Peony Alterations – A Closer Look

October 22, 2012

Now that I’ve revealed my final Peony muslin, I wanted to share a bit of the process on how I finally reached a decent fit.

It was clear after my first muslin attempt that the darts were totally not shaped for me and would need some serious re-arranging. This is something I’ve never had to do before so I wasn’t even sure where to start! There are a ton of resources out there that could have made this easier for me, but I wanted to see if I could come to a solution on my own. I love problem solving and I sometimes like to do things the hard way first in order to truly learn the lesson. …I was one of those annoying “no I wanna do it!!!” kind of kids who had the best intentions of being independent before making the biggest messes. Hahah! Anyways…

I know that the apex of a dart is supposed to end at the dead center point of your breast. So I started by trying on my original failed Peony muslin and marking that dead center point with some tailor’s chalk. Then I took off the dress and laid it flat on my sewing table. I took my traced pattern and placed it over top of the dress to transfer that point I marked.

On a side note: When I mentioned before I have never worked with a Colette PDF pattern before, I was totally lying. I completely forgot I had made a Sorbetto once upon a time! PDF patterns are kind of annoying to tape together, but the bright white paper makes tracing them much easier!

You can see above that I cut the original pattern piece at the lengthen/shorten line so I could add two inches to the bodice length. Then I found the point that I thought to be the ideal dart apex and simply rotated the bottom bodice darts out towards that point. I used the same bottom opening points and used my ruler to connect those opening points to the new dart apex point. I realize this isn’t the correct method to rotate darts, but as I mentioned, I wanted to try these alterations MY way first.

Once I had the bottom darts re-positioned, I moved the bust darts up and made them shorter by simply moving the pattern piece up and over under my tracing paper, then re-traced the exact same dart. After I had the bodice pattern re-traced with the new darts, I pinned them together and checked the new shape.

On the left you can see my newly traced pattern piece, and even though this was a very rough indication of what the finished dress might look like, I could tell immediately the darts were much more flattering! Once the front looked to be on the right track, I moved to the back and tried to calculate how much I’d have to take in the back darts to correct the massive gap at the neck. I did this by folding in the dart some more and measuring that fold (about a half inch on either dart).

My original half inch dart adjustment was STILL not enough to fix the gap so I ended up taking them in another half inch by just sewing along the original dart. You can see my original attempt at altered darts in brown thread, and the second attempt in the pale yellow thread. My darts point outward on the bodice instead of down because I took in the extra half inch of fabric from just one side of the dart instead of centering the half inch adjustment over the apex.

I ended up adding these little tuck things to the front neckline as well because the more I took in the back neckline darts, the more the front gaped! Which made sense, but was really annoying. I also ended up doing a narrow shoulder adjustment following this tutorial.

Here’s a better photo of just how short the bust darts ended up!

Now that I see how much the waist darts were rotated out, it seems awkward to picture them pointing straight up at such a narrow width!

For the skirt I used only the front pattern piece and cut it out on the fold three times. I wanted a way fuller skirt and I definitely got it! The use of three pieces brought the pockets more to the front than the sides, but it actually feels more natural for them to be there.

So all in all, those alterations were a pain in the butt and I would much rather just find a pattern that’s a closer fit right out of the package rather than mess with dart placement. However, at least now I have a better idea on HOW to do dart adjustments if I ever need to in the future.

My trial and error dart altering method worked well, but definitely isn’t the best (or most professional) method to use. Sunni has a fantastic tutorial for moving and rotating darts that I will most definitely be referring to in the future!! Now that I’ve learned the hard way, it’s best to know the right way 😉

I’m debating if I want to make this dress a second time in my Ghastlie fabric, but honestly I don’t think I like the shape of this dress THAT much. So I think this is it for me and the Peony sew-along as far as dress construction goes!

On Wednesday I’ll be sharing a guest post written by the lovely Miss Lauren, who also had some Peony fitting issues but dominated them like the true sewing super star she is!

Stay tuned 🙂