A shorter KS2599

My mind put the pieces of this puzzle together overnight. I had

  • wonky armscyes that need to be finished
  • a scooped neck needed to be re-scooped and finished
  • a short dress that showed my knee brace
  • a frumpy dress.

I realized what bugged me the most was the knee brace followed by the general frumpiness.  The knee brace is almost a constant for me worn frequently with a sacro support. The price of not dying at an earlier age, is an aging body that needs care and support. While it is me these days, I’d rather not have the brace showing. It leads to lots of depressing conversations. “My knee cap doesn’t track quite right’ turns into hours of listening to others detailed descriptions of their own physical challenges. I don’t always want to participate but my brace will ensure that I do.  While I’d like a shorter dress, I think I need to make it long enough to cover the brace.  I add 6″ to the length of the pattern and cut 6.5” length of the remaining fabric to make a ruffle.

However I look at it, whatever excuses I make, the armscyes are a disaster. I add tissue to the pattern and restore the original armscyes but I’m not sure the dress’s armscye are fixable.  I did seriously consider ribbing.  Adding knit ribbing to a woven fabric can be tricky. I would need to make samples.  I would need to buy ribbing fabric. I don’t have a black, fine knit ribbing.  HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON.  OK in the sewing room that means gather up everything and put it out-of-the-way, at least for now.

I choose another fabric, a light weight linen that I had hoped would make summer pants. Not this year. It is not a handkerchief linen and doesn’t have the drape of the rayon. But it is a recurring color in my wardrobe so will work with a number of other garments already sewn. (I’m thinking of the travel I will need to do for those weddings.)  I cut the linen on-grain.  I’m still not sure that grain was or was not the issue. I know what Peggy Sagers says. God love her, but my personal experience has been that grain matters. I’ve seen too many disaster of my own, my class mates and friends which could be directly traced to the grain.

I cut fabric and immediately run to the ironing board to fuse tape to armscyes and neckline. I mean I cut the front; apply tape. Cut the back; apply tape. I didn’t let the first piece sit until I could cut the second.  Did it help?  Well, at least with my peace of mind. I stitched the center back seam, bust dart, shoulders; basted the side seams. This version is too tight across the hips.

What???  #1 it should have more than sufficient ease. #2 neither of the previous two versions in rayon had any indication of insufficient ease. Why this one?  As far as I can tell neither rayon challis or linen have any stretch. Did the linen actually shrink with a small amount of ironing? As with all fabrics, I prewashed the linen before putting it in the stash.  I really hope this did not shrink.  I’d hate to go to all this effort and not get to wear the garment even once.   I rip out the center back seam and then stitch it at a generous 1/4″ from about mid-back to hem.  Do the same for the side seams.

I’m liking this version much better. The armscyes are better, much better.  I now have enough ease that the dress skims over my curves and there are no U’s on the sides beneath my underarms. I’m surprised that the hem is not level.

The front is clearly tilted up  as well as jutting forward; and that’s even after having added an additional 2″ length to the center front which was curved to join the 6″ added at the side seam to match the even 6″ added to the back. So odd. What am I doing that makes this problem?  It wasn’t there on the long dress.  No really, the long dress was hemmed  2″ ; looked and felt level.  I finish the armscyes and neckline with bias tape in a cream color to match the stripes of the fabric.

I check the hem to be sure it is even when laid on the cutting table and then use bias tape as a hem facing.

I had problems turning up the hem the same depth all around. How much could that have contributed to the uneven hem line?

Still this linen version is not quite right. It’s just a bit frumpy. I consider carefully. I took several pictures trying to decide if I could reduce the frump factor. I think partly it’s an issue of the length–I  want that brace covered.  Partly it would be my posture and body shape/weight. I look much more like Hagar the Horrible’s wife, Helga, than any other personality I can think of. I decide upon a tie belt placed about empire height. I don’t want the tie to move around.  It needs to sit in a narrow range for the effect I want to create.  So I add belt loops. But not tiny insignificant loops. I’ve got to have them, may as well make them a feature.

There are 3. One at the center back (above) and one at ease side seam. I made the tie from bias tape and beads.

think I’m satisfied with this:

 

I mean I’m not going for ‘young starlet’.  Not even Jane Fonda although Helen Mirren or  Judy Dench nice. Truth is I am a  Mid-west senior who still cares and that’s what I want to project. (I think Helga cared.)

I can see myself attending wedding in this dress with maybe this shirt for coverage if the church is too cold or the sun too hot:

Not sure yet what I’m doing with the previous short dress. All the bits and pieces and left overs are hanging in the closet just waiting for me to decide.

 

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Sometimes you make a muslin

..even when you don’t want to.  This is a truism I read on Stitchers Guild several years ago.  I certainly can understand it from the perspective that the first use of a pattern will always be a test and some tests are more successful than others. Take today’s shared sewing experience   …. A shorter version of the just fit Kwik Sew 2599.

After doing the initial fitting a few days ago, I thought this is  now a pattern I can pull out every year and make another summer dress. I love the long length but I find  tea and knee-length versions are more appropriate for summer weddings (which I seem to have a few to attend this year).  I thought the shorter length might be repeated frequently and pulled out the tissue to make another copy.  I traced along the ‘short dress’ line then folded and put away the long dress tissue. In addition to the shorter length, I  wanted more of  a  tank top appearance which means narrower shoulders and deeper necklines. I narrowed the shoulders 1/2″ on each side (which concurrently widens the neckline) and then measured down 6″ on the center front before using my curve to draw the new front neckline.  I left the back as is other than 1/2″ wider.  It’s pretty easy to scoop that out when desired.

Then it was the hunt through the stash. This should fit. It should be wearable, I’m just testing neckline and length and the final tweaks that I transferred from the final fitting of the long dress back to the tissue.  So I pulled one fabric after the other out only to put them back on the shelf. This is a pattern for wovens. I want to use a woven as long as there is still a chance I’ve got something wrong. I was seriously considering a 100% cotton until I realized it just wouldn’t have the drape I want.  I think this is a monumental step for me.   I’ve had this pattern a good 20 years and made at least than many versions. I’ve used all kinds of fabric. Only now have I had the realization that my favorite dresses were made with rayon  challis or ITY. IOW soft, drapey, flowing fabrics. That helped me narrow the fabrics in consideration until I finally chose a rayon challis.

 

During layout I realized that this flower print had a strong horizontal stripe. Maybe not strong. It’s one of those things you don’t see on the bolt. You see when the fabric is laid out or on your body.  I chose to cut cross grain which on my body is the most flattering direction for stripes.

This was even faster to sew than the long dress. In addition to already fitting, it didn’t need a vent for walking. I did tape the necklines and armscyes and stitched the side seams with water-soluble thread for the first fitting.

I was astounded. Somehow the high tight armscye of the long dress was barely above my bra.

The shoulders which barely were narrow enough to fit on my own were now really narrow–far more than the tank top style I was envisioning. Both the long dress and this were cut from rayon challis.  This challis is slightly lighter. I’m having a hard time understanding what when wrong. I did not make the armscye longer by scooping out the underarm.  Narrowing as I did would have made the measured length slightly longer but not 2″.  I think it was cutting cross grain but then again, I’ve never had a cross grain layout create this kind of problem before and I’m pretty free about switching between on-grain and cross grain.

But it is what it is and I’d like to be able to wear this dress.  I tackle the problem of the very low underarm from 2 directions.  1) I deepen the shoulder seam from 3/8″ to a full 1″.  2) I increase the side seam at the underarm to 1″ and angle it out sharply to so that by the bust dart it has returned to the drafted 1/2″.  While this does help, it’s not completely fixed and now my bust dart is no longer pointing to my apex.  Also, I just don’t like the look of the shorter dress. Cutting at the ‘short dress’ has created not a knee-length but an above knee-length. Oh and it’s the above length that in shorts I always make higher. There are not an endless  number of lengths which look good on me, IMO. This one makes me look dumpy.  I’m contemplating adding a 6″ ruffle to add length; and some way to fill in the armscye. If this were a knit, I’d trim the armscye out so that I could add a ribbing. But it is what it is … and I need a break to think this through.

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B5538

 

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Princess Seamed Sloper

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Dress KS 2599: Part Deux

After completing my pattern alterations, I turned my attention to fabric. Not until the   5th choice that I pulled, pressed and plinked,  did I discover a possible. Absolutely wanted a fabric without stretch.  Absolutely wanted a woven fabric.  My first fabric turned out to be directional and therefore not enough length on-hand.  (I would have known even if no one else had a clue.) Back into the stash it went. The next was a horizontal stripe. I didn’t have enough fabric to match stripes.  The 3rd… well on and on. I recommend when purging fabrics that you keep some uglies. As it was I had a hard time deciding to sacrifice a fabric to this test.   My fabric is a rayon-challis fractal-print in vibrant colors. It would have been a perfect 3rd layer blouse (coordinating several existing and even future garment pieces). Today it was a great fabric to test fit.  I didn’t have quite enough fabric to place both pattern pieces in the same direction.  I prefer that layout even when nap or grain is not believed to be a factor. When I hear Peggy Sagers confidently assure the world that grain doesn’t matter, I grit my teeth.  To me it’s like someone saying ‘that dog won’t bite’.  Sorry, if the dog has teeth, it can bite. I know because I’ve been bitten. However, this is a test;  I won’t be seeing the back; so I placed my tissue with hems at the cut crosswise grain and shoulders sharing the same horizontal plane, similar to this:

After cutting, I taped necklines and armscyes. Spent an hour trying to thread my serger.  Don’t know if it was me or the serger. But Sally (my HV S21) wouldn’t serge more than 3 inches before knotting.  Finally got her to serge finish edges using a 3 thread, wide stitch and size 11 needles. I serged the shoulders together. Then stitched the right shoulder 1/8″ deeper before changing to water-soluble thread for basting the side seams and center back.  I left the center back open from neck to 8″ below the neckline and again between the hem’s raw edge  and 13″ above.

I was leery of taking and examining the first pics. Amazed at the outcome.

Surprisingly, OK maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, but the front armscyes gape, horribly.

However, there isn’t a mess of U’s along the side seam.  Only a single droop along the bust.

 

The garment is too long.  Sleeveless, half-inch above the floor is not flattering on me. I’m distinctly reminded of a Big M.A.C.K. truck –better get out of my way…..

But overall, this is not bad.  I’m never going to look like any of today’s popular starlets. I don’t even aspire to such appearances. So I can look at this and say , yes a high round neckline is never flattering for me;  and gaping front armscye is unattractive, but I know a solution and breaking up the Big M.A.C.K resemblance is possible.  !!!WAIT!!!  Other than the gaping front armscye, my biggest objections to this garment at its first try-on have nothing to do with fit.  It’s all about appearances; looks. Looks that I can change.

So I increased the shoulder slope 1/8″.  Finished the armscye using the same elastic trick as on Sleeveless Sloper Muslin #2.  Closed the back neck vent and created a front button placket before permanently stitching side seams, center back seam and hem. The finished garment is:

 

Not Bad.

Ok I had a bad hair day and pictures were hurried.  DH was insisting I appear for the evening meal immediately (he’s the chief cook at our house.) I should promise to retake pics but I hate to lie.

DH immediately pronounced my tank/dress  a hit. He loved the colors and shape and I wasn’t even wearing it. At 48 deg, it’s still too cool for me to be running around sleeveless.

Personally, I’m delighted that my test is wearable.  A  few, minor changes need to be copied back to the tissue.  More importantly, I fit this pattern with minimal effort and a single set of pictures. In the future, I can easily trace a new pattern; trace the sloper; and merge the two.  I don’t consider that ‘bad news’ at all. I’m very happy.

 

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KS2599 Success!

YES!!! 

Why such enthusiasm?    I want to fit my favorite dress pattern for wearing at a summer wedding.  KS 2599 has been a favorite of mine for over 3 decades because it is easy to sew; easy to fit; and easy to wear. Not to mention easy to adapt with style designs and trends. Oh, totally forgot, while it is drafted for wovens, 2599 is easily adapted for knit fabrics.  I’ve also chosen to work with it now because this is like the next step in using  the sleeveless bodice I just worked so hard to successfully complete. It’s a natural. Take the  basic bodice; make it into a dress.

 2599 has a horizontal bust dart for front shaping. Does not have vertical waist darts like my sloper but there is a very shapely center back seam and some side seam shaping.  I’ve chosen to use Style “B” because of my fit experience with this pattern. With  my narrow shoulders, the drafted shoulder point hits at about the right spot to make my shoulders look normal and while I don’t completely understand why, 2599 has always been easier to fit than other tank top styles.  Style B does have sort of a high neckline. Woven fabrics require a back closure of some kind. Knits will pull on and off.   I also prefer hem vents for ease when walking. 

To choose size, I compared my measurements to the pattern envelope chart.  Not surprisingly, I should fit in a size Large across shoulder and bust but take an XL for my hip and sitting regions.  Leaving plenty of white space on my tracing paper, I traced a large starting at the shoulder/neckline,  to the S/L line below the bust.  Continuing my tracing, I  copied size XL from underarm to hem.  I pulled out the just-fit sleeveless sloper for comparison and looked a the backs first. With sloper on top, I aligned the center backs and slid the sloper up until the shoulder points met. I copied my sloper’s shoulder line onto the copy of 2599.

When the sloper is removed, you can see that I’ve effectively raised the shoulder at the neckline about 5/8″.

Generally, I lower the shoulder point 5/8″ which increases the shoulder slope angle; then redraw the  armscye  the same distance lower and sleeves may need to be trued.  Personally, I prefer to adapt necklines rather than armscyes and sleeves YMMV.

The natural waist is marked on the center back of 2599 but not the front or sides.  I compared the waist on my sloper with the natural waist of 2599. Stunned to discover  2599’s waist was 2.5″ lower than my natural waist — I checked everything again; and then a 3rd time. I’m used to making a 1″ back waist length adjustment. 2.5″ seemed wholly unreasonable. I decided this was test. I’m testing not just how 2599 fits me now, but how I can effectively use my slopers.  Even if I throw this test away, it will not be a wasted effort.  I’ll know what doesn’t work which sometimes is more valuable than what does work.

Even though I traced the XL side seam (because that’s what Kwik Sew said I needed to cover my hinny), my first comparison indicated I would still need to add 3/4″ ease at the hip. After the BWL,  only 1/4″ extra was needed from hip to hem.  Get this, 2599’s (size L) side seam from underarm to waist was almost exactly the same as my sloper.  Using my curve, I did a little smoothing to join the L side seam at the Bust, to the XL +1/4″ side seam at the hip. I was surprised at how easy it was to adapt the side seam.

One curious difference on the back was the underarm.  The underarm of 2599 was 1/4″ lower than my sloper.  I’ve been thinking that my sloper needed to be scooped at the underarm.  I haven’t been 100% sure scooping the armscye was the answer and haven’t done it.  I thought this might be a good test of that theory too.  I left the underarm of the 2599 as drafted.

Then turned my attention to the fronts. I immediately completed the 2.5″ BWL. Didn’t even do any kind of comparison. Just fold and tape.  The front and back have to be the same or shaping will not align.  Then I compared the fronts with the sloper on top CF’s aligned and slid upwards until shoulder points met.  I copied the shoulder slope of my sloper to the front of the copy of the 2599.  Compared side seams and added 3/4″ from hip to hem but not above.  Again the side seams from underarm to waist were almost exactly the same including, this time, the underarm.

*****

Please return tomorrow.  I promise pics of the final dress and  little sewing discussion.

 

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Sleeveless Sloper V2

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