I’m sure there are a lot of books on this subject. In fact, I know there are, because I’ve looked them up occasionally and tried to check them out of the library…turns out, they’re popular books (I know this because there’s a ton of people still ahead of me in the request queue) and sort of hard to get your hands on without shelling out MSRP at Barnes Ignoble. I really hate buying reference books before I’ve had a chance to read through them and see how truly useful they are, so I’ve been biding my time and waiting patiently for my number to come up at the library.
Well, I got sick of waiting, so I decided to monkey around a bit with the Sorbetto pattern from Colette Patterns (yay free patterns!). I printed this pattern off a few months ago and quickly realized that I needed to make it a bit longer and a fair bit wider if I was going to get a wearable garment out of my efforts (thus my entry into the endless library request queue for alteration manuals!). But this past weekend, I decided that it can’t be that hard, right? I mean, simple logic should get me quite a long way. (And it did!). And I have some stash fabric to play with, so why not.
The first thing I did was add 2″ to the overall length by drawing a horizontal line just below the dart line above the waist and moving the bottom bit down 2″ (and filling in a bit of paper to hold the spot). Easy peasy. Next I needed to add 4″ to the waist and bust, and 6″ to the hips…not so easy peasy. I ended up adding 1″ to each pattern piece vertically to get the 4″ for the waist/bust (just slashed the pattern straight down from just behind the shoulder straps and added a 1″ strip of paper.* Then to get the remaining 2″ of space for my hips, I cut a vertical line from the hem to just below the new lowered waist and spread the hem edge of that a generous 1/2″ on each pattern piece, then trimmed the edge a bit at the bottom side hem so they didn’t swing out too much (last time I altered a t-shirt pattern, the side hem came to a point outside my hips a la Judy Jetson…lesson learned). **
*This will be henceforth known as “Mistake #1”.
**This will be henceforth known as “Mistake #2.”
Then I picked a loud zigzag striped fabric and sewed up my Sorbetto. It came out very very close to OK. turns out I didn’t manage to add quite enough space to the hips (or Mistake #2 trimmed a wee bit too much off), so I had to release the box pleat all the way down the front to get the thing to fit. Which made the shoulders/bust fit funny and the straps don’t lay flat unless I tug them endlessly back into place (which may be due to my pattern spreading in Mistake #1…I think it might be better to add space on either side of the strap and not all at the side seam side). Also, the shirt makes me look about 6 months preggers because it’s so voluminous in the front (thanks to the released box pleat).
I also got to learn how to make bias tape from scratch with not fancy gadgets or helpful tools…what. a. pain. I followed the continuous bias tape tutorial from Colette Patterns, which was easy enough, but I didn’t have the folder doo-dad they referenced and figured I could just wing it and iron my way down the strip. Literally a pain…I burnt 3 fingertips, and eventually started folding the edge over a bit of cardstock and ironing it down, then doing the opposite edge the same way. Tedious, burny, and produced totally irregularly wide “tape”. But I used it anyhow, and it really doesn’t look bad actually on the shirt. I doubt I’ll be making bias tape again soon, though (at least without the folder doo-dad).
So that was attempt number one. I’m not really happy with the top, but I can wear it around the house when it’s blisteringly hot out (it is a nice, loose cotton top–good for summer). I have re-adjusted a bit (added more space in the hips, changed the straps up a bit) and cut out another bit of fabric, so we’ll see if that fits any better…here’s hoping, at least!