Best Breasts Forward ~ Ummm No Thank You

I (Darlene) have been pestering Mia to write about this jacket since I wrote about it in February. The dress she really wanted to review today is at the drycleaner, so she has finally agreed to write about the jacket instead. You’ll understand her lack of enthusiasm when you read what she has to say.

There are times when the ladies here at Hourglassy disagree. Things that may be flattering on an F may look down right awful on a J.  In many ways it’s just the nature of the business and the bust.

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This jacket looked so great on Darlene that she thought sizing up, it’d look equally as great on me. But all busts are not built the same.

I hated this jacket on me. As a rule , I am not one to favor horizontal stripes. It makes me look even wider than my waist already is. But the main issue I want to point out is that even though I’d sized up to accommodate my bust, the jacket still doesn’t fit. If you look at where the button hits on my body and the way the stripes lay, you can see that it’s a completely different look on me than it is on Darlene.

This week I just wanted to demonstrate that sizing up is not always the answer.

 

 

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More Big Bust Experimenting with that Polka Dot Neckline

There is so much to cover in the D+ Dressing workshop that I’m leading in three weeks. One very basic subject is necklines, but it isn’t anything so simple as “never wear crewnecks” or “always wear V-necks”. It isn’t even as simple as “don’t wear a lot of fabric above your chest” vs. “expose as much skin as you can”, although that’s a helpful generalization that I set out to demonstrate when I stretched out the neckline on my Polka dot dress.

big bust neckline stretching exerciseIf all things were equal–i.e., the waistline didn’t rise when I scrunched the neckline and the fabric didn’t stretch even more tightly around my breasts–I think it’s safe to say that the middle and right images look more balanced. According to The Triumph of Individual Style, “you can wear  any neckline or collar style as long as it makes the head appear in balance with the upper body. To do this, at least two things must be included in the design of the neckline or collar:

  1. A neckline opening or the collar construction needs to be at least as wide as the widest part of your face.
  2. A neckline or collar opening or some detail of the collar treatment needs to fall at a balance point in the upper body.”

The unmodified neckline on the left only meets the first requirement, but the modified necklines meet both requirements. I’ve always concentrated on necklines that fall at my low balance point, but when I reviewed the steps for finding my high balance point, I understood why the middle neckline is also balancing.

how to find high balance point 1

Imagine tracing a shape from the widest part of one one side of your face around your jawline and chin up to the widest part of the other side of your face.

how to find high balance point 2

Repeat the shape at your shoulder line. The bottom point of the shape is your high balance point.

But the Triumph of Individual Style authors said that ANY neckline should work if it can meet these requirements, and my two modifications removed this dress from bateau territory. Here’s how a busty woman can get a boatneck to work for her.

“What if a neckline opening is above your second balance point? If the neckline opening is as wide as your face but is above your second balance point, note how much farther above it is, then widen the neckline that same distance on each side of the opening.

I didn’t believe it would work, but I had to try it. My high balance point falls about two inches below the center of my clavicle. The neckline of the Polka dot dress falls only one inch below it. I pulled out my seam ripper and tore away one inch from either side of the neckline. Here are the results.

high point neckline remedyPretty neat, huh? Evidently more skin, whether it’s exposed below or out from our necks, helps to balance our heads with our chests. It seems like a variation of the grouping principle. The more skin (or design elements) we can group with our heads (in keeping with our balance points), the more balanced our heads will appear in relation to our chests.

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:

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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!