Several months ago, I, like many other sewers, fell for the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan dress. I envisioned myself wearing it while prancing about a cocktail party, laughing, socializing, and graciously accepting all the compliments I would get.
This was around the time that I had just started reading Fit For Real People. The authors, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto are big proponents of tissue fitting. Up to this point, I had only used muslins to identify and solve fit issues, so tissue fitting was intriguing to me, as it seemed there was a potential to save quite a bit of time. The thing about tissue fitting is that it's best accomplished if you have another person to help you fit the tissue on your body. It's really hard to pin the center front to yourself, and impossible to pin the center back to yourself.
I tried anyway, using my freshly traced Cosmopolitan pattern, and the whole thing ended up a disaster. The neckline was way too low (as in, my barely there bra was visible) and the huge neckline gaped terribly. I didn't abandon the project immediately, though. I tried to make it work by creating a ruffle from a strip of bias charmeuse and adding it to the neckline in hopes of more coverage. The ruffle just flopped outward unappealingly. So I threw the garment in my closet and moved on. Lesson learned: Tissue fitting - bad, muslin - good.
Well, Cosmpolitan has been popping up all over the sewing blogs and forums, making me want one even more. I had to give it another shot. I had the perfect jersey fabric in my stash, and the latest issue of Threads with an article about sewing with jersey knits. And, oh yeah, I had a complete muslin sitting in my closet for me to start with!
First, the Threads article in the July 2007 (no. 131) issue of Threads has some great tips on using jersey, many of which I am putting into practice:
- Machine wash & dry yardage twice before cutting the pattern because of progressive shrinkage
- Use a rotary cutter & mat for a smooth cut
- Eliminate facings, they'll create ridges in the garment; instead, (1) fold under neck/armhole & topstitch, or (2) bind edges with bias strips, or (3) line/underline using the same fabric
- Don't finish the seam allowances with a zigzag stitch or serger because it adds unwanted bulk
- To finish the hem, fuse a strip of interfacing the same depth as the hem, press up the hem allowance, and either topstitch with a single or double needle, or catchstich by hand for an invisible hem
front bodice pattern piece with alterations
On to the fit issues. I spent some time with the muslin, pinning here and there to fix the gaping neckline.
First, I added 1.75 inches to the neckline, and blended it to nothing at ~4" below the shoulder seam (original neckline is marked with blue line).
I remembered a great tip from Gigi of The Sewing Divas on how to eliminate neckline gaposis. I marked the 1" that I wanted to pinch out on the original neckline, then followed Gigi's directions to slash to the opposite seamline, overlap, and blend the new lines.
Also, I lowered the bust dart by 1" and I shortened the bust dart by 1".
I fiddled with the idea of adding a neck dart but after trying the bodice on, I didn't need it, I think thanks to the neckline gaposis fix.
As suggested by Threads, I eliminated the facings; instead I made 2 bodices, shown pinned at neckline, one will be one the outside of the garment and the other will be the lining
The fabric I'm using is the rayon/lycra jersey I got from Gorgeous Fabrics. It is the nicest, softest, drapiest knit I've ever used! An absolute dream. (And yes, the owl silk jersey keeps taunting me from my fabric pile, I am planning to use it in a new skirt/blouse ensemble).