The making of my bodice block

Making a bodice block

So in my last post I mentioned some sewing demons I have been dealing with. What does that mean? Well, at the beginning of the year I decided to learn more about the elusive 'perfect fit'. Although this has been on my mind since starting sewing around 3 years ago, certain things never bothered me when I first starting out. I was just so excited about having made something I could actually wear it didn't matter that parts of it weren't quite right. Now however, I'd like to change that. As far as my skills thus far can take me at least! 

What sounds so demoney (totally a word) about that? Well, I have found over the last few months that I've had to make several muslins to try to get everything right on any new bodice I try that I kept getting frustrated - every time I fixed something, something else would not be quite right. This led to me continually throwing in the towel and starting something else. Or worse, not sewing for a while. 

Over the Christmas period I had a break from selfish sewing and made resents for my family which actually worked out quite well. It meant I didn't get so frustrated as I chose easy to fit projects and they weren't for me so didn't have my seemingly ridiculous fitting issues to contend with anyway! 

Pattern cutting books - my new obsession! 

Pattern cutting books - my new obsession! 

Tools of the trade - a sharp HB pencil is a MUST!

Tools of the trade - a sharp HB pencil is a MUST!

So, after this little break I got stuck in and started constructing my bodice block. I used the Craftsy course to get started and haven't looked back! You begin my making a moulage based around your measurements and then construct this out of muslin to test the fit. After my months of failed attempts to get anything right, I went into the fitting stage assuming it wouldn't fit at all - but it did! After this, you make the actual bodice block adding extra little bits here and there. 

Bodice block tracing wheel

So armed with my new bodice block I began drafting a basic dress using the block. First and foremost I wanted to double check the fit (I was still convinced it wouldn't fit!). I was also inspired by one of my recent purchases Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. She has a basic bodice block dress with an A-line skirt which I thought I give it a bash using my personal block but adding in her A-line skirt. 

My basic bodice block dress. A surprise hit in my wardobe!

My basic bodice block dress. A surprise hit in my wardobe!

I used a gingham fabric that had been sitting in my stash for a good couple of years. It was fairly cheap and I thought it was the only fabric I had on hand that I wouldn't care too much to lose (i.e. when the dress doesn't fit! I'm usually quite a positive person - promise!). 

When I went to try the dress on after the zip had been installed, I was rather pleasantly surprised to see it fit! This was an incredibly happy moment and a happy dance may or may not have taken place in the bathroom. It might seem weird that I was nervous about the fit, especially seeing as it was made to my exact measurements and the moulage fit, but after so many failed attempts I guess my self-depreciating part of my mind got the better of me. 

I wasn't really planning on wearing this dress when I started making it although I did construct it as a wearable toile and finished the inside seams etc. but as soon as I knew it fit I wanted to wear it immediately. I found this interesting because before I thought I might not like the A-line shape on me. I was worried that every lump and bump would show in the waist area as I'm used to thinking that a gathered skirt is better on my shape. But now I'm not so sure. This dress makes me feel quite slim (although I guess I'll probably not binge out on pizza in it - just in case!). Who knew! 

Bias bound neckline

Bias bound neckline

I bound the neck with bias binding to finish it as I hadn't made a facing piece and I've only done this technique once so thought I'd give it a try on this one. The neck is a bit too high for my liking but this was after all only meant to be a toile!

The sleeves are a little too tight, and there is too much ease in the cap but I'm pleased enough to still wear it. I used a tutorial by Threads magazine to draft the sleeves and it was pretty easy to follow. 

Sleeves - need a little work but wearable

Sleeves - need a little work but wearable

Now, although I love this dress, I think the bodice could still do with some work. I'd probably prefer the bust dart to be more angled up towards the bust, and I can't quite tell what needs to be done about the excess fabric near the armholes. But, as I mentioned above, I wanted the perfect fit that I can achieve for my skill level. Right now, this is the 'perfect' fit for me. I think overall that's what I've learnt over this process. I'm getting 'my' perfect fit, not anyone else's. I'm happy with this and that's all that matters. I will still work on improving, I like to think of this as being a marathon, not a sprint. I'm going at my pace and working on the long haul not the short haul. 

I'm enjoying the whole process of playing around with the block and have been inundated with inspiration for different makes. As my twenties start to come to an end I'm really starting to think more about my individual style and what suits my shape. Drafting my own patterns is making me realise what suits me and what I feel comfortable in. As I mentioned already, I really didn't expect this dress to suit me or to feel good. But it does. I'm really looking forward to delving in deeper to the pattern making world and drafting for my me and my style. Watch this space!