Top Draftalong # 32 – Sway Back Part 2

This post has been in draft for some time. Seriously….weeks.  Day to day life and family matters have been pretty hectic to say the least. In any case, FINALLY I have a toile that I can turn into a block with which to begin drafting some designs! Hurrah!! That aspect of things I will now have to put on hold until the new year, due to Christmas gift sewing. I’m guessing though that anyone who may be following these posts will be in the same position, so it seems to me that starting the drafting process fresh in January is the best option. So this will be the last Draftalong post until the New Year.
When I last posted, I had adapted my pattern to take out a big tuck as part 1 of a sway back alteration, but had yet to test the results on my final toile. Well, here it is….(I’m not quite sure why I look like I’m striking a body builder pose on the right,btw! Heurgh!!))

See the difference?! Excess fabric gone and the additional ease at the side seams is alowing it to fall comfortably over my hips. The image on the left shows the excess fabric pinned out in a horizontal tuck in the small of my back on the original toile, and the very slight snugness on my hips.  The one on the right is the final toile, cut using the newly altered pattern . No more fabric pooling…….

and from the side……

Apart from the tuck itself, there were a couple of other elements to finalising my toile. In my previous post, I incorrectly assumed that I needn’t square off the hem after I had taken the tuck out of the pattern. I assumed the “distorted” hem was all part of the “optical illusion”  to correct the sway back. Hmmmm. Not so apparently. I did indeed need to square off the hem from the CB to the side seam. You can see the distorting effect of the tuck on the hem in the left hand picture; and the “wedge” added on below the dotted line in the right hand picture….

In addition, I added a CB seam to this toile on the advice of my tutor. “Just in case” further alterations were needed. Good job too, because the tuck on it’s own wasn’t quite sufficient. In order to get the back to sit just right,  I ended up taking out a tapered vertical “tuck” along the CB seam of the toile,to remove the last bit of excess fabric. It tapers to nothing at the neckline, with it’s widest point at the hem. Essentially, taking in the CB seam at an angle. Were I being truly conscientious or aiming for a totally accurate fitted toile, then the new CB seam would be curved inward at the small of my back. But I was happy to keep it simple and opted for a straight tapered CB seam as opposed to a curved one.

The overall shape of this toile is exactly what I’d envisaged as a basis for future designs. I will never want to make a top more fitted than this. It just wouldn’t suit my shape. So for me, a simple, semi fitted, boxy shape that I can add some design details to, and manipulate shape wise, is just perfect.

One final tweak I’ll make is to lengthen the bust darts. I shortened them a bit tooooo much on this toile, trying to avoid the pointy bust look. But where they are now, they’re not providing quite the right amount of fullness. (Ohhhhh, NIPPLES to it!) I’m pretty sure just lengthening them will sort out any remaining drag lines on the bust….

Sooo, here is my block. Traced onto card from my final pattern. Without seam allowances. Ready to start playing with designs in the New Year. Here’s a round up of the main adjustments I’ve made to my toile to get it to this point:

I’ve been sketching out some ideas as well as perusing the ones in the book that got me started on this draftalong in the first place. (Epic journey that it has become! 32 posts so far! What planet was I on, thinking I could have this done and dusted withing a few weeks??!)
I fancy starting off with experimenting with collars (Peter Pan, Sailor?) and maybe some pintucks, pleats, gathers etc. How about you? What design details would you try first if you were drafting a pattern to your own design?

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  1. didyoumakethat December 9, 2011

    Well done, Portia – Queen of Toiles! That has been an epic journey. Really interesting to see how far the make has come.

  2. Scruffybadger December 9, 2011

    Fab last adjustment post miss p. and I agree, momentum will be resumed better in January. In terms of what would I like to design? Well all the things you mention, plus yokes. And I also love the design of the blouse used in the draft along button- the tie neck and yoke …. Dreamy! I need to get my block on cardboard, and I’m actually not far behind. 🙂

  3. Hausfrau December 9, 2011

    Your instructions are so clear and easy to read. Thank you! Since you ask, I would love more information on pleats and gathers.

  4. dixie December 9, 2011

    I had some of the same fitting problems you had like the sway back and the issues with darts but I think I might finally have something I can work with. I actually lost my muslins in my craft room for awhile and only recently rediscovered them and now I’m back in the mood for top drafting again!

  5. Kimberly December 10, 2011

    congrats on a nice fitting job! It really fits you so well now. 🙂 As frustrating as it can be to have a garment that you think will be quick and easy end up taking much more time, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that occasionally runs into this. 😛

  6. overflowingstash December 21, 2011

    Sorry to be a perfectionist, but looking at the front & side photos in your Sway Back post 1, I’m wondering if simply deepening the bust dart was enough for your FBA. The side seam still seems to pull to the front at bust level – don’t know if it’s just a photo illusion. The front photo also shows star draglines radiating from your bust, as if your bust wants more wiggle room!

    Most of the FBA instructions I’ve seen in books also seem to widen the front at the bust area and some also lengthen the CF.

    If you have access to a fashion library where you’re taking the course you might want to check out “Fitting & Pattern Alteration” by Liechty, Rasband, & Pottberg-Steineckert. Or “Fit for Real People” by Palmer & Alto.

    I’m also struggling with a slightly less extreme version of the same fitting problems and gotten the above 2 books to help me learn to fit better. Like you the holidays have gotten in the way, but I’ve at least managed to read FFRR. It’s a fascinating book with loads of photo illustrations. No wonder so many people rave about it.

    F&PA is more like a text-book. It’s more illustration based, which I don’t like. But it seems to cover loads of different fitting problems. There’s also instruction on how to alter ready-to-wear for the same problems. But annoyingly its sway back adjustment section only covers skirts & pants. Like you I have problem in the bodice back.

    FFRR does show the CB tuck like you did. The instruction on truing afterward isn’t as clear, but there were plenty of case studies at the back with similar adjustment (made to real commercial patterns) to make me want to try this technique. FFRR also has extended step-by-step section on FBA on various styles that you might find useful.

    Anyway, good luck with your sloper and design adventure! I’ll be following your journey! 🙂

  7. Miss P December 22, 2011

    Hi Overflowing
    Yes you’re right. In the Part 1 picture the side seam is pulling forward a little and there are star shaped drag lines radiating from the bustpoint. In the pics in this post hopefully you can see that the pull on the side seam has been remedied. Whilst there are stil some drag lines at the bust in these pics, I’m pretty sure that’s because I haven’t extended the bust darts far enough so I’m hoping that will be sufficient. Fingers crossed!
    I’m in the process of trying out a similar FBA to the one you describe, on my second Lisette dress but using a French dart as opposed to a bust dart as the style of the dress is more loose fitting.
    You’re right though, it’s so frustrating that all the examples of Sway Back I’ve seen in books refer to trousers or skirts as opposed to the bodice. Grrr! I’m pretty happy with the way mine worked out though 🙂
    Thanks for the detailed book recommendations. The one we’ve always used at college is Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting. It covers a massive variety of pattern alterations and manipulations but is not brilliant from a “step by step” point of view and requires some existing knowledge of the subject, which at the start is an issue.
    I’m definately looking to expand my library so will be checking these out. FFRP has been on my wish list for a while but hadn’t heard of the other one. So thankyou!!

  8. Madalynne March 17, 2012

    This is great! I’m a technical designer for Anthropologie and finding someone with the same enthusiasm for blocks and all things patterns is wonderful!


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