Saturday, 14 July 2012

TOP TIP: How Tracing Paper Is Your Friend (OR... How To Prevent N*pplegate When Cutting Out Your Patterns)!

Okay, so I've been working on my 2nd version of Jen from Grainline's fab Scout Woven Tee. My *first version was finished at the end of February (yeah I know nearly 5 months ago eek!). But, for my sins I've been on a health kick since the start of March and I'm 30lbs/13.6 kgs lighter than I used to be - so a lot of my original pattern alterations are now defunct. E.g. my waist is now 6"/ smaller, and my biceps are around 1"/2.5cm smaller. I had originally graded up all my pattern pieces; made a FBA (full-bust alteration) which created a side bust dart where originally there had been none, plus I'd done a wide-bicep alteration too... so basically, I had some stuff to undo and fiddle around with. But, hey! It's all good experience for pattern alterations isn't it ;) LOL! (*Worn here in my recent outing with Miss Dibs!)

Anyway... I'd pinned the picture below of Kelli's Scout top make ages ago, 'cos I loved her version in black 'n' white polka dots.
Image Source: Kelli at True Bias
Then, I remembered that I'd acquired the perfect fabric to blatantly copy make my own homage at the April Walthamstow Market meet-up from Alana at Lazy Stitching. Bonus - I'd already washed and pressed it, so this weekend it'll be made up! If it goes well, I'll transfer the altered pattern to some pattern card - which'll make it much easier to transfer the marking to fabric, so I can make LOADS to this fab little pattern :)

But, before I cut out the fabric I wanted to ensure I don't "mark the bulls-eye" so to speak over my bust apex, my aim was to avoid "n*pplegate" !

The tools and bits that inspired my "Eureka!" moment
I believe this is a common concern for sewists the globe over no? Well, I had a bunch of bits of paper, sellotape etc. scattered over my desk. And I had one of those "Eureka!" moments....

Helping You With Your Fabric Cutting Layout
(SUBTITLE: How To Prevent N*pplegate When Cutting Out Your Patterns!)

How to Avoid Unfortunate Patterned-Fabric
Placement Over Your Bust Point / Apex

 If you like this tip you can pin it here: Pinterest :)

Step 1.
Mark your BP (Bust Point) on your bodice front pattern piece - X marks the spot people!

Step 2. Mark out a rough square about 1½"-2" (4 - 5cm ish) wide centred over the BP. 

Step 3. Cut along 3 sides of the square (I used a ruler and a sharp craft knife). On the last/4th side fold a crease line.

Step 4. Turn the pattern over, so it's face down on the table.

Step 5. Cut a scrap of translucent / see-through tracing paper that's bigger than your square hole. Tape it securely to the back of the hole.

Step 6. Turn the pattern back over again. Hold the little flap of paper back down with your fingers, and then use a tracing wheel to run-over and mark your BP.

Step 7. Lift up the flap, and you should see the indentation marks of the tracing wheel onto your little panel of tracing paper! Mark the BP in permanently with a nice dark pen.

Step 8. You can now lift up the flap and see exactly where your BP lies when positioning it over patterned fabric (yay!).

You could cut off the flap on the top layer (after transferring the BP to the tracing paper below first of course!) - but if you leave it on, it'd make things a bit easier I feel for any future pattern alterations, as tracing-paper can be a bit flimsy :)

Back to details of my latest top!
Anywho... for the version I'd been working on this week and last, I'd made a fresh new toile (muslin) to test out my changes. First I made the toile to the same pattern as my collared navy version - only minus the collar. From that I discovered I needed to take out a 3cm tuck all the way down the CF (Centre Front) - as the top now looked baggy 'n' saggy on me.

I sewed the tuck down the outside of the CF, and pressed it then tried it back on - so that if I needed to pinch out more, it'd be easier to pinch + pin when I looked in the mirror.

Then I addressed the tight underarm area. From wearing my navy iteration a lot, I'd realised that an issue I get with a lot of RTW (ready to wear) tops and blouses had translated across to my me-made top. Basically I was getting a load of tight crease marks starting at the front underarm area - pointing up towards my chin. So I dropped the bottom armscye a wee bit (2cm/ about ¾"), and also lengthened the armscye edge of the sleeve pattern accordingly. I also reduced the sleeve width by 2" - as the toile sleeves had some vertical drag lines going on, and they were doing this weird flappy/sticking out thing (not a good look). It looked liked I wanted to take off and fly away somewhere!

Also, the front hem of the bodice now hung weirdly - it seemed to sick out in a tent like formation at the front (perhaps without my now departed tummy flesh there to support it, it was at a loose end?). So, to pull it back in at the hem I increased the angle/depth of my side bust darts - which worked a treat! I unpicked the side-seams on both sides to within about ¼" of the underarm seam-line. I popped the top back on and then used my hand to pinch out a deeper dart, pin it in and see how that affected the drape at the front hem line. I left the upper most dart leg/line alone and only made the lower-dart leg deeper (does that make sense to you? LOL!). I also played around, pinched and pinned the sides at the hemline, and decided I needed to remove another 2"/5cm width at the bottom of my top (or 1"/2.5cm on the pattern piece - as after all the piece is only one half of the whole front of the bodice). I then transferred my new dart legs to my paper pattern. I re-stitched the changes to the same test garment (why waste the fabric eh ;) ?).

NB: The deeper dart meant that there was now a short-fall in the front SS (side-seam) length of 3.5cm. I folded out the new dart on the pattern, measured the seam line and compared it to the back-bodice SS. I've now slashed the front bodice pattern and moved it down by 3.5cm and trued up the SS lines. I trued the SS by folding the dart, temporarily taping it down and placed my ruler from the top of the seam-line at the under the arm, across the folded-down dart, and aligned it to the bottom of the SS at the point where I'd brought the hem width in by 1"/2.5cm), I repeated the process minus the dart (of course) on the SS for the back bodice. There! New SS line was drawn in, and new cutting line at the correct SA (seam allowance) drawn in too :)
I also unpicked one of the "flappy" sleeves, and inserted a new one I'd re-drafted and cut out. Much better! Sleeves no longer flap (it was good to have one arm to compare to the other in the mirror), hem line is not tent like, and front with it's tucked-up tighter CF now looks non-baggy. Interestingly (or not) I didn't need to make any changes to the back bodice at all (aside from the hem width) - maybe all my weight loss happened round the front haha!

So, if things go well I should be able to bang out a few Scouts! Maybe a whole troop (scouts - troops gettit LOL?)


  1. That... Is literally one of the smartest tips I've ever seen.

    And nipplegate... I must make sure to use this more!!

  2. What a great tip! I've recently been struggling with the realization that my bust apex and my nipple are not actually the same point, which makes darts very confusing...

    I can't wait to see your scout troop. :D

  3. A great tip! Incidentally I have dotted fabric only waiting to be cut lying around.

  4. thanks so much for the shoutout and good luck with top adjustments. that is awesome about the weight loss. can't wait to see your version.

  5. Thanks for this tip. Very smart! I don't have any polka dot fabric but I was considering applying the trick on other fabrics too!

  6. This is great! I can still remember my fifth grade teacher who wore a sweatshirt with two snowflakes that landed right at her, um, you know. We all giggled a bit every time she wore it.

  7. Very good tip thank you!! And thank you for your willingness to share on Pinterest!

  8. haha - what a great tip! and congratulations on the weight loss!


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