The perils of tissue fitting

And other good ideas


Baby steps continue on Vogue, 7448, henceforth to be known as the Zoe Coat. I am *this* close to convincing myself that I can splurge on some really nice wool and thinsulate to make an uber-winter version as my prezzie from Santa, although if I have to order anything online the time-frame is getting iffy. We’ll see.

So, I decided to try and tissue-fit my altered pattern pieces on my theoretically-me-shaped duct-tape double.

Now, I do not wish to completely malign duct-tape doubles. I suspect when done really well, and stuffed with a lot of attention to detail, and treated with appropriate respect thereafter, they can probably be pretty useful. Mine is a bit lacking. Another layer of duct-tape to stabilize would probably have not gone amiss. I should’ve been a little more careful in the stuffing, especially of the shoulder region. The fact that my kids think it’s the cat’s miaou and have had oodles more fun with it than I ever have doesn’t help, either. But it is still generally me-shaped.

So. I pinned my pattern pieces, noting centre front and centre back locations, and tried them on the double. ย As you can see above (please ignore the awful background) the main issue seemed to be that the waist (which is supposed to be slightly raised—from past experience this is about 1/2″ above the natural waist) still appeared to be a couple of inches too low. There was also a lot of room in the bust (or rather, a lot more room in the bust than at the waist), so I added another tuck to shortenย and did a modest Small Bust Adjustment. This is actually my first formal SBA with a dart, although I’ve smoothed down princess-seams in the bust area plenty. I tend to wear a bra with wovens, and my bras are all psychotically padded, so I’ve mostly been able to get away with the bust as drafted.

For good measure (considering all the height I’d taken out at this point), I shortened the bust dart by a centimetre or so.

Muslin---Stage 1

And moved on to muslin (stage 1). Apologies for the fuzzy photos, I am far too lazy to re-take them. This is what happens when you let your fingers or arm come between the camera and your photo-spot when setting up the self-timer. ๐Ÿ˜›

Several things became instantly obvious.

Firstly, I had taken out too much length. Obviously my duct-tape is not quite so double. (I suspect she’s compressed in length from being left standing from time to time.) I actually pretty much like where the bottom of the pieces is, but of course there needs to be a seam-allowance below that. /sigh. When I tried it on I thought the back was too short (remember I took 1 cm off the bottom of the back as part of my swayback adjustment), but actually as worn it hangs straight, so that’s a win.

There’s a lot of gaping in the back, at the neck and in the sway-back area.Fairly easy to fix by tweaking the back seam. I’m wondering if the neck-gaping is exacerbated by the need for a square-shoulder adjustment, though. I had hoped that since the pattern is designed for shoulder-pads, I wouldn’t need one, but it would probably have helped.

The front waist seems about right, and shoulder and side-seams fall in pretty good places. The point of the bust dart is high, but I think not problematically so. The big issue in the front is that folding in the front armscye. Those of you who are fit-gurus, please comment! My Singer Sewing Reference Library volume “The Perfect Fit” suggests two fixes for this, a minor one which is basically the same as a sloping-shoulder adjustment on the front bodice piece only(which is pretty much the opposite of what I need), and a major one where you take a dart out of the pattern at the armscye and then kind of smush it flat so there’s no dart there on your final piece. This seems annoyingly imprecise, but would probably work. Of course, these armscye issues are also affected by the sleeve, so I’ll be setting in sleeves before I make a final decision. I find it particularly interesting that the “fold” doesn’t point to the bust, but rather beside it

EDIT: Just a random bit of life I can’t resist putting in. Yesterday our area was in the grip of a fierce chinook windstorm. The wind was breathtaking, but even more amazing was the temperature—even with all that wind, it was WARM (comparatively) outside. Being good Canadians, we promptly kicked the kids out of the house to enjoy the weather.

This morning we turned on the Weather Network and learned that our area had received hurricane-force winds yesterday and that people had been urged to stay inside and away from windows.


Well, at least they were away from windows…



Filed under Sewing

24 responses to “The perils of tissue fitting

  1. Amy

    Aha, there’s where those plant-knocking-over winds came from! We had some severe TX winds the last couple days and they weren’t the normal Gulf kind. Weatherman said from Western Canada prairie storm. (Now it’s finally cold here.)

    I don’t know of any wise adjustments to the armscye but have all those fitting issues you listed quite frequently. I’m starting to wonder if it’s not just a length issue, but one of width–perhaps the extra around the side of the bust is due to a narrower ribcage. I fiddled with the Lady Grey to no end on this, which was easier because of the side panels (although the sleeve then had to go through major surgery). If someone comes along with some ideas about this, I will also be very grateful!

    • Yeah, it was some crazy weather. I should sign up for the severe weather alerts by text or something, I guess. I’m not used to worrying about the wind except in terms of wind-chill (and the occasional summer tornado, but we’re well past that season…)

      I don’t usually think of myself as having a narrow ribcage—if anything, I think I have a wide one, although I don’t suppose I’ve ever actually compared measurements (my underbust is 29″ and this is a size 12 pattern, if that helps.). With the Lady Grey I did a simple SBA by shaving down the princess seams and had to take a big tuck across the lapel to keep that from gaping, but I didn’t do anything to the armscye itself. I may have been using the Colette size 0, though, which is rounding down for me whereas the standard size 12 is kinda rounding up. Hmm. If this was a princess-seam pattern I’d just take it in where the seam hits the armscye, but it isn’t.

      Friggin’ darts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. You are so funny. I love that you shoved your kids out the door. I wish I could do that, but being in the city, I would probably be arrested. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The muslin is looking pretty good except for the things you already pointed out.

    • Honestly, I can almost imagine living in NYC myself but I still can’t imagine raising kids there. I know zillions of people do it, I just don’t know HOW. Also my kids are older… it’s much easier to send them out to play now than even a couple of years ago. And we live in the burbs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I’m working on a wool winter coat myself, though probably won’t really get to it until the new year. I’ve been debating adding thinsulate or going with a satin coat lining with flannel backing (or both?). I get cold easily, but I’ve been reading that the 2 combined might be too warm except for the coldest of days… Maybe I should walk outside on a really cold day with the wool fabric and lining draped around me as a test?! I’m guessing I’ll be making the same changes as you!

    • It depends how cold it gets in your area :). The coat I made last winter has a thick wool-blend fashion fabric, space-age interlining in the bodice only, and flannel-back satin lining, and is pretty good between about -5C to -15C, but much below that I definitely need a sweater (or two) underneath and can feel the wind (especially through the sleeves which don’t have the interlining. Probably it would be better if it were a boiled or felted type of fabric, which would block the wind more. For me this isn’t quite warm enough (although it was too warm this past weekend!) but for people who don’t live in insane climates it might be fine—or even overkill. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Personally, I like flannel-back satin lining just because it’s nicer to sew than regular lining fabric…

      • Good to know! Hmm, it’s rare that temps where I am get lower than -15C so on those occasions I could always whip out the goose-down coat ๐Ÿ™‚ Although I might be moving back to New York and wind chill there can be nasty… Anyway, seems like interlining on top of the flannel-back satin could be a nice option!

  4. Oh! I’ve done one of those make-a-dart-in-the-pattern-and-smoosh-it-out alterations before, but not on the front/armskye area. It seemed a bit iffy to me, too, but I was surprised at how well it actually worked in the end.

    Here’s where I did it:

  5. Lanie

    Hello! New commenter here. I thought I would comment on the square shoulder adjustment, because I just started doing those. Iยดve been amazed at how much it improved the fit of other areas too , since my shoulders were pulling the garment up so much. Increasing the distance between the shoulder and the bustpoint/ bottom of the armskye smoothed out a lot of other issues Iยดd been having, including gaping at the back neck. So I might recommend that in addition to lowering the front dart slightly and see what that does to the armskye wrinkles. Good luck!

    • Yeah, square-shoulder is a newer one to me, too, and it often helps a lot (especially with the behind-the-neck bunching). But it doesn’t seem like *every* pattern needs it (for me), especially coats that are designed to have a shoulder-pad of some kind. So confusing /sigh. Thanks for the input! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Flannel-backed satin lining – why have I never heard of this stuff before! Must go and see if this is available somewhere in the UK before I start sewing the two winter coats I have planned


  7. Reminds me of the time when we sent the kids off down the beach to play in the rocks at the waters edge. Turns out there was a crocodile skulking about, which we didn’t know about because we hadn’t read the local paper!

    I’m sure they had fun!

    Good luck with that coat.

    • Yikes! As usual, perils that are non-local to me are much more terrifying than the local hazards (bears, cougars, idiot drivers…)

      Glad I’m not the only one who’s often off in lala land when it comes to local events… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. I take my kids camping in bear infested national parks and take the horseback riding through mountain trails for my son’s birthday. Kicking them outside in gale-force winds seems perfectly normal.

    I probably let them play with bugs and hit each other with sticks, too.

  9. I would have shoved the kids outside too. In fact, I sent them to school in the middle of a public strike once. It was only when they came home complaining that they weren’t learning ANYTHING that I paid attention to the school notices and realized there were no teachers or substitutes in the classes. They got to stay home the rest of the week. What can I say — everybody needs at least one horror story for the therapist.

    The top of the jacket looks great! I can’t see any serious issues; the bottom of the waistband does seem high, but I always think they are high because I’m so long waisted. If it were me, I would be easing the waist out a bit at the side seams and blending up to the armpit. I think you’re going to need more room there if you want to wear this coat over sweaters and the like.

    • LMAO! I live in fear of the day I send them off on a professional development day. But you’re right, we have to keep our friendly neighbourhood therapists in business ;).

      Ease is always so tricky… maybe I’ll re-assess after I get the back tweaked in a bit.

  10. Becky

    I just have a quick comment. If you use thinsulate be sure your wool is washable. Thinsulate cannot be dry cleaned, it will melt. I would use a microfleece or the traditional lambswool to interline a wool coat. And the flannel backed satin is perfect. Smooth as butter and extra warmth.

    • Becky

      OK, Please delete my post. I went to the 3M site to double check my information (better late than never) and learned that my information is for the older types of thinsulate. Some can be dry cleaned and washed. So, thinsulate to your heart’s delight!

      • No worries! It’s a detail worth looking into (which I hadn’t until you reminded me). If you don’t mind I’ll leave the comment up so others can be edified? ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. chris

    Your muslin is looking good – love that collar!

    I usually do ok with a muslin until I get to the sleeves. Whenever I try to do long set-in sleeves, there seems to be too much fabric (falling in folds) on the front upper arm portion of my sleeve. I’m struggling with this recurring issue and searching the internet for the answer.

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