McCalls M5359

I have somewhat minor heath issues.  When they flare, I gain weight.  When they are calm, I lose weight.  The current status in my weight (up) means that none of my previous patterns fit.  I had thought that I would quickly re-fit basic patterns to act as slopers.  My slopers are not basic blocks.  These are blocks which have been modified to contain the minimum ease I desire; and modified to accommodate my physically differences from the industry standards.  I make extensive use of my slopers.  I compare these to new patterns and make basic adjustments to the new pattern.  It save lots of time and heartache in trying to fit a new pattern. Face it, my shape is  basically the same all the time, it just gets wider and narrower depending upon the amount of padding.  No matter how a pattern is drafted it has to correspond to my basic shape.

I started fitting a basic sleeveless shell by using M6077. But after 4 versions, I really wasn’t satisfied especially after the simple, perfect refitting of MHAF.  Trouble is, I can’t really use the MHAF as a personal sloper.  The MHAF is great, but has a unique placement for the bust dart. It is hard to compare with the 99.9% of the patterns out there that either have a horizontal bust dart or no dart at all.  I’ve tried pinning out the armscye dart. It doesn’t quite do it for me when I’m trying to adapt a new pattern.  I need a new sloper.  Since M6077 wasn’t really satisfactory,  I thought I’d try again  with M5359.

Several weeks ago I used this same pattern to create a comfy attractive blouse.  I did make some final adjustments to the length of sleeves and body of the garment.  But overall, the blouse appeared to fit on me just exactly like the model.  True, you can’t see all the detail of how the shell fit, but I was hopeful. Since M6077 had been such a struggle and not an overwhelmingly satisfactory conclusion, I thought it might be time to try a different fitting method.   I decided to follow the advice of fitting my frame by measuring under my arms instead of over my bust and then adding an FBA adjustment to provide the needed ease. I found an excellent on-line tutorial at Sew.LA which even includes recommended amounts to spread the tissue based on cup size..  I traced the size 14 shell, because that’s where my measurements correspond.  I trimmed the tissue and pinned them together to check on Mimie.  As expected, I needed a 1″ BWL.  What I didn’t expect to see was the shoulder placement.  The neckline fell at the outer most shoulder point and the armscye then fell 3″ off Mimie.  I remeasured myself.  measurements came up the same.  I traced a size 12. Although the BWL was less, the shoulders were still flapping in air.  I trimmed the bulk of the tissue away (but not removing any sizes) and marked seam allowances on the size 8.

Let me pause to say, I’ve never been a size 8 in patterns. RTW yes. I’ve been a size 3 in RTW. But in patterns the smallest size I ever used, and I was only 14 at the time, was a size 10.

Nonetheless, I’m wanting to find a more efficient method of fitting.  One that doesn’t require 4 muslins (wearable or not).  So I pin the tissue together on the stitching line of the size 8 and try it on Mimie.

 One more note, Mimie was stuffed when I was 30 pounds heavier.  It is actually quite helpful to have a dressform larger than myself.  It avoids the tendency to pin out too much ease.

To my astonishment the size 8 was still at least 2″ too wide across the upper body.  Either the idea doesn’t work, or McCalls is using some sort of weird block. I’m only about 1″ narrower across the shoulders and even less across the chest. I’d spent a good 6 hours at the point just shuffling tissue.  I decided to  try to use the MHAF to fit this pattern.  I carefully aligned the waistline of the size 14 of the new pattern with the MHAF and then traced the neckline, shoulder and armacye  area of the MHAF onto the shell of M5359.

No pictures of the first muslin (I’m too excited about the 2nd).  While it almost fit, I felt that it needed tweaking to be a really good fit, the kind I’m used to achieving. I didn’t have enough ease across the hips. That meant that the blouse tried to creep up making me wonder if I needed to petite across the armscye or if it was just the fabric creeping upward.  I folded the hem up 4″ so that this version would hang and not be affected by the hip’s lack of ease.  I discovered that the armscye was a 1/2″  too long and that there was 1″ too much ease across the bust under the arms.  I tweaked the pattern, by removing 1/4″ from the shoulder (essentially cutting the size 12) and trimmed just a 1/4″ wedge from under the arm to the bust.


Trimming the shoulder was a good call.  I now have a high armscye.  Nobody’s going to be peering into either my neckline or armscye for thrills. But I think I could have left this at size 14.  I am noticing just a bit of tightness in the front armscye.  Either it’s too high up or needs to be trimmed inwards a bit more.  I also notice this same tightness on the MHAF so I’m leaning towards trimming out the armscye just 1/4″.


My fabric is a polyester matelasse. I confess to diving in the upholstery remnants.  You know, if this is the worst you can say about me, I must be a pretty good person.  I love the texture that the matelasse weave creates.  This fabric was ravel prone.  I stitched the darts and then immediately serged all edges.  I should have serged all the edges first.  The armscyes and neckline are finished with bias tape which has been turned to the inside and topstitched to secure.  My hem is a standard machine stitched blind hem.  The matelasse weave hide the stitching completely (of course it helps that I had almost perfectly matching thread.)


I’m also noticing just a bit of tightness across the back.  On myself and in the pic, it looks to me as though the back armscye is curved way inward.  It would have been nearly impossible to mix up the front and back of the MHAF (from where I traced the armscyes) but I did recheck.  It’s the way the MHAF is drafted.   Even though M5359 was wider across the hips than the MHAF, I feel that M5359 barely skims the hips.

To be honest, if I had used a knit fabric, I would not make any changes to the M5359 even on the first version.  I believe that I will be tracing the tweaked M5359 and to the new tracing I will add just a bit of ease to the center back, without effecting the neckline.  Essentially that means a small wedge added to the back.  I will also fill in the back armscye and scoop the front.  Then I’ll mark the first tracing “FOR KNITS” and the 2nd “FOR WOVENS”.

BTW, I never did get around to trying the FBA instructions.