I’m not sure I’ve actually introduced Mildred, who came to live with me a few weeks ago courtesy of the John Lewis vouchers given to me by my former colleagues when I left my old job.
Here she is modelling the pieces of my new Clothkits skirt. I’ve adjusted all her measurements so they match mine, and she’s also wearing an old bra padded out with toy stuffing to give a more accurate representation of my proportions. She’s not a perfect match for me; I have more of a sway back than she does, and her hips also curve out a bit more abruptly than mine (I have a very high waist and a kind of long, gentle slope out to my hips from there, which is why for years I thought I didn’t actually have a waist at all), but she’s close enough that I could get a reasonable idea about fitting issues, and could tell (as I’d suspected from the fit of the Clothkits skirt I made in the summer) that the fit would definitely be improved by the addition of a couple of darts in the back of the skirt.
Having pinned approximate darts on Mildred, I then pulled out the Mccall’s pattern I used for the skirt I made in my dressmaking class and used that as a guide to the best placement of the darts and the required depth.
After sewing the darts and basting the pieces together I tried the skirt on, and was extremely gratified to find that it fitted beautifully; the darts mean it curves nicely against my lower back instead of being too wide and slipping about.
I’ve now finished sewing the side seams and sewn together the lining (without darts – I recall from the skirt I made in my class that there were no darts in the facings and the lining is very lightweight); next weekend I might even get it finished.
I know that adding darts is a pretty straightforward adjustment (even more so as I just cribbed them off an existing pattern) but it’s the first fit adjustment I’ve ever done and I’m really very proud of it; I’m not at all confident about sewing and this makes me feel that I might actually be capable of learning to make myself properly fitting garments. I think the next step has to be conquering the full bust adjustment, as until I do that I’m stuck with skirts and what I really want to do is to make myself summer tops and dresses which don’t need camisoles underneath (wearing a camisole under a winter dress is no hardship at all, but it kind of defeats the object of a nice cool summer frock if you need a tight-fitting jersey vest under it!). I have been pondering the question of making muslins/toiles. Most of the sewing blogs I read say you should always make a muslin and that skipping this will Lead to Disaster, in the same way the knitting blogs utter dire threats about the dangers of not swatching, but then swatching just uses a bit of the yarn you already have (and swatches can be unravelled if you need to use the yarn for the final garment), whereas a muslin means buying twice the amount of fabric you actually need, and unbleached calico* is not actually particularly cheap here. I wouldn’t want to launch into a new-to-me pattern requiring a full bust adjustment in an expensive fabric but for not much more than the price of the calico I could get a cheap cotton or cotton blend which will end up making a wearable (if not perfect) garment.
Anyway, I think my next project should definitely involve a full bust adjustment. I can’t quite decide whether to try a re-run of the Market Blouse or have a go at Colette Patterns’ Sorbetto, which has the advantage of being much simpler although it would require me to get over my reluctance to wear sleeveless tops (though I see that someone has drafted a sleeve pattern for it). I think I could probably make either one out of the fabric I got from Natalie at the Glasgow School of Yarn, anyway. It’s got to be worth a try!
*which is apparently the UK term for what the US refers to as ‘muslin’ – I was rather confused as to me muslin is something which has mainly culinary uses!