Bronte in Blue - with Bonus Fitting Info


First a quick thank you about the Martini/Bellini post. I was afraid that my normal practice of answering in the comment section might mess up the rafflecopter counts for the give away. I appreciate your feedback and big internet hugs to you all.

Now on to the real meat of this post, Jennifer Lauren's Bronte pattern.
My socks were knocked off when upon seeing this pattern. The vintage 40's shoulder detail really rocked my world and doing it in a knit fabric was a stroke of genius.  I bought, downloaded and traced this baby the day it was released.  The pattern was muslined and it seemed to fit great.  So off I went to make a real version out of some striped Lillestoff and that's when the shit hit the fan.

Yes it was the dreaded, "real knit fabric behaves differently than the muslin fabric."  Sewing Goddess, why have you forsaken me? Sewing Goddess said, "Snitch please, you know what you did wrong." Oh yeah, was it muslining in a different weight knit? Or was it using a wild print that made the fitting problems hard to see? Was it both things? It was both things.  My gut then yelled, "I told you not to do that, but did you listen? NOOOOOO. Think you're smarter than me? Nobody's smarter than me!"

Ok, Ok, you two. I get it, I screwed up this time. Excuse me while I don the ribbons of shame to figure out what my fitting problems are. My gut yelled again, "It's your forward shoulder, like I told you the first time. What are you deaf?" God, why is my gut a surly old man? Dude needs to mellow out. Anyway my gut was correct that my forward shoulder was a good place to start. Long story short, I had to flex my brain muscles and knock out a few more muslins before figuring out the entire fitting problem.  More on that in the fitting section. Let's look at pretty pictures first.

My final version is in a lovely royal blue bamboo knit, a little darker in real life.  The white polka dots are 3 dimensional ink that's been painted on. Kind of like 80's puffy paint, but a little classier. (Please tell me that some of you also had a puffy pant stash.)
Bronte/pencil skirt combo is my favorite. Better put a black denim pencil skirt on the top of the sewing list.

The shoulder detail and I are still having a torrid love affair.  Ahhhh look at the cute flower buttons that were in the stash.  Not knitting baby sweaters in a timely manner finally paid off. There were only 5 on the card so I put 4 buttons on the top instead of the suggested 6.
The buttons also anchor the top overlap so that it doesn't slide backwards on the shoulder. Or at least they do on me.

Bronte from Jennifer Lauren Vintage  I made a combo 12/14.

Fabrics used
Polka dot bamboo jersey from Marcy Tilton, but you can get it a few bucks cheaper for Harts. Harts also has this fabric in a number of other colorways.

Pattern changes/alterations
Here's a breakdown of my fitting problems with a little photo assistance.
The biggest problem was the very noticeable drag lines from the bust up to the shoulder overlap.  I also had drag lines coming over the shoulder on the back piece and excess fabric wadding above the bust.

So what's causing all of this?  It's combo of a forward shoulder and a hollow chest.  The shoulder juts forward causing the back length to be too small, which in turn pulls the front up. Meanwhile on the front, the bust fullness is low, which causes pooling of the fabric near the underarm.

To counteract these fitting problems, the back pattern piece needs to be lengthened at the neck and armscye. The front pattern piece needs to be shortened only at the armscye. On my frame the armhole felt like it was the correct diameter. That told me that the same amount needed to be added/subtracted to the back/front to retain the diameter. To determine that amount I did the following...
-Unpick the basting on shoulder area so that the top and back were unattached.
-Tried the shirt on and moved the back overlap backwards until the drag lines on the front disappeared. Then pinned it in place.
- Took off the shirt and measured the distance between the back shoulder notch and the tip of the front neck binding.  On my muslin that measured 1.5"  With that information it was time to move on to the pattern adjustments.

How to Adjust Bronte for a Forward Shoulder and Hollow Chest.
Start with a forward shoulder adjustment to the back.
1. Draw a line across the shoulder overlap. I used the shoulder notch as a guide for my placement.

2. Cut the pattern apart on the line

3. Insert paper to make the overlap portion longer.  I added 1.5" to my pattern.   Tape the other part of the pattern on and use a french curve to true up the neckline.

4. Trim off the extra paper and the back piece is finished.

5. The back neckband needs to be lengthened to match the change made to the shoulder.  Cut it in half on the center fold line.

6. Add double the amount added to the back. So for my band I added 3".  Draw in a new center line and the back neckband is done.

Finish with the hollow chest adjustment.
7.  Draw a line perpendicular to your grain line across the upper part of the pattern.  Because the excess seemed to be pooling near the underarm I placed mine near the bottom of the armscye.

8. Draw another line parallel to the first at the distance that being removed. For my sample it's 1.5".

9. Fold the pattern so that the two lines touch.

10. Add some paper to your armscye and use a french curve to true up the seam.

11. Cut off the paper and all the pattern edits are done.

Note - You can also do a forward adjustment to the sleeve. Tutorial for that here. I was lazy and skipped this step, figuring the knit fabric would disguise the problem.

- I neglected my sway back adjustment again.  Wow, denial on that fitting problem runs deep.

- This jersey is lighter weight than than recommended by the pattern. That does lead to some "draping" in the front.

- I used my normal 1/4" seam allowance rather than the suggested 3/8".

Husband Comment
"Is that a fancy onesie?"

My Final Thoughts
Had to work for this one, but it was worth it in the end.  Besides if everything goes well you don't get to bask in the "successfully triumphed over fitting problems" warm, fuzzy feeling. Ahhhh feels like velvet.
I found the Bronte pattern to be well formatted and the directions well written. It's a nice beginner pattern construction wise and not having to do a circular neckband insertion was a welcome change of pace. I'd recommend it to anyone who like vintage influenced looks.

Now don't you guys worry about that abandoned Lillestoff Bronte, I got plans of it. Muhhhhaaaa *Rubs hands together evilly*


  1. LOVE this pattern, and plan to make it up too (continuing in my "I wanna be Heather when I grow up" mode). Thanks for the clear explanation of the pattern adjustments - pretty sure I will need the forward shoulder + hollow chest thing - tho not the low bust point (my girls prefer to reside slightly below my chin). Thanks, lovely!

  2. Oh, and did your DH call 911 to report a domestic violence situation after you slapped him for his smartie "classy onesie" remark?

  3. It looks great! In my mind you are the fitting-pattern-adjusting master! I don't even know where to begin to identify my fitting issues, let alone fix them! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yeah, so I still have a puff paint stash. What of it?

  5. Awesome shirt!!!! Esp appreciate the fitting explanation. Tell me more about your skirt?

  6. Where was Froggie?! Had he succumbed to a sugar coma again?!
    I really really like this top on you, the neckline is interesting and looks like it's comfy to wear. Can I ask a question though? Do you think bra strap flashing is a possibility with Bronte or do they stay covered?

  7. Your comments on fitting always having me nodding in agreement. Thanks for solving what WOULD have been my fitting issues without you being the guinea pig. I do love how your final garment looks and yes, I was one of the unfortunate teens in the 80's who thought puff paint AND bedazzled shirts rocked :)

  8. Fist bump to you my friend.

  9. Ahhh Haa, the skirt. Well that is easy peasy cause I blogged about it in the past. It's a hack of the Billie Jean dress. The tutorial for changing the darts into princess seams is here.

    And then how to draft a waistband for it is here.

  10. Froggie need to wake up and assist me on the next project.

    In answer to your question about the bra straps.... I don't have any problems with them appearing. The button placement keeps the fabric from spreading open and showing them. Now if I'd skipped out on the buttons than it would be a problem.

  11. Thanks Heather. I only started learning how to fit myself in 2011. A lot of book reading has helped.

  12. Great use of the buttons! I keep trying to correct my posture but I think it's a lost cause. Even now I just realized I've been sitting hunched over for a while. Stupid forward shoulders. This is a cute shirt! :)

  13. Ha! I just made this as a muslin, and googled for a knit forward shoulder adjustment and you came up top. You are so knowledgable and talented my friend! Thank you for this, should make my next revision of this pattern a cinch!


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