3 of 5
First fitting. After much consideration, and some careful measuring, I decided to have a go at draping the shell top directly onto Jackie. Eeek! She’d taken my advice and bought a very well-fitting bra, and also remembered to wear it to each fitting [I’d have biffed her if she hadn’t lol]
She turned up with several treats, which was lovely [I told you she’s very generous] and also a gorgeous vintage sari she’d snagged on eBay. She looked quite worried when she gave it to me, as if I would tell her off if it didn’t match her fabrics…bless! As it turned out, it was absolutely PERFECT. Laid out across the other fabrics, it completely unified the entire look. A quick burn test showed it to be pure silk. Great! I started cogitating.
You know I have no training whatsoever, and just go on common sense, and a bit of gleaning from bits I’ve read here and there online. I basically tore two rectangles of cloth of a suitable length and width, and started pinning at the shoulders. The back was easy enough, a couple of narrow darts at the waist were sufficient for a neat fit. On to the front!
I removed a very shallow curve for the neckline, reasoning that we could lower it at a later stage, and just started pinning and tucking to smooth excess fabric away, and trying to aim for all suppression to fall along the lines of princess seams. It worked fairly well, although the natural asymmetry which I’d expected was greater than I thought. Large busts have a marked effect on posture over time, and often shows in some upper back curvature or one shoulder higher than the other. Jackie has a very small frame, and it took great care to aim at making the garment look as symmetrical as possible. We discussed this as I pinned, and Jackie was able to see the effects of slight changes. All very mathematically interesting to me!
After the toile got to a decent point, I took it apart, trued it up a bit, and cut a new version. You can see here how left and right side are very different.
While I was at it, I used an old bridesmaid dress pattern to toile the skirt, very rough and ready- I just cut the gored, princess line skirt off the dress at a point where the waistline matched Jackie’s measurements, and adjusted the length. I find these classic bridesmaid dress patterns give a beautifully full, flared skirt, with more width at the back, as they often allow for a trained effect.
It looked great, with great swoosh and swing. I suggested using the sari fabric to insert godets, making the skirt even more flared. Jackie couldn’t quite visualise the effect, so I opened up a couple of seams, and rough-pinned the sari to the inside. She loved the look, and we established how high she wanted the godets to go.
The second try of the top toile needed a few more adjustments, and I started to see the issues stemming from one shoulder being higher and narrower than the other. I took a bit here, added some there, played about, then decided that it wasn’t going to be feasible to get a perfectly close-fitting top without recourse to stretch fabric, or internal boning, neither of which were options we planned to use. Averages, and best fit to the rescue. More maths on the go!
I got there eventually, including trimming away at the neckline to get the look she wanted, and shortening the top a little, then decided we were good to go with the actual fabrics. Off Jackie went, and we pencilled in a 2nd session as soon as feasible.