I've begun the process of adjusting my pattern, and while I've corrected some things, other issues have appeared. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It's very frustrating.
There are definitely things that I've gotten right here, namely rethinking the way the back and shoulders relate to the tension in the front. But the more I fiddle, the more I get little issues that I have to back-track on. I'm getting muffin top. I'm still getting quad-boob. The shape looks great head on, but in profile, it looks terrible.
So instead of giving up, I now have the perfect excuse to go back to the drawing board. I don't think I need to go all the way back to a draping process, but I don't think I can move forward with this muslin.
When I started out, I doodled the above as I was brainstorming my issues. The black lines are roughly what my existing pattern looked like, and the red is the new, mostly. What I was trying to think through was that perhaps the squishing I was getting was because the bust fullness was located in the wrong place.
Thinking it through some more, I started to realize that my pattern was too flat. I am not a paper doll, so it doesn't make much sense that a garment intended to fit my body should be able to lay out mostly flat. There should be areas in which the garment puffs and pockets when laid out. The only way this can happen (assuming that more advanced techniques of fabric stretching and shrinking are not yet in full development) is to introduce 3-dimensionality within the panels themselves.
One way to do that is to ease a curve on the edge of one panel into the straight edge of another. So I tried that on the side seam. I made additional, minor adjustments after this, but here's the shape of the seams on the front panel (right side of the photo in the side seam):
And here's the corresponding line on the back, which I hope you can also see was brought in from the original placement as it travels up to the armpit (on the right side of the picture):
The effect is that the side seam now sits on my side (and not riding forward), and my boob has a small pocket to sit in, without traveling into my armpit, or being forced to the back. I highly recommend giving this technique a try if you have issues with your boobs wanting to sit under your arms.
Unfortunately, while I really liked the results of that adjustment, I didn't like what happened to the front. In the photo above, you can see the front seam (left-hand seam). Like I said, I made additional adjustments after these photos, but regardless, my aim was to relieve the squishing and create a pocket like the one on the side.
I ended up with a uniboob. Which happened because I gave it too much curve. Tightening that up helped, but then I ended up with a muffin top.
In the middle of this, Baroness Sylvie shared the end result of a new kirtle she's been working on. If you browse through her photos, you'll see her pattern. She used a straight front (which I have used in the past as well), pushing all her bust curve to the sides. You can see from her finished photos that she gets a nice line of support across the base of her bust.
I went back to a blank piece of muslin and redid the front panels for a straight front. Remember that anything removed from one spot has to be replaced in another, so if I create a straight front, the sides end up with all the curve. This also means that my band of underbust support needed to be adjusted. In the picture below, you can see the new line for the side seam. The straight edge of the muslin is the new front center.
I got to this by marking the underbust location, measuring what I was adding to that width in the front, and moving the side's underbust width inward that amount.
The back panels were not changed at this point. So I now had this significant cup to match up with the straighter back side of the seam. To do that, I used a gathering stitch to "shrink" the curve up, and pinned it down. This does create wrinkles, but if I took more time and really finessed the ease, those would practically disappear once the garment is on.
I also added the lacing strips. I ended up having to shift them out to add a bit more room in the front (I'd cut too short in the bust width), and I think they could be pushed out a bit more. I was getting some muffin top still, so I stood in front of the mirror, tugging and pulling to see what corrected it, and discovered that I needed to significantly shift the front panel's shoulder outward from the back, and remove length on the neck side of the seam.
I also needed to severely reduce the angle on the back seam. The original location is the bottom red line. The top red line is where it finally ended up. And I can tell you, the upper back is locked and loaded.
I am MUCH closer to a great pattern than I was this morning, but there are still some issues.
The lacing is gaping right at the base of the bust. At the same time, however, I can still get this on entirely laced up. I was able to do that even before I shifted the lacing strips out, so either my boobs have been traded for octopi, or the underbust band is still not tight enough.
Note, also, how much I've shrunk up the neckline. If I start cutting that back down to the wide, low scoop it's supposed to be, I'm afraid the muffin top will come back.
I like the shape I'm getting in profile, for the most part. There's a lot of strained banding from the lacing, so that just reinforces to me that the panels aren't wide enough in the front at the bust. I'm not in love with how high the bust goes. That's the wrong shape, I think, and means that there isn't enough space down lower, where it belongs.
In this slightly different angle, you can see the side seam position at the underbust. I think this is set too high, feeding the flesh into the same kind of saggy pocket in the front that I was already dealing with. You can kind of see how the looser fabric under the boobs creases upwards toward that point.
I think I'm really close, so here are the changes I want to try next:
- Add width to the center front edges on each side to further reduce the strain of the lacing and correct the gap.
- Shift the underbust down on the sides at least 1/2" (which also gives more space for the boobs).
- Reduce the underbust width even more to remove the ability to slip the garment on without undoing the lacing. I need to find the way to do this so that I don't bring the gap back to the center front. I'm thinking this needs to be a back-based adjustment.
- Open the neckline back up to how large it needs to be and continue to finesse the shoulder seam to counter any adverse results.