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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Mock-up Fitting of a Titanic Era Pattern

I have an irksome tendency when I make something – it has to match the picture I’m working from or I will spend forever and a day tweaking the pattern until it does.

Inner Perfectionist: It’s not quite right.

Lazy part of me: But it’s only off by an EIGHTH of an inch.

Perfectionist: Yes, but it’s off and it will drive me crazy!

Lazy: No one else will EVER notice.

Perfectionist: True, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t un-see it.

Lazy: FINE. I’ll fix it.

I know this makes me better at what I do, but there are times when I wish I could tune the perfectionist out and happily fly through my projects. (When I seriously try to ignore the inner perfectionist, my husband will nicely remind me that “You’d better fix it or it’s gonna bug you!” *sigh* He knows me well.)

So, anyway, you might remember that I chose the Ladies Wrap #0291 for my next assignment for The 1912 Project (honoring the 100th anniversary of the Titanic) because it looked fairly straightforward. However, it turned out to be one of those deceptively complex patterns that poked at the perfectionist in me.

The wrap has four darts, and their purpose is beautifully understated. Two are the shoulder seams, and two meet at the center front creating an almost horizontal line from bust point to bust point (but will be hidden by a collar on the finished garment).

These darts have perfect placement and are the textbook size for the 32-inch bust that the pattern is labeled as being – and because bust point measurement and shoulder seam measurement vary so slightly from size to size, the simple wrap style (a lapped front & open sides) can easily fit bust sizes ranging from 30 to 42.

Using a left-over piece of a bed-sheet from another project, I cut out a mock-up without any seam allowances. That meant the edges were right where the hem would be and I could check the overall fit & silhouette.

I tried the mock-up on myself, my sister and my mom. (I am smaller than the pattern’s 32” bust and my mom & my sister are both larger.)

Let me show you why the pattern needed tweaking…

Sketch & mock-up comparisons:
Ack! My arm completely disappears when I put my hand on my hip!

I know I’m small but I have long arms – and the sleeves were way long, so it looked like I was wearing someone else’s clothes! The drape of the sleeve couldn’t hang gracefully with the arm raised & bent and didn’t match the design sketch, so of course, it completely BUGGED me.

It’s not terrible when I don’t bend my arms (it kind of reminds me of church-pageant angel sleeves) but I would look silly walking around with my arms out all the time!

Me wearing the mock-up without any adjustments.

So I took a poll on upper arm length. (Thank you soooo much to all of you who took the time to answer my one-question-survey!)

The results were quite interesting and confirmed my suspicions: upper arm length is not all that different from size to size, and I was right there at the average middle – 11 inches from shoulder joint to inside elbow.

I used a marker to draw new hem lines on the mock-up while trying to more closely match the sketch. For demonstration purposes, I only cut off the left sleeve.

You can see my marks in green on the uncut right sleeve.

Mock-up with altered LEFT sleeve on both me (blue wall) and my sister (yellow wall)

I think the new sleeve length looks much better now
and my sister’s arms are a little shorter than mine!

I transferred the alterations to my paper pattern, tweaked the sleeve points, and shortened the body front & back lengths a little. (In order for me to construct the wrap in the special way I have planned, all the alterations needed to be precise before I make the real thing.)

Altered pattern piece with trimmed off scraps (marked with x).

For those who want to know specifics, I cut 2 inches from the sleeve length and adjusted the curve slightly to make the points less square (matching the sketch). I trimmed 1-3/8” off the front hem and a scant quarter-inch off the back hem.

Now that the pattern is fixed (and my inner Perfectionist can find some other project to obsess about), I’m ready to cut the real fabric and have some fun with construction… exactly 100 years to the day that the Titanic sank.

Now see the completed reversible wrap!

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14 responses to “Mock-up Fitting of a Titanic Era Pattern

  1. Sew Smug April 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Fabulous!! I NEED to make one of these. Great clear guide 🙂

  2. Karen April 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    It’s very helpful to see how you made your alterations. It ALWAYS bugs me when the finished product does not match the picture – I’m glad to know someone else shares my obsession with this!!

    • Brooke April 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      I’m so glad you find it useful to see how I did it! I have to remind myself that what I find boring about a project might be more interesting to others than I think. I’m sure I will have a more elaborate drawing-on-a-mock-up-fitting to show at some point, and I’ll be sure to take pictures. =)

  3. halfbluejay April 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I like the shorter sleeves. Makes it look very different. Nice work.

  4. Orlene April 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I sometimes have conversations like you between perfectionist & lazy side…..but MY lazy side nearly always WINS! LOL

  5. Leila April 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    This is so helpful and inspiring for me. Now, I want to try this pattern out. Thanks for all the detailed photos. I really appreciate all the hard work.

  6. cationdesigns May 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    This is amazingly detailed and extremely helpful, to see how a professional goes about making these alterations! Thank you for posting this!

  7. Lenarciak July 5, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Wonderful! I think I know my next project 😉

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