Still with me?
In US bra sizing, I'm a 40L. I believe that translates to HH in UK sizing. The L translates to a bust-to-underbust difference of 12". I also have what's knows as "kissing breasts" that like to travel to the middle for a party. If I want my breasts to be separated, there's a lot of engineering involved, which my boobs would probably laugh at anyway. If there's any chance for the breasts to come together, they will take it. So, in general, I tend to look for solutions that allow my boobs to combine their powers in the middle, but not so much so that an actual uni-boob occurs. I want to aim for a nice, even spread across my bust for the best look.
I have to take a moment to acknowledge that I'm never going to make my breasts conform to the medieval ideal. The ideal for the early 15th century was high, medium-sized, rounded mounds. That's mounds, plural. Not a swath of boob across the upper torso. So I'm not going to kid myself with that, but I still want to get my bust high and rounded. Not squished or flattened. I need to if I'm going to show off my narrower underbust, which is a bit more ideal.
To start this project, I needed to identify the failings of my current system and pattern. And that's what we're going to look at today. So I started off with a muslin of my current dress pattern (used for my green linen cotte), tossed it on over my "event bra" (a not-so-well-fitting soft-cup bra with no underwire, that also happens to be bright green), and took some photos.
|Most current cotte pattern as is worn with bra (aka, what I've been doing)|
There are other issues as well that I suppose happen in my green linen dress, but perhaps not as noticeably or as severely as here. My bust is squished. In the effort to lift it as high as I can comfortably get it, it's flattened in the center. You can really see that in the side view above. If I had to take a guess here, I'd say this is a side effect of forcing a soft object against a highly-tensioned flat panel of fabric, since it's occurring in the spot on each panel with the least shaping- the center of the panel between the underbust and neckline, where only the grain of the fabric is at play.
The next clearly visible problem is the positioning of the shoulder seams. They are pulled significantly forward. The primary issue is that the underbust is too loose, allowing the back to ride up, which my breasts exploit by dragging the slack forward. In cottes (as well as bras, BTW), 80-90% of the support comes from the fit of the underbust band and initial lift created by the shape of the "cup" in which the boobs rest. You can see in the front view that my boobs have a pronounced "w" shape, where they sag into the center of the panels as a result of a failure of support and incorrect shaping.
There are some other issues here, but next, I wanted to do a direct comparison to the way this exact pattern fit if I removed the bra.
|Most current cotte pattern as is worn without bra (not what I've been doing)|
So, obviously, this pattern isn't going to get me where I want to go, but I need to have a clear picture of the destination to begin making some adjustments. Here are the things I need to address:
- Adjust the fit of the underbust band to reduce/eliminate the slack where my bust can sag into the center of the panels, and instead force the boobs upward evenly along their base.
- Ease the side seams in the front under the arms, and reduce the width of the back panels to force the seam back to side-center, and round out the bust shape.
- Eliminate slack in overbust region to smooth out quad-bood tightness by adjusting the shoulder seam angle further upward on the outside.
- Continue quad-bood elimination and rounding by increasing the inward curve of the center seam up to the neckline. This will more greatly effect the side-view "muffin top" effect.
- Increase the length of the shoulder bands on the inside (neck side) of the shoulder seams to reduce strain on the center of the panels. Also, reduce the underbust width on the back panels and decrease the length of the shoulder bands in the back to prevent the back from sliding forward over the shoulder.
- Ease out the center seam under the tighter underbust to prevent the fabric from sliding upward and gathering under the boobs.
I believe I have enough extra in my seam allowances to make these adjustments on this muslin. If not, I'll start over with a re-draft. We'll see what I come up with next week.