Two Rectangles

I really don’t want to draft or drape patterns. Both drafting and draping require so many decisions on minute details; and using myself as the intended wearer complicates matters. To use myself (which is who I sew for) I must measure myself or drape fabric on myself and pinch. As soon as I move my arm to measure or pinch, I have altered what needs to be measured or pinched. So every measure and pinch is always an estimate that must be corrected later; and these estimates-to-be-corrected accumulate until the shape I’m trying to achieve is horribly distorted. Nonetheless, I cut two rectangles 32″ wide and 34″ long and started draping b-e-c-a-u-s-e pattern drafting definitely didn’t work for me and the normal select-a-pattern-and-make-slight-alterations, isn’t either.

I used what is called “sheeting” but you wouldn’t put it on your bed. It is a light weight, cotton-poly blend that makes wonderful summer blouses. This is a Walmart fabric from long ago. It’s unusual mint-green shade has side-lined it for many years. I decided it would make a fine muslin and do like it as muslin. It holds it’s shape neither clinging to my body or standing out at great angles.  I rough cut a neckline. Hoping for large enough to slip over my head (and avoid a back zipper) but small enough to not slide around on my shoulders.  I fused stay tape about 1″ from the top edge for shoulders and along the necklines.  I assumed these pieces would get lots of handling and need help maintaining their shape. Before stitching shoulder together, I marked horizontal balance lines every 3.5″ on both pieces. I chose 3.5″ because I have a ruler that is 3.5″ wide.

At the machine I’m using a 3.o mm straight stitch and water-soluble thread in the bobbin.  My top thread is whatever partial spools of thread on-hand. This works really well. I’m clearing out spools of thread that are decades old and with the WST in the bobbin, seams rip out in a flash. I just grab the top thread and pull.

So I taped shoulders and necklines, stitched shoulder and tried on my potato sack:

I’m not surprised that this looks like a potato sack and I look like an escapee from Bedlam. I’m not even surprised to see the front HBL’s rising at an upward angle while the back HBL’s are (visually) horizontal.  This has 20″ ease across the bust and 18 at the hip. I should look like a sack o’ ‘taters. What I was surprised at is where the shoulder line sits:

Unless I really misunderstand fit, my shoulder is clearly forward of the shoulder seam. Is the back too short? Or the front too long?  Well I finally got my CLD CD’s (yeah) and Louise says the solution is (usually) remove 5/8″ from the front and add to the back. So I did.  First I added 1/2″ then I added 1″ and jumped to 2″ . Didn’t help.

Well I haven’t trimmed anything and this wasn’t working so why not try the reverse, add to the front shoulder?

Adding 1, 1.5, 2″ to front shoulder


Wow no help. In fact my ‘tater sack looks worse. It is clearly developing bust issues.  You are seeing 9 pictures (before and each incremental change to the shoulder). But it took me 4 hours to get this far. Enough for one day. I return the shoulder to its default and close the sewing room.

I return the next day and decide since the obvious is that I need, really need more length over the bust, I should start there(and return to the shoulder when I get smarter.)  I also start taking in the sides, reducing the total circumference; and chipping away at the shoulder length. I figure the shoulder needs to be sloped but can’t tell how much when it is 10″ too long.  I figured adding to the top of the shoulder didn’t work and between 1 and 2 was a big gap for a neck, so the place to add was between HBL 2 and 3 (counting from the shoulder).  I stitched a 5″ wide strip of sheeting just below HBL 2 and slashed the muslin just above HBL 3. Tried on my ‘tater sack  and pinned the strip along the bottom edge of the now opened slash .

I expected the front HBL’s to be nearly level, I didn’t expect the shoulder to slide into place! While the slash could be spread more, I wanted to trim out the armscyes and see my muslin in a fairly “blouse” type shape:

At this point I said “Oh my gosh! I’ve draped the HAF top. I pulled out my HAF pattern pieces and compared. My pattern has a bust dart right about where I need to extend the slash. My muslin is 1/4″ taller at the shoulder seam.  Neither have sloped shoulders.  My muslin also has more ease but I hadn’t finished working on circumference.  In fact, take a look at this HAF from June 2014:

It’s a little shorter; could use a smidge of ease across the rear.(If I remember correctly, the reason it looks snug is because I did not sew the vents as drafted) But I’m seeing the same excess ease at front neckline; similar shoulder width, etc etc.

So I stopped. I already have a very nicely drafted pattern that is the same shape as this muslin. I don’t see the point of continuing this particular exercise.

I did learn that

  • I must add length to the front above the bust. Which probably means that I need an armscye dart.  For me, the armscye dart  will be a fitting option, one I think is easier than an FBA.
  • My pinch and subsequent stitching needs to be directed towards achieving a specific shape. I kind of bumbled along thinking “Here’s a fold. Let’s pinch this out”. I wanted to create something like my Vintage Blouse pattern. However, my pinching choices were creating the HAF. Don’t get me wrong. The HAF is a favorite pattern of mine that I have and will use over and over again. But I like and want to make different styles, different details.  I have been accused of “being the most colorful dresser in the office” and “not conforming to any uniform”.  Since I was InformationTechnology, my dress was accepted and expected.  Almost like they needed me to be weird and different somehow. Like being weird inspired confidence that IT could do its job.

This is another topic (like the LNS vest) that I don’t know exactly where I’m going. I needed to document my experience for future reference. I think I want to explore adding length above the bust and controlling it with the armscye dart.  I’ve made peace with my age and figure. I do not expect to look like any Hollywood starlet. I didn’t buy DG2 jeans, until I saw a model with nearly my exact figure parading around on HSN (or was that QVC?)  OTOH, I know that while I’m not starlet shaped, I’m also not horribly disfigured. I do not need major surgery; definitely not considering cosmetic surgery.  I am aging normally albeit (gratefully) slowly.  I compare myself to my grandmothers, mother and aunts. I know that I look 20 years younger than they did when they were my age.  I know that my figure is partly a result of my hereditary factors as well as environmental . IOW I’ve got more padding because more food is available to me but I put on weight very similarly to my immediate ancestors (grandmother, mother, aunts).  This was a good lesson. Now, I’m back to slashing and spreading patterns–at least until I have time to think about and apply what I’ve learned from draping.



2 thoughts on “Two Rectangles

  1. On Connie Crawford’s website she has 3 different ‘block’ patterns. If you follow her directions with them you can get a great “TNT” to use as a model for redoing and adjusting other patterns. Pricey – but worth it – IMHO

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