Off the Rack ~ A Review of Vogue Pattern V8998, Part I

It’s been way too long since my last sewing post. This week I have a pretty big one—a review of the Vogue V8998 pattern, which features a custom fit option of cup sizes A, B, C, and D.

vogue v8998The design I opted for is letter B (upper right teal illustration), which is what the model is wearing.

Now, as we all know, cup letters mean nothing without knowing the band size, but the Vogue method of selecting cup size is actually not too far off from the way bras work. Each cup size corresponds to the difference between your bust at the fullest point and your “high bust” (“Measure across the back, high up under the arm, and across top of bust”). The only difference is it tells you to measure your upper instead of underbust, which I think is dumb since people who are fuller on top will have a smaller difference than someone less full on top, even if they wear the same bra size.

In any case, each letter corresponds to an inch difference, so A is one inch, B is two, C is three, and D is four. This is one of the most basic starting points to figure out your proper bra size—each inch difference between your underbust and bust = one cup size.

Of course, women are capable of having a bigger difference than four inches, but you can compensate somewhat by choosing bigger cup pattern pieces for the bodice and tapering them closer to the waistband—though I would recommend trying this with cheap muslin before you cut out your actual fabric of choice. Then you can use the perfected muslin pieces as your pattern pieces instead of Vogue’s paper pattern.

I, of course, was too impatient for all that, so I just went straight for the D cups. As for dress size, do not even consider your normal dress size. You must follow the instructions. My measurements correspond to halfway between 14 and 16 even though I generally wear an 8 in off-the-rack clothing. I went with the 14 because I usually go with the smaller size when I’m in between, but the safer bet would be to size up since you can just sew it with more seam allowance to shrink it down a smidge.

Unfortunately, I now wish I had taken the time for a muslin, because I’m going to be taking the dress almost completely apart in order to make the necessary changes. So in this post, I’m only sharing with you how the dress looks now and what I want to edit.

First up, some shots when I was putting the bodice together:

As you can see, it’s exceedingly boxy on me. It was starting out way too wide for my frame.

As you can see, it’s exceedingly boxy on me. It was starting out way too wide for my frame.

From the side, you can see that the fabric doesn’t curve under my bust at all—a major pet peeve of mine. I don’t want ski slop boobs!

From the side, you can see that the fabric doesn’t curve under my bust at all—a major pet peeve of mine. I don’t want ski slope boobs!

Here it is from the back.

Here it is from the back.

And here’s how much it can overlay on itself—that’s nearly three inches per side. Of course it would be pulled together more with a zipper, but not enough to compensate for this.

And here’s how much it can overlay on itself—that’s nearly three inches per side. Of course it would be pulled together more with a zipper, but not enough to compensate for this.

So I wasn’t crazy about it at that point, and I actually did take it apart and sew all the seams closer in to basically shrink the whole thing. But it’s still not great in the end. Here’s the finished dress, fully lined and with the zipper installed:

IMG_3226 combined

I used lightweight cotton for the dress and the lining. It doesn’t look too bad from far away, but the fit issues are obvious in person. Overall, the bodice, which in addition to the lining has interfacing, is too stiff. Next time I make this, I’ll skip the interfacing. The skirt feels way too heavy and I would prefer it a little shorter, so next time I won’t line the skirt portion at all and will cut off a couple inches from the bottom.

The bottom of the waistband feels tight while the top of it is loose. I also think the princess seams are too far out to the sides. In fact, the straps feel too far out to the sides too.

The bottom of the waistband feels tight while the top of it is loose. I also think the princess seams are too far out to the sides. In fact, the straps feel too far out to the sides too.

Again, here you can see the ski slope shape on the underside of my bust. Not a fan.

Again, here you can see the ski slope shape on the underside of my bust. Not a fan.

And here you can see the looseness above the waistband—even though the waistband fits!

And here you can see the looseness above the waistband—even though the waistband fits!

The back, where I think the too-wide straps are more clear.

The back, where I think the too-wide straps are more clear.

Pinching along the princess seams to show how much excess empty space there is under my breasts along my ribcage.

Pinching along the princess seams to show how much excess empty space there is under my breasts along my ribcage.

Since I adore this fabric and I don’t have any more left, I’m determined to salvage this dress. So I’m going to be taking it all apart except for the individual skirt panels.

For the bodice, I’m going to first remove the lining because all this work has to be done to both the outer fabric and the lining so they match up. If the interfacing is coming up at all, I may try to peel it off too. I’ll sew the princess seams and the back seams to have more seam allowance, which will bring in the width overall. This will narrow the shoulders a bit and move the princess seams to a more appropriate spot. I may also try to sew the underbust princess seam curve into a sharper angle so that it actually curves under my bust.

I will leave the interfacing on the waistband because I want that part to remain stiff, so it doesn’t bunch up when worn.

For the skirt, I’m going to remove the lining and sew a zig-zag stich on the raw edges to keep them from fraying too much. If I had a serger, I would use that. Honestly, this skirt was a massive pain in the ass. It requires something like twelve individual panels. They’re easy to sew together, but they use up so much fabric and take forever to cut out. Next time, I’m using skirt D/E/F, which is a more basic, gathered design. It requires eight pieces, but they can be cut out in half the time by folding the fabric in half and cutting two of the same piece at a time. You can’t do that with skirt design A/B/C because they aren’t symmetrical pieces.

This pattern is a “Vogue Easy Option,” but I’m not sure I’d agree with that, especially in the large cup size. It’s a fairly basic-looking dress, but the bodice features some seriously curvy pieces that are hard to match up, and the time commitment of the skirt takes it out of “easy” into “intermediate” territory, in my opinion.

It’s also clear to me that even the big cup option is still not really well-designed. I don’t need every garment to adhere to my every curve, but it’s just not flattering to have this much empty space under the bust. It’s like the pattern designers think women are shaped like a scalene triangle from the side when we’re really more like an angled teardrop.

Not my boob in profile.

Not my boob in profile.

My boob in profile.

My boob in profile.

I already have fabric on hand for my next attempt at this dress (it’s avocado print!), but I’m going to do a muslin first next time, so I can play around and make the straps and bodice narrower and more fitted.

 

Best Breasts Forward ~ Drum Roll Please

After reading all of your comments and giving myself one vote, the dress I will be buying and reviewing from Pepperberry’s newest line will be…image

It’ll be a couple weeks before I get it but I’m very excited!

 

 

 

 

 

Big Bust Prominence . . . Experimenting with a Polka Dot Boatneck

My friend gave me a polka dot dress a few months ago, and I wore it for the first time on Easter Sunday. It was a pretty cool day, and since I didn’t have the perfect jacket or sweater to wear over the dress, I wore one of my button fronts under it. I was so pleased with myself that I took this picture afterwards . . . and got a shock at how prominent my boobs were.

big bust neckline polka dot rolled sleeves front

They were much more dominant in the photo than they had seemed in the mirror that morning. After mulling it over, I came up with three observations:

  1. Other busty women do fine with boatnecks–Miriam Baker likes the way they balance her out. But every time I try a  boatneck, I look bustier.
  2. Using sleeves to avoid grouping my boobs with my waistline didn’t work any magic with this neckline. At best, it only neutralized the effect of so much fabric above my chest. All the fabric on top (including the added collar) makes me look like I’m hanging low, but at least the sleeves show how much lower I could go.
  3. This is very thin, super stretchy fabric, and it has to stretch the most at my bustline, which makes the print around my chest bigger there than anywhere else.

I couldn’t do anything about the neckline or the print, but look what happened when I got rid of all that extra fabric from the shirt.

big bust prominence better with less fabricMy boobs are still front and center, but they look more lifted, and I look slimmer without all that cluttery fabric.

Since layering underneath isn’t an option anymore, what happens when I layer above? I found this knit Calvin Klein jacket on sale at Macy’s last week and thought it would be perfect. A jacket definitely reduces boob prominence.

reduce boob prominence but jacket too longUnfortunately, this jacket also makes me look frumpy–a common issue for busty women. I mentioned this problem to my stylish friend Carol last week, and she said that length is often the culprit. It certainly is here. Look what happened when I pinned up the hem.

reduce boob prominence with jacket but remember proportionI should have learned this lesson from my Express jacket experience, but I guess I need to be hit over the head a couple of times before something sinks in.

This isn’t the last you’ll be seeing of this dress. That bare neckline is just begging for a necklace, and I’m going to show you my discoveries on that front as soon as I make them.

 

 

Best Breasts Forward ~ You choose, I buy

Every time Pepperberry comes out with a new line I struggle considering whether or not to buy before there are a substantial amount of reviews. Unfortunately once those reviews are out many sizes are taken. Recently it occurred to me that I’m not helping out fully unless I’m also trying out these clothes early. After all, I’m supposed to be helping y’all right?

So after much consideration I’ve decided that you all will get to decide what dress I purchase and review from Pepperberry’s summer collection. Here are your optionsimage image image image image

 

So here we go! You all get to weigh in on what dress you’d like me to buy and review.

Let the games begin!