Hey Everyone, it seems like all I have shared for quite a while now is free t-shirt patterns so I thought it was time to share a “proper” make with you! The Mira dress by Fibre Mood is a little bit outside of my usual style but I have loved every single one that I have seen pop up on my Instagram feed so I thought that perhaps I should give it a try. I have actually been put off woven garments for a while as I always struggle with the fit and it seemed like so much effort to get it just right compared to knits.
For the past few months, I have been taking part in “Elevate your Sewing” an online sewing membership run by CL Hardie aka The Thrifty Stitcher. The Zoom classes together with the encouragement of all the lovely members have really given me a confidence boost in finding a good fit and mastering a number of sewing techniques. In the three months that I have been a member I have already seen an improvement in my sewing but especially in my confidence to diagnose and fix fit issues with my handmade garments.
Despite the flouncy style not being in my usual wardrobe repertoire I really like the shape. I have always struggled with summer clothes – I don’t like anything too short or strappy, but get too hot in my go-to jeans and t-shirts so this easy breezy dress looked like it might just fit the bill. I had 6 metres of viscose twill from Pound fabrics (3m in a green/black camo (ish) print and 3m of a plain bright blue) so I had plenty fabric to play with to get the fit just right. I do love my final garment but it certainly wasn’t easy sailing to get there. Read on to find out all the alterations I had to make (WARNING: Its a long one so strap in!).
if you are just here for the pretty pictures …keep scrolling for some more of this beautiful dress
Version 1: Top length in green/black twill
Based on my measurements I opted for the size 38 and added a 1/2inch FBA (1″ total increase). This is a fairly standard adjustment for me so I was more than happy to make that change to the pattern before cutting any fabric. Somehow, figuring out which size I wanted to cut took me so much longer than usual as I was having a complete mental block on the fact that the measurements were only in cm!
I then went ahead and cut out the fabric and stitched up the top. I foolishly didn’t do any fitting as I was going as the loose flowy style of the garment seemed like it couldn’t really cause too many problems. The top came together really easily and there are some lovely finishing touches like the bias bound neckline and the slit in the upper back with a hook and eye closure so I had a lot of fun constructing the garment.
However, when I went to try it on I realized that the fit was not at all good! Strangely for me, the front fits me almost perfectly, but it was the back where all the problems were. For starters, it was way too big – so much so that the hook and eye just won’t stay closed as there is no tension holding it. It gapes quite a lot where the back slit is and sags down quite a lot at the centre back with the weight of the gathered tier.
I found that taking photographs from each side is a really good way to assess the fit issues objectively. With a photograph, I can look at the garment and think about the problem areas without focussing on my body – which inevitably happens when you look in the mirror. Definitely, a fit hack I would recommend to everyone!
I started pinning out the excess and took 2inches out of the back width! Only then did the top start to sit a bit better on me. I actually took out the width from the centre of the shoulder seams all the way down to the bottom of the back bodice piece. You can see from the pictures that the shoulder seams are hanging over my shoulders by quite a way so this seemed like a good way to reduce both the back width and take some of that length out of the shoulder seams too.
To make this adjustment on the pattern I just cut the back bodice right down the entire length and overlapped by 1″ (2″ total removed across the whole back). To make the corresponding change to the front shoulder seam I did a narrow shoulder adjustment using the slash and spread method shown here. I took 1″ out at just the shoulder seam as I didn’t want to change the fit across the bust at all.
I was also finding I had very restricted movement in my arms as the underarm was really too low for me. To fix that I followed this video tutorial to lift the armscye by half an inch on the front and back bodice. This involved a corresponding change of 1″ on the sleeves.
So to summarize the fit issues and solutions I found for my first top:
- narrow back – remove 1″ from back bodice vertically from the centre shoulder to bottom of the bodice
- narrow shoulder – slash and overlap front shoulder by 1″ (front only)
- restricted arm movement – raise armscye by half an inch on the bodice and 1″ on sleeves
Version 2: Another top length in green/black twill
After pinning out all these changes on my top and transferring them to the pattern I was hoping that my second version would be a success. I whipped up another top in the same fabric and this one was in fact wearable!
(Ignore the raincoat hung over the door – we had a bit of a downpour earlier and had run out of space to dry things!)
Looking at my photographs I could see the shoulders were sitting better and there was less gaping at the back. The horizontal lines were also sitting better but there is still some dragging down at the back.
I decided to wear this one around the house for a little while too, just to see how it was comfort-wise and if there were any areas I felt restricted. The top stayed on well and the hook and eye closure wasn’t falling open. It still pulls down a little at the back but not anywhere near as bad as before. I have a much bigger range of motion in my arms and overall the fit is a lot better. However, after my successes with the alterations, I decided I could make it even better as it was still not perfect.
Again I started pinching and pinning and looking as objectively as I could at the fit of the garment. I decided the back neckline was still a bit too loose and pinched out 2cm from each side (For this part of the fitting my brain had switched to metric so apologies for the change in measurements but I want to share everything as I did it). To transfer this to the pattern I added some darts to the back bodice neckline. I also narrowed the centreback some more by cutting the entire length of the bodice about 1 cm in from the centre back and overlapping it by 1.7cm
I then shifted my attention to the front. Although at first glance the fit seemed fine there was definitely some fine-tuning to be done. Now the shoulder was fitting properly it seemed like the front armscye was protruding past my arm socket so I pinched that out by 1.4 cm. To transfer this to the pattern I actually undid the narrow shoulder adjustment from the previous version. I then did an L shaped slash and spread from the centre of the shoulder seam to the bottom third of the armscye and moved this in by the 1.4 cm I had pinched out. I then readjusted the shoulder seam using the slash and spread method as before to be the same length as the back (approx 1cm smaller).
I also noticed the position of the shoulder seam was not right on my body. It was fine at the shoulder but angled toward the back of my neck so I marked my preferred position with pins. To make this change on the pattern I simply cut off a wedge from the front bodice at the shoulder corresponding to the line I marked on the top and stuck it onto the back bodice piece. (This step was particularly aided by the absence of seam allowances on the Fibre mood patterns – I imagine it could be trickier if you had to measure out where all the sewing lines were).
Finally, I decided the sleeves were quite wide (this was a style preference and nothing to do with the fit so I narrowed them by 1.4cm.
So to summarize the fit issues and solutions I found for my second top:
- narrow back neckline- add darts to back neckline, 2cm width at neckline and approximately 6 cm in length angled toward the fullest part of the shoulder blade
- narrow at centre back – remove 1.7cm from the full length of the back bodice
- narrow front armscye – L shaped slash from centre shoulder to lower third of armscye. Overlap by 1.4cm (readjust narrow shoulder from the previous toile to accommodate this)
- change line of shoulder seam by removing a wedge from the front bodice and adding it to the back bodice
- narrow sleeves by 1.4cm
Version 3: Dress length in blue viscose twill
With all of my changes transferred to the pattern, I set out to make what I hoped would be my final version. I sewed up the bodice and had a quick try on to check I was happy with the fit. It seemed perfect so I decided to go for it and make this version into a dress.
From a lot of the pictures I’ve seen this dress comes up very short – which is not something I’d wear so I decided to go cautiously and add 1.5″ to the length of the first tier and tried it on. I then measured the length for the second tier (I went with 12.5″) to have the dress finish at knee length. As I was adding the second tier I decided to take out some of the fullness (approximately 8 inches) as it seemed like it was going to be very extra(!) and seeing as this style was already outside of my comfort zone I didn’t want to push it too far.
I am really pleased with the dress – it is perfect for summer. It is so light and breezy but I don’t feel like I have lots of skin on show which is my usual problem with summer clothes. It’s definitely a new style for me but I am pretty smitten and this colour is perfect. I often struggle to add anything bright to my wardrobe and when I do it is inevitably blue but when it makes me this happy I guess I’d be a fool not to!
If I had to pick fault with this final version I’d say I have narrowed the sleeves a bit too much and it feels a little tight on my biceps but that is such a minor thing compared to the changes I’ve made.
It has certainly been an experiencing getting this dress to fit but I would definitely say its been worth it – I’ve got a beautiful dress and I’ve learnt a lot along the way!
To anyone who has stuck with me this far – thank you. I hope this post has been interesting/useful for you. I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with the Fibre Mood patterns – I really like some of the other patterns but I’m concerned they will all need this much work!
ps. if you want to keep up with all my latest makes why not follow me on Instagram!
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