Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Figuratively Speaking, Part 2

Despite my desire to wear retro-inspired clothing, I know that much of the styles won't flatter my particular figure. Since my goal is to dress attractively, working with my figure and not against it, one of the first types of garments I'll be making is tunic-length knit tops, chosen to fit and flatter! In my next post, I'll feature some of the fabrics and patterns I've purchased. I am approaching my initial attempts as experimental. I'll be trying to work out the patterns, techniques and fabrics which work best for me.
In the meantime, I will show you a little bit from my first attempt, as well as my first unsuccessful try at purchasing a dressform.

The first top I tried is a Vogue Pattern, #8469. It claims to be "Very Easy", and for the most part it is. This pattern features an adjustable bust according to your cup size. Perfect for me! Most patterns are proportioned for a B-cup bustline. This is defined by taking two measurements: one at your upper chest, above your breasts, just under your arms and the other at the fullest part of your bust. If you have a 2" difference, that is a B-cup, 3" is a C-cup , etc. To give you a window into my world of fit issues, my measurement difference is 9". That's right, 9 inches. Makes my upper back ache just thinking about it.
TMI? Anyhoo .... with this pattern, each cup size has its own pattern piece and so I laid the c-cup pattern piece over the D-cup pattern piece, and saw where and how much the increases were and using the D-cup pattern piece, I cut out pieces that were enlarged a little in the right places. If I had taken pictures, I could show you where and how much, but for now you'll just have to take my word, that I lengthened the bodice piece about 1" from the shoulder down over the bust point, and graded that in to about 1/2" at the center front and down to zero at the side seam. I also increase the width of the bodice front by 1/2" at each side.
This pattern is a good choice for me, in that it fits close in under the bust, instead of the letting the girth of my bust define how wide I look all the way down. It also has a dolman/kimono sleeve, which also helps. Not that I am inclined to make this up in a striped fabric, but if I did, I think I would place the stripes horizontally on the bodice/sleeve pattern pieces and vertically on the torso/skirt pieces. The pattern even shows this made up color-blocked, which would be especially good for someone who wanted to accentuate a smaller bust (lighter color), and minimize a fuller waist (darker color). I bought this fabric @ in mid-January. It only needs a yard and a half to make this top, so this custom-fit top cost me a whopping $8.97. That's not counting the pkg of bias tape used to face the neckline, the cost of thread. Shipping was free because my total purchase came over $35.00.
Now, about the dressform. Yes, she looks lovely modeling my new top. BUT, she's headed back to Atlanta. I just got her on Friday, and I've been considering her deficiencies and I have decided that I can't live with them. I bought her at Atlanta Thread Supply, online, when they had a free shipping day. She is a Dritz, "My Double", size Medium. On paper, the Medium will dial up to my measurements. By on paper, I mean the measurements given in the catalog and online. However, when she arrived and I tried to adjust her to "double"me, I discovered that the label on the outside of the box, gave different measurement ranges (slightly smaller), but smaller enough not to work for me. (The next size up is too big, at least on paper, there is very little overlap in sizes.) As it was, she would be too small in the bust, but I figured she could wear one of my bras, stuffed. (Oh My!)
You have to dial until the ruler guide reveals the measurement you are aiming for -- you do this gradually on all 4 sides, tedious. Then you discover that it gets very difficult to turn the wheel and that the ruler guide does not have markings all the way up to the measurements that are printed on the box! The final insult came when the plastic threaded rod in the middle of the upper back gave way and stripped itself, causing the back left side to collapse back in to the starting point. It wouldn't even hold in place at a measurement well within the box-indicated range. I will be returning this dress-form to ATS, and the question in my mind is should I try to use the next size up? What is stopping me, is that the next size up, which is referred to as "Plus-Size" has a minimum waist-and-hip measurement that is slightly larger than I am. But on the other hand, maybe the listing in the catalog and online is incorrect for that size too.
Since I am very focused on fit, and cannot count on cutting out a pattern as printed and sewing it up without alterations, I am continuing to consider my options. I haven't abandoned the idea of making one of those duct-tape dummies. Have you ever done that? How did it work out for you?


Mainah said...

I look forward to seeing your progress. I bought a dress form at a flea market last summer. At it's smallest it was Anna. Then I brought it to it's largest to get "me" and had to pad the middle quite a bit and the bust somewhat. Ahh, the days of having a waist. The so far unnamed model has an old tshirt thrown over it for now and hasn't been put to work in many months......

Lorrie said...

My daughters and I made duct tape dummies and I'm so pleased with mine. I can't compare it to a manufactured dress form, but what I like about the duct tape one is that it looks like me and when I put my clothes on it, I can see why things hang the way they do.