This is the final section on making a test garment to try out your cut-on sleeve pattern, and improving its fit and looks.
This section includes an example of making changes to the pattern, and how to revise the pattern to include the changes.
The final post on cut-on sleeve tops is about sewing your top.
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Example of changes
People tend to show impeccable photos of muslins on blogs and Instagram. I used to find that upsetting, now I just say ‘okay good for her but it’s not my way of working’. Otherwise I think that is irresponsible, as it gives viewers the impression that making a test garment takes a lot of effort. Personally I think muslins are a tool – I just do the amount of work needed to find out what I need to know about fit and style.
So the finished product of your fitting efforts may not be very elegant ! Neither the shape and patchiness of the pieces nor the quality of the sewing may look good. And it may [should !] have notes written all over it.
Here’s my test garment after all the needed changes had been made :
I had taken the shoulder slope of my starter pattern from another pattern with a shoulder slope I knew was right for me. So there were no changes needed there.
Most of the changes my starter pattern needed were to the back.
I found my starter pattern was tighter than I like across the upper back. And very tight around the hips over thick winter-warm pants ! So I added a vertical wedge to the back.
The armholes were tight, but the shoulder seam lay along the top of my shoulders. So I added an equal length both front and back to the upper body.
And I have a forward neck, and prefer to raise the back neckline.
Compare to what I started from :
This starter version of my pattern may look much better off a body, but it’s only good in theory, in real wear it is nowhere near a comfortable fit.
The result of making those changes to the starter pattern (previous photo) may look a mess off a body, but it looks much better on my body ! Turn this changed pattern into a ‘for real’ pattern (see next section), and garments made from that will fit, look, and feel much better than the starting point. Though they may not have ‘hanger appeal’.
For some of us, ‘our’ pattern may look very different from an ‘average’ commercial pattern, but celebrate that it suits you much better 😀
I sometimes write notes on my test garment, if there’s something I’ll need to remember. Such as :
Raised armhole – those numbers are armhole lengths, which need to match the sleeve cap – not an issue with cut-on sleeves 😀
Or, if you make several test garments, write a note on which one this is, perhaps what changes it includes.
Some people like to make a new pristine test garment each time they adapt their pattern, so everything stays tidy. I know someone who made 7 test garments when fitting pants, but that is not for me !
Some fitting instructions say you must keep making a new tidy pattern and test garment every time you make a change, but that is not essential – choose which way of working you prefer.
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How to get your usable pattern from the altered test garment
Making a pattern from your well fitting test garment may not be a quick process if you have made many changes, but think how marvellous it will be to have it done 😀
The seam allowances may no longer be 5/8″ (or whatever you use), so it’s important to work with the stitching lines, not the cut edges of your pieces.
Return the test garment to separate pieces
– run a marker along the main seam lines of the still-assembled test garment (for a cut-on sleeve top – the shoulder seams and side seams, not the seams attaching any fabric added during fitting). Make sure the marks show the stitching line on both sides of the seam.
– take the test garment apart, again only on the main seam lines (shoulder and sides for this).
So with this style you finish with two pieces, a front and a back. And on each of the pieces, the stitching lines are marked.
Make a pattern from the garment pieces
There are several methods of using these pieces to make a pattern, which I use depending on which is easiest at the time.
1. Use the test garment pieces as the pattern.
You can use these pieces as your pattern (check for regular width seam allowances). Lay them on your fabric to mark or cut around.
2. Trace the test garment to make a new pattern.
There are basically two methods of tracing :
– what is being traced onto lays over what is being traced from.
– what is being traced onto lays under what is being traced from.
2a. In the first method, what you trace onto needs to be paper/material that is semi-transparent. Lay that paper/material over what you want to trace from, and trace through/ mark the underlying lines onto the covering paper/fabric :
– for both front and back : cover the test garment piece with tracing paper and trace around the stitching lines.
– fold each tracing in half along the centre line, and mark the best average of the left and right stitching lines (use a ruler or french curve to straighten wobbly lines).
– add seam allowances to the stitching lines.
And there you are 😀
2b. The second method of tracing uses dressmaker’s carbon paper and a tracing wheel.
There is a post on using these tools. I confess I prefer using a blunt tracing wheel on both fabric and paper/card. I don’t like using spikes on fabric, and on paper/card I can see a line of marks much better than a line of holes.
Lay the paper/material you want to trace onto on your (well protected) working surface, lay the carbon paper face down on to that, then the item with the lines you want to trace from (which again may be paper or fabric) over that.
Wheel the tracing wheel firmly along the lines to be traced, and marks will be transferred from the carbon paper to what is under it.
I have had mixed success with this technique.
I dislike using a spiked tracing wheel, and have little success with one.
I get on better with a smooth tracing wheel, using one to mark onto paper or card. I have had less success with trying to mark onto fabric.
3. Make the same alterations to the original pattern as you made to the test garment.
(not a cut-on sleeve pattern piece) I have sloping shoulders. When I sloped the shoulder of this pattern, I needed to add in a strip to restore the armhole edge of this yoke to its original length, so the armhole and sleeve cap lengths matched up.
If a test garment pattern piece does not lie flat, or is not symmetrical – or the changes needed are so radical, or the altered test garment has become such a mess – you may need to make another test garment, to test the revised pattern.
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The posts in this group on cut-on sleeve tops are :
1. The pattern.
2A. Reasons to make a test garment.
2B. Making a test garment, and adjusting for fit and preferences.
2C. An example of a changed pattern, plus how to revise your pattern – this post.
3. Making a cut-on sleeve top.
The third post initially included a section making variations. Then that section was separated off. That too became very long so has now been divided in three sections. And the suggestions are no longer limited just to changing cut-on sleeve tops.
Variations A. Change style elements.
Variations B. Pullover top to jacket/ shirt.
Variations C. Using textile skills.
There is also a variations post in another group of patterns, which focusses on varying a dress pattern, particularly changing the length, and adding a front opening (there is more on this in Variations B above). That post is here.
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