Tuesday, 18 February 2014

On using my knit bodice sloper

This is a totally unplanned make from the New Look 6150 pattern.

I bought this top pattern when the recent PR Best Patterns of 2013 list came out. Most of the patterns I either have, don't want or are long-standing entries on my wish list (wishlisted: By Hand London Anna dress, which I have not bought so far because as much as I adore the versions I see around the net I'm not sure it would suit me, and the Grainline Archer shirt, which I might buy in March as I embark on a Month of Blouses). Only one of the others jumped out at me as something I instantly needed to acquire and that was New Look 6150.

Mainly, my interest is in view A, the faux wrap top with 3/4 sleeves, and I fully intend to make that later this week. However, in the meantime I had a sort of serendipitous moment and today I ended up making a version of view D, the basic boat-necked top.

I was tracing out some patterns and thinking about the success of the bodice portion of the Lady Skater Dress and how I might use it as a sloper. I've mentioned before that I'm a big wearer of layers, and one of the things on my "Find a TNT" list is a simple long-sleeved tee type of knit top, the kind I wear under a cardigan, jumper or blouse all the time in colder weather. I have historically bought them from Long Tall Sally (expensive, but look OK for a reasonable amount of time) or the Next Tall (cheap, don't last very long) range because it's the only way to get the body length I prefer -- most chain store tops are cut too short to start with and then shrink in their first wash to boot. However, then the sleeves are often too long and the armscye too low because even though I'm tall enough (5'8") most tall ranges are really sized for women at least 5'10". I figure it's not the most exciting garment to sew but it's the kind of every day basic that I am really keen to stop buying.

I'd been sort of thinking to myself that I'd trace something basic from Ottobre and adapt it but somehow, despite the fact there are tonnes of basic knit tops in my Ottobre back issues, I couldn't find anything specific that grabbed me. As I was thinking about it, my eye fell on the New Look 6150 envelope sitting on my pile of things I want to make soon and I thought, well, I don't like the wide boat neckline, but since I like the Lady Skater neckline that's an easy fix.

No really, what kind of animal print IS this?
When I laid the sloper out on the pattern it was pretty clear it wouldn't be too hard to adjust, so I traced out the New Look pattern, traced out the Lady Skater bodice/sloper over the top, cut out a hybrid paper pattern and then went looking in my stash for a little piece of fabric for a test. I came up with this rather peculiar animal print from Fabrix in Lancaster. It wasn't enough to make a long-sleeve tee, but I could make an elbow-length sleeve tee. I paid £4.37 (weird price) for this 1.25m piece on their remnant rack in May 2013. I was seduced into buying it by the gorgeous texture of the fabric, which is lovely and soft and stretchy, but realized when I got it home that the print was going to be ridiculous when actually worn and pattern placement was going to be a nightmare. So, no loss if it didn't work out, and a bonus if I managed to make something wearable from it.

There is no purpose to this photo except to show you that I CAN match my side seams sometimes.
I think I just about managed to avoid making it looking my boobs have eyes (In The New World Order, Breasts Will Look At YOU) but there was really no good way to cut this fabric around those giant circles in the fabric so that they entirely missed my bust. More importantly, though, the sloper approach totally worked, hurray! I'm really happy with the fit of this top. There are some little problems here and there, some of which are explained by things I decided to do, some of which I need to figure out from a sloper improvement perspective.

The hybrid pattern ended up being the Lady Skater bodice from shoulder to the bottom of the armscye of the front bodice. This was wider at the base of the armscye than a size 16 in the New Look pattern, so I blended to the size 16 through the bust, waist and hip on the front bodice piece. On the back bodice, again I used the sloper through the neck and shoulders to the base of the armscye, but this weirdly turned out to be closest to a size 14 at the underarm. I blended out to a 16 through the waist and hip. If I had wanted a skin tight top, it seems based on my sloper I should have cut a 14 through the waist and hip on the front bodice and a 12/14 on the back bodice, but I wanted a top with a comfortable looseness over the hip and abdomen so I cut a 16.

Naff selfie to show that it does actually fit! Obviously the one-arm-in-the-air-with-a-camera bit isn't too impressive
Since I was using such a wildly patterned fabric, I cut this particular version with the back on the fold. The real back bodice piece is actually shaped, though. I think that would eliminate a little of the pooling in the back that I got, but for this top, with this print, I really didn't want to mess with a centre back seam.

The big remaining problem I have with the sloper is with the armscye/sleeve fit. Some of the extra width under the arm is not quite in the right place, which leaves me with a bit of extra fabric there. I need to look at reshaping the area immediately at the bottom of the armscye to get better fit, but I need to think about how that will affect the sleeve as well. I feel like the sleeve is just the right size, but the armscye is not. I will have to put my spatial reasoning brain in to figure out how to keep the sleeve shape while eliminating that wedge of fabric under the arm.

Overall though, as an attempt to use the Lady Skater bodice as a sloper, this was pretty awesomely successful AND I have a slightly ridiculous new top to wear as a result. It didn't take too long to make this top -- a couple of hours, including everything, and really only that long because this was horribly curly fabric. It wanted to roll itself up in a tiny little tube when it was cut. The binding was an absolute pain in the ass as a result.


  1. Great top and fabulous fabric. Great to have a pattern for a wardrobe standard. I need to make so many tees. Did you try spray starch to control the curl?

    1. Thanks! Good to see you back in the world of sewing :D

      I haven't tried spray starch yet. Actually, I've never seen it anywhere, I'll have to look harder next time I'm in a supermarket.

  2. I agree, the spray starch can be a godsend, particularly on non-polyester fabric. On our friend Polly, it doesn't always help. If you can't find spray starch, I'm sure you could find a recipe online somewhere. Actually I was curious and looked for you. Here it is.


    Love the print on your top, and good for you on overcoming your aversion to photographs of you on your blog. Something I haven't managed to overcome yet. Brave woman.

    1. Thanks for that recipe! I've added cornflour to my shopping list this week. It seems like the pre-made spray starches all contain formaldehyde, which my skin reacts to by coming out in hives. Now I just need to find a spray bottle...

      I am still nervous enough about posting photos of myself that I'm cutting my head off, but yes, I have developed just enough confidence to take photos of me in my garments. I don't know, it's a really tricky thing for me and I go back and forth on whether I want to model my clothes or just put them on Flossie.