The Fitting Hampster Wheel

Urgh, the Sloper 2011 project is really dragging me down. A couple of weeks into my sewing holiday and I still haven’t made anything. Instead all my energy has gone into trying to perfect a new sloper. The idea is that once I get this basic fitting shell right it’ll open up a whole new world of design. So much for the theory! Here’s what really happened so far…

Draping on Big Bertha

My last sloper was also derived from draping on Big Bertha. But either the draping instruction wasn’t very clear or I’m not very good a following instruction, the fitting lines seemed off. So this time I vowed to keep the bust, back bodice, and skirt fitting lines level with the aid of gridded pattern fleece (a bit like non-woven interfacing, but for pattern drafting & fitting, source long forgotten!).

So far so good. And I discovered a good use for my used needles: They’re great for pinning into Big Bertha / Duct Tape Doubles. Yes, they still gum up. But they’re more sturdy. And the larger, rounder end that fit into the sewing machine also provide a good and less painful grip for pinning into Big Bertha’s thick skin.

So voilà, new bodice sloper!

This time I also tried to keep all other darts as symmetrical as possible to minimize the amount of adjustments needed for future pattern fitting. But see how the left shoulder still slope more than the right? And it wasn’t a simple lowing the shoulder and underarm seams. The armhole actually scoops in more.

As a precaution I decided to try these non-woven fitting shell. And shock horror, it’s not perfect. I can’t remember exactly what happened next – there’s been like 9 fittings since – but anyway, I got it into my head that my right shoulder also slopes and Big Bertha is no longer my faithful twin.

I decided to use the sloping left side for further fitting trials. I think this photo was taken after that though I can’t be sure any more. See how the right side now look about right.

On to gingham fitting shell hell

I followed Connie Crawford’s instruction for drafting a sleeve pattern, then proceeded with the gingham fitting a la Vogue Pattern instruction. And here’s the initial result:

Erm, where did that big horizontal wrinkle on the back come from???!!! And the sleeves, see those dreadful twisted drag lines. Urgh!

I checked my other books and decided the sleeve might have been drafted incorrectly. I didn’t exactly followed Connie’s instruction to the T. She’d have you draft  to standard sizes. But what’s the point of standard size sleeve on custom sized bodice? Anyway, I know my arms are skinnier than standard, so I adapted her instruction for custom larger sizes. But this resulted in a 2″ ease. When I later checked my draping book sleeve drafting instruction, it says the ease should be no more than 1.5″. So that might have been part of the problem. But the twisting…I have no clue.

I decided to remove the sleeve and check the fit again, in case the rogue sleeves were distorting the fit. Still no luck. Back bodice still wrinkled. The bust fitting line isn’t level and there are folds at the side seams. The skirt too had diagonal wrinkles from front high hip to bottom of back buttock. And the hem swings towards the front slightly.

Anyway, tweaks after tweaks later, I finally did away with most of the back wrinkle in fitting 7. But now the whole bodice is hitched up about 1″.

I checked the shoulder slopes and, erm, they’re like the original Big Bertha draped results! I’ve gone the full circle and I was feeling really sorry to have doubted Big Bertha.

So I undid the whole basting, retraced the original draped slopers, rebasted, and voilà…

Huh? The back horizontal wrinkle is back???!!!

By this point I’m feeling a bit like this, but obviously not as cute.And my apartment is a mess
with patternmaking & sewing bits & bobs strewn all over…

Oh, I forgot to mention, in the process Big Bertha has also acquired an arm and me a few cuts  from my boyfriend trying to free my arm from the Duct Tape shell. There’s her arm in the top picture…not that I’ve done anything useful with it since.

Plan B C

In my typical fashion my solution was to order more books! Thanks to a birthday Amazon gift voucher, 3 more fitting books are on their way to me. (Plus 2 on serging.) I’ve finally succumbed to the sewing community’s rave reviews and ordered the Palmer/Pletsch fitting for Real People series.

I also ordered Fitting & Pattern Alteration 2nd edition (far left). I actually have the first edition already (near left). It’s like an encyclopedia of fitting issues. But because it’s mostly drawings, and each fitting problem is shown separately, I still wasn’t able to figure out how to solve my compound fitting problems. The new edition seems to have more photographic illustrations. And some reviewers mentioned clearer explanation on order of fitting. I’m hoping these changes will be enough to help me get off the Fitting Hamster Wheel on to the straight road of finally cracking that fitting shell!

In the meanwhile, I’m going to Plan C: looking for some simpler, less fitted projects to put the joy back into sewing.

What about you? Have you had fitting problems sapped the life out of your sewing? How did you crack it?

One comment on “The Fitting Hampster Wheel

  1. Kat says:

    I constantly struggle with a lot of horizontal lines on the back of every sewing project. It’s probably due to my short torso. I hope by now you’ve gone off the fitting hamster wheel. Thanks for sharing the books – will try them out. -Kate

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