I’ve been a habitual indie pattern sewist since I came back to dressmaking in recent years. I’ve loved everything about it: the stylish patterns, the sense of community, the fangirl culture. But most of all I’ve appreciated the companies’ efforts to teach people to sew, with detailed instructions and sew-alongs. I’d found the ‘Big Four’ commercial patterns quite intimidating and difficult to fit. My 21st Century measurements didn’t fit neatly into one size, but my skills weren’t yet up to major adjustments.
But recently I’ve felt a change. I’d spent much of last year focusing on fit and had developed confidence in my skills. The final shift came when late last year one of my favourite Indie companies launched a pattern that was almost impossible to fit. The ensuing drama made me take a second look at the Big Four on the assumption that their patterns were the product of a more thorough design and production process. I gave up on the toile of said dress, but saved the charcoal grey and silver quilting cotton for something worthy.
So here it is: the culotte dress (aka Vogue 9075). I referred to ‘The Complete Photo Guide for Real Fitting’ by Sarah Veblen to figure out how to fit a princess seam bodice. Following the book’s instructions I made up a size 14 bodice and identified where to release the seam to get the fit right. No FBA required! I just had to let the bust seams out 5mm above the bust and then reduced by 5mm below the bust. It worked!
I made a few other tweaks to improve the bodice fit: I’d got the bust spot on but had to take a curve of 5mm from the side seams, and angle the invisible zipper seams to remove excess whether the fabric was pooling a little at the lower back. This time around I machine basted the seams so i could fit on the fly. It was all going swimmingly until I basted the bodice to the culottes: the result was serious discomfort! My final adjustment was to reduce the culotte waist seam allowance to 10mm and increase the bodice waist seam allowance to 20mm. This raised the waistline to it’s rightful position and gave me just enough room for comfort!
I’m now looking at the Big Four’s catalogues with new eyes…. Any suggestions?