|V2787 - a modern reissue of a 1948 Vogue pattern
I’ve posted before about my need to alter patterns to get a good fit. As I have several Vogue patterns on my list, I decided to do the job properly, and identify exactly where I need to make alterations.
To do this I dug out another pattern I’ve had for a while; Vogue 1004. This is the Vogue fitting shell, or sloper. A fitting shell is a pattern for a plain, closely-fitted dress with a neckline that follows the base of the neck (also known as a jewel-neck), and a narrow skirt. McCall's and Butterick also make fitting shells, McCall's M2718 and Butterick B5746, although some online reviews suggest that the Vogue and Butterick patterns are identical. The pattern pieces of a fitting shell have much larger than usual seam allowances, so that there is plenty of scope for letting seams out if necessary. The idea is that once you have altered the fitting shell to fit you exactly, you can apply the same alterations to every pattern of that brand, and get a perfect fit every time.
|Fitting shell in gingham
The pattern instructions tell you to take detailed measurements first, and then use these to alter the pattern pieces before you start cutting out. They also recommend making the pattern up in woven (not printed) gingham, so that the grain of the fabric is clearly visible. However as I’ve made up Vogue patterns before, and they fitted reasonably well with a few alterations, I chose instead to cut the pattern pieces out without alterations, using my tried and trusted toile 'fabric' - frost fleece.
|Frost fleece - with a free thermometer!
Frost fleece is available from garden centres or online. It is cheap; the 10 square metres pack above cost me less than £5.00. Unlike tissue paper, fleece does not tear easily, and pieces can be joined together using a sewing machine. Unlike fabric, it does not fray. I also like the fact that because it is translucent, you can clearly see the clothing underneath; so for example it is easy to tell where the waistline of a toile lies relative to your undergarments.
|This earlier toile shows how translucent the fleece is
Finally, frost fleece is easy to draw on with pencil, felt tip or biro. When I designed my Eastern Influence dress I made a toile of the basic shape, then put it on the dress form and drew on the front neckline details. I then made the pattern by tracing off the pieces from the toile.
|Toile with extra details drawn on in pencil
(Note: fleece is far less absorbent of ink than either fabric or paper, so while any marks made don’t rub off, a certain amount of ink transfers onto your fingers, your cutting table, and anything else the drawn-upon fleece brushes against.)
The area which I most wanted to check was the bodice length, so I marked the bust line onto the toile front pieces with red pen, and continued the line around the back. The fitting shell instructions are to make the dress up with a back opening, but I changed this to a front opening, to make it easier to get on and off.
When I tried the toile on it was easy to see that both the waist-to-bust and bust-to-shoulder sections were too long, and that I needed to shorten both. I had deliberately made the bodice up without sleeves, so that I could check if the armscye was too low. It wasn’t, so the bust-to-shoulder alteration needed to be made below the armscye.
|Front view of the V1004 toile with bust line and alterations clearly visible
|Side view of the toile
This discovery makes altering Vogue 2787 to fit me, ahem, 'interesting'. The front of the dress has a reverse S-shaped curve up the centre, and long curved darts which extend almost from waist to bust. So, taking out 30mm between waist and bust, and a further 20mm between bust and armscye is going to be tricky.
On the pattern piece above, the large circles with a cross in them indicate the waist and bust lines. There's not a lot of room for manoeuvre.
There is no bust marking on the left front piece, so I will have to alter it in line with the right front.