Hello everybody and happy birthday to me! Yep, today it’s my birthday :) I didn’t sew myself a special dress, but I’ve finished my new shirt instead. After all the toiles I made, it was about time, I say.
My first try at shirt-making has been the Granville by Sewaholic, which turned out very cute, but alas, it didn’t fit me right. I tried to adjust the pattern, but after two toiles and any good result, I decided to follow another path. I searched into my pattern stash and came up with this Butterick 5678, a semi fitted shirt with shoulder princess seams, available in four different cup sizes.
I chose view A and after checking the finished measurements on the tissue, I decided to go with a size 10 – for a more fitted look – and a C cup. The chart in the instructions put me in the cup B range, but all my bras are Cs so I stuck with that and I’m happy I did it. I did a first muslin without any alterations, to evaluate the general fit and from there I started the moving/adding/removing fitting process. It has been a long and traumatic journey but I feel I’m finally getting somewhere. Of course, there is still a very long way to go and the more I look at these photos, the more I realize that.
I really did lots of research about fitting issues and how to solve them: I read books, I took the Caftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit by Lynda Maynard and of course I scanned the Internet in search of how tos. I felt very confused at times, but I think I’m on my way to understand my body better and hopefully to be able to sew garments that actually fit properly and I feel comfortable wearing. I find it hard to understand where my problems are, above all because I don’t have anyone who can help me analyzing what I make and I’m also always prone to over thinking and make things more difficult than what they actually are. Fitting oneself is definitely not an easy process.
Anyhow, here it goes, my B5678 in details.
I measured myself carefully, with Owen’s help, and compared my numbers with the measurements of the pattern pieces (minus seam allowances of course!) and started from there. As suggested in basically every book or article or blog post about fitting I’ve read, I started from the top and went down, so shoulders are first.
In the front and back pattern pieces, here it’s what I’ve done:
– I’ve done a 0.8 cm forward shoulders adjustment, pivoting the shoulder seam line at the neck and moving it forward at shoulder point.
– I then extended the shoulders by 1/4″, because looks like I’ve broad shoulders too. I’ve done it following this instructions here.
– In the back, I’ve adjusted the pattern piece for a 2 cm broad back. I followed this method here, which, for a shoulder seams pattern, has you to alter just the side back, instead of both center and sides.
– Probably because of all the above alterations, I had to redraw the front armhole, to get a better fit. I’ve basically took off a wedge around the pitch point as there was some extra fabric there.
– I then removed about 1/4″ from the underarm, at both front and back, to get a closer fit.
– Because in my previous toiles both forward and sideways arm motion were very restricted I’ve raised the armhole by 3/4″ to get a higher armhole, closer to the body and therefore allowing for a wider range of movements. Obviously I’ve adjusted the sleeve accordingly too.
– In my toile there was some extra fabric at centre back, so I’ve deepened the seams around my waist by a very small amount, not even 1/4″. I’ve done the same at the front and looking at the photos, I’ve probably could have skipped that.
– Lastly, but actually I’ve done it at the beginning, I’ve shortened the body pieces by 3 cm. To do so, I didn’t use the “shorten here” line drawn on each piece because it was above the waistline and I didn’t want to move that. So I’ve drawn another line a few cm below and shortened the pieces there.
For the sleeves:
– I’ve cut the pattern a few cm below the underarm as I wanted short sleeves and added a faux rolled up cuff.
– Because of the forward shoulders adjustment, I’ve moved the sleeve cap forward by the same amount. To do so, I’ve drawn a line perpendicular to the grain, above the notches, slashed and moved the piece towards the front by 0.8 mm. I’ve then redrawn the sleeve cap to true the seams.
– The sleeve wasn’t hanging parallel to the floor yet and there was still some diagonal wrinkles from the front shoulder ball towards the back of the arm, so I’ve played a bit with the toile and ended up slightly changing the sleeve cap shape. I’ve let out the front sleeve seam allowance to accommodate my prominent bones, allowing the sleeve to drop and straightening the lengthwise grain. I’ve also modified the back armscye, removing some fabric instead. The photo below illustrate what I’ve done, if you can see it in all the mess!
– To match the body side seams, I’ve removed 1/4″ from each sleeve side, at the underarms and also raised the armhole by 3/4″.
– Finally, following the method illustrated by Lynda in Sew the Perfect Fit, I’ve altered the pattern for a cut-in gusset, adding 3/4″ in the underarm area.
And that’s it.
I’m pretty happy with the fit I achieved in my shoulder and upper back area, but I’d like to perfect the pattern around my chest as there is some pulling there, as you can clearly see from the photos. I’ve to say, I’ve used a quilting cotton for the shirt, which isn’t very appropriate for this sort of garment, but it doesn’t justify the presence of those unwanted drag lines. Thought, maybe they’ll be less apparent in a thinner fabric. Anyhow, there are still loads of things that need to be fixed, but at least I can finally move my arms around in this shirt and wear it.
I find the built-in gusset very comfortable and I think the added fabric is barely visible, but let me tell you, setting the sleeves in was a nightmare and took me hours to get them right. It’s the first time I try this method and probably I need to play around with this alteration a bit, trying to get a less extreme armscye curve and slightly smoothing the angle created by the gusset/extra fabric, so it would be less difficult to sew. Apart from that, I’m definitely converted and I’ll use the cut-in gusset again for sure. It really gives you more freedom of movement.
Lastly, for the collar I’ve followed again the great tutorials by Sewaholic, I find the method Tasia uses gives wonderful results so I’m sticking with that.
Sorry for the long post, but I wrote everything down for personal reference too, so I can check what I’ve done with this shirt for future improvements.
Now tell me, do you have any fitting secrets you’re keen to share with me so I can make this shirt better? What do you think I should further modify?