Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-Long: Day 5

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Find the rest of the Sew-a-Long series here!

Finally – the end is in sight! Once you are finished, don’t forget to share a photo of your finished Mandarin Shirt in the Jailyn Apparel Flickr Group!

For this step you will need:

  • Mandarin pattern instructions
  • Your personal, adjusted Mandarin pattern
  • Final garment fabric, recommended is shirting with 2-3% Spandex. I discussed options and which fabric I chose in the intro post
  • Interfacing (1 1/4 yards)
  • OPTIONAL: Pellon ShirTailor Interfacing for the collar (1/4 yard should be enough). I used this and found it helped my collar stay nice and stiff!
  • Notions (matching thread, buttons, etc)
  • Iron + Ironing board

Since you have already assembled a preliminary version of your Mandarin top, this part should be quite easy! I found it went much more quickly than my muslin did and I felt more confident assembling it.

One thing I really loved were all of the instructions regarding finishing work. The Mandarin instructions include all of the small steps to do along the way in order to create a shirt that looks incredible inside AND out! I mean, just look at these seams!

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Truly no detail is overlooked. I usually cringe at the inside of me-made garments because they look SO homemade. But the Mandarin, apart from my slightly crooked seams, I think could pass as store-bought! It is the nicest-looking garment I have ever made (and I made my own wedding dress)!

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Are there mistakes? Definitely. My tailoring skills need work! I wouldn’t want to go up against Darlene in a shirt making competition, that’s for sure 🙂 But for my first try, I am QUITE pleased.

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Small fitting note: Remember the last, final adjustment I made to my fitting muslin? I took in the side of the top bodice and bicep of the sleeve just a bit. I opted not to make this adjustment on my final garment, as I thought it looked fine without it and I didn’t want it to be too tight across the bust. After seeing these photos though, I’ll probably go back and take it in. It would make the fit closer to that of the other Mandarins I’ve seen in the Flickr group, as well as alleviate some of the bagginess in the back! What do you think?

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I was surprised at how much I LOVE pairing this top with my denim vest! I love the vibe, and the contrasting collar shapes are super fun to show off. I am excited to find more ways to work this into my weekly wardrobe rotation! (On a completely unrelated note: am I the only person who struggles to know what to do with skinnies+booties? Cuff them? Tuck them in?? I can never decide and now that ankle flashing is making me doubt my decision. Haha!)

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this top. I already have plans to sew up a formal version for a fancy work event I’ll be attending with my husband this fall! And I think a gingham casual version would be so much fun. The Mandarin pattern from Jailyn Apparel is a quality piece. Jodi’s tutorial leaves nothing out – it is quite thorough and easy to understand. And as you can see, following the tutorial results in a beautifully tailored, exquisitely finished top that fits you like a glove. It is a pattern worth owning!

Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-long: Day 4

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Find the rest of the Sew-a-Long series here!

Are you ready for the 4th installment of the Mandarin top?! Fitting can be intimidating. Just remember to go slow, take it one step at a time, and do tiny adjustments until you get it where you want it to be! And don’t over-fit! If you try to get a garment to lie completely flat with zero wrinkles, chances are you won’t have enough wearing ease left and it’ll be terribly uncomfortable. There are many great articles on the internet that can help you learn how to fit! Even if you’re nervous, go ahead and give it a try. Hands on experience is the best teacher 🙂

For this step you will need:

  • Mandarin pattern instructions
  • Both fabric AND paper pattern pieces
  • Sewing machine + thread + scissors + pencil
  • Pins or Wonder clips (my favorite!)
  • Seam gauge, measuring tape
  • Full length mirror or camera w/self timer to check the fit
  • Seam ripper!

First, assemble your shirt according to pattern instructions. They are really terrific! I love the illustrations of each step. And I was pleasantly surprised by how easily and quickly the top came together! Truly the most time consuming part of this pattern is the fitting. But that’s the whole point of sewing for yourself, isn’t it?
It was a dream working with all of these pattern pieces – they aligned perfectly. I imagine this is why quilting is satisfying for so many people….everything fitting together so nicely! I am an extremely sub-par quilter, so quilts don’t really do it for me, but I LOVE a well-cut, non-slippery woven clothing pattern!

As mentioned before, for the muslin I omitted the collar and cuffs. I even omitted the buttons and buttonholes at first, but I did add them in later.

Once it’s together, try the top on. I pinned together the buttonhole markings for the initial fittings.

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If you need fitting adjustments, take note, and fix one at a time. From this fitting, I could see that I needed to: [Read more…]

More Sewing, Coming Soon!

Hello dear readers! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. But I have some excellent news….

I unearthed my long-lost Mandarin shirt pattern pieces!!!

We stayed in over Memorial Day weekend and deep-cleaned our house, and that’s when I finally found them. Buried in a box. In my husband’s office. Why?? Who knows!

In case you’ve forgotten what the Mandarin looks like, here is the photo from the Jailyn website! I haven’t quite finished mine up yet. Stay tuned 🙂

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I am so thrilled to be back on track for finishing that top. If you want to join me – check out the Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-long post for all of the pattern and fabric details, as well as the first 3 tutorials (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). I’ll have the 4th tutorial posted next week, all about the completed muslin and adjustments to make for the final pattern.

I also have some more sewing to show you soon…I want to tell you all about my favorite Indie Pattern Company, Patterns for Pirates! Judy Hale, the pattern designer, has a gorgeous hourglass figure and drafts her patterns to accommodate curves. I haven’t had to do a full-bust adjustment yet! Stay tuned for my reviews of their Slim-Fit Raglan and Sweet Tee tops. They are both fantastic beginner patterns, with gratifying fit results!

Judy is also releasing a new swimwear pattern this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited….just look at these sneak peeks for the Take The Plunge one-piece that Judy posted to the P4P Facebook group:

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Wrap front, nipped in waist, low rise bottoms, multiple strap options…It is literally everything I have been longing for in a one piece. And since Judy made the pattern, I’m confident it will have room for my breasts, too! Can’t wait to try it out and let you know how it goes 🙂

ETA: The swimsuit pattern has been released! They had SO MANY testers of all shapes and sizes, and I am in AWE of how fabulous it looks on all body types! You seriously need to scroll through the image gallery. Look at how well the swim bra supports some of the larger-busted testers (and that Wonder Woman suit!! All the heart eyes):

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It’s on sale through Monday, no coupon code needed. Buy it here (not an affiliate link, I just love it)! I got mine printed and taped yesterday and am soooooo excited.

Happy summer, and happy sewing! Do you have any exciting projects planned? What curve-friendly patterns do you love?

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.