TNT Trench Odyssey: PS fitting process round up

Let’s talk about that little fitting wobble I mentioned last time shall we?

Overall I think tissue & fit-as-you-sew worked OK for this semi-fitted garment. I didn’t have much problem with fitting the front. Once the FBA was done on the front during tissue fitting, there was hardly any changes during fabric fitting.

vs Pinned
vs Sewn

Sleeve attached

Shoulder narrowed,
sleeve head adjusted

The main problems I had were with the back above waist, shoulder & armhole areas, including the sleeve cap.

Part of it was due to my unfamiliarity with what to expect at different stages of fitting and how garment parts affect each other. As consumers we’re more used to judging the finished garments. It was difficult to know when to stop before I attached the sleeves for example. And I was surprised when new drag lines appear after the sleeves have been attached.

It was also a bit difficult to read excess tissue paper vs fabric. Paper being stiffer doesn’t show up drag lines as clearly as fabric.

Also, having tried sloper fitting before I probably should have tissue fitted on both sides rather than just one side. I could have cut wider seam allowance I suppose. But in curved areas & armsye for example, the extra SA might throw up false problems because it won’t lie flat or would make the armhole smaller or too high.

vs Pinned

Comparing the tissue with pinned trench, the pinned version shows up a lot more wrinkles. It would have been easy to panic at this stage. Basting might have been a little bit smoother. But pinning did at least show up the bigger problems like my lower left shoulder & the possible need to lower both armholes (for my sloping shoulders) even on a jacket / coat which would have been designed with bigger armholes anyway.

Pinned, extra left shoulder pad
vs Sewn, extra left shoulder pad

After first sewing I was surprised that the extra shoulder pad which seem to fix my uneven shoulder problem during the pinning stage wasn’t enough to fix my uneven back. I had to redo sections of the princess seams taking in and letting out where needed. So even pin-fitting with fashion fabric isn’t fool-proof. Maybe with experience I’ll get better at pin-fitting. For now, I’ll have to be prepared to redo seams. So no ploughing ahead with seam finishing without checking the fit first!

Left vs Right adjustments
Left side with adjustments

The next hurdle is the sleeve vs pre-sleeve confusion. Minus the sleeve the shoulder looked alright (at this stage I had widen the shoulder about 1/2″).

Sleeve attached
Shoulder narrowed,
sleeve head adjusted

Once the sleeves were attached, the shoulder felt too wide. The weight of the sleeves stretches the shoulder a bit I think. So I narrowed the shoulder by 3/8″ (leaving a 1/8″ widening compared to original shoulder width). But after the sleeve head has gone in & the whole thing lined, the shoulder now feels a tiny bit tight. I probably should have widen it the 1/4″ that my sloper fitting had implied I need. It goes to show though, when there are many bits involved (like in tailoring), it’s best not to panic too soon and over-fit! The result is still wearable, but probably would be more comfortable if I had not panicked.

The sleeves, especially the sleeve head areas, I had to attach twice. There was a bit too much ease after my bodice shoulder-armscye area adjustments. I had to lower the cap a little bit more, and when adjusting the sleeve head curve, made the back curve shallower and front fuller. I kept the original shoulder alignment point on the sleeve, but shifted the underarm seam alignment point backward to accommodate my Forward Shoulder Adjustment without making the front to full to ease into the front armscye.

So is tissue & pin-as-you-sew worth it?

Most definitely! For fitted and/or tailored garments anyway. Saves me wasting yards after yards making muslins after muslins. Documenting the process made it more tedious this time, but I think I will continue to try this method.

It probably won’t work as well for looser drapy styles. And obviously not for knits. For those, developing slopers & blocks to compare new designs to probably would work better. And if the final fabric is expensive or otherwise precious, I guess there will be no option but to make test garments in cheaper similar fabrics.

0 comments on “TNT Trench Odyssey: PS fitting process round up

  1. Your thorough documentation of fitting adjustments may have been super time-consuming, but I cannot thank you enough. Fitting a garment well is such a fine art form, and I am just at the beginning of it, although I’m better than I was even 12 months ago. I, too, like you mentioned, though, haven’t quite figured out how each adjustment affects neighbouring pieces. And I have learned (although it bears constant reminding) to never finish a seam prior to basting and fitting it. I’ve unpicked way too many seams in my life. Occasionally i’ll get cocky and have to rip out yet another one. Your trench looks great, even if there’s things you would like to tweak for the next go around. I’ve found the same as your conclusion, too: pin or tissue fitting is good for some types of garments, but making a full muslin or a block is always the best way to go.

  2. SunGold says:

    Thank you for the exhaustive documentation and explanation. It really helps a fitting newbie to see the effects of each adjustment.

  3. cejay says:

    It must have been quite laborious documenting the process so thoroughly but thankyou, it was really interesting. The adjustments certainly did produce visible improvements in fit. I’ve increasing aware that it is long journey to get to be an expert at fit, and I feel I’m just at the beginning of it, but I’m also trying to use STP as a replacement for muslin, at least in simpler cases and where there is less at stake. Muslin is hard to get and expensive in Australia. But when you look at runway clothes, you can see all the amazing expertise (and amazing fabric) that goes into them. It’s the holy grail. By contrast, nowadays I look at the photos on many patterns of the big 4 and they often seem to have fitting issues they haven’t bothered to correct. Not sure if I’m getting pickier, or they are getting sloppier.

    • You’re very welcome! I’m sure I bored some readers to death with the details. But glad to hear some of you also find posts like these useful.

      Regarding fit in the Big 4 photos…I’m not sure how I feel about it. If they had customized it to fit the models perfectly, then would it create more disappointment when we try the patterns ourselves and the results don’t measure up to the photos? On the other hand, better looking photos would make it more tempting to buy the pattern.

      I think I’ve been sewing long enough to know that for some styles, you simply can’t expect perfect fit out of the envelope (unless you’re lucky enough to have the same figure as the pattern company’s target figure). I feel sorry for the pattern companies – big or indie – with the unrealistic expectations out there. I can sympathize with wanting minimum hassle using a pattern, but how anyone can expect patterns to fit all different sizes and shapes is beyond me. I guess sometimes desire blinds us to what’s reasonable or logical.

      I wonder when people use to make their own clothing all the time do they also have the same expectation sewers today have that patterns will fit without modifications.

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