Finished: Belcarra Blouse & Fit Struggles

I was really excited when Sewaholic brought out the Belcarra pattern. It was first revealed in the photoshoot for another pattern, the Gabriola maxi skirt and I was so eager to get my hands on it that I bought it directly from the Sewaholic website the day it was released.

In hindsight, it would have been preferable to wait a bit longer for the pdf pattern release. Not only would I have got this instantly, but I prefer pdf patterns to paper for tops. I always have to make a few adjustments and you can just cut straight into your print outs without any worries about damaging an original rather than having to trace the paper pattern first. Ugh.
So what is so great about this pattern? I was excited because it doesn't look like any other contemporary sewing pattern I can think of. I also liked the raglan sleeves as I find setting in sleeves difficult plus I love easy-to-wear tops in woven fabric.

The fabric I used was a lightweight cotton, a lawn weight I suppose, bought in the John Lewis sale a couple of years ago. I was very disciplined as I made two muslins, knowing that bodice fitting can be a challenge for me. I have wide shoulders but I think I also have a narrow upper chest as homemade and shop-bought tops are often loose in this area. I cut a 10 (for 36" bust), tapering to a 4 at the hip.

Here's the alterations I made to the pattern before cutting the first muslin:
  • Added 1" to length
  • Added 1" across upper back to give me more width here
  • Brought in the neckline width as I could tell it was going to be bra strap-revealing
The findings of the first muslin:
  • Neckline too wide, so I added to top of sleeves
  • Too much fullness horizontally across the bust so pinched some of this out
The findings of the second muslin:
  • Still too much fullness at the front
I just can't bring myself to make more than two muslins for a garment so decided to get started with my proper fabric. It came together pretty easily but my main issues were:
  • Having trouble easing in the extra width at the back. I think I would not add this next time and can probably get away without it
  • I have too much fabric at the centre front. This wasn't as apparent with the muslins but when I put the neckband on it became obvious:
 
Sorry for the rubbish quality photos, I think you can just about see what I meanabout the extra fabric above the bust

I wonder if this was because I basically cut too large a size? I went by my bust size as usual but if going by my high bust I should have cut an 8. I have read about people using their high bust instead of full bust measurement but I am a bit confused about when I should do this, i.e. if modern/vintage/independent patterns would use this measurement? Or maybe I just need some kind of narrow upper chest adjustment?

In any case, I decided to add two decorative tucks to the neckline to bring it in:
This is fine and does the job but I really want to sort this issue out and understand what the problem is. As I mentioned, I have had this problem before - I have a Seasalt T-shirt which is gappy in this area plus one of my Grainline Scout Tees is also too wide here so I had to do a central decorative pleat along the neckline to sort out the fit.

Would I make the top again? Yes - I like the shape and style of it. I also managed to squeeze it out of 1metrre of fabric, by leaving off the cuffs. This isn't ideal but its tricky to use up 1 metre fabric lengths - I really have to stop buying that much!
 You can see the shape of the top well in this picture. I think it's a flattering shape and another lovely pattern by Sewaholic.

Please comment below if you can help with my fitting woes. Do you have the same issue? Do you know how to fix it?

K x

18 comments:

  1. This looks lovely and your neckline fix is inspired. I would cut out your pattern using your chest measurement rather than the full bust. The upper chest area is hard to fit and an FBA is quite easy to do. I have to do this too as I have (relatively) small shoulders to (huge) full bust and this has solved a whole world of fitting issues that I had, like gaping necklnes and armholes, when sizing with my bust measurement. I would apply this to patterns across the board. Hope this helps.

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    1. Thank you, this is very helpful, I will look into this

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  2. So my understanding about bust / high bust is that you use your high bust measurement if you know you need to do a FBA/SBA - that's if bust/high bust are widely different. It doesn't sound like you need that to me, but I suppose you can try it. I think what's more likely to have happened is that you did something awkward when you brought the shoulders in - the Belacarra is supposed to be very wide shouldered, and they have a post on how to bring things in which you might want to check out.

    Alternatively, you can try to cut based on high bust measurement and do an FBA I guess, but you can also take a look at finished measurements - size 10 has a whooping 4 inches of ease in the Belacarra (http://sewaholic.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/1402_Sewaholic_Belcarra_Envelope_back.pdf) - I prefer less ease than that, but YMMV.

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    1. Thanks Laura. It does have a lot of ease doesn't it? I think the measurement of my final blouse ended up a bit closer to the size down. I don't think the neckline adjustments I made would have made a difference to the fit but I'll check out Tasia's method for the adjustment and see if it differed from mine

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  3. This is lovely! I don't know if you need a fba, but if you did that would explain the gaping (not enough boob curvature in the pattern) You could rotate the extra fulness into side bust darts for next time?
    Just a thought. I don't normally get this issue! (Small bust).
    Very nice top, well done! :)

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    1. Thanks Jo, I will look into this :)

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  4. Nice fabric choice
    What you could do for next time is measure your accurate bust measurement (with bra on at the time)
    Note this down and compare to your pattern.
    Trace the pattern with your existing adjustments onto new paper.
    As the top is quite wide, you could take in the pattern at centre front in line with your bust measurement allowing for ease.

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    1. Thanks Miss J, I think you're right and I could make an adjustment at the centre front, that would prbably be an easy solution

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  5. Ugh, I sympathize with your neckline gape-age. I have the exact same problem on every pattern I make. Turns out I have a "hollow chest" and must do a hollow chest adjustment. I have to make a muslin, pin out the excess, then redraw my center fold cutting line on the pattern at a new angle from where I pinned. It makes for more muslining, but it's worth it as I don't have any gaping now. I found several tutorials online, so I'd say just search "hollow chest adjustment" and that should give a better description than I am :) Good luck! And I love your top as is - great idea with adding the tucks!

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    1. Aha, this strikes a chord with me. The idea of a hollow chest makes sense as when I buy a bra I can only buy certain styles as the shape of my breastbone goes in, so that a lot of bras don't sit against my chest in the centre. This type of adjustment might be exactly what I need

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  6. I have this problem with every thing I make too and I am not sure that a FBA is the right answer for me as patterns tend to fit everywhere else except the upper chest area. How I have got past this is to take a wedge out of the neck and back neck of patterns before I sew them or I cut a 10 bust and a 6 shoulder and neck. It has worked so far but I think I need a better fix soon so I will read these responses with interest!

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    1. This is interesting, as I have wide shoulders, and when I googled hollow chest as Megan suggested an associated issue is narrow shoulders which I definitely don't have, so now I think I must be some weird freakish shape! But taking a wedge out sounds like it might be similar to Megan's fix

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  7. It's a shame you had the problems but the top looks so good! Love that fabric (and your sweet phone cover).

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  8. Thank you - I do wear it a lot

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  9. Lovely fabric, think this pattern is deliberately wide on the neck ? can't help on the hollow front as I'm the other and just grasping the FBA concept ( it sometimes stands for additional phrases!!) still a great wearable top :)

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    1. Thanks Amanda, yes it's deliberately wide which I think exaggerates the hollow front issue as I don't always seem to find it

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  10. Love your top - really pretty fabric. I can't comment on your issues, unfortunately as I am absolutely rubbish at fitting. It's actually putting me off sewing at the moment. Normally I don't need to adjust for my bust, but being larger due to breast feeding, I'm scared I might need to learn about FBAs and all sorts of other things, that I don't have the brain space for right now. I actually have the Belcarra traced, and have to admit, I just traced the larger bust size tapered to my usual hip size. I'm wondering now though, if this is a bad idea. I need a looser fit to allow for feeding but I don't want it to look ridiculous!

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  11. It's really a pretty top with a great shape to it. I'm glad you were able to save it with the cute tucks. I do a hollow upper chest adjustment (depending on the garment)....My sternum goes in, but I definitely don't have narrow shoulders. I've read that it's often associated with a curvature in the upper back, and I found making an adjustment for that has been extremely helpful, especially in sleeve/shoulder fit, oddly enough.

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Thanks for reading and commenting - I love to hear what you have to say