La Sylphide Sewalong: Pattern Adjustments

Posted by: LLADYBIRD on 3:53 PM
It's time to kick off the La Sylphide Sewalong!

And by "kick off," I mean we gotta get some of the boring stuff out of the way first. Namely, sizing and flat pattern adjustments. Be warned that this is a fairly dense, picture-heavy post. We will be covering sizing, basic grading between sizes, lengthening the skirt, and full bust adjustments. If these don't apply to you, feel free to skip! For the rest of y'all - sorry! I tried to cull things down as much as possible.

The first thing we want to determine is what size to cut. Take a look at the sizing chart located inside your pattern. Personally, I choose my size based off the finished garment measurements - I find that I don't care for too much ease in my clothing, so knowing the finished measurements lets me control exactly how much ease is going around certain body parts.

Another thing I want to point out is to double check that skirt measurement! This pattern is pretty short, so if that's not your bag, you're gonna want to lengthen it a bit.

Sizing Tips:
If you don't fit exactly within one size, you can grade up or down to "blend" the sizes together for a fit that more closely mimics your body shape. This is really really easy to do. Really. Choose your size based on your bust measurement and grade as needed.
Start with your preferred pattern piece. Give it a good press with a warm iron - no steam - to get it as flat as possible. You'll probably still have some deep creases, that's ok.

I'm using the skirt because it's one of the few uncut pieces left in my pattern, haha, but you'll probably just need to grade the bodice as the skirt is fairly full and thus size-forgiving. This is a grade from waist to hip, but the same concept works for bust to waist.
Starting at the top of the pattern piece (in this case, the waist), pick where you want the new size to grade out to - in this case, the hip (where the pen is pointing).

Use a ruler to connect the two points and draw a straight line.
 Then just cut along the new size line you created. See? Easy!

Adding another size to the pattern is a pretty similar concept. Figure out the size grade for each piece - at the bodice it's 1.5cm/0.625", at the waistband it's 3cm/1.25", at the skirt it's 1cm/0.5", at the sleeve it's 1cm/0.5" graded down to 0.5cm/1/8" - and draw a new line following those measurements. I reeeeally wouldn't recommend going up or down more than one size, as it will start messing up the grade, but for one size it'll work fine :)

Lengthening the Skirt:
Soo, as I mentioned before, the skirt is pretty short. I wanted to add another inch to the length, here's how I did it.
Lay your ruler across the skirt front, perpendicular to the center front (where the buttons will go).
Draw a line all the way across.
When you pull the two pieces apart, you will notice that the lines will start to get a bit wonky at the side seam. That's fine, we're gonna fix it!
Draw a straight line parallel to the button holes, perpendicular to the line you just cut.
Your hacked up skirt piece will now look like this.
Keeping your side and center front seams as straight as possible, fill in the empty spaces with paper and tape them down. Measure the side seam to ensure that you've lengthened to the measurement you want.
Use a french curve to redraw the curved hem where you sliced the vertical line, and a straight ruler to true out the side seam.
Your finished skirt piece will look like this. Don't forget to lengthen the back as well!

Bust Adjustments:
Last tutorial, promise! This pattern is drafted for a B cup - which means, if your bust is larger or smaller, you may want to do a bust adjustment to ensure that the proportions are correct. Personally, I don't find that I need a FBA on this pattern as it fits me fine out of the envelope, but here's a how-to in case you need it! I will be showing how to do a full bust adjustment - i.e., for sizes larger than a B cup.
Choose your pattern size based on your high bust measurement (not full bust!) and trace your pattern piece. Don't worry about transferring the button hole markings; those will need to be respaced after we are finished demolishing this thing.
Start by drawing a straight line from the arm hole notch to the bust apex/dart point. We will call this line 1.
Draw a second line from the apex that runs perpendicular to the side seam. This is line 2.
Line 3 runs from the apex straight down to the center of the dart.

One last line! This one is perpendicular to line 3 and the center front seam. You can put it anywhere, just make sure it's straight. This is line 4.
Here is what your pattern piece should look like at this point.
Starting at the bottom of line 3, cut straight up and pivot at the apex, then continue cutting up line two, leaving a little hinge at the arm hole marking.
Cut line 2, leaving another hinge at the apex.
Cut straight across line 4. No hinge needed!
Your pattern piece should look pretty jacked at this point.
On the main pattern piece (for now, just ignore that little butt we created when we cut line 4), spread and pivot your pieces until the opening created by lines 3-1 equal the amount you want to add to your piece. I find that I like to add about 1cm/0.5" per cup size increase, but do start small!

Put a piece of paper under your pattern piece, spread the pieces around and measure to ensure that line 3 is perfectly parallel all the way down. Tape these pieces down.

Now you can add that butt-piece back. By spreading the main pattern piece apart, you will find that length needs to be added so that the bottom of the piece is even. Be sure that line 3 is still parallel, and that your center front seam is straight.
Give your pieces a good taping and re-draw the dart (shown in blue). And done! If you'd like, you can turn that wedge created by line 2 into a dart as well. I personally just leave it as-is and cut the excess off the bottom, but I'm also a terrible and lazy person, so do what you will.

If you are on the opposite sizing spectrum and need to do a small bust adjustment (for cup sizes smaller than a B), you will do the same pattern adjustment, except the pieces will overlap instead of spread apart.

One last thing! We will not be covering muslins in this sew-along - this is a fairly simple pattern, and it's easy to tweak the fit as you sew it up. However, if you do end up with a bust adjustment, I strongly encourage you to make a quick muslin just to be sure that the pieces are still balanced and the fit is on. You can just cut the front and back - no sleeves, tie or skirt needed. Baste your muslin together and pin the front to check the fit. I would also recommend a muslin if you plan on grading up or down a new size, again, to be sure that everything looks good before you slice into that beautiful fabric!

Ok, that's it! Sorry again for the intense post- hope I didn't overwhelm too many people :) If you have any questions about sizing or pattern adjustments or whatever, holler at me in the comments!