Monday, September 26, 2016

Perfecting my button down shirt: Simplicity 3684

I have been sewing this past week. YAY! Although it has been slow and careful going. Sometimes my brain just doesn't want to cooperate with what I want my body to do.

Actually, there are 2 projects in the works. One is a 'challenge' project for the Chicago Chapter ASG fashion show in October. The chapter decided upon a fabric and whomever wants to participate gets half a yard of that fabric to be incorporated into a design. At least 3/8 of a yard of the fabric must be used to qualify in the challenge. There are several categories and I am entering mine in the Adult Apparel category.

The fabric is a polyester chain print and I am actually having a lot of fun incorporating this fabric into a design and playing with fall colors. Here is a sneak peak!

The other project I am working on is Simplicity 3684, a traditional button down shirt.
I have made this once in the past, several years ago, as a beach shirt coverup. For that version I just simply made the largest size in a lovely white cotton from Mood and didn't even worry about the size. I wanted big, oversized and loose. I wore this shirt on several lovely vacations and it suited my needs wonderfully!

However, now I want an actual shirt that I can wear. One that is fitted and looks good and looks like I spent a ton of money on! As many of you know, my ever shrinking size has caused me to become quite adept at making muslins and making many changes to the fit.

Let me start with the changes

  • Changed the bust dart to a parallel bust dart. The intake on my bust dart is pretty good size and between the bust dart and the waist fitting dart I was getting to much pouching of fabric. Changing to a parallel bust dart. I was able to move half of the dart superior to the existing dart by 1/2 inch. this gave the fabric more space to smooth over the curve.
  • Adjusted the front and back waist darts and the side seams to skim my curves.
  • Changed the armhole to reflect my body.
  • Changed the sleeve to a 2 piece sleeve.
  • Made many, many mockups of this sleeve to fit mu upper arm.
  • Changed the number of pleats into the cuff and cuff circumference to fit my wrist.
  • Dropped the neckline and lengthened the collar stand and collar. I will NOT wear this shirt all the way buttoned up to the next and wanted a more relaxed feel the neckline area.
  • Next version I will open the neckline up even more into a gentle V and change up the collar to reflect even more of my desired style.
I was a feeling mentally challenged with this project because I don't really wear button up shirts because I have never had any that actually fit well. However, a funny thing has happened through the journey of this shirt! The more I made fitting changes to reflect my body and style changes to reflect my design, the more I am falling in love with the button down! All of a sudden I am imagining a slew of these hanging in my closet and ready to be worn with all typed of outfits. Funny how that happens when you get the fit perfected!

Original dart on left with pouch, parallel bust dart on right with beautiful fit. Actual dart intake is the same.

Top is the pattern work, left original dart and right the parallel dart.
The bottom is a close up of the bust area with the parallel dart and the waist fitting dart.

Lets talk more about that darn sleeve.... I actually wrote on my white board next to my sewing machines 'sleeves are going to kill me!!!!' well, not really! but it made me chuckle every time I glanced at it and kept me from getting to aggravated.

The first thing I did was change the sleeve to a 2 piece sleeve via the Sarah Veblen method. This allows for an outer seam where you can have enough ease in the bicep with out sacrificing the ease in the sleeve cap. If you have her book, The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting,  there are wonderful directions on doing this starting on page 172 in the discussion on Set-In Sleeves. Basically you split the sleeve in half and then walk from the underarm up the shoulder on each side and adjust the sleeve cap ease as necessary to fit properly. 
Sleeve after first draft of a 2-piece sleeve and first round of length changes. On left you can see the excess I pinned out of length. On the left can see the extra poufy at the sleeve cap. 
Final sleeve! With all of the length, width and seam shape alterations.

From that point I made a muslin. This was back in June. I wasn't very happy with the fit and worked on it then and got something closer. Then I got sick again and have since lost more weight and redistributed some weight. All of these things causing my sleeve to look, well, wonky. I was having a hard time determining if I needed to adjust the length of the sleeve or the width of the sleeve. I worked on the fitting of this sleeve in a couple of my mentorship meetings with Sarah as well as on my own quite a bit. The final determination was quite interesting. Changes were made to the length at the sleeve cap, literally raised the sleeve cap almost 5/8 inch. Changed length again in dong a closed wedge over the bicep area. Changed width by shaving off and flattening the curve of the outer seam. These all got me really close. However, I still was just not happy with it! I put it aside for a day and came back to it and decided to really look at the pattern pieces and the relationship of the seam that was offending me. It was like a darn light bulb went off in my head!! I did a little happy dance and reshaped the front sleeve seam. considerably! Cut, yet another muslin and OH Happy day!! It worked! 
The front and back sleeve pieces. The original pattern iece is underneath and I have outlined in dark red the all the tissue that has been removed for the new pieces! Quite a change on the front sleeve!

I am now ready to cut into my fashion fabric and make this up as a real shirt. I will still work on the muslin just a tad to make the final changes to the neckline and collar. For this first version they will stay as is. Who knows I may want a full button up to the high neck shirt one day and I will have the pattern pieces ready to go. 
My fashion fabric and sketch for the final garment to be worn at the ASG Chicago chapter fashion show as part of our neighborhood group challenge.

This shirt is also going to be showcased at the Chicago Chapter ASG October Fashion show as part of our Sew Chicago Neighborhood Group challenge. Several of us will walk the runway together to show off our button down shirt creations.
A meeting of the mentees! Several of us participants in Sarah Veblen's mentorship program met up for a nice ling lunch and discussion about all things sewing and of course about our wonderful experiences in the mentorship program.

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