Sunday, 22 June 2014

Bust Dart Dilemmas

The next pattern I'll be tackling is a doublet, so in preparation it was time to try and eliminate the bust dart from the basic sloper I made and try and get the best fit possible from a flat pattern shape. All of the patterns in Alcega are what today would be referred to as "flat patterns", a pattern without any darts used to help the fabric conform in 3D to the body. All the shaping comes from the major seams, and so the placement and curvature of the seams are vital in helping the fabric lie as smoothly as possible over the lumps and bumps of the human body.

To add another layer of complexity, the dimensions of my little mannequin are a little off in regards to the bust to waist ratio in comparison to most of the patterns in Alcega. My mannequin's bust to waist ratio is 1:0.7 and in Alcega the doublet pattern I am about to draft is roughly 1:0.8. Or in other words, the generic size given in Alcega is roughly the same bust dimension but the waist is a little thicker. I could pad the mannequin, but I actually like the challenge of drafting the patterns to fit, as I would if I was actually using Alcega's pattern book as a pattern source to clothe a human being.

Original sloper. Click to enlarge.
On the original sloper pattern I had marked the bust point (BP), or the point on each side where the bust is most prominent. (Pretty much where the nipple would sit on a well supported breast.) I had drafted the original bust dart so that it almost reached the bust point, while stopping a little short to avoid the 50's style pointy boob syndrome and allowing the fabric to still curve snugly over the bust.

Manipulating the dart. Click to enlarge.
The BP is a vital pattern marking for a woman's pattern, especially if you plan to modify or eliminate darts. It is the radial point from which all of the darts usually take their reference. The first thing I did was trace my basic sloper onto some sturdier card, and redraw the bust dart slightly so that it started right on the BP (while keeping the width of the dart the same at the shoulder). I then cut along one side of the dart, and overlapped the cut edge to the other side and taped it closed from the underside. At this point the pattern piece cannot lie flat, so in order to allow it to you need to open the pattern piece up at one or more other points.

If you are using darts then normally you would slash a new opening from the BP down to the waist to make a new dart, or from the BP across to under the arm hole (for instance). As we are trying to get rid of all darts though what we need to do is redistribute the fullness from the original dart elsewhere without making the waist huge, or changing the size of the armhole, or significantly distorting the basic shape so that it no longer fits.

Work in progress, checking the fit. Click to enlarge.
Once I had opened the modified sloper at a number of points it became clear that I would need to adjust the fullness all round to minimise making the waist or side seams too large. In the end I used modest openings at the side and waist, and opened a cut across from the BP to the front edge, creating a curved front. Not absolutely ideal as the doublet fronts are all straight in Alcega, but one of the only ways to allow for the prominent bust without deforming the shape too much.

The back sloper piece didn't require modification, so I traced around the back and the modified front onto calico, re-drew the side seam to be straight, and then closed up that seam and tested the fit on the mannequin. I pinned a few small adjustments, and re-drew the armhole slightly to eliminate as much of the fullness gathering there without making it too large.

Testing the back fit, and moving the seam. Click to enlarge.
While I had it on the form I also took the opportunity to re-draw side seam so that it more closely followed the back shaping of the doublets in the book.

Modified sloper pieces. Click to enlarge.
And there we have it. The modified sloper now has a curved front, a narrower back, a slightly reshaped arm hole and the side seam moved further towards the back. The next step will be to trace around this onto pattern paper, and then use this pattern as the basis for drafting the next project, the "silk doublet for a woman". Where the challenge will lie is in keeping the essential style lines of the garments in Alcega, while allowing for the modifications we had to make in order to fit a flat pattern.

Next up, f.14 & f.14a the "Silk Doublet for a woman".


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