Toile #1: Figuring Out the Fit, or Lack Thereof

I’ve hit a few problems that I don’t know how to solve. Yet. I’ve never made this style before. Generally, I know how it’s meant to look, but I’m not familiar with any of the construction details. I need help. Any and all suggestions and/or instructions will be both welcomed and appreciated.

Here’s where we (the muslin toile and I) are at the moment.

First off, I realized that I didn’t have to repeatedly climb into and out of the long stays, I could fit them to my dressmaker’s form. Just shows that using it isn’t quite second nature. Anyway, I laced it up and…what the…why are the shoulder straps so short? They weren’t before.

Long stays positioned too low

Long stays positioned too low

It is embarrassing to admit that it took me about 15 minutes to realize that the stays were too low on the form, but I did and hoiked them up into the right place. By the way, my hips aren’t anyway near this narrow but I’m focusing on the bodice so I’m not bothering to pad them.

To get the best fit on the form, I had to create the right amount of “boobage.” So I padded the bust gussets with one rolled sock and what the Brits call “chicken fillets” on each side. (Chicken fillets – I love that term.)

Finally, time for the first fitting. Oh, dear.

First fitting, bodice

First fitting, bodice

The neckline doesn’t lay flat against the form because of the padding in the bust gussets, so no worries there. At least not at the moment.

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I had to scoot the toile around a while to get the waist at the correct underbust level.

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That’s when all sorts of issues popped up – and out. The back is really quite…ah…full. I don’t think it’s supposed to be this bunched up. The instructions said to use the biggest size and take it down from there. I think I can safely lose a size or two.

Too much fabric?

Too much fabric?

Is this the correct placement for the side seams? They are supposed to be toward the back. However, they look a bit too far back. But maybe they’re OK. I just don’t know.

The bust pulls at the sides and the armscyes are enormous. At least that’s how they look to me, having nothing with which to compare them.

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I think there’s a good chance that many of these issues are related to my having to guess with the shoulder strap. It’s tapered on one side and straight with the grain on the other. Neither the instructions nor the pattern piece tell me which is left and which is right, and it’s not at all obvious. At least, not for me.

After much grumbling and holding the piece in the air, flipping it around while trying to figure it out, I put the straight-of-grain edge on the neck side and the tapered edge on the sleeve side. This could be what’s making the fit all wonky, but the neck-side edge is so straight that I’m not sure. Not at all.

Ah, the joys of learning.

So, there will be a second toile. I’ll use a smaller back bodice and experiment with reversing the shoulder straps. Eventually I’ll get it right, although I shudder knowing this is the easiest of all the dresses I plan to make.