Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fit Issues: What do you think?

Remember the first dress I made?  I've been looking back at some of the pictures and realised there may be a fit issue (or several) but not quite sure how to remedy it.  I am hoping some of you with more sewing experience can help give me some advice!

Here's me in the dress without a belt:
Notice the wrinkles in the bodice?  Also how it is fairly low cut for a 40's/50's dress?  I am wondering if I need to take it in or take the bodice up at the shoulders??

I also still need to hem the dress (maybe up 2 inches or so??)
Also, I don't know if I did the collar right...Here's the original pattern:

The pattern says it's a 'stand-up' collar.  I am wondering if my interfacing is too heavy?  Or I didn't sew enough of the collar into the neck of the dress?  Or is it just an issue of ironing to roll a bit more?
Lastly, here is the back (note: I am wearing a belt):

Again, there is an issue fit with the bodice that I think is affecting both the front and the back.  What do you think?  Do I need to put a dart somewhere?  Take it in or up?
Also notice how the winged cuffs are a bit droopy...interface too heavy?  Thoughts on that?  Should I take the sleeves up a bit too so that the cuff sit higher up?
Thanks everyone!



  1. It looks like the bodice may be a bit big for you (puffiness in the back and the neckline may be a little too low). Does the waistline seem low also?

    You could try grading the bodice down, which would be a little more work than just taking up the shoulders. Try reading this GREAT article on grading to get an idea:

  2. I was wondering about the waistine too. The top half of me is a bit squishes, so I often have to bring the top of the shoulders up a bit, as well as take in the bust.
    Tricks my seamstress Mum taught me: get a friend to come over, turn the dress inside out and put it on. Get said friend to pin (you could safety pin, or even do a super loose baste, whatever seems best to you) any looseness into nice darts, pleats, tucks...something workable to bring the extra fabric in. If you have to bring the waist up...mark it with chalk. Take dress of, turn right way and try it on again and see how the new darts and whatnot lie. Then take off and work out your changes! Baste everything first of course and re-try it before hitting the machine.

    It does look like the interfacing is to heavy for the cuffs. You could always tack them down to the dress fabric for now, to salvage them on this version.

  3. Fit and interfacing are the most elusive parts of sewing for me, too!

    I don't remember where I read this, but one tip is always to fit from the shoulders first and then work down. You might start by putting in some shoulder pads to see whether that eliminates some of the wrinkling. If so, you'll know the shoulder seams (or their raglan equivalent) need raising. I find that shoulder alterations often eliminate the need for a half-dozen other bodice alterations I originally thought were necessary.

    I'm currently reading Adele Margolis's invaluable How to Make Clothes that Fit & Flatter, which has a lot of useful tips on fitting vintage styles. She includes instructions on how to raise or lower the stand of a one-piece collar. Email me if you're interested and I'll photo/scan the relevant pages.

    Good luck!

  4. I agree with Miss Sew-It-All that the bodice it too large for you. Since you have a large bust, you'll probably find as you sew more that you'll get a better fit if you add extra darts into the pattern. In the future, you might also want to cut a size larger for the front of the bodice than the back of the bodice.

    I do all of my sewing drape-to-fit so I would echo Rueby's suggestions. For something that you want to fit well, I would always make a muslin of the bodice first. Baste darts and pin seams. Then, either yourself or a friend can see places that are bunching or gapping and adjust the pins and let places in or out as necessary. Then chalk all of the seams that you have changed (I actually use a pen since it's on muslin and the marks don't smudge that way).

    Unpin the muslin completely and make your new fit pattern symmetrical. You can do this by folding the pattern piece in half and transferring the marks from one side to the other. Then, you make your final seam and dart marks half way in between the left and right marks. I would then make a new pattern piece from my fit muslin and use it to cut the garment fabric.

    As for this dress, I think a few darts added to the back and to the front side would make a major difference in fit without requiring a complete overhall.

    I'm afraid I can't suggest much reading to help you, since I'm self taught. But, Vogue Sewing has a great section on fit problems, what likely is causing them, and how to fix them. (

  5. My vote goes along with everyone else's that the bust area is too big for you, but only for example in the area between the bust point and the shoulder and in the back. It all depends on how much work you want to put into this now. What I would do, if I were you is this:
    Before you take the bodice apart, take pins or a pencil or light marker and in the front, mark your bust points. Then take the bodice apart and lay the front and back pieces flat.
    With a curve, put in a princess seam in the front, going from the raglan shoulder seam down across the bust point and down to the waist. In the back, put in a back princess seam from the raglan shoulder seam down across your shoulder blade area and down to the waist. Use those seams to take in what you need in the front and the back. That should make the bodice fit you well.

  6. I would definitely say the bodice is too long for you. This is ALWAYS a problem for me :( because I have a Back Waist Lenght of 14" and if you look on patterns of the era that do list it, they can be as long as 17" for my bust size. This is why I start with a 32" bust pattern and grade up without lengthening. As you said, one way to fix it is to take it into the shoulders, but then you'll have to redo the darts as well because they'll be up too high and flatten your bust. The best way is to take the skirt off the bodice, undo the darts and zipper and shorten it. It is a huge pain, which is why I've just made new dresses instead of fixing old ones!

  7. Hi Debi! I think it looks a bit too long in the bodice - does it sit on your natural waist? It does also have a bit too much puffiness around your bust - maybe you needed smaller size? I don't have any magical fitting tricks, but it is such a gorgeous dress I think it would be well worth the effort to tweak it a little. I love the colour contrast!!

  8. I agree with Lisette and Rachel that the bodice is too long at the sides and the back. Since you're fairly well-endowed it might help to do a Full-Bust Adjustment on a smaller size pattern. These 50's dresses are supposed to be quite fitted through the bodice. A vintage size 18 has a back waist length of 16 1/2" which seems to be too long for you.

  9. Wow! Thank you everyone!! Your comments have been super, super useful! I'll try out a few of them and let you know how it goes! THANK YOU!!

  10. I'll add my 2 cents (or tuppence in this case), I agree with the advice above. The bodice is too large for you. Personally, I would bring up the shoulder seams and add extra darts to the front. Perhaps take in the sides a bit, too.

    You're an excellent seamstress and it shows in the construction of your garments. :)

  11. In addition to the pattern adjustments mentioned above, does the pattern suggest using Shoulder Pads at any point? This would help bring the bodice up at the shoulders and remove some of the excess fullness.


I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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