I’m planning to make a Ginger skirt as my next major sewing project, but I have a sizeable bit of the navy-with-white-polka-dot cotton left from T’s second pair of pyjama trousers, and I thought it was probably enough to squeeze a Sorbetto out of.
I reprinted the Sorbetto pattern, as the one I printed at Christmas didn’t scale quite accurately, and decided that I probably wanted to cut a size 12 at the bust grading to a 14 at the hips, with a 1″ full bust adjustment. So I traced the pattern, did the FBA, and then decided I’d run up a version in calico to see how it fit – the spotty fabric might just be a remnant, but I did buy 10 metres of calico for a reason!
I was pleased (and not a little surprised) to find that I’d managed to achieve a pretty good fit. I think that I might add an extra half-inch to the bust adjustment, given that I have the opportunity to, but it would have been wearable made in proper fabric.
I think I need to learn to do a sway back adjustment, too, though.
I’ve also been pondering summer cardigan patterns (so much choice!). But then I pulled the lilac cotton cardi I made a few years ago out of the wardrobe and tried it on.
I don’t wear it much, and I had a vague feeling that it didn’t quite suit me, but I was surprised to realise that it looks really good on. What it doesn’t look is very smart; crocheting round the edges of stocking stitch just doesn’t actually work to stop the fabric rolling, and the buttonhole was just too big and saggy, and the whole effect was just sloppy and handmade in a bad way. So I pulled out all the crocheted edging, and I’m going to unravel the bound-off edges of the sleeves and hem and finish them off in garter stitch, in the same colour as the body of the cardigan, and then pick up stitches along the fronts and round the back neck and knit a garter stitch border there. And then hopefully the edges won’t roll and it will be a much neater-looking cardi.
Armed with my brand-new copy of the Colette Sewing Handbook (which I can’t recommend highly enough as a resource for sewing beginners – it’s clearly laid out, not at all patronising, and as well as the sewing techniques covers things like different kinds of fabric, which is something I’ve been struggling with because I simply didn’t know what all the different names meant), I decided that the Christmas break was the perfect time to learn to tackle a full bust adjustment.
I decided to use the free Colette Sorbetto top pattern, mainly because it’s so very simple that I knew that all I’d have to worry about was the bust adjustment. I downloaded and printed out the pattern, then did some thinking about sizes. I knew from my experience making the Market Blouse that even though my 42″ bust and 44″ hip measurements suggest I should be fine with the pattern size 14, because my bust is large and my hips are a couple of sizes larger than my torso that would result in a top that was far too wide at the back and too tight over the chest. I started off measuring my back just below my arms, and then measuring the back pattern piece. That suggested I should cut the size 8 and then do a 2.5″ bust adjustment, so I traced the right size pattern and cut it out to see how it looked. It seemed a little on the small side, so I tried again with a size 10. After the bust adjustment, the front pattern piece looked like this (the extra I’ve added is paler as it’s only a single layer of paper):
I was a bit worried about the shape the armhole had ended up as a result of enlarging the dart, so I pinned the dart together and put the pieces on Mildred to see if the armholes would really fit together. Which they did.
If I had more experience, I would probably have thought that an armhole which was barely the size of the armhole of the cut-off t-shirt Mildred is wearing might be a problem in a woven fabric, but I went ahead and cut the pattern out of some of the cotton in my stash, and sewed it all together.
My cunning plan of basing the sizing on my back measurement didn’t take into account the fact that I have a high bust and broadish shoulders, so what I ended up with was a bit too tight across the upper back and upper chest, and I could have done with a little bit more room in the bust too. I think I should also have made the darts shorter as they did end up pointing at my nipples in a deeply unflattering way. It’s not a wearable top; but on the other hand it’s a hell of a lot closer than the Market Blouse was and if I try again starting with the next size up maybe that will actually work. I’m determined to keep trying, anyway. I know I can do skirts, but I can buy skirts too; what I want to be able to sew is the things I can’t find in the shops, nice simple tops that are still smart enough to wear for work with skirts (and I think the Sorbetto would be perfectly suitable for that) and summer dresses which aren’t so low-cut I need to wear a vest under them if I don’t want the whole world to be able to see my bra (because wearing a vest kind of defeats the whole point of a summer dress), and both of those are going to need me to know how to do a full bust adjustment. The only thing I mind is the waste of producing all these unwearable test garments. I did find a site with unbleached calico at £2.42 a metre, and have ordered 10m for future experiments, but it still feels like a horrible waste; I’m used to knitting and being able to unravel mistakes and reuse the yarn. Maybe this is why people take up patchwork, but I’m not sure I have the patience!