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Sewing 2017 – The Fitting Shell

A giant stone face at The Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Cambodia

So,…one of the other items that is taking up much of my brain space lately is sewing. I’ve had some super frustrating experiences the past few years and I’ve almost given up completely a few times, but I just…can’t. I thought I would try my hand with the Emery Dress because I am technically skilled enough to sew darts and sleeves and zippers, but HOLY COW.  It did not work. Like, at all. That bodice block did NOT work on my body.
I decided to go back to a project I started last year, and that is following the Little Tailoress’ series Fun with Fit where she walks you through taking your measurements to use the Butterick 5627 Fitting Shell to create a block that works for you. I had completed the front and back bodice – successfully – but it all turned to shit when I added the sleeves. So…after much Googling I *think* figured it out. This bodice/sleeve fitting article on Threads was a lifesaver.
My issue main issue was that my armhole was too low and I totally botched the sleeve alterations. However, by raising the armhole, it eliminating the pulling across my back when I moved my arms. It’s just a tad too high, however, as the armhole is a little too tight to be comfortable.
Another very helpful article was one describing how to take excess fabric out from under the bust by altering the darts. You can see my mangled version above.
Now I need to move on to the actual sleeves again. I rented a Threads fitting DVD from my libary that was SUPER helpful and now I know what I did wrong the first time. I think the main thing I got from that DVD was the instructors saying that your pattern, after you have altered it to fit your measurements, might not look at all like a standard bodice pattern. Hearing that from people who know what they are doing made me feel better.
Also: Swedish Tracing Paper is magic.
Also 2: I am getting really, really tired of making muslins.


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  • It’s such a frustrating process! I need to see if my sleeves are going to fit, but I’ve been procrastinating because I am a chicken!

  • Crissi

    Wow, I’ve been sewing for my kids lately but not anything for myself because I can’t get the patterns to fit me. I’ll have to check this info out. A few years ago I bought the lluterloh set to make my own, but unfortunately I’m still having trouble. i would love to figure this out! So thanks for this post!!!

  • Hi Sara! I feel (hope) like if I can get this fitting shell DOWN then I’ll be set. It’s been a great learning experience and I am so thankful that there are so many more resources on the internet than there used to be. I would have loved to have taken a class like you did! I can’t imagine how wonderful it was to have someone there who really knows what they are doing.

  • Sara

    Ugh, I love to sew but fitting is such a bummer when all you want is a nice lovely new garment. I’ve been sewing for many years now and fitting is still the bane of my existence but a fitting shell will definitely make your life easier! You can totally do it. I took a pattern drafting course at my local junior college where we created fitting shells for ourselves, and having an expert there to help was sooooo helpful. Good luck! (And yes, Swedish tracing paper is the best.)

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