Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 2

I've been busy doing other things - okay, and procrastinating - and I may not get this challenge finished. I've really fallen down on taking photos during the process. Too bad, can't be changed now! I looked really bad and pretty miserable in the photos I took for the PR Sewing Bee because of pain from a dry socket, funny name. It's getting a bit better, less painful with antibiotics and painkillers but I still don't feel at all photogenic - then I never am! I'll take photos of the pattern pieces tomorrow in the daylight.

I've found fitting much more difficult than I anticipated (as predicated by Kate). I did take it to my sewing bee a few weeks ago to get an opinion but unfortunately, I haven't had it back since - and I don't have any more sewing bees left before the dress is due in.

Taken from the Simplicity website. The other photo, of the same girl, with piped princess seams on the dress as per pattern envelope, wasn't on the site. This version appears to fit her a little better.
I didn't like the photograph on the envelope of the plus size pattern I am using. 

I don't think the dress fits the model. Or maybe this style of dress isn't suitable for a plus size person? The line drawings look great and the photo on the regular sized envelope looks good as far as I can see. I am extremely wary about the dress's suitability for my figure.

This is the pattern envelope from the smaller size range

I rather like the line drawings. It's the same pieces whether a sleeve is added or not

I was pretty good and read all the instructions before I changed things!

My pattern is sizes 20W - 28W+. By high bust measurement, I fit into the size 20W, although I often use a size 18 if I am making from the smaller size range, even if there is a 20 available. I am quite wide shouldered. There isn't much difference between my high bust and my full bust - only 2" - which means that I should fit into the regular cup size in regular patterns and here. I know I don't, though. My bra size is 36DD. The suggestion from the pattern was that I cut the 20 cup size C (based on difference between full bust and high bust in the plus size range) - I decided to go for the D, not the DD which was also an option. The instructions do point out that you have to consider your body shape when making your choices.The cup sizes refer to the front only.

The back pattern pieces come in slim, average and curvy. My hips measure at two sizes above the pattern piece given measurements, which means that I am a 'curvy' person and so used the curvy fit pieces. I've only once before used an Amazing Fit pattern (a skirt) and found the curvy hip pieces too curvy but I did as recommended.

Okay then. I started to trace the pattern pieces but realised I really didn't have enough time so have cut directly into and altered the pattern tissue. Terrible!

The next instruction is to lengthen the pattern pieces as necessary. I had big problems here. I needed to lengthen the shoulder to bust point by 2.25". I've been reading Joi Mahon's 'Create the Perfect Fit' and tried her methods.

This is a nice spiral bound book inside the hardcover

So I altered the front and back independently.


I cut across the upper side front pattern piece and added in the required amount - 2.25" By Joi's method, this adds a lot of depth to the armscye. The Palmer Pletsch method would cut out a box and slide down keeping everything properly aligned. This method does not alter the armhole depth. However, because I am longer from my shoulder to the armscye (I'm 5'11" not 5'6" which is what patterns are designed for) I do actually need to drop the armscye anyway. So I went with Joi's method and waited until later to build the armscye back up to an appropriate place.

Raised and altered armscye on upper side front

Here you can see the lengthening affecting the armscye, the altered armscye and the area above the bust point

Because I have lengthened by quite a bit - this of course is the same alteration used to lower the bust point, though my bust point is not disproportionately low, or just a little as I get older - the upper chest line is rather distorted. I was going to follow the Palmer Pletsch method to draw the curve but in the end, didn't at that stage as at the sewing bee Dan said I could take that in later if required - extra fabric would be added which could easily be removed later. Easier to take fabric away than add it!
The purple line is the line that I would have cut following the PP method.
I went with the cut area in the meantime. Quite a difference!

The alteration the way I did it, following Joi's method, lowers the whole of the dress below the cut and also brings the waistline into a more reasonable position. The Palmer Pletsch method actually reduces the distance from bust point to waist. I am also long bust to waist. More of my extra length is in my torso rather than my legs. My front waistline is rather lower than the back.

I also had to alter the front and side front to match.

Originally, I also lengthened a little below the waist to add to the skirt length. Not by much at the front. The length back and front does not match.


By Joi's method, I worked out where my 'full back' was and lengthened the upper part of the back to suit. However, in this case, I had to raise the waistline point by a little, to get it falling in the correct place.
Slight lengthening of back piece

All back pieces were altered similarly.

However, the waist points need to match at the side seam. I looked at the upper side panels. Now the front panel was considerably longer than the back. I decided I liked the length of the longer one better. I therefore lengthened the back upper side panel. This meant also altering the curve into which it fitted.

Altered side back curve. I had to add to side seam as I had tapered to larger size at hips too late, I thought


I adjusted the armscyes to match front and back. This meant raising the front armscye quite a bit. I think the armscye in the original pattern was a little low for me - I don't want to be showing the side of my bra! This pattern has the same basic armhole shape whether or not you are making the sleeveless version, as I am, or the version with sleeves.

Princess seam lines

In my sewing bee I had discussed the princess seam lines. Now I love princess seams - they are great for fitting and I think the long lines are fairly slimming.

However, in this case I disliked the shaping of the front seams and discussed this with Dan. They flared out much too much for my liking. I pinned the tissue pieces together to try to judge fit and how they would lie. When I pinned the front tissue piece to the side front tissue piece, it appeared as if there was no shaping whatsoever. This seemed very strange at that position but was not so surprising on another level as there didn't appear to be much bustline shaping on the model, judging by the photo. Dan suggested pinning these two pattern pieces together, cutting as one when I made the toile and later deciding on the princess design line as that is what it appeared to be, rather than a true princess seam with integral shaping.

Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of shaping included in the rear princess seam and the same option was not available. These were going to be cut as per pattern. I was a little concerned that the dress would look rather odd, being so different front to back, but was reassured that this would be fine. I was also a little worried about altering the front by too much so that it didn't resemble the original pattern at all.

Tissue Fitting

It looked as if I needed additional fabric at the front upper side seam so I added additional here.

First toile/muslin

I went ahead with my first toile, using plain calico.

As recommended by the Amazing Fit pattern instructions, I used 1" seam allowances on all side seams and 5/8" seam allowances elsewhere - in other words, as per pattern.

I found that there was actually some shaping built into the front/side front pattern pieces so decided to cut them separately. They didn't lie as smoothly as it seemed they had originally.
I don't have a photo of me wearing this first toile. Apart from length changes, this is pretty much as per pattern.

The fit wasn't too bad. Certainly better than I thought it was going to be.

I did make a number of changes to the pattern following this:
  • I really didn't like where the front princess seam was lying and got David to draw in a more pleasing, for me, line.
  • I felt the skirt was too flared for my liking and I decided I wanted it slimmed down a little - not to a straight skirt as this would perhaps take too much away from the original design concept.
  • The front length was too long by quite a bit so I took away the length I had added to the pattern and more - I had to tuck up on a shorten line which I had to draw. Again I had to do this on all pattern pieces. I didn't change the back length at this stage.

As I realised that I was going to make quite major changes to the pattern following this, I didn't go too far with fit and just made the above changes to the pattern with a view to making another toile.

Pattern changes

This almost all was on the front pieces.
  • I moved the princess seam on the front closer to the centre below the upper side panel. This meant that I had to take away from the centre front and add to the side front at their junction. I still had to keep a smooth line.
    Not easy to see. This shows the side front panel with the added portion taken from the front panel to alter the princess seam. The pieces had been shortened by folding the fabric, independently hence the odd folding, which I am in the process of removing as I need an extra 1/2" in front length.
  • I took in a little at the hem of the sides (front and back) and tapered back to zero at the top of that piece (which joined to upper side front). I didn't take in as much as we had measured as I reckoned I would be better altering to suit later.

Second (and final) toile

I'll do that in the next post - I'm still making the pattern changes necessary but am taking a break away from sewing to write this post. I should say this toile has already been dismantled so you won't see me in it!


  1. It sounds like my sort of frock with all the fitting you're doing. I bet it's going to be soo worth it. Good luck ��

    1. Mmm, not so sure I'm up for this! I need your luck, thanks. Only have a day now and waaay behind, I don't think I'll get it done, for this at least.

  2. Good luck! I do like the photo on the pattern -- I do not like the piping in white but nonetheless the dress lines are very pretty.

    1. Thank you. My original plan was royal blue/cobalt crepe dress with black piping. I don't like the white, either. As I'm such a pear shape, I find that degree of A-line shape emphasises that, which is why I reduced that.


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