Hello and welcome to Fun with Fit!
Contrary to my tongue in cheek title and illustration, fit is a serious business in a dressmakers world. A well fitting garment is flattering and comfortable to wear but not always very easy to achieve. It can be quite tricky to pin point what exactly is causing a garment to feel so uncomfortable under the arm or look funny at the lower back and it is easy to attribute it to the wrong thing and make the wrong adjustments.
In this blog series I am going to help you learn how to identify and address your own fitting requirements so that you can alter patterns to fit your own body shape and proportions.
To do this we will be working our way through the Butterick fitting shell/ sloper pattern B5627. A fitting shell is essentially a block with seam allowances. A block is the most basic of all sewing patterns, it has purely functional darts and seams which fit it to the body. All dress patterns are developed from blocks, each fashion brand and pattern company will be working from standard blocks to create all their garment patterns. By fitting this Butterick sloper to your personal proportions you will establish which adjustments you need to make to more complex sewing patterns in future.
In addition to this you will end up with a fitting shell/ sloper pattern that fits you. Trace this onto cardboard and remove the seam allowances and you will have your own, well fitting block which is the first step in drafting your own sewing patterns.
Even though you won’t have a pretty garment at the end like you would from other sew-alongs I think you will be very pleased with the way our rather ugly, pen and pencil covered one fits! Just don’t plan on wearing it to anything other than a halloween party!
Are you in?
If so, you will need to gather up the following supplies:
Butterick B5627 Fitting Shell/ Sloper: these patterns are not multi-sized so you need to take your bust, waist and hip measurements before purchasing one. DO NOT go by the dress size listed based on what you buy from the shops as they will likely be a good dress size or two different. Annoyingly no website selling it seems to have the sizing chart listed so I have popped and image of it at the bottom of the post for anyone who wants to order the pattern online.
To take your measurements wear well fitting underwear and nothing more than a tight fitting vest and leggings (ideally just bra and knickers). Make sure the tape measure stays parallel to the floor for its entire circumference. If at all possible employ the help of someone else so that you can remain standing straight and still. Do not breathe in or pull the tape measure too tight, it should be flat against your skin but with no perceptible pressure.
WHAT IF MY BUST WAIST AND HIPS ARE ALL DIFFERENT SIZES ON THE SIZE CHART?:
The waist and hips are easy to adjust so it is more important that you start with a fitting shell size close to your upper body/ chest size. SO if you are a size 10 on the bust and a 14 on the waist and hips buy a size 10 sloper pattern and we will adjust the waist and hips.
HOW DOES MY CUP SIZE EFFECT THINGS?: The Butterick fitting shell is drafted with a B cup and we will be covering small and large bust adjustments. If you have a larger or smaller cup size then you are better off going for a pattern size that is in keeping with your back and general upper body frame size. We are aiming to begin with a sloper that fits nicely across the back and upper chest. There is a simple way for you to work out whether your cup size is about to make you order the wrong sloper size.
1: Measure your upper chest. To do this measure you circumference just below your armpits. Like when taking a bust measurement make sure you keep the tape measure parallel to the floor and don’t pull it tightly. The butterick pattern’s circumference is 2cm smaller at upper chest than at bust level. Take 2cm off the bust measurement of the pattern you are about to buy and compare this to your own upper chest measurement to make sure they are similar. If they are not then go with the pattern size that has a bust measurement 2cm bigger than your upper chest and we will work through the small or large bust adjustment that is required.
Anu questions on this please leave me a comment below
If you have another brand of fitting shell at home you can use that but I will be referring to the Butterick specifics.
Large sheets or a roll of thin paper: kitchen greaseproof or flip chart paper can both be good options here. This is so you can make a tracing of your fitting shell to apply your adjustments to. Never alter original patterns, that way if you make a mistake you will still have your original untouched pattern to refer back to/ begin again with.
Calico or medium weight unpatterned fabric: Part of our fitting process will involve drawing horizontal lines at various places on our fabric and assessing them when our fitting shell is on the body so you really don’t want any pattern on your fabric as it will make this process far less clear. Make sure your fabric isn’t too light weight and that it has a good close weave as it is very important that it doesn’t get stretched out as you are working with it. A medium weight calico is ideal here, it is also nice and inexpensive.
Bright felt tip pens or markers: these are for making markings on your fabric, the brighter the better but nothing too chunky. I like Sharpies but beware they are permanent and do soak through fabric!
Ruler or Patternmaster
Notebook: for jotting down your measurements and other notes about the steps you take along the way.
The following regular sewing supplies:
Fabric scissors large
Embroidery/small scissors or seam ripper
Pins (lots of them!)
I hope you are looking forward to getting stuck in! Next time we will cut out our fabric, mark it up and begin the fitting process!
Thanks for reading