My design process…

I bought this fabric a few weeks ago

And yesterday I saw a girl wearing a shirt at the farmer’s market and I knew what I wanted to make with the fabric. So I drafted a pattern, and got to sewing with some extra fabric, because I knew what I wanted to do would have a few tricky construction issues I’d have to figure out. On the off chance that the first draft turned out great and I wanted to wear it, I made sure I used cute extra fabric.
I tried on my draft and hated it, so I won’t be wearing this one, but it is useful to figure out the fit issues and tweak the design, so I thought I’d show you how I do that. Molly the Mannequin is going to help me, because it is hard to take pictures of yourself, hard to mark alterations while you’re wearing the garment, and impossible to alter on yourself and photograph yourself at the same time. However, I did do the steps you’re going to see here on myself first. Molly may be “My Double” but she hasn’t given birth to and breastfed two babies, so her boobs and behind are both a lot perkier than mine. I hate her for that (just a little).
So, here’s what I saw in the mirror when I tried on the prototype
Big shapeless sack, huh? Oh wait, it does have some shape, look at the side view
Nothing like a shirt that makes you look preggo when you’re not I say. I think every woman wants one of these in her closet. And the red line – that’s where the bust dart was falling. Molly does have perkier girls than me, but mine are not that low, and no way do I want a too-low dart to make them look saggier than they are.
But never fear, just turn the thing inside out, and start pinching in the sides and pinning them where you want the seams to actually fall.

Much more flattering. Check out the new side view

Baby belly gone. Now for the darts. I’m holding my chalk pointing at the bottom of Molly’s boob, which is where I want the tip of the dart to end up

So I drew in my new dart line and stripped Molly.

Here’s another closeup of my learning curve – see the hand sewing at the bottom corners of the placket? Luckily that helped me figure out how to make a perfect placket for the final version.

I also figured out I want to gather, not pleat, below the placket.

So, I laid my inside-out shirt on the table, and drew a chalk line 1/2″ outside my pins (so that I’d have a seam allowance). I cut along the chalk line and then laid that piece on my pattern piece like so

I’m a little in from the pattern edge because that’s how much my serger cut off while I was sewing. I traced the fabric piece to get the new side curve onto the pattern

Before I cut on my new line, I had to deal with the dart. I measured the difference in height between the chalk line that I drew while I was wearing the shirt and the actual dart. It was about 1 inch, so I put my clear ruler on the original dart, and lined up a gridline over the dart line with one inch above to draw the new line at the same angle. I repeated for the second dart line and ended up with this

Next I cut up to the bottom of the dart, and used that piece lined up with my new edge to trace how far the dart should stick out

I repeated these steps on the back, minus the futzing with the dart, and then pinned the two pattern pieces together at the side seam to make sure they matched. I trimmed a little to even them out.

And now I think I have a pattern worthy of the project fabric.

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  1. says

    Thanks! I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl, but I learn new things from blogs all the time. The paper is kraft paper you can get in rolls of white or brown at any craft store.

  2. Vernelle Nelson says

    I love the way you simply let the fabric tell you what it wants to be. Thought I was the only person who did that. Glad to know others do it as well.

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