Pattern Adjustments: New Look 6104 and My First Full Bust Adjustment

Lately, I’ve been trying to make a pretty vintage-ish pintuck blouse to go under a lovely 1950s angora cardigan that I bought a while back. I’m planning on making it in a nice cream-colored polyester crepe I found at a local fabric shop (the very last one here that’s not a big box chain store!), and I have a few modern patterns that might work. I also want to include some small ruffles on the front, just like many of the delicate vintage pintuck blouses from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. It’s a classic feminine look and I think it will be pretty with the cardigan.

The first one on the cutting table is New Look 6104. It’s a very basic pattern with ruffles and pintucks down the front. I decided to make a sleeveless version because I never intend to wear the shirt without a cardigan or a jacket over it. The pintucks were very easy to make. I had to practice on scrap fabric a little before I figured out the right settings for my sewing machine. Surprisingly, my Janome’s pintuck foot wasn’t very helpful.

Here’s the first muslin, a size 18. It’s too big and tent-like on Joan, who tends to be a bit fluffier than I actually am, and the blouse looks even worse on my body. By the way, I made normal pintucks on one side and moved them over and added a ruffle on the other side so I could see which one looked better.

newlook6104_01

I realized that it has all the hallmarks of needing a full bust adjustment: too loose through the waist and hips, baggy across the back, and gappy at the armscye.

newlook6104_02

I knew I’d have to teach myself how to do a FBA. I tried to use a tutorial from a prominent sewing site that shall be unnamed, but it did not properly explain the steps. Then I found a set of scans from a book about the Palmer Pletsch FBA method (Kate, you are awesome!), so I used those to walk myself through an FBA on a size 14, which was close to the size of my upper bust measurement. I said a lot of swear words. I threw wadded up paper all over the room. I launched my pencil into orbit in a fit of rage. I cut the pattern in the wrong place, taped it, cut it again, and retaped it like a poorly wrapped Christmas present.

Somehow, I ended up with a pattern piece that looked like it would work. Everything lined up nicely and I was amazed that the FBA wasn’t as awful as I expected once I understood what I was doing.

Here’s the muslin of a size 14 with FBA. This time, I made normal pintucks on both sides and experimented with a narrower ruffle (which was OK) and a bias-cut ruffle (which looked blah). No, I don’t know why the pintucks look screwed up at the bottom. I think the blouse is hanging crooked and I didn’t notice when I took the picture.

newlook6104_04

Well…it’s not as baggy. Obviously it doesn’t meet at the bust, it’s still loose around the waist, and while it fits at the hips, it’s more snug than I’d like. Once again, it fits better on me than it does on Joan, but not much better.

newlook6104_05

That said, it fits pretty well at the back. Disregard the excess at the back of the neck; that’s supposed to be gathered up in the neck facing somehow.

I decided to try it with the cardigan…

newlook6104_08

…and that’s when I realized that I don’t like this blouse anymore. It isn’t tailored enough. With my body, I need either stretchy knits or darts in the right places to keep me from looking frumpy. Even with a properly adjusted bust, this blouse doesn’t seem right for me.

That leaves me with a few options.

  1. Redo the FBA, make some more pattern adjustments, and add front vertical darts to pull the blouse in a bit at the waist for a tailored look.
  2. Try a different commercial pattern. I have Vogue 8857, which will also need a vertical dart to work, and New Look 6107, which already has a vertical dart but I’d have to live without ruffles, which isn’t a big deal.
  3. Try a different style of blouse. A bias-cut tank such as Sorbetto might work nicely. I’d need to do a FBA and possibly add vertical darts, but it might hug my body a bit better. I could add a pintuck front to the Sorbetto or smooth it out and add a nice 1930s-style bias cut ruffle.
  4. Give up on making a blouse and make a simple knit top. I like wearing slender knit tops under cardigans and it’s a look that works well for me. I’ve actually tried this cardigan on over a knit top and it worked really well (aside from the fact that the color of the top did not match the cardigan). Unfortunately, I hate working with knits. I’ve got a new even-feed foot that should make it easier, but I’m still wary. This would also mean tossing the cream crepe into my stash and buying some knit fabric, and that makes me feel awful. I feel like I keep dumping money into fabric and patterns and I just can’t seem to make them work.

I’m leaning toward #2 or #3 and leaving #4 as the backup plan. Right now, I just want to give up on New Look 6104. Aside from the fact that I can cannibalize the sleeves, it’s a disappointing pattern. The good news is that it helped me learn how to make pintucks, and it wasn’t too intimidating for my first full bust adjustment attempt.

I guess you could say it wasn’t totally a “bust.”

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