Thursday, 17 April 2014

Modifying Maisie - Part 1

Hallo folks,

Not much sewing going on here, but the plans are pretty spectacular!  For a while now, I've been planning on using McCalls 2718 to make an outer shell for my dressform (Maisie) that is my size.  I can make Maisie expand to my measurements, but she is International Triathlete hard, whereas, you know, I can be squishy in areas.  Maisie is great (and was part of my engagement present - superb) but I have been keen to create a squishy version of her for a while.

So what's been putting me off?  Fluctuations in my own size, basically.  But then I got a grip and realised that going through the exercise alone would be really useful and interesting.  And newsflash self: I can always do it again if I change significantly.  It's going to be OK, lol.

So that's where I found myself last weekend - in a zen like place contemplating new education about my shape.  I cut the pattern pieces out and went to work.  First thing to be done is to pin together the darts, the shoulder and the side seams, and fold up the 'excess' areas. 

Here's the back:

Like vintage patterns, there is a dart at the shoulder seam as well as the waist.  I'm not sure why (or when) pattern drafters stopped doing this - I really like this touch in vintage patterns (even those that aren't super-dooper fitted) as my body (maybe not others) isn't a perpendicular angle from shoulder blade to collarbone.
Funny how lying down, without the support of a body, it looks like there is room for a little hunchback. Maybe I won't like what I learn... ;-)

Here's the front:

Pretty standard looking shape.  Next step is to tissue fit the pattern to your body, noting whether it aligns with centre front and centre back and whether the side seam fits.  Also noted are the placement of the bust darts vis a vis your own bust and the overall length of the bodice.  Little snips are taken along the neck and arm edges in order to get it close to the body.  There is also a sleeve for checking width, length and the angle of the swoop (yes, technical term there!).

Here's a photo on a (pulled in) Maisie; pre-snip. You can see how it won't get in close to the body because the paper is resisting it due to the angles in the armhole and neck edges.

I asked Mr CT to help tissue fit it on me, and bless his soul he did, despite being so nervous about pinning me and being out of his 'comfort zone' that he was shaking.  For the record, he did a great job and I didn't feel any pins.  For me, I need to take out the side seam a little and provide 1 cm of additional ease at my bicep (there should be 2.5 cm ease total).  I've made the change to the sleeve pattern already but cutting and spreading the piece along the bicep.  So far so good. I'm interested to see whether I should release the excess in the back piece or just let the side seams out.  Time will tell.

Next step is to undo all the pins, iron the pattern pieces and then cut them out of gingham (which should be a set width for ease).  Then basically go through the process again, but this time basting seams but sewing darts with a short stitch length.

I'm really looking forward to finding out if my body is symmetrical and whether there are any little quirks that are essentially me.  How fun!

Anyone like to guess what I'll be doing over Easter?


  1. I really need to do this to my Diana but like you my shape seems to change and I am reluctant to do it. Ottobre patterns often have the shoulder dart - they fit so well I don't know why more don't use them.

    1. I'll keep you posted on how long it takes Sue - I'm hoping it may just be worth it anyway. Plus, if I'm being realistic my body doesn't fluctuate *that* much! Rachel ☺


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