Adventures in Grading Up, part Deux

So my first attempt at embiggening a pattern went OK. I got a wearable maternity top out of the deal (pity I don’t actually need a maternity top, but oh, well…). I made some adjustments and fixed most of the problems I had (too narrow through the hips, shoulders that didn’t lay at all flat) and sewed another one, which turned out super cute, even if it had a few problems of its own…I ended up with a bit of extra fabric right under the arms (maybe 1/2″ in total, that goes away about 2″ down from the arm hole), and the bottom of the side seam comes to a bit of a point (not noticeable, really, but I know it does, so I’ll try to fix that next time). The overall tank top also turned out a bit snugger than I’d really like (it still fits, but yeah, a bit closely). And it could be about an inch longer, but that’s negotiable! Considering I’ve gotten nothing but compliments when I’ve worn it, I’ll call it an overall win!

On a side note, I think this is why I really enjoy sewing. If I had bought a tank top with the fit issues of attempt #1, I’d have been totally stuck with a shirt that didn’t fit. But since I was making it, I could adjust it at least enough to sort of work, plus I could adjust my pattern so the next one was even better! And now I get to adjust my pattern again to fix a couple small issues and (if I do it right and this is the last adjustment round), I get a perfectly fitting tank top, AND I got to learn a lot along the way.

I do have plans to adjust my sorbetto pattern yet again and go for a third iteration, but in the meantime, I decided to learn to sew sleeves. Proper sleeves set into a separate seam, mind you, not cheater kimono sleeves (which are pretty easy and I quite like the look of). A friend of mine signed up for a class to make Sew Liberated’s Schoolhouse Tunic at my nearby local sewing studio, so I signed up too! Can’t think of a better way to tackle sleeves than with fun friends and someone knowledgeable to hold my hand through the traumatic sleeve-sewing process (in retrospect, it really wasn’t that bad, BTW).

I picked up my fabric and the pattern and, um, had a tiny problem. The pattern sizing stops at an 18/20, which was a few inches (4 inches, to be exact) smaller than I would need to fit based on the measurements in their size chart. I was super glad I noticed this before the class, since it gave me a chance to whip out my pattern grading skillz (I think I’ve earned the z at this point, don’t you?!) and add a few inches to the width.

This pattern was a bit trickier than the sorbetto because of the pleats in the “skirt” of the tunic, so I tackled each pattern piece a little differently. The back bodice was the easiest: I cut a straight vertical line close to the arm hole (didn’t want to mess up either the arm hole or the neckline, so that was where I figured I’d do the least damage) and spread the pattern piece about an inch apart. I also added about an inch to the length because patterns always seem to be too short on me…

The front bodice was a little harder because it has a facing, so I didn’t want to interfere with where that lined up, and I didn’t want to mess up the neckline at all, so I did the same thing with the front bodice pattern piece, but used the line where the facing would extend to under the bodice for my vertical slash line. Then I extended the facing piece a bit to match the new line (so about an inch wider at the outer edge), and I lengthened the front bodice piece to match the back one.

The skirt, being essentially a large rectangle, was really easy, even with the pleats. That’s not to say I didn’t agonize over how to do it, but eventually, I got fed up and said screw it and added an inch to the side seams and an inch at the center, then moved the pleat markings over for the center back pleat.

Then I traced out all my adjusted pattern pieces and was ready for class!

I have to say, sewing the tunic up is really fast. Even with the (not-so-scary-now) sleeves. It was a 3-hour class, and in that time, I got everything cut out and managed to get the bodice and sleeves sewn together, as well as get the skirt pleats basted in place and the sideseams sewn together. I ended up sewing the bodice to the skirt at home. One seam’s worth of homework is not bad in my book!!

The pattern was great, too, the only thing we did differently was create a facing for the back neckline instead of using bias tape, which I think looks a ton nicer (comparing my tunic to the sample the shop had made for the class). I’m glad the folks at Sewtropolis suggested the adjustment.

So how did it turn out in the end, you might ask? To be honest, it’s a bit too big. (I know, right?!). I forgot that, being designed as a fairly loose garment, it would fit pretty loosely as written. So I added about twice what I really should have when I did my grading up. That said, it is a fabulously roomy/floaty/cool-to-wear-in-godawful-summer-heat tunic. I like it, a lot (which is saying something, since I don’t actually own any tunics because every single one I’ve ever tried on has looked terrible). I will continue to wear it, too, though I might try buzzing a deeper seam up the side-seams and taking it in maybe a half inch on each side, especially above the waist, or maybe I’ll sew some elastic at the sides to cinch it in a bit. (I figure if it looks bad, I’ll pick it out and let it be, but I might as well try!) And I’ll reduce my enlarged pattern a tiny bit and try again…I’ve already got fabric picked out and everything!

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One thought on “Adventures in Grading Up, part Deux

  1. Yay! I didn’t see these blogs yet this morning but I love reading about your sewing, and seeing pics. Looks good, and I’m in admiration of your bravery. Now excuse me while I work on super-simple baby clothes… 🙂

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