Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Fighting the Fit

After sewing with slippery double georgette to make my Purple Reign blouse, I really wanted to take a break and sew something easy. The plan was to get a bit of instant gratification by whipping up a top in an afternoon. It's funny how things don't always go to plan...

Advance 6836
I chose the top from this 1950s blouse and skirt set but went for the short sleeve version with the turtle-neck collar. The pattern is my size - on top anyway - so I just went on my merry way and cut it out. I've had fitting issues with Advance patterns before, I really should have known better, but it's never, ever been this bad.

The pattern calls for a full length zip in the back which makes one assume the top should be fitted, but it's far from it. At first, I thought perhaps a larger size pattern had been put in the envelope, but the bust darts sit in the right place so can't be it. I think it's just poorly designed; there's no way this pattern will fit a 32" bust without some alterations.

It needed half an inch taken out of every seam - except the back there is no front seam to adjust - and nearly 3" under the arms! So much for 'Sew-Easy'.

I've now sewn the alterations and the fit is much better but the armholes are still too big. I know it's supposed to have 'drop' shoulders but the sleeve detail was getting lost under my arms. That detail was the main reason I liked this top in the first place! Argh!! Time for more alterations, and this time I'm usin' the scissors.

I was so fed up with this project, I didn't care if I ruined it by cutting too much out of the arms, it's not like I could make it any worse. As you can see from the pic, my cutting frenzy was successful and it now looks much more like the envelope illustration. I'm also much happier with the fit.

The only thing left to do is the sleeves. I've cross-referenced the original pattern piece with my altered version and it looks like they're going to be a challenge. The shape has changed quite a bit and I'm not sure I'm prepared to draft my own. It was supposed to be a quick, fun project and has ended up taking far more time than I wanted to spend. I think it's time to put this one aside for now.

In closing, I'm wondering if any of my readers who sew have the same problem. Modern or vintage, is there a particular brand of pattern you have trouble getting to fit? Please feel free to share your frustrations.

- Tamara


  1. I've found similar with an Advance pattern I just tried. Number 5780, it's an early 50s dress with kimono cap sleeves that should have fit straight out of the packet according to the measurements. Ok, so it's a fairly loose fitting casual style, but it's huge! The sleeves come down nearly to my elbows! I've done the same as you and thrown it aside for a while.

    1. It's such a shame, they have such nice designs. I've two other pretty 50s blouses I wanted to make, one of which has the sleeves cut in one with the bodice. I'd dread to think how much alteration they're going to need.

  2. Hi there,
    we met on Sunday at the Love Vintage Expo. My name is Rosie and I have the label Madame Blavatsky.
    With these vintage patterns you have to take into account the underwear they wore back then. With bullet bras the clothes and therefore patterns would have had more fabric at the front than we do now. Even though it is no no in modern pattern grading, the best thing to do is actually move the centre front line (fold or seam) in to fit you. That way the arm shape doesn't change. You may have to change the neck line and take it into the inner shoulder seam/fold but that is pretty easy.
    I hope this makes sense and good luck with your next creation.
    The 1940's pinafore looked Great!

    1. Bullet bras! Of course they would have allowed more fabric in the front to allow for the points. Thanks Rosie!


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