I've been thinking about that Modern Art dress a lot in the past couple of days. I haven't managed to put the dress itself away yet. Every time I look at it, all I see are the weird fit issues that it has. And not to sound too smug, I think it's an issue with the pattern. I've tried several patterns from the same maker, and have never had anything decent come from them. If I do have something come from them, it's after I take the pattern and adapt the heck of out it. And I'm not ignoring the fact that I mess up all the time, but when you've used four patterns from the same place and each of them have glaring fit issues, you begin to wonder if it really is all you. Especially when I'm able to use other patterns without these same issues happening.
But I did wonder if it was my own fault causing some of the issues in the first place. When I was hemming the sleeves I did use very small hems, so I was wondering if the extra material at the armhole was what was causing all those fit issues (the puckering at the top mainly), so I made a quick test garment this time I took the armholes in the distance between the needle to the edge of the presser foot, a huge seam allowance. But even doing that I got the extra fabric over the shoulders and the gaping in the chest. So I knew that wasn't causing my problem.
So I started adapting the pattern. Using my most recent test pattern I took it in in the front, maybe 1/8 of an inch. This helped the fit immensely, but that's after taking in almost 1/4 of an inch in the front! No wonder the top was so blousey. After I did that there wasn't such a huge gap in the front anymore. I also angled the back seam since the first time I made it I had a huge amount of extra fabric at the lower back snap. Again I made another test piece to see if my changes worked or not. And it was a bit of an improvement, but I wasn't totally in love with it. The fit wasn't as tight as I would like it. I tend to like a really crisp fitted bodice. I mean Barbie's got the body for it, and it's not like I have to worry about her breathing.
But instead of working with that pattern and tweaking it again I decided it needed an entire overhaul. The original pattern was one that wrapped around the body and the main seams were at the neckline. I find that I work much better when the seams are at the sides and the collar area is one solid piece from the start. So using the original pattern I created a new pattern, one that now used side seams. While I was at it, I also changed the sleeve hole, and completely redid the darts. The original darts were weird and both oddly sized and placed. I gave a quick test of my pattern and feeling that it could actually work I started sewing with some decent fabric.
I chose this pink checked fabric that I bought to make that reproduction (Non-Barbie) vintage doll dress, the one that Trench-Setter ended up wearing. I focused my attention working on the bodice, stopping every few steps to test the fit on Midge. There's a few minor kinks to work out, but this top came out much better than the original. I was able to cut down a lot of the odd gaping that the other one had, it's just a much tighter fit in the bodice. My neckline is a lot closer to the dolls neck, and there's no way that my collar is going to reach the doll's shoulders, but I'm fine with that. I couldn't get the original pattern to do that either. I'm sure with some more monkeying around I'll be able to figure that out.
I was so motivated with this dress's success that I managed to finish it today. I got the skirt added, and reinforced all the seams. I even hand sewed the hem of the skirt, which I only end up doing if the stitching messes up, or I really like the dress, this one was the latter. I was even able to make Midge a hairband from a bit of the cutaway I had left. And yes, I said Midge because this is her dress, she's keeping it. It really looks adorable on her. I really like it, so I'm glad I went back to that pattern. I have a couple other ideas for this pattern, although with such a distinct collar I worry about it looking to obvious that it's the same pattern if someone else is wearing something made from it.
I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
But it's not like there's 58 million people still wearing that turtleneck pattern in the collection...