Hi sewing buddies, I’m back with yet another Sew Over It ‘Whitley Top’. The reason? It’s all about perfecting fit!
If you read my previous post on this pattern, you will remember that I was pretty pleased with how the pattern fit straight ‘out of the envelope’, loving how it can be seen as something of a ‘block’, i.e. a basic shape that lends itself well to pattern redrafting and hacking. The Whitley Top is designed for non-stretch wovens and with this latest version, I wanted it semi-fitted; that meant I had to get the fit absolutely right. I re-took my measurements and went back to the drawing board!
So what alterations did I make? I adjusted for a full bust, full bicep, forward shoulders, a forward neck and a round back. Did that list just make you shudder at the thought? If so, let me reassure you – these are all super simple to do but make a huge difference to the finished garment. I had a habit, mostly unconscious, of irritably hiking tops back into the correct position; they wanted to rotate backwards. Realising what I was doing and figuring out what was causing it, has felt something close to an epiphany – it’s amazing just how much better a garment feels once it ‘sits’ properly on your frame!
Shall we take a quick look at the why’s and how’s of each of the fit alterations I made?
My starting point was purchasing the Palmer / Pletsch ‘Complete Guide to Fitting’. (it’s an updated version of ‘Fit for Real People’ which I also own). This book quickly became unputdownable. It lives on my bedside table, it follows me into the lounge; I’ll read it whilst waiting for dinner to cook. I don’t think I’ve taken it with me to the bathroom yet but I’m quite sure that day will come!
If you’re interested in learning about fit, I can strongly recommend it – not only does it cover a myriad of fit alterations in a really accessible manner, it also highlights the order in which adjustments should be made to your paper pattern. This is important because one fit adjustment can affect fit in another area and it’s so easy to get really muddled! For years, I’ve ‘blamed’ the size of my chest for most of my fit issues. Working through this book has revealed it is simply not so. Most of my fit issues related to my upper back!
Rounded Back Adjustment
There’s no escaping the fact that as I age my upper back is becoming more curved from the midline – no doubt due to the hours spent hunched over a keyboard in my working life and the hours spent over my sewing machine at home! The revised Palmer / Pletsch ‘Complete Guide to Fitting’ makes this, now common physical phenomena, one of it’s starting points when it comes to making fit adjustments.
A rounded back such as mine means there is likely to be insufficient length in the back bodice piece, which needs to be added in to stop garments from slipping backwards … and garroting me from the front neckline! The book covers a few ways of doing this adjustment depending on your particular level of curveture and the style of your back bodice piece. As the Whitley has a centre back seam, this was the method I used – :
This method does move the shoulder seam forward a little. However, not enough to compensate for the amount my shoulders actually forward rotate, so I also adjusted for that. But first…
Full Bust Adjustment
Ordinarily, with patterns drafted for a standard B cup, I would cut a size according to my upper bust measurement in order to get a good fit through the shoulders and neck and then do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). The Whitley Top certainly makes life easier because it comes with different cup sizes. However, even with the Whitley, because I wanted it semi-fitted and because my bust measurements put me inbetween sizes, I plumped for the C cup and did a small FBA. I then further lowered the bust dart.
Forward Shoulder Adjustment
The rounded back adjustment moves your shoulder seam forward a little bit. However, the forward curve of my shoulders is quite pronounced and my neck sits forward too, so, in order to get the shoulder seam aligned with the actual line of my shoulders, I added 0.5″ to the back shoulder seam, removing the same from the front : simple!
Adjusting the Sleeves – Forward Rotating
The Whitley has sleeves. Have you ever noticed that your sleeves hang with drag lines? I now realise it’s because the sleeve cap – and the shoulder seam it aligns to – were in the wrong position for my frame. Once I’d moved my shoulder seam forward – and matched my sleeve cap centre notch to that new seam position – my sleeve hangs so much better!
You will need to adjust your sleeve pattern at the underarm to get the underarm seams to align properly since the whole sleeve has been forward rotated; this is done by adjusting the sleeve seam allowance by the amount you rotated your shoulder seam forward – in my case that was 0.5″ – adding this value down the entirely of the back sleeve seam and removing it from the front.
Adjusting the Sleeves – Full Bicep Adjustment
That wasn’t the only issue with the sleeve. The last time I made the Whitley I made it in a stretch crepe, which made fitting a little more forgiving. However, I found the sleeves on the Whitley to be too slim fitted. Measuring the width of the upper sleeve pattern piece and comparing that to my upper arm revealed the need fo make a full bicep adjustment. I don’t have full biceps, I have ‘bingo wings’! (And does anybody know why we call them that?!) This is the first time I’ve tried this and I was really pleased with how it turned out. It’s a slash and spread method; a bit like doing a FBA only for your sleeves! Again, the book takes you through various methods step-by-step, so this for simple illustration :
I also removed 1″ from the overal length of the pattern as I’m something of a short-stack! I left the length of the sleeves as is, they’re meant to be ‘bracelet’ length.
I’m so pleased with how this top turned out. It is extremely comfortable to wear; I think it’s fair to say, now I’ve got the fit exactly how I want, the Whitley is a staple top pattern I will reach for again and again. Especially with this neckline rather than the ‘V’ one – I think it’s a great way to showcase a great print. Talking of which, I just love this (Versace inspired?) ‘bridle links’ print; there’s something about it that makes me go all ‘School Ma’am’ when I wear it, haha! It’s a lovely quality viscose twill, a little heavier and more stable than a lot I’ve worked with. I bought it from Patterns & Plains – I don’t think there’s much, if any, of this left but understand there’s more designs coming printed onto the same base cloth, which I’ll definitely be checking out!
I hope you all continue to be well? I’m still having ups and downs and trying to ride the rollercoaster as best I can…sewing continues to help; I’ve just cut out some more lingerie and then I think I might be sewing all the dresses!
Until next time, happy sewing!
Disclaimer : Not a sponsored post. All items mentioned in this post were purchases. The post does contain affiliate links; if you choose to purchase via an affiliate link you will be supporting this blog at no additional cost to yourself, for which I thank you! Sarah x
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