Saturday, March 21, 2020

Working through fitting challenges

I mentioned wanting to sew a sloper this year and that is still a plan. In the meantime, I am whining left and right about fitting myself now :)

After getting the zipper in the Burda 7/2019 dress that I was working on a couple weeks ago, I went to put it on and couldn't zip it. Well, couldn't zip it alone - my arms were locked at my sides! I'd added bicep room but this is a raglan sleeve and I ended with weird fabric pooches  (stiffness of this sateen doesn't help, I'm sure).

Then something dawned on me - I have never sewn a fitted, woven Burda dress with sleeves that works well. Lots of sleeveless dresses and several that I ended up removing the sleeves to save. Hmm. Interesting!

Not that I haven't sewn ANY woven dresses with sleeves successfully, but not a Burda. So I'm thinking it must be something with the shape of the armhole and/or height of the underarm. Looking at this recent make, that raglan seam doesn't seem like it's in the right place for me...or like it needs to be a different shape??

I ended up cutting the sleeve in hopes of saving it but IDK with the back fit...

I really like the added belt/decorative waist treatment but not that it's doubled fabric. I happen to like pleated skirts/pants regardless of whether or not they "flatter". As I always say, I'm 5'5" and 185 lbs. I don't have time to try to look "slim" or worry about "adding bulk" - I'm bulky! LOL!! Life's too short! I wear what I like!

So much extra at the back neckline!
But the back sleeve is atrocious. 
A ton of extra fabric and clinging through the back bodice and what.the.hell!? is happening with the back skirt?!

I think that my butt fullness is just MUCH lower than the pattern expects it to be. The back bodice is just too small overall and there's too much length. 

I ended up finishing the ends of the fabric belt because there was no way that the doubled bodice fabric plus doubled belt fabric would work well with an invisible zipper with this sateen. It doesn't work here. 

I just...IDK what the heck happened with the back fit. I've sewn a lot of Burda patterns and never had such poor fit in back. I'm now thinking I'll open up the front raglans and see what the fabric wants to do. And I plan to remake this in a lovely Rag & Bone crepe I recently purchased from Mood once I work it all out.

I've sewn a bunch of stuff in the last week! 2 tops and a pair of pants that are WONDERFUL! And a cardigan that is on time out!

I decided it would be a good time to sew the pinafore dress from the February 2020 issue of Burda. Figuring the tracing, muslining, adjusting, and sewing a fully-lined dress should slow down my stress-sewing (though I love the spring wardrobe I'm coming up with!).

I traced this in a straight size 42 since I was going to muslin the whole thing. I flat patterned measured an came up with a 43 1/4" finished hip (mine are 44.5") I ended up adding 3/4" to front and back (3" total) which was too much). I had a ton of excess fabric  - part of this though is Burda's generous hip curve. I never need all that curvature and my seams are always a lot more straight than Burda's draft.

I didn't make any other changes off bat.
Initial photo - I am rotated and the blue line is CF and is fine except for right at the bust. The front neckline was gaping, the shoulder was sitting above my shoulder, and there was bagginess at the hip and across CF.

After photo - I realized the entire shoulder needed shortening. I sewed that seam at 7/8" which corrected the too-long CF. This makes sense as I normally use a size 40 neckline and this is a straight 42.

I removed about 1/2" from the front side seam (of the 3/4" that I'd added) and about 3/8" from the back side seam (so this means I ended up removing a total of 1 3/4" of the 3"). More below.

I will add a little at the bust on the CF panel to bring that line to center and will remove a bit from the side front. It's baggy under the arm. I will only remove a little bit as this is a layering garment.

Initial photo - you can see bagginess in back on the bodice and skirt and even on the hip seamline.

After - I have a tucked pinned through center back (didn't carry it to the side back but I will of course on the pattern piece). I'm rotating my shoulder forward to show that I have the CB pinned at the neckline - it was gaping a bit and I took a 1/4" tuck.

I sewed the back dart here on the right about 1/8" deeper and 1 1/4" longer.

Love the oversized pockets but will lower them just a bit - really minimally like 3/8".

Initial photo - made me think, WHAT IS UP WITH THIS BACK FIT ON BURDA PATTERNS?! And I went to through old posts to make sure I wasn't imagining better fit before :-p

Back bagginess at the waist and below, bagginess at hip, and perhaps you notice a bit of tightness across the butt.

After: 1/2" pinned at in back bodice and neckline tuck made a huge difference IMO! The tuck will extend to the side back and that will look better then.

Also, I think there's a noticeable difference between the right (left here) back skirt where I took a deeper dart, but I still have some excess fabric and pulling due to my butt.

Solution? Add CB seams for both bodice and skirt. This way, I can add the exact shaping that I need and I can add a wedge for the butt.

I'm super excited about this one!! There are a handful of gorgeous versions on the Russian Burda site. Mine will be made with a black/grey suiting with metallic threads,  a charcoal grey lining and black buttons and EEK! I can't wait.

In other news...

I have a correction to my Vogue blazer (from the class last September!) to make that I've been putting off but I'm going to get that fixed this weekend then all that's left is the hand sewing of the lining. I am sure I can still finish that in March along with this Burda dress. I may push my other plans, including my husband's jacket. It's corduroy so works for fall through spring and seems like we're not going to be going out much during spring. Plus, I am, like many others, in full "therapeutic sewing" mode.

camel wool for M7982 if I have enough yardage
yellow denim for Claryville jeans
red and navy cotton/rayon voile for M7925 if I have enough fabric
rayon crepe for M7976
rayon challis for the hi-low shirt from Burda 2/2020
white cotton lawn and silk organza for a shirt based on a Threads magazine tutorial (perhaps B5526?)

Photo courtesy of

Threads magazine
 tutorial (must be an Insider or subscriber. It's in issue #204, Aug/Sep 2019).

Hopefully you and yours are staying healthy during this time. We are fortunate to be able to work from home and I am luckily, quite the homebody so that part isn't fazing me. I am terrified of the economic impact and sad for the number of families that'll be affected by illness.


  1. What is the alteration needed for back neck gaping I have that a lot of patterns

    1. With a CB seam, I'd mark the seam line (not the cut line) with the amount that needs to be removed and then slash and overlap that amount, grading to nothing down the back (here it is about 2.5 inches).

      With a zipper, basically the same thing. Easy to adjust on the fabric too when inserting the zipper.

      If you want to keep it cut on the fold you can either sew the dart that is created (or split it to two smaller neckline darts on either side of the center) or you can slash it on the other side and overlap, and true the neckline.

    2. Thanks that helps a lot I’m leaning toward cb seams for my clothes even when a pattern doesn’t call for it.
      I seem to be able to get a better fit that way

    3. Yes more seams = more fitting opportunities!!

  2. I find Burda hit and miss but thank you for going through the process. It was very interesting and I’ll look forward to seeing the final garment.

    1. Oh I adore Burda!

      I’ll try to remember to take pics of my pattern adjustments too.

  3. If you look carefully at the last "after" picture you posted with the small pleat to remove the extra back fullness, you can see the start of the weird diagonals starting at you butt and radiating to the side seam and up. This is the drag line being exacerbated by the zipper on the black dress.

    I think you are right, the skirt pattern doesn't curve how or where you body does. If you can, release the skirt side seams and repin according to your body. Thus is easier if you have help, but I've manged it alone. My problem is I have narrow pelvis and skirts hang funny the opposite way from yours with hip floof hanging down in reverse drag lines from yours.

    1. I ended up shaping the back via a CB seam on the skirt and am happy with the fit!!! I can't wait to review it!

  4. I notice in both pics of that muslin that it appears the center front line is not lined up exactly. when I make any muslin for a style that's an overlap or wrap I don't sew the side seams but I pin the center front together precisely. then I see what is happening on the waist seam, both front and back, and then I deal with the side seam fit last. I also make all side seams 1" or 2" and then pin and/or baste as needed for fit. Interested to see how this works out as I have some lightweight wool aging in my stash that might work nicely.

    1. Yep. Definitely agree. My final version is about 70% constructed and that's exactly what I did. Pinned the CF where it should be and sewed the side seams accordingly.

      I am!!! with this so far!

  5. also on that Burda dress with the raglan sleeves, I think you need that lengthening on the sleeve cap, didn't we do that on your blazer? as well as a bit more bicep room. that might do it. if you make it again in a different fabric, try making the dress but not cutting out the sleeve, then baste in a sleeve in muslin fabric and then you can slash/spread that and then take those adjustments back to the fabric.

    1. Great idea to muslin in the sleeve! I've done that before!!

      We talked about raising the cap when we were looking at my jacket sleeve!

    2. May I also add that I don't think your raglan sleeve looks deep enough in the front - it's really tight up under your armhole and normal raglan sleeves are a little further down. Your back raglan looks okay but not your front...and this is just my opinion since I'm NOT a fit expert AT ALL!

  6. I have struggled with my narrow shoulders and full upper arms for years, and many patterns have become wadders because of it. However, I recently tried Nancy Zieman's method of cutting for your shoulder and making changes from there. For me it means a FBA, a broad back adjustment, and adding at the waist. For the sleeves, the tutorial/advice from SBCC was most successful for me. (On mobile so no link but google "sbcc patterns full bicep".)

    All this to say, fitting sucks. I purchased the Sure Fit dress kit and need to get going on it! I plan to then modify it to a raglan. Good luck with your fitting journey! 🙌

    1. I totally cut my pattern size to fit the neck and shoulder and adjust everything else. Everything else is simpler in comparison!

      I have to do a full bicep on literally everything. My bodice is a 14'ish and my bicep is 14 3/4" wide. It's big. Adding to the outside of the raglan did not work well. It just created a lump of fabric.

  7. This is going to look so good once you make the fit changes you need. I love all of your gorgeous fabrics, especially the yellow you are using for the Claryville jeans! It is beautiful!

    1. Thank you Vanessa!! I have wanted yellow jeans for awhile, I'm looking forward to them!

  8. Where did you get the yellow & blue print rayon challis? I love that fabric and have been looking for something like it. Also, jealous of your therapeutic sewing. Are you working from home? I'm finding working in my sewing cave is not good for my sewing!

  9. I also have a straight hip curve and burda pants and skirts have too much sideseam shaping for me. If the hip and waist circumference are okay I straighten the sideseam by adding to the waist at the sideseam and take bigger back darts. This puts more shaping in the back for my butt rather than on the sides where I don't need it. It also eliminates the drag lines from the butt to the high hip at the sides.

    1. YES! That's pretty close to what I did though I didn't think of it that way.

  10. I appreciate all your adjustment details. Fitting can be a real bear at times. Look forward to seeing the dress after making all your adjustments. Be well!

    1. It sure can be! I finished it yesterday and can't wait to photograph it! It's dull and dreary today so maybe tomorrow :)


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