Hello sew alongers,
To ensure the right fit for your dakota, you should compare your measurements on the paper pattern (like Marie’s tutorial). If you are in doubt, the best way forward is to make a test garment. Adjustments order are: Adjust the length first, then the circumference and then your personal adjustments like sway back etc. Today we are going to talk about producing a test garment also known as a toile/ muslin.
- You will need plain, cheap fabric with similar characteristics and weight to your fashion fabric. For those using knits, calico won’t do. It is very important that you use a similar weight calico to your fashion fabric as different fabric weights behave differently. Another good fabric is gingham as allow you to visually see any balance issues.
- Tracing wheel and waxing paper
- Pen or marker.
- Elastic or ribbon to wrap around your waist
- Always wear good fitting undergarments to try it on. What you wear underneath can affect the final garment.
Press your fabric.
I find it useful adding extra horizontal lines on the pattern (crosswise grain) to verify the fit: Mark the bust line crossing the apex, and hip line. Since the pattern has sleeves, trace the biceps line (fullest part of the arm). Use the pattern
grainlines as your guidance for lengthwise grain reference and the lengthening/ shortening line as your crosswise grain reference.
Those lines should be visible on the outside of your toile. You can make it by either machine thread-tracing or with a marker that shows both sides.
Place the pattern pieces on your fabric, always respecting the grainline and trace off the pattern lines and seam allowances.
Cut out only the main garment pieces: Since the objective is to test the fit, no seam finishes will be needed. You will only sew pattern pieces 1,2,3,4,5,6 & 7 with 1 cm (3/8”) seam allowance.
Don’t worry about the construction not being the same as the sew along. The objective here is to test the fit before cutting your fashion fabric.
Don’t worry about at pressing every stage yet as you don’t want to set the fabric before making the adjustments needed.
Instead of cutting the toile around the original pattern line, I like adding a fitting insurance of 2.5 cm (1”) on the side seams. That will allow you enough fabric release if needed. Your stitching line should be respected so if you didn’t trace them and add the fitting allowance you will be confused.
Fitting insurance is to allow fabric release during fitting not make the garment bigger.
Don’t forget to label all your pattern pieces, specially those skirt panels.
Assessing the fit:
Check if the centre front, centre back, waist, bust, hip and biceps lines match to your body. The Dakota doesn’t have any closures, so you will need to be able to put it on and take off without difficulty.
Take your time to properly assess how the dress fits your body. At this stage you should be able to spot drag lines, excess fabric etc. Remember the dress needs to fit comfortably. I been guilty of over fitting patterns and trying to squeeze into using the pattern ease. The dakota ease is mainly on the waist. The pattern has to fit your shoulders and armholes correctly. Give yourself a hug. Is it comfortable? Does it cause movement restriction? Low armholes generally make the movement constricted.
To assess the sleeve fit, check if the centre grain running down the sleeve line up with the side seam of your Dakota.
Write the adjustments amounts and general notes to help you transfer the changes. I keep a notebook about my pattern’s progress and write those annotations there. You can write on a blank page and attach to your pattern envelop/ziplock bag.
Making simple adjustments
If your Dakota is too big, pinch out the obvious excess of the fabric through the seams and darts, making sure you don’t move the centre lines. Don’t forget to mark both sides where you pinned. I like making as a dotted line so I know I need to remove that extra amount of fabric.
If your Dakota is too small, unpick the restricted area till the tension disappears. Measure the gap created and add that distance on the pattern. I will be showing you how to alter the length and a few customisations on a different post. We have a special guest post on FBA/ Grading. We don’t have a specific post for a SBA for this pattern but will be suggesting a few links.
Transfer the difference and adjustments to the paper pattern.
Need more help, Read here.
|Source:Christian Dior Toile, Made in Paris, 1954. Image from the V&A Collections».