#SEWTALLANDCREATIVE2017 Design Challenge – Construction & Fitting

Welcome to the third post in the #SEWTALLANDCREATIVE2017 Design Challenge. The challenge is hosted by The Tall Guides and Marge Clothing with the intention of inspiring more tall women to sew. As you may know, I’m 5’11” and one of the reasons I love sewing so much is that I’m able to make clothes that actually fit my body. Shopping can be distressing and disheartening when clothes don’t fit. But sewing is a really empowering way to create your own wardrobe and skip those awful store dressing rooms. For this design challenge, I was tasked with sewing a spring/summer dress using two fabrics from a bundle donated by Marge Clothing. Last time, I shared my process for selecting fabrics and a pattern and had narrowed it down to two options. Today I’ll be sharing some of my construction process (including fitting!). Read the first two posts here and here.

It didn’t take me too long to settle on the tropical print lace and dark purple chiffon paired with vintage Simplicity 5850. (I think I picked this up at a thrift store many years ago but I did a quick search on Etsy and it seems to be readily available. Remember these are single size patterns so you’ll want to make sure you buy the correct size.) I decided to sew view 2 with the v-neck and maxi length, but without the sleeves. Also, since the lace tropical print fabric is a little see through, I will be adding a lining.

After selecting fabrics and a pattern, the next step is fitting. Most people will need to do make some adjustments to a pattern to obtain a perfect fit. And if you’re taller than average it’s extra important to check the fit. After finding where my bust, waist and hips fall in the size range, I take a look at the length of the garment. I will check where in the length of the garment the bust point, waistline and hips are located. I carry a lot of my height in my torso so in addition to the length of the skirt, I often need to add length to the bodice. This pattern has a seam line under the bust and I want to get the placement of that seam just right. One of my biggest pet peeves back when I used to shop more often was that the under bust seam would always hit right in the middle of my bust. So unflattering and uncomfortable. Plus, as all tall gals know, there’s (usually) no way to alter a RTW to make it longer.

The first thing I did was to test the fit using the pattern itself. I pinned the tissue pattern pieces together and carefully tried them on. Conveniently this vintage pattern has the seam allowance marked on the pattern so tissue fitting was really easy . Of course tissue fitting won’t show you how the actual fabric would drape but it will give you a really good idea of where the seam lines will land on your body. I was surprised how well the bodice fit right away. I only needed to add a little length. I traced the bodice pattern pieces, adding 5/8” to the length of the bodice

Next, I used my lining fabric to make a quick muslin. (This is one of my favorite time saving methods.) I cut the bodice out of the lining then stitched the darts and shoulder seams, and basted the side seams. I tried on the bodice (wearing the bra that I intend to wear with the dress) and decided I wanted just a smidgen more length.

Because it’s just a little bit I’m going to make those changes in the seam allowance and not recut the lining. I decided to make the seam allowance 1/2” at the shoulder and 3/8” at the under bust. So that I don’t forget, I made notes on the pattern. While I was wearing the lining bodice, I held a tape measure up to my side to determine how long I want the dress to be. I’m envisioning a full maxi length and to reach my ankle bone the skirt will need to be 45”.

The next step was to cut out the bodice from the fashion fabric. I stitched up the bodice pieces and set them aside for now. Next, I cut the skirt pieces. Surprisingly, the pattern was exactly 45” long. The previous owner had cut off about 12” of it but had thankfully saved those pieces. I had JUST ENOUGH fabric to cut the skirt 45” long. Fingers crossed it will be long enough! I will likely have to make a very narrow hem and wear flats but I think it will do. The skirt flares a lot so I even had to narrow it a little bit towards the hem so fit it on the fabric. Last night, I pieced the skirt pieces and finished the seams with pinking shears.

Next, I need add my second fabric, the dark purple chiffon. I’m planning to do a 1/4” flat piping treatment around the neckline, armholes and under the bust. I did a little test and really like the result. The trickiest part will be the V-neck on the bodice. I’m practicing the V-neck and hoping that I’ll get it just perfect. I will baste the flat piping to the bodice then attached the lining to the bodice and insert the zipper. Then hem the skirt and I will be all done. I will be posting the final garment on May 20 so stay tuned for more. Make sure to check out my design challenge competitors. I’m pretty excited to see what everyone comes up with. It was really hard to choose between all of these great fabrics.

Tiffany: Pretty Tall Sew ‘n’ Sew, 5’11 from Jackson, Mississippi, USA
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Janet: DIY Wardrobe, 5’10 from West Midlands, UK
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Allison: The Tall Mama, 6’0 from Australia
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If you’re a tall gal yourself, check out the #sewingtall hashtag on instagram to meet other tall sewists and check out the Tall Guides for a supportive community of tall women.