Bodice mockup time! Patterning – especially patterning tops – is always my least favorite activity.
Because it’s hard. And my dress form isn’t a good enough fit to drape on. And my wonderful boyfriend, while he has learned to tie a corset on me in record time, is not quite ready for fitting mockups on me.
So, a year ago I went to a class at Stone Mountain & Daughter for making a fitted sloper. (For anyone near Berkeley, I highly highly recommend this place for fabric and classes. I wish I could go more often, but Berkeley is an hour away with no traffic, so getting there at 5pm on a Tuesday for a class is Not An Option).
The teacher (who I desperately want to be some day) also made each of us a bonus item for our sloper. A few people chose collars (and seriously, she could draft a collar in about 4 minutes. AMAZING.) I went for turning my darted-sloper into a princess seam sloper to give me more options in the future.
And the future is finally now! I figured a fitted strapless bodice is basically a sloper with the top cut off. Just to check the fit, I first made the full sloper out of muslin:
AHHH SOMETHING THAT BASICALLY FITS ON THE FIRST TRY.
(I realize this is the point of a fitted sloper, and the teacher did all the hard work for me. But I’m still gonna do a happy dance.)
It had way more ease than I wanted, which I measured to be around 2.5 inches.
When taking fabric out of a garment, you really have two options.
- Pinch it out at the seams
- Take it out of the middle of a panel. This could be referred to as “grading”.
#2 is actually how you resize a pattern if you need to dramatically change the size, rather than adding or taking away a little bit. The most basic version of this can be found in the add/remove length lines you find in commercial patterns.
Here is a basic bodice block (darts erased, but a normal pattern will have them):
Let’s say your mockup is too big, and you want to take it in at the side seams. Side seams are generally straight, so it’s a lot easer to pinch out fabric there than on a curved seam like a princess seam.
But look at what you have done to the armhole! It’s now smaller around. While people do have different arm circumferences, there is a lot more standardization around width of the arm compared to around the body. You now probably need to make the arm hole bigger, by the same amount you just took out on the side seam.
Or, avoid that problem entirely, and grade your pattern, by removing the excess in the middle. Note the armhole stays the same size.
Not going to give a huge lecture on how to grade a pattern because a whole lot of places on the internet have done it better than me, so I recommend just googling for “pattern grading”
So, following my own advice, I decided to take the excess fabric out of the middle of the panels, rather than at the seams. So, for some math, 2.5 total inches of ease = 1 1/4 inches out of each half of the bodice = 5/8 inches out of the side back and side front pieces.
The results of that (after cutting off the top as well):
And really, I didn’t need to bother showing you these! Because after making this, I decided I wanted the princess seams to go over the bust as they do for the vast majority of bodices, as opposed to ending in the armscye, and therefore redid the entire pattern.