. The X-wrinkles are wrinkles and folds that radiate from my inner thigh to knee at the back.

While a fisheye dart (FED) seemed to cure most of the problems, it never quite resolved all of the X-wrinkles. As my pants fitting continues to evolve, I think I've found my solution by addressing the X-wrinkles as two separate fit issues (high hip, full inner thigh) and altering for each by incorporating a "wedge" to add more fabric length where it's needed. In other words, adjusting where the X-wrinkles are pointing to.

If the FED works for you, keep using it! The adjustments below and/or here (Minott) and here for full inner thighs are what I think works better for me.

The photo above shows my FED pattern (white) laid over my wedge-altered Simplicity 4068. You can see there is a leg "shift" difference between the two.The altered Simp gives me more fabric at the upper inseam and at the high hip. (Pardon all the lines and scribbles on the FED pattern -- I was experimenting.)

In addition to the FED alteration, I had also been altering for full thighs by adding to the crotch points. Yet, I would still have rear "crotch smiles." So, I would add more. And still I would have those crotch smiles. Clearly, this wasn't working.

So I dug out the fit books and realized that while I have full thighs, the fit alteration I really need was one aimed at knock knees because my full inner thighs were mimicking the results a truly knock-kneed person would see. And the light begins to turn on …

I found the inseam wedge alteration in Fast Fit (Sandra Betzina) and coupled that with another wedge at high hip to add the extra length needed to go over that area. It's almost like splitting the FED into two, which for me is what I need because each side of what would be a FED needs a different size wedge.

Below is my altered Simplicity 4068 pattern.

The red lines are the wedges. The upper wedge is for high hip.

(I added the high hip wedge lower on the front than I really wanted, but I was trying to keep the pocket area unchanged. Because the first sew of these pants resulted in a bit of poofiness at the front crotch, next time I will add this wedge higher and redraw the pocket.)

The lower wedge is to add length at the inseam.

After my initial pin-fitting in fabric, I also incorporated the alterations shown in yellow and blue.

The yellow lines reflect (1) removing hip width, (2) lowering crotch depth front/back, (3) lengthening the rear dart, and (4) returning the crotch points to the original pattern lines because I didn't need the extra I added. (Truing the grainline is also shown in yellow but I did this before cutting the fabric.)

The blue line at the back crotch curve shows where I deepened the curve.

The black lines are original pattern seam and grain lines. You can see that these alterations do not throw off the grainline very drastically.

This is the result, standing with my legs together …

… and with my legs slightly apart:

And this is how I usually stand, one knee locked, one bent, and one hip higher than the other. Yeah, not every stance is a perfect view. Once you move in real life, you *will* have wrinkles. LOL!

Alterations: Fisheye Dart (Pants)

Thanks to Kenneth D. King and his Trouser Draft CD book, the lightbulb came on for me when removing excess fabric from the back legs of my pants drafts. Hopefully, this little explanation of what Kenneth King's book showed me will help you too.

Here's the problem, illustrated.

In my particular case, excess fabric hangs up on my extended calves. In the top photo, you can actually see my calves sticking out.

I also have excess fabric just below the cheek, although with these two pants, since the back crotch point still needs to be extended for my full thighs, some of these wrinkles and folds are for that fitting issue too.

You may have figured out that what you really need is to remove a fisheye-shaped bit of fabric in the problem area. So, you pin it out and all seems well, as shown in this pic.

But now what?? How do you actually transfer that strangely shaped dart to a place where you don't have to sew a seam across your butt?

Read on.

First, mark the grainline on your pattern/muslin. Next, draw a horizontal line perpendicular to the grainline and below the crotch point. Draw your fisheye dart the width of what you pinned out on your muslin and center it over the horizontal guideline.

Your fisheye dart may be drawn lower than mine; that's perfectly OK. The idea is to pin out the excess where you need it pinned out. The location may lower or higher than my excess.

Next, draw two lines parallel to the center line of the fisheye dart which are each 1/2 the width of the dart away from the center line. In other words, one line crosses the widest part of the fisheye dart at its top point and the other line crosses at its bottom point.

Measure the distance between those last two parallel lines on both the inseam and the outseam. It is important to measure accurately.

If you haven't done so already, trim away the seam allowances.

Next, fold out the dart as one horizontal fold. To do this, make those last two horizontal lines shown in last photo above meet. The inside of this fold is the center line of the fisheye dart.

FYI, the reason the crotch point in this photo is folded over is because folding the dart made the point lay crooked and it was easier for me to just pin it out of the way temporarily since my excess hits right at the crotch point area.

Now for Kenneth King's "magic."

Remember those measurements you noted earlier where the parallel lines crossed the inseam and outseam? Now is when you'll need them.

Extend the waist at the outseam up the same distance as you folded out on the outseam.

Extend the top inseam/crotch point up the same distance as you folded out on the inseam.

True the extensions onto the pattern piece, and voila! You've now removed a fisheye shaped area from your pattern.

Here's my final result. Look ma -- no folds!

Note: Fitting is an ever-evolving process and I've now decided the fisheye dart (FED) is *not* the alteration I need. To read more on about the wedges I used instead, follow this link to my blog entry with the details. This is not to say, though, that the FED isn't what you may need. Read both and compare for yourself, and maybe one of these methods will be helpful to you. — DC.

Alterations: Full Bust Adjustment with Twisted Bodice

I started with McCall's 4652, a knit top with a twisted front and empire seam.

First, I loosely joined the upper and lower bodice pieces with tape.

Next, I made my usual Full Bust Alteration (FBA), spreading the pattern about 1-3/8". You should be doing the FBA with additional tissue under the pattern as shown in the next photo. Otherwise, you will have to reposition everything again like I did. :)

Next, trace the sideseam onto the tissue underneath, as shown in red here. The traced line must be dark enough for you to see under one layer of tissue.

To eliminate sewing a horizontal bust dart and maintain the bust alteration and sideseam shaping, close the dart by rotating the pattern clockwise. Draw the sideseam traced above onto the rotated pattern, as shown in blue here.

Cut away the tissue outside of the traced sideseam. You have now rotated the excess of your bust dart to the sideseam.

Secure your new tissue additions (tape, glue, etc.) and then cut the upper bodice section away using the original pattern shape as your cutting line. True the upper and lower sections as necessary. Add a seam allowance to the top (empire) seam of the lower section. Where I cut already incorporated the seam allowance for the top section, but cut away the SA from the bottom section, which is why I only added a SA back to the bottom section.

Because this top is a 4-way knit, there really isn't any other way to "tissue fit" the knit except by using the actual knit. After cutting one bodice section in the fashion fabric and roughly holding it up to my bust as a test, I decided I still needed additional length in the upper bodice section, since by cutting on the original upper bodice empire line to maintain the shape of that seam for piecing later, I really didn't add any add'l length (which I need) to the bust piece yet. I slashed the pattern under the armhole and spread it vertically to add about 3/4" more to the overall length of the upper section. I have a DD bust cup and this fabric is very stretchy -- your mileage may vary.

The finished top.

Alterations: Full Bust Adjustment with Raglan Sleeves

(Also how to rotate bust dart OUT at sideseam)

Size Medium traced, then slashed (in red) and spread using the Fit For Real People method for non-darted bodices.

After FBA is complete, trace the sideseam onto new tissue below.

Close the horizontal bust dart by rotating pattern, while over sideseam tracing on under layer.

New adjusted pattern is shown in red. Horizontal bust dart has been moved to the side seam and excess dart uptake is cut off.

Final pattern as retraced, with markings, etc. The "bump out" at the bust area sideseam will be eased to the back piece. I also curved up the bottom hem area a bit to compensate for the added length from the FBA.

Alterations: Full Bust Adjustment with Dolman Sleeves

This is the pattern as drafted, except that I forgot to take the pic before I cut off the little dolman sleeve. It's Simplicity 4229. It has a waist dart but no obvious horizontal bust dart. (The slashes you can sort of see are the results of the steps shown below.)

FBA (full bust alteration) begins.

First, I cut off the sleeve (see above) so as to mimic a regular armscye. (You need that "seam" as a pivot point for an FBA.)

Next, I transferred the waist dart to a horizontal bust dart by marking my bust point on the tissue and slashing the pattern to that point where a bust dart would be. I then spread open this new dart/slash enough to close the waist dart.

Next, I slashed and spread the tissue as you'd do for an FBA with a set-in sleeve. Because the waist dart in this pattern is shaped, it will not look completely straight as would a slash through a waist dart in another pattern. Use your best judgment to gauge where the "center line" of this dart would be -- parallel to the grainline mark in this instance is a safe bet. :)

Because I wanted to keep the waist dart and lose the bust dart (to stay true to the pattern design), I rotated the bust dart closed again

I filled in the spread gaps with tissue. Although the original pattern has the waist dart open, I filled this in too (shown in blue) so the fabric would be there when I cut out the pattern, which would let me fine tune how much dart uptake I wanted to sew in as a dart and how much I wanted to sew out at the waist seam. For this top, I ended up sewing about 1/2 as a dart and sewing out 1/2 as waist/hip shaping. I tried leaving the excess at the sideseams but the top would've been a sack with too much flare at the hip (not a good look on me) and too much ease at the waist. After I decided on the final waist dart uptake, I serged off the excess seam allowance, leaving about 3/8".

The last step which is not pictured, is to tape the sleeve back onto the pattern. It probably will not line back up *exactly,* so use your best judgment, true the seams/cut lines and fill in with tissue where necessary.

The final top. The empire "seam" is not really a seam -- just applied lace.

Alterations: Full Bust Alteration for Princess Seams

(This is the FFRP slash/spread method.) If your bra cup size is more than B, pick the pattern sized based on your UPPER BUST measurement as the bust measurement. By choosing your size based on bone structure rather than fluff, your pattern will fit through the shoulders and upper chest with minimal upper body alteration, if any, necessary. It's easier to adjust patterns for a full bust than to grade down for a proper upper body fit.

These illustrations show an armhole princess bodice. The alteration is the same for a shoulder princess, just adjust the armhole slash point accordingly.

Slash the side front bodice, as shown below in pink, leaving pivot points at the armhole and bust point.

If using a pattern with seam allowances included, the armhole pivot point should be at the sewing line, not the cutting line.

Spread the slashes apart the distance needed to meet the pattern center front to your center front (per your initial tissue-fitting), or the difference between your full bust measurement and pattern full bust measurement (per envelope), keeping the vertical and horizontal spreads parallel to the slash lines.

A full bust alteration will add length under the bust. Move bottom center piece straight downward to match pattern bottom.

See animation below.

Add tissue behind pattern to fill in, leaving the side dart unfilled.

Slash the pattern piece as shown in blue near the bust point.

Rotate the unfilled side dart until it's closed and lays flat on your work surface. This will create a dart opening at the princess seam.

Measure the two openings shown between the two sets of blue slash lines and note these measurements for adjusting the center front bodice piece, explained below.

Fill the new opening with tissue behind the pattern and true the princess seam.

Create two horizontal slash lines on the center front bodice, in roughly the same area as the final dart rotation and length adjustment made for the side bodice piece above.

Spread the pattern vertically, in two steps, the same distance as the measurements you noted above.

The armhole remains the same length so no adjustment to sleeve is required.

Fill the spreads with tissue behind the pattern and true the seams, if necessary.