I have to concede that my last project, the brown tunic, was a success by accident.
I finished my next project in December – another lovely tunic in lightweight printed polyester chiffon. The fabric proved to be a challenge just to cut – I needed many more pins than usual to keep the fabric from slipping every time I touched it! Sewing the fabric required extra caution to keep the pieces aligned, and I found that I needed to finish the seams as I went because the fabric frays easily. I was quite relieved to put the finishing touches on the project and try it on………
The tunic was far too small through the bust and sleeves! So….I hung it in the closet to age for a few weeks while I contemplated how to fix it.
When I originally decided which size lines to use for this top, I self-measured my bust and arm length and decided to use size 14 at the top and expand to an 18 at the bottom – similar to my last project, but with a new pattern. My husband had encouraged me to do a full set of measurements and keep them in a safe place and to update them from time to time. In retrospect, that was the best idea I should have had! I have since downloaded three sizing charts from the internet, with extra copies, and placed them in a binder. The measurements I have recorded include around the shoulders, bust, under-bust (chest), waist, hips, upper and lower arm circumferences, thigh, knee and lower leg circumferences, arm eye circumference, inseam (leg), and arm length. I recorded a few others as well. All measurements were made while wearing only a bra and panties.
I decided to remove the long sleeves from my tunic, to be replaced by nicely draped bell sleeves stopping above the elbows. (Fortunately, I had a remnant large enough to do this.) I needed to give myself more room through the chest before cutting new sleeves, so I took out my pattern pieces and re-drew the larger size lines I had cut off previously. With my new and improved measurements on the table with me, I made a better size selection for the upper body. I opened the side seams of the tunic, then turned under the raw edge of the armhole, stitching it in place. I then used remnants to cut rectangles large enough to allow me add fabric throughout the armhole, as well as a wedge down the side seam. I edge stitched the rectangles to the tunic around the armholes and about 3 inches down each side so that the previously finished original armhole was on top. I then laid the pattern piece over the corresponding tunic piece, trying to match as closely as possible (allowing for previously sewn seams). I then cut new armholes in the newly attached fabric, effectively adding a strip of cloth around the armhole and a bit at the armpit. The side seams were re-sewn, leaving the tunic ready for the new sleeves.
The moral of this story is simple – don’t assume you know what size you are – keep a good set of your measurements handy and be sure to update them periodically. If you have an undergarment you intend to wear under your next project, wear it for your measurements. Use a long mirror to ensure the measuring tape is level as you measure around your body, and keep in mind that your finished garment should be at least 3-4 inches larger than you to ensure a comfortable fit.
I’ve decided to give clothing projects a rest for a while and try my hand at something completely new for me. I bought a book on quilting for beginners and am looking forward to trying some small craft projects such as placemats for a change of pace.
An example of a measurement diagram and chart. You can find lots of similar drawings on the internet we will try to find a couple of additional links.