Sunday, February 12, 2012

VPLL Princess Slip - From 'It' to 'Me'

This is my very amateur drawing of the changes I've make to the slip pattern to make it a working nightgown that fits me,  Here's what I did, described as briefly as I'm able.  If you don't understand you can leave me a message in comments on this blog.

I loved the proportions in the picture which are NOT the proportions of the pattern.  The flounce is much shorter in proportion in the pattern.  In addition, I'm 5'10" with long legs, narrow shoulders, large bust and thick mid-section.  This forced me to not only up-size the pattern, but make some major alterations.  After printing the pattern, my scale was not correct.  I chose not to fiddle with it since I'm making so many changes already.  The pattern size I show may NOT be the pattern size YOU get when you print.  (For other VPLL participants)

Bust:  37.5
Waist: 28.75
Hip: 44
Est length (from shoulder) at flounce attach:   43
Est total length (from shoulder) to hem:  50

Bust: 46
Waist: 38
Hip: 45
Est length (from shoulder) to hem: 58

First, the flounce to total-length ratio in the picture is 25%.  I decided 20 to 25% is what I want.  The need for this much flexibility will be obvious later.  I will want my flounce to be between 12 and 14 inched finished.
That leaves me 44 inches for the top of the slip (58 - 14) from the shoulder.  This is very close to the actual pattern.  However my larger bust will require me to add some inches in the front to keep the hem level.  Also, my bust point is notably lower than the picture.  This means I don't want to add width at the widest part of the pattern.  I want to add it where I am widest.  Also, my shoulders are narrow, so I can't just add nine inches.  In fact, I really don't need to add more than an inch or so at the shoulders (across my back is only about 14.5 inches).  I don't want the shoulders falling off.  First step, I held the side front up to myself and made a mark on the pattern at the point that is roughly my bust point.  At the same time, I eyeballed the shoulder height and location of armscye.  I did the same with the center front.  Then I traced the pattern piece from shoulder to natural waist and started to make changes.

Then I ran into trouble.  I have decided to use 2 1/4 inch insertion lace.  With wider lace, it's normal to cut the fabric, hem the edges, and sew on the lace to each side (rather then sewing it down, cutting it and rolling back the hem).  I suspected that the wider lace would give me a little additional length and width.  It would also complicate my calculations.  I started to modify the pattern and realized that no matter what I did, the lace was 'inconveniently' placed.  Very romantic.  Not practical for an over-50, over-weight mom.  So goodbye to the lower bust band of insertion lace.  I moved it to the natural waist,  And if the vertical bands are stopping at the natural waist, why bother with the princess seams up to the bust?  That would require a great deal of fussy modifications when I could that with two panels that go from side seam to center bust insertion band, and from top lace insertion to natural waist lace insertion.  The biggest advantage to this change is that I could measure the distance from the top of my bust (where the lace insertion ends) to the top of my natural waist (second insertion band starts).  And I could measure it over my bust.  That solves the problem of adding 'volume' over the bust.  In addition, the top insertion sort of runs into the bottom of the armscye.  This means I can make it as wide as I want when I put in the lace.  I will need to trim to adjust the armhole but that's what my pal Robin is great for.  I stand still and she marks where the opening should be.  When I drew the pattern (on cut up grocery bags) is marked where the lace would be so I could have an idea of how big the pieces would be with lace attached.  There is no lace in the back, so I merely added a couple inches near the bottom of the arm hole where I am the fullest.  Here's some bad pictures of my grocery bag pattern:

The arm-scythe is cut around towards the back, so the side seams are NOT directly under the bottom of the armhole.  Also, by the time the pattern reaches 'hip' length, the front to back proportions are evenly balanced.  Basically, this means I can just add to the pattern evenly from the natural waist down.  

Things I will do 'on the fly':
Cut an extra inch at the top of the shoulders.  I can take a bigger seam if needed.
Cut the armscye as printed.  I can cut away more, but once I cut, it's gone forever.
Cut the front 'bust pieces as rectangles.  I can put gathers under the bust points as needed and take in the side seams too.
Add little 'flaps' on the shoulders to extend them.  This will allow me to 'cheat' the proportions.  These are about 6 inch long curved pieces, 1 1/2 inch at the top of the shoulder, tapering to nothing.
Add a couple inches of length even though I don't think I will need them.
Wait to cut the flounce until the body of the slip is made.  This way I'm sure it's the right length.   After all, I have made dramatic changes, I'm not a pro, and who KNOWS what will actually happen.

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