Author Topic: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!  (Read 5217 times)

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Offline rebpalma

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Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« on: June 09, 2010, 07:39:46 AM »
As a beginner sewist I wanted to start with this easy project
http://www.diksi.es/es/producto/101/
but it's turning out to be a fitting nightmare!

The fabric is a double knit.

After I cut and basted the pieces and tried it on, I saw that it makes this wrinkle at the back
http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingDiscussions/topic/46758/1

It seems that I need a sway back alteration.

I really don't want to create a center back seam as there is none in the original dress I'm trying to knock off. So I wanted to try this alteration http://www.fitthat.com/swayback.htm that apparently can be transferred to the fabric on the fold, but I failed to understand it.

Instead I tried this alteration
http://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/87754/pdf_695.pdf?sequence=1
but I'm starting to realize that it creates a center back seam. Am I right?

This is what happens when I try to transfer this altered back pattern to the fabric:
- I fold the fabric,
- I place the central point of the neckline right on top of the foldline, and then place the central point of the hem right on top of the foldline,
- you will see a triangle of fabric uncovered by the pattern: the vertical side of the triangle is the new foldline of the fabric; the other two sides of the triangle are the "elbow" created by the former foldline of the pattern

What am I supposed to do with this triangle of fabric? I have two options:

A) Not cutting it out and leaving it there. That keeps the back of the dress seamless, but creates and excess of width at the waist, which I'm afraid will reproduce the sway back wrinkle problem. Plus, not cutting the fabric out will shorten the length of the dress at the back, and I would have to add some length at the hem.

B) Cutting it out. This preserves the waist perimeter and the original length of the dress, but forces me to cut the pieces on the bias, plus it creates the center back seam that I was trying to avoid. However, at this point I'm so desperate to finish the d**n dress that I'd do anything.

Can anyone help me here? If I keep this alteration, should I go for A (not cutting the triangle out) or B (cutting it out)? Or could anyone explain to me the other alteration that I didn't understand (http://www.fitthat.com/swayback.htm).

Thank you very much in advance!


Online ejvc

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 08:13:02 AM »
Reb,

OK, I have this problem in spades.  What they call swayback I call the booty alteration :-) -- you have to go from the narrow part of your waist to the wide part of your behind.  The extra fabric has to come from somewhere.  If it's not taken into the waist by darts or seams, it puddles above the rear end.  What the alterations are doing is creating some place for that fabric.  You can't get around it, it's just geometry.  If you don't want a curved centre back seam, then you need darts.  Or gathers (as in, under a belt, or using an elastic casing across the back). Or pleats.  Or you get what I mean.

It's very likely that if that style of dress doesn't fit you when you make it, it wouldn't have fit you at the store either.  You'll note on the back view of your inspiration that they've used a slim model and that there is lots of ease in the waist while the dress clings to the behind.  It's just not suitable for everyone. Some of us aren't meant to wear rectangles, even with slight shaping!  In your place, I would add the centre back seam and enjoy a comfortable and well fitted dress.

Elizabeth
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Sewing and machine knitting in Karlstad, Sweden!

Offline rebpalma

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 09:53:10 AM »
It's very likely that if that style of dress doesn't fit you when you make it, it wouldn't have fit you at the store either. 

 :laugh: Elizabeth, believe it or not, that made me feel better!

Offline mcgintie

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 10:25:52 AM »
I'm a bit puzzled by this one but you could try this. Turn in inside out and pin three or four vertical darts from above waist to below - say five inches long and tapering from nothing at each end to about a eight to a quarter of an inch at the waist. Try it on and see if it makes any difference (if it doesn't then you haven't ruined the garment).

Offline DeniseM

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2010, 02:27:15 PM »
I would get hold of a copy of Fit for Real People. I, too, have a swayback alteration and it is quite possible to get this dress to fit you. I always make a muslin first. Usually, I remove a wedge of fabric from the side to the middle of the pattern and this eliminates the wrinkling. This style dress won't fit you in the store because they don't make rtw to accommodate personal fit issues. That's why we sew.

A lot of women, most in fact, have a definite outward curve at the base of the spine and we walk with our booty sticking out which exaggerates the curve. This can be mild scoliosis or years of walking in heels. Unless you have a flat behind, you'll need to remove fabric from that area or it will puddle.

You can get this garment to fit you and look good. You just need to make the right alterations to the pattern ahead of time. Get some cheap fabric with the same stretch as your fashion fabric, do some basic alterations to the pattern as described in FFRP, then make it up in the cheap knit. You will see if any other alterations are needed. If you can't find FFRP, any book that deals with fitting will tell you how to alter for this common figure variation.

Offline LisaB

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2010, 05:44:31 PM »
Or could anyone explain to me the other alteration that I didn't understand (http://www.fitthat.com/swayback.htm).
I have never made the alteration in the way shown in these diagrams, but the effect is to shorten the CB distance. Looking at the drawings, I think it will also change the angle of the shoulder seam.

Look at the first drawing. See the solid red lines? The line starts at CB, goes toward the side seam and then up to the neck/shoulder intersection. Then it goes across the shoulder and down the armhole to the double notches. The instructions are to draw this line on your back pattern piece and then cut along the line. Next, cut the seam allowance to (but not through) the seam line at the three blue lines (neck/shoulder intersection, shoulder/armhole intersection, and armhole double notches). Finally, look at the second drawing. See the section with the yellow arrowing pointing down? Move that section down the amount that you'd like to remove from CB. Then tape the pieces so they stay put.

I think it would be interesting if you made a copy of your back pattern and tried this method. You could then compare it to your original to see if the shoulder and armscye shaping changed.

A completely separate idea is to cut the back on the fold but to add a fisheye dart on either side. This is what mcgintie suggested, though she suggested using multiple darts. I've done this in the past just using one dart lined up with my shoulder blade. The widest part of the dart should be where the fabric pools. These are easy to baste in place for a fitting and then fine tune as needed. You may be able to remove all the excess this way. You will have to experiment.


Offline rebpalma

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2010, 07:41:46 AM »
Hello ladies!

This sway back problem is definitely delaying the finish of my dress but I am learning so much in the process of overcoming this problem!
I will go over the several suggestions that you have given to me to explain why they won't work for me (or how I made them work, depending on the case):

A) Multiple darts to remove the excess of fabric: This sounds like the easiest option and it would probably work, but I didn't even try this one as I wanted my dress to look like a tunic and not like a fitted dress. Besides, if I am going to "ruin" the seamless look of the back, I'd rather do it with one crisp vertical line in the center, rather than with several vertical lines.

B) This alteration http://www.fitthat.com/swayback.htm: After LisaB generously helped me to understand how this alteration works, I realized that it's unlikely that it will work for me (or for anyone, for that matter, unless the amount of fabric to remove is less than 3 cm long in the vertical). I measured how much fabric I needed to remove and it was 5 cm (about 2"). If I did as shown in the instructions, the shoulder slope would increase from left to right, instead of decreasing from left to right as one could expect from a shoulder slope! I don't think the side of the neckline is supposed to be lower than the upper part of your armscye. Plus, the shoulder strap would necessarily have to become narrower if we want to keep the center back foldline vertical. If we keep the width of the shoulder strap untouched, when we slide the central piece of the pattern downwards, it will also slope to the left. So unless anyone can show me that I'm wrong here, I won't try this one. But if I am wrong and there is still a chance of cutting this back piece on the fold, please tell me! Because a center back seam makes me SAD.

C) This alteration http://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/87754/pdf_695.pdf?sequence=1: Yesterday evening I modified the pattern as shown here and I transferred the marks to the fabric, but I didn't cut it yet. I'm delaying the cutting as much as I can until I am sure of what I'm doing. I pinned the center back seam and I also pinned the front and back pieces on the shoulders, then on the sides, and tried the dress on. Many wrinkles have disappeared but not all of them. I tried pinning the sides in a thousand different ways for an hour, but I still had wrinkles that went from shoulder blade to side of the waist. I was about to give up, but then I tried removing all pins from the side seams and let the front and back pieces hang free to see where they placed themselves naturally. Then almost all the wrinkles disappeared. Carefully I pinned the dress again where the fabric fell naturally. Now I'm using even the seam allowance for my dress (and have no seam allowance left at all), but it seems that I had drawn a silhouette too narrow in the waist. I mean, originally there was a lot of ease in the waist, but apparently not enough to let the dress hang as a tunic.

And I wonder: how is it possible that I copied the pattern from another RTW knit tunic dress that fits me perfectly, however when I transfer that pattern to this fabric the shape is all wrong? Certainly, my present fabric is a double knit slightly heavier than the simple knit of the original RTW dress, but only slightly heavier, and the drape and stretch are the same. So I don't understand.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed hoping that someone will tell me how to make option B work... before this afternoon, when I will grab my scissors and...  :-\
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 07:44:40 AM by rebpalma »

Online ejvc

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2010, 07:57:37 AM »
Reb - good for you.  And, you have discovered one of the true mysteries of sewing.  Fabrics just don't behave the same way as each other.  I have a trouser pattern that I have made several times.  The basic fit is good.  But, sometimes it is too big (I had to take in 1 1/2") sometimes too small (I had no seam allowance left, practically, and the trousers are still snug) and sometimes just perfect.  You are learning the key lesson, which is --- baste every garment, even if it *should* fit you, before you sew it.
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Offline mcgintie

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2010, 08:22:00 AM »
ejvc,
A light has come on - never saw the point of basteing before, and yet I also have that problem with TNT pants. (I was in Goldhawk Rd this week - can you point me to your London trip thread so I can post?)

Offline Dusty

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2011, 05:45:08 PM »
Hi. 

I, too, have to alter every pattern for a deep swayback.  I found 3 effective methods here, with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for patterns with or without a center back seam.  I hope this helps.  http://buzzybeesworld.blogspot.com/2010/12/sway-back-alterations-my-analysis.html

Kind regards, Dusty

Offline Patti B

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2011, 07:03:33 PM »
Dusty, I really appreciate your blog illustrations and explanations -- thanks!

Offline rebpalma

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2011, 07:21:17 PM »
Dear Dusty, thank you so much for the link! If I had known the last method for a seamless back, my dress would have turned out exactly like the original I was trying to knock off! But it's better late than never. I'm so glad to have learnt something new today. Thanks to you!
A big hug.

Offline sdBev

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2011, 01:46:51 PM »
Dear Dusty, thank you so much for the link! If I had known the last method for a seamless back, my dress would have turned out exactly like the original I was trying to knock off! But it's better late than never. I'm so glad to have learnt something new today. Thanks to you!
A big hug.
Rebpalma
I think the shoulder seams could be ripped and the back recut as illustrated at the very bottom of the link Dusty gave.   I'm referring to the diagram in the discussion for geeks section. The back waist length is shorten at the top along the back neck and shoulder. It is similar to how we would pull pants up in front and trim at the front-waist when the front crotch is too long.   IOW, I think you can still save this dress.
Let's see if I can link that photo
« Last Edit: September 05, 2011, 01:49:09 PM by sdBev »

Offline rebpalma

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2011, 03:51:16 PM »
Hello SdBev!
Thank very much... But I finished that dress months ago (it turned out very nice in spite of the added CB seam).
But now that I have learnt this new method, you can be sure that my next dress will not have a CB seam!
This tutorial has made me very happy  :)

Offline sdBev

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Re: Sway back alteration on a dress: please help!
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2011, 09:14:59 PM »
Hello SdBev!
Thank very much... But I finished that dress months ago (it turned out very nice in spite of the added CB seam).
But now that I have learnt this new method, you can be sure that my next dress will not have a CB seam!
This tutorial has made me very happy  :)
Oh my bad.  This popped up on my list as a new topic today.  I didn't even bother to check the dates of the previous posts. Definitely, a blond moment for me. :redgrin:

 

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