Sewing Notes - Butterick 6167 Low bust adjustments


Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Do they hang out near your waist instead of being up by your face? Are they pointing toward the ground while you're walking around town. Do your boobs hang low? Oh yeah, that just happened and you're welcome. Now that we've gotten the juvenile humor out of the way, let's talk about how having a low bust complicates a dress with a bust shelf element.

One could make the argument that those of us with low busts should just pass on this trend. When your bust just rolls off the shelf into the "floor" is there really any reason to put a shelf there in the first place?  The answer for me would have easily been "No!" if I hadn't purchased a Bernie Dexter Paris dress. (Here's a photo of that particular RTW dress.)
Wearing that dress convinced me that girls with low busts can enjoy a bust shelf as long as you mentally relabel it as a rufflely bust dickie. It's there to cover your bust root and fill some your large upper chest area with fluffy goodness. To that I say, "Thumbs up to fluffy goodness. Let's sew some more bust dickies."

To do so we are going to have to brace ourselves for some pattern alterations.  Even on a pattern that offers different cup sizes*, the bust ease is not going to be in the correct place for those of us with "low hanging fruit." To see what I mean, let's take a look at the bust stay piece.
The bust apex is clearly marked more than half way up of the bust shelf with not much shelf height above it. (1.5" to be exact)  From this I can infer that the drafter is expecting there to a lot of breast fullness at the top of the dress.
To give you a colorful mental image of what I'm talking about let's think of the breast as a cupcake. The bust shelf is the ruffled cupcake liner with the top half of the breast, the icing, sitting above it. This is all well and good if your apex matches this point and you have plenty of "icing" to fill out the top of the bodice.  But what does this bodice look like if you have a low bust point?  Or to further our metaphor, your breasts are more like creme filled donuts than cupcakes? (Just as delicious but with less fluff on top) What you are going to get is a bodice with MAJOR gapituts along the top edge of the inset.
Sorry about the poor quality photo but I was a bad girl and threw this muslin alway some time in the last 3 months. You can still see that I have literally inches of extra fabric along the top edge since all my bust fullness in in the lower part of the bodice. What you can't see is that the front part of the lower bodice feels tight because that's where my apex actually is. My face also says, "Crap, I need to do some major fitting work on this pattern."

That muslin might make the pattern look like a lost cause, but never fear because the bust ruching is going to allow us to make an easy fix.  All we really need is elastic!  That's right ladies, we're gonna sew elastic into the upper edge of the bust shelf and make all our problems go away.  Woot, Woot, fitting short cuts!  But first let's make few minor adjustments to the front bodice.

First you can remove a bit of that extra ease at the upper edge by changing the curve of the bust stay. This will keep the lower part of the seam the same width, which is good because your boobs are in that area. On my dress I was also changing the location of the seam, so some of the width removed here was added onto the bodice piece.  (Note - I changed the height of the bust stay for aesthetic reasons, not fitting ones.)
On the lower bodice you'll want to add some extra ease to the princess line seam for your low bust point. I added 1/4" to each side of the seam. (You can also see that I added a bit to the outside curve and changed the length of the bodice. The lengthening was more for portional reasons than bust fitting reasons since my bust won't actually hit the shelf area.)
Then you may want to reduce the width of the bust inset. On this pattern the ruching ration is fairly high on the bust inset. Adding elastic to that area is only going to increase it and it may get poofier than you'd like. Of course this is more of a personal taste than fitting issue, so use your own discretion. On my dress I reduced the inset by making the same curve change to it as was made on the bust stay. Then made the pattern smaller by moving the CF fold line in and cutting off some of the ease. In total I removed 2 3/4" on the half.

To assemble this area follow the pattern instructions for gathering the bust inset, sewing it to the lower bodice and the top edge to the bust stay. Before you do any edge stitching on the top edge, open the bodice like so.
We are going to sew in some 1/4" elastic onto the seam allowance to tighten up the area.  On my dress the inset area was 13" wide without elastic.  I wanted to gather it down to around 10" to get a nice snug fit against my chest.  After much trial and error, meaning sewing and seam ripping, I ended up inserting an 8" long piece of elastic.  Long story short, I recommend basting in the elastic and checking the fit before "really" sewing it in.

The elastic is going to be basted into the seam allowance of the bust inset area. First fold the seam allowances the same way you would for stay stitching. Pin the edges of the elastic near the edge of the bust seam.  I found it's a good idea to baste both ends of the elastic first before attaching all of it.

Stretch the elastic to that it sits flat against the inset and baste it to the seam allowance. At this point try on the dress to see if the upper edge fit is to your liking. If not you can rip out the elastic and try a different length.

Once the you're happy with the elastic length, it can be secured with some edge stitching.  On my dress I edge stitched the entire upper edge of the bodice at once, but you could just do the inset area.
Go back and remove any basting left over. Then press the edge so that the lining rolls toward the inside of the garment

Ta Da! A perfect fitting bodice. See that actually wasn't all that hard to do. Thanks elastic!

* Note about cup sizes on this pattern - The shelf pieces vary 1/4" in height between each cup size but are the same width. I did go with the recommended cup size for my bust, but don't think it's as important for women with low busts.  You could just choose the height of the shelf you prefer the look of the most. 

A sundress just under the wire - Butterick 6167


Oh hi there, where did those almost 3 weeks go? All I remember doing was laying in bed coughing and then decorating for Mr. D's 5th birthday party.  Maybe I happened upon "The Doctor" and some weird timey whimey crap happened and suddenly it's the end of August and I have strange dreams of giant bugs. AHHHHH, AHHHH, get away bee!  In truth I've been suffering from a rather long case of lost sewing mojo this summer. Usually warm weather puts me all in a froth to sew as many dresses as possible before being forced once again to layer in wool. However this summer's mostly been spent knitting said wool and binge watching TV series most people saw years ago. Maybe I just have too many giant stashes of supplies that make me slightly nervous. Gosh darn hoarding gene.

I have been doing a bit of sewing at about a quarter of my usual pace. You might say that Butterick 6167 is a perfect encapsulation of this. A perfectly fine project that was then complicated by second guessing, procrastination and general laziness. In total it took more than 3 months from start of muslining to finished dress. This is honestly terrifying since it's a cute summer dress and I've made lined coats in less time than that. I'm sorry Butterick 6167, you deserved better!
Originally this pattern was going to be one of my first summer projects.  The design caught my fancy when Butterick released their Spring line and I thought the version Amy sewed up was very pretty. Coincidentally after Amy's FO post JoAnn's had a Butterick sale, so you know I "had" to buy a copy. Pattern in hand I excitedly muslined up the bodice to find that there were going to be major fit issues due to my low bust. You'd think that would have been my stopping point, but no. Sometimes I need to show my dominance by pounding fitting issues into the ground with a steely gaze much like Robert Patrick as the T-1000.
Ooooh yeah....I will kill you fitting issues/John Conner with merely a gaze.  Side note - Anyone else find the T-1000 weirdly hot. He's trying to kill us all, but he looks so good doing it. I'm all a flutter just thinking about his intense running. Stupid sexy evil robot. Anyway, let's just say I put this face on and the fitting problems magically melted away...with the liberal use of elastic. If that sounds vague it's because I'll be going into detail about my low bust alterations in a "Sewing Notes" post tomorrow. I compare boobs to baked you've got that look forward to.

Now back to actual sewing talk....having completed the musling process all I had to do was pick a fabric and get sewing.  Usually this is not a hard decision for me because A. I have a lot of fabric and B. I have no problems buying more fabric.  There should have been at least 7 different applicable fabrics in the stash, but for whatever reason I just wasn't excited about using them for this particular pattern.  One sewing lesson I have learned is not to shoehorn fabric into a project if it doesn't feel right. You are never going to be happy about sewing that fabric up. Better just to put the project on the back burner until the right fabric comes along.  So poor Butterick 6167 got put on the back burner a looooong time.  I did try to find it some new fabric but my usual crack fabric dealers just didn't come through for me this time.
I'd just about written this pattern off for this summer when my pal Margo mailed me a surprise package of fabric. Margo has impeccable taste, so I basically squeed all over myself when I found she'd send me a tropical print on a black background. The fabric said, "I'm here for the Butterick dress! Aren't you glad you waited for me?"  YES fabric, YES! You are so worth it. We hugged and I put it in the washer for a prewash.

It's all smooth sailing from here right?  Wrong.  Turns out that if I make a muslin in April and then pick it up in August my little brain decides maybe the whole thing needs to be tinkered with. Maybe it needs to be more like the Bernie Dexter Paris dress I'd been wearing all summer.  The general look between the two was very similar, but I liked some of the details on the Paris dress more.  Why not get the pattern out and just change one or two things?

The great thing about sewing is that you can make a garment just how you want it. It's also the worst thing because you can get caught up in a series of fiddly changes that had nothing to do with the fit of the garment. You end up wondering if you're really just trying to drive yourself crazy and/or find an excuse to abandon the sewing project for you knitting project. "I can't possibly think of pattern edits right now. Guess I have NO CHOICE but to knit this sock and watch The Americans. Yeah baby, Wigs!" Seriously though, the wigs in that show are great. This blonde one....uhhh I want to marry it.
Eventually I burned through all cold war era spy craft available to me and finally buckled down to make those pattern edits. Based on the look of the Bernie Dexter dress I decided to make the following changes:

- Changed the ratio of bust shelf to lower bodice.  The height of the bust shelf was reduced and added to the lower bodice instead.

- Added a bust band under the ruched area.  I thought the band gave a nice transition between the two areas.  I've put my drafting and construction details for this in the Confessions/Advice area.
- Thinned the shoulder straps to about the same width as the Bernie Dexter dress.

- Added a lot more width to the skirt for more gathered volume. Since this made the pieces very large the skirt was cut on the cross grain even though my fabric wasn't a border print. I think the skirt as drafted is nice, just wanted to turn it up to 11.

- Added side seam pockets because why doesn't this dress have some in the first place?
I kept some of the nicer elements of the Butterick pattern that the Bernie Dexter dress doesn't have, like a full lining and a deep hem. If you're cherry picking you might as well have it all, don't you think? Just nod your head and we'll move on.

Butterick 6167. Started with a straight size 14 with a C cup.

Fabrics used
Stretch cotton shirting from the most excellent Margo. Thank You Margo!!!

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Added 1/4" at the waist to each side of the front princess line seam.

2. Changed the proportion of the front bodice of the dress.  The overall height was nice but I wanted the ruched area to be a bit smaller.  Removed 5/16" from the bust pieces, added the same to the lower bodice pieces. (Back needs no alteration since the overall height remains the same.)

3. Changed the angle of the bust shelf. On the bodice side added 1/2" at the very top of the curve and graded it out to nothing. Removed the  3/4" from the bust stay and bust inset because that area needed to be taken in.

4. Additionally reduced the length of the bust inset 2" for a total of 2 3/4" of width removed.

5. Added 8" long elastic to the top of the bust shelf to get rid of the rest of the gapping.

6. Added a bias band to the bottom of the bust shelf.  Finished width is 5/8".

7. Reduced shoulder strap width to a finished width of 8/16".

8. Added 11" to both the front and back skirt pattern pieces to increase the skirt fullness by 44".

9. Added pockets to the side seams. I used the pockets from the Odette dress.

10. Made the hem slightly smaller at 1.25" when pattern calls for 1.75" hem.

11. Omitted the boning called for in the back of the bodice.

12. Went back into the finished garment and took the side seams in a 1/2". Think I didn't make my muslin small enough to account for the lycra in the real fabric.

- Just a note that my fabric choice was a lighter weight than the cotton sateen the pattern sample is sewn in. I probably wouldn't have added as much volume to the skirt if using a sateen weight.

- I'm not opposed to boning in dresses, but don't think one piece makes sense for the design. I could see adding additional boning into the side seams/front princess lines seams if you wanted to make the garment really sturdy. I also think this design works fine with no boning at all. (Bonus, you don't have to worry about dry cleaning the dress because of spiral steel boning.)
- The hem was machine sewn because I wasn't feeling it in the hand hemming department.

- Also skipped the lapped zipper and put in an invisible one. Screw you lapped zipper.

- Looking at these pictures I should have done a bit more seam allowance grading at the waist.

- If you like the underbust band, here's how to add one to the dress.  First measure the curved seam of the lower bodice to get an idea of the length needed.  Double that and add an extra 1" of wiggle room. This will be the length of your underbust strap pattern piece.
Decide how wide you want the finished band to be. The fabric piece will be folded in half when it is attached, so double that measurement and then add seam allowance.  For example my finished band is 5/8" so the finished pattern width is 2.5"  After drafting the pattern add a bias grain line to it.  You'll want the band cut on the bias so that it bends around the curved part of the bust seam.
The band is added before sewing in the bust inset. To attach the piece, fold it in half and then baste it to the lower bodice edge.  Change to a regular stitch width and then edge stitch the folded edge to the bodice.  Try to make the curved area as flat as possible. You may need to manipulate the curved area of the bias with your fingers as you stitch.   Once the folded edge is secured you can remove the basting, or leave it in until the bust inset is attached.

Husband Comment
"It's bunchy...and all the cleavage is hidden under the bunches." *Insert sad face emoji here* (I even showed him my Marilyn Monroe impression photo and he was not impressed.)

My Final Thoughts
The husband and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one because I felt pretty darn good taking pictures out on the sidewalk today.  I even got an unsolicited "Beautiful dress," comment from someone's husband.  (His wife chose not to comment, but I'm going to pretend he spoke for both of them.)  I also like being able to bend over in a dress and not worry about my girls falling out. Flashing cleavage all over town has never been my MO anyway.  Flashing collarbones, now that's another story.
Don't let my long list of alterations scare you off. Remember that half of them didn't really need to be made to get a pretty end result.  The only thing really had to be tinkered with was the front of the bodice/inset area. If your bust apex is in a "normal" location or if you are smaller busted this area would not be as tricky to fit. For those of you with low bust apexes like me, check out tomorrow's fitting post.  A little elastic in the inset area hides a lot of sins. :)

Fabric Hull Video and a Giveaways Galore!


I mentioned last post that Lillestoff sent me giant box of fabric with the instructions to sew some of it and give some away.  Well today is that exciting day where I'm arraying all the goodies out for your perusal.  If you're a knit junkie you might want to put a drool guard on your keyboard now.

If you've never gotten your hands on this fine german jersey then you may enjoy checking out this fabric hull video. You can thank my gal pal Gillian for prompting me to get out the camera and inexpertly prattle on about fabric bases.  Also per her request I compare/contrast Lillestoff to both Kaufman Laguna jersey and Art Gallery jersey. So hit play at your own peril!
(P.S. I reversed the fiber content on the Art Gallery knits. It is 95% cotton, 5% spandex. Guess if you say that enough times it loses all meaning.)

Now on to the really juicy stuff, how to score some free fabric. I've split out the fabric into 4 different bundles so that more people could get their hands on pretties.  The pattern name and yardage are noted under each bundle.  (Lillestoff was generous with their cuts so there is a few extra inches in edition to the stated yardage.) If you want a closer look at any of these prints then pop on over to the Lillestoff website and type in the pattern name into their search bar. They have expandable pics of all the printed fabrics over there.

Note - The giveaway is for US residents ONLY. (Sorry my lovely foreign readers, but I'm covering shipping and we don't have a lot of extra cash floating around in the Bee coffers at the moment.)
To enter leave a comment on the blog and then put your information in the Rafflecopter box under the bundle you'd be interested in owning. The giveaway will run from today Friday the 7th to Friday the 14th at 12am.  "May the odds ever be in your favor." ;)  *GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

Bundle 1 - Wovens
2 yards Marrakesch
2 yards Marrakesch Kombi
2 yards Lightflowers Ornamental
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bundle 2 - Brown/Purple Knits
2 yards Trees
2 yards Trees Kombi
1 yard Light brown heathered jersey (Lighter weight)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bundle 3 - Teal knits
2 yards Waterbloom
2 yards Roberta
1 yard Light blue heathered jersey (Lighter weight)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bundle 4 - Jersey mashup
2 yards Flowers N Dots
2 yards Apples
1 yard Heathered pink jersey (Heavy weight) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lay you down on a bed of roses


A couple weeks back I was surprised to find an email from the Lillestoff company in my mailbox. My first thought was, "Has someone stolen my identity and bought a lot of luxurious fabric that I will not get to pet? I demand petting privileges!"  But no, instead it was Lillestoff asking if I'd like to receive some of their recent fabric range and host a giveaway.  After falling off my chair, I had to wait 10 minutes before replying yes so that my email wasn't all capital letters and emojis, like some highly caffeinated teenager.

Lillestoff has been my "screw it I'm going to splurge" fabric of choice since about 2011. At first my purchases were small, only getting a yard at a time to make things for Desmond.  Eventually the "kid yardage" started to migrate into the "fabric for myself" pile and I now have my own Lillestoff PJ pants, bodysuits, and T-shirts. Hey moms should have nice things too....and I'm a greedy fabric hog.

Lillestoff was very generous and sent me a GIANT box of fabric.  Des and I might have opened it and then flung fabric around while manically laughing.  "We're high on cotton and we didn't even know it was possible!" Once we stopped sniffing the new fabric fumes, things calmed down a bit and I started to brainstorm what fabrics to sew up first.  Out of all the prints the "Black Rose" jersey was screaming my name the loudest so it got the thumbs up.  (Bright colored roses on black = Heather bait....if you're ever looking to trap me for your own personal baking slave.) Selecting a pattern took a little longer because I was looking for a knit dress that I hadn't blogged about a million times already. (Those would be all of Kitshycoo's patterns which are always my go to dresses.) The pattern winner turned out to be Vogue 1027, a dress I've made before but never blogged.
I attempted this pattern back in 2009 without making a muslin or consulting PR for reviews on the pattern.  What I ended up with was a nice dress that was almost 2 sizes too big.  At that point I pulled up a couple of PR reviews and discovered that everyone found their usual size to be too big.  Most reviewers went down at least one size, sometimes 2 to get the pattern to fit their measurements. Curses, you dirty graders or maybe block makers!!! A knit dress should have a bit of negative ease, not be inches too large.  Well at that time I didn't feel like trying to salvage the dress. Instead it got put away in one of those dirty secret UFO boxes....the ones way in the back of the closet. We all have those right? I always hope some sewing fairy will show up and magically take care of those garments.
Here in 2015 I've done a couple of me-made culls but still have that first version of Vogue 1027. The fabric print is really wonderful so I'm gonna cut it down "someday." (Confession - Someday probably means never.) I figured, why not just use that as muslin #1 and do all my normal fitting changes.  Sounds good, yes? Spoiler, I didn't wait for your feedback and tried the dress on. At my current weight the entire bodice needed to be sized down and a large amount of ease needed to be removed from the waist. I pinned out something in the 1 3/4 to 2" range....on each side. Yes that means I needed to take almost 4" out of the pattern.  There was also some gaping in the wrap bodice neckline that needed to be removed.  OK then, I knew what my problems were, it was time to fix them in the pattern.

I would have loved to simply trace a smaller size of the bodice, but in 2009 I'd made the smallest size in the 14-22 size nest. Never fear though because it easy to do a little DIY grading using the nested sizes. (I blogged about this technique here. To grade down you reverse the process.)  I graded down the width of the bodice, but left the length at the size 14 measurements.  This removed about an 1" of ease at the side seams and about 1/2" around the armholes. At this point I mocked up a new bodice and decided to remove an additional 1/2"(on the quarter) at the waistline. The skirt and belt pieces were adjusted to fit the new waist measurement, details in the review portion, and the length of the skirt was shortened two inches.
In my previous version I used a knit lining to finish the edges of the bodice. This worked well for the armholes, but I had problems with the lining rolling out along the neck edge.  This time I decided to use the provided facing for the armholes and draft one for the neckline.  I traced off the neckline area of the front and back bodice patterns to create the facing.  To reduce the gaping on the bodice I reduced the length of the front neckline facing about 1.25." When the facing was serged on, I stretched it to fit, making it pull towards the body a bit.   To finish all the edges, I covered stitched on the right side and then trimmed any excess facing fabric on the wrong side.

Vogue 1027 - DKNY faux wrap dress (Might be OOP by now)

Fabrics used
Lillestoff cotton/spandex jersey in the "Black Rose" print.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. The size 14 bodice was graded down one size in width, but the length was left alone.

2. An additional 1/2" was removed at the waist area on the bodice.  Finished dress had 4" of ease removed from the waist area.

3. On the skirt I removed 1" from the side seams and reduced the length by 2".

4. The two belt pieces were reduced by 1" so that they would match the new waist circumference.

5. The front belt edges were serged together to eliminate the white back from showing through.

6. The pockets were omitted because there was not enough yardage.  (Confession - I wouldn't use knit pockets either)

- That waist seam has a lot of layers thanks to the sewn in belt.  On my version I basted each layer with a large zig zag stitch to keep all 4 layers aligned. Then the seam was finished with the overlocker and the basting removed.

- Since Lillestoff cotton is less drapy than rayon, the facing trick did get rid of most of the gaping. If I were to do it again in rayon, I'd reduce the length of the bodice fronts as well.

- I'm not completely sold on the sewn on belt.  At some angles it looks good, in others it looks bulky.

Husband Comment
"It has sharp angles, which I like. That rope thing coming off the waist is like a karate uniform. Cool." (I "think" sharp angles means wrap bodice, but I didn't seek clarification from the source.)

My Final Thoughts
After all the pattern edits were done, sewing up this dress was easy peasy. None of the construction steps are difficult and Lillestoff cotton doesn't fight you as it goes through the serger.  Instead it wants to be sewn, and worn, and maybe I should stop there. *Goes and sniffs fabric in a corner.*

This was a bit more fitting work than I'd usually want to put into a knit pattern, but for some reason that didn't bother me too much this time. It helped that I'd purchased the pattern so long ago that it just felt like being thrifty at this point. Now that I have a version that actually fits, I'm very pleased with the pattern. The style lines are classy and work well with my body type. I also think it pairs every elegantly with the black rose pattern making me look dressed up when really I'm thinking, "Ahhhh secret pajamas."
The Lillestoff fabric giveaway will be next post, hopefully later in the week.  I need to take photos and do a video for Mrs. Crafting a Rainbow. As long as tomorrow goes according to plan then everything should be on schedule.  *Famous Last Words*
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