Friday, August 26, 2011

Monique Dress - Tired of Muslin!

Bonne nuit!

I worked some more on my Monique dress. The problem I had was that when the dress is pined on me and I cross my arms in front, it's pulling fiercely in the back.
  • I tried adding width at the center back seam. I sew a strip of fabric with evenly spaced row of stitches so my husband would be able to pin following the same distance from top to bottom. I figured the center back (CB) seam need to stay on grain. But it didn't work: armholes and back neckline where gaping and wrinkling at the top even when my arms where at my sides...
Gaping back neckline
  • I removes fabric from the front of the armholes (leaving the side seam intact) and redrew the curve, sans French curve ruler... (Note to self, buy one!) ; it has improved matter significantly.
  • Then, I measured my real apex and moved the waist dart accordingly.
back view, with redrawn armholes
back view, with redrawn armholes
  • I redrew my pattern piece on a new piece of paper for readability!! It was starting to be quite chaotic...
chaotic front bodice pattern piece

last front bodice pattern piece
I  tried to use Diane as my stunt double but I think she is not enough like me to do the final fitting and tweaking... She is awesome for general length, width and hemming though! She will need to be properly padded to be closer to my figure...

Then I cut the dress's bodice and waistband pieces in my fashion fabric (hey hey! I used the same fabric as my muslin, my inexpensive 3$/m super raspberry mystery fabric!) But I have some bad puckers on my darts end...

All 4 darts have protruding points

Even worst from the side or the top!

I tried to shorten the side dart, but it was not a good idea ; it created excess fabric on the side of my bust. Here are my limited ideas to remedy to my boxy puckered dress bodice:
  • I was thinking that my problem might be my poor pressing skills ; I tried using a rolled towel to support my darts. (Note to self, buy a tailor ham!) That looked better but didn't remove the puckers.
  • I could try to angled the side dart to create a dart that goes up on my bust (french dart, is it?) or a curved dart - I thought that the puckers might be due to the proximity of the 2 darts points or their big sizes?!? The curved or French darts are supposed to be better looking on busty damsel. But I'm not quite sure how to do it...
  • Or I could try to divide my big side dart into multiple darts ; darts cluster. Or remove some width from the side dart and put it in the waist dart, then divide the waist dart into 2 to 3 smaller ones... But I'm not sure it will solve my problem if my poor pressing or drafting skills are to blame!?!
  • I found information on how to move my side dart into an armscye dart and slash through it all to create a smooth princess seam. I'm tempted by this one - that would remove my square darts tips problem. But it will modify the simple design and look of the dress, no?
What should I do?
Any ideas why I failed with my quadruple nipples-darts bodice?


  1. I'm no expert, but first of all, in the first picture, it looks like the center back seam is off center. It looks like it is too far to the left. Secondly, you talk about changing the shape of the armhole. Changing the shape of the armhole is very complicated, and should be left to an expert sewer who is knowledgeable in the area of pattern drafting. The armhole shape must fit with the shape of the sleeve cap. I suggest you change the armscye back to the original shape. To get the back to feel wide enough, the first thing you need to do s determine the degree to which you have a round back and adjust the pattern if necessary. It's too complicated to relay here, but a good book on fitting should tell you how to do this. The second most important thing is to measure your shoulder slope and compare it to the shoulder slope of the pattern and adjust the pattern, if necessary. Again it's too detailed to discuss here, but this should resolve your feeling that the back is too narrow. Refer to a good book on fitting and alteration. A book or DVD by Cynthia Guffey will explain this. If this doesn't solve the problem, slash the back pattern piece from the shoulder to the waist and spread. Create a shoulder dart to take up the extra fabric so that the back shoulder seam is the same length as the front one. I'm not sure if you're talking about puckering along the bust dart seam, or too much fabric at the end of the dart. If it's puckering along the seam, adjust the stitch length and see if it isn't better. Try a new machine needle, and be careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew. Also, be sure to "sandwich press," or press the seam flat before pressing to one side. I hope this is of some help, and I wish you good luck with your project. I'm sure the dress will be beautiful when you finish it.

  2. Thank you for your comments! I will look into the off centered back seam and possible necessity to adjust the back...

    The dress has no sleeves. So I figured the armholes modification could be harmless and easier...

    I will look for new books about fitting and drafting ; I borrowed everything I could from my local library, but I haven't seen one by Cynthia Guffey yet...

    I tried spreading at the center back seam (not slashing between the shoulder and waist seam) ; should this have the same effect?

    It didn't do it for me, but perhaps I needed more afterward, like a round or sway back adjustment?!? With a back shoulder dart?!? I'm not sure if my back has a shape that needs attention yet...

    I'm a native French speaker so maybe my choice of the word pucker was not right ; I meant that the point of it stick out in a weird and boxy way - sewing the dart on a slight curve and good pressing seems to solve that as a friend from a Sewing Facebook Group I belong to suggested. I will post about it next...

    Thanks again for your comments!