Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally...something done...

I finally finished McCalls 5522, sewing on all 11 buttons while sitting in the endoscopy waiting area at the local hospital whilst My Sweet Baboo endured the Routine Over 50 Health Procedure Everyone Hates.

I have to say, the shirt looks better than I expected. At various times in the process of constructing it I was sure it was gonna be a wadder. I don't think it's a wadder, but I'll have to be careful when I wear it, as it's definitely Not There Yet, fit-wise.

The first issue I had was when I sewed the horizontal seams; I was sure those stripes w/their near-matching would just be too jarring and was really wishing I'd cut the lower pieces on the bias to minimize that. Then, when I added the front band, I found that the stripes were not quite matching up vertically there, either...and I was afraid that'd be jarring. Oh, if I had only added the ruffles, they would totally have masked the variations in stripe widths at the band seams. Then I realized the collar is cut on the wrong grainline; those stripes should be horizontal, not vertical. That's the way it's marked; it just didn't register that, for a striped shirt, I'd really want them going the other way.

And so on.

But, once it was all together, it didn't seem as bad as I thought. Except for one slight problem.

The dreaded Binding Sleeve. That is All. I. Can. Raise. My. Arms.

I've hit this problem over and over again on regular fitted shirt sleeves. It feels like there's not enough fabric in the sleeve, and too much fabric in the shirt, right at the underarm. When I raise my arm, as you can see in the circled spot, the shirt pulls and the sleeve twists over the upper arm.

But I went through several of the reviews for this pattern, and I didn't find anyone else who made the long-sleeved version who mentioned this problem.

I've read several opinions of what causes this but I haven't really seen a solution...a pattern fix...for it. I don't want the sleeve to be looser; it really isn't tight until I move my arms.

Aside from that, I found that I hadn't added enough ease in the back just above my waist (that old lady back fat thing is starting to happen...sigh), and I don't think the stand is high enough for the collar. It's not intended to button all the way up, and it's a good thing, because if it were buttoned at the band the collar bends and crinkles unattractively. Open, it's fine.

So, yeah, this one gets a C+ for fitting, although that's not really the pattern's fault. It's not really drafted to fit a pudgy middle aged lady, and I haven't been a pudgy middle aged lady long enough to have the fit routine nailed down.

I'll get the review done and explain the alterations I did in more detail later on tonight (I hope).

Meantime, it sure feels good to put something in the 'done' column!


  1. Very neat, close armholes help with the whole arm raising thing. Seems sort of counter intuitive, but if the armhole closely tracks your shoulder joint, particularly under the arm it seems to pull less when moving the arm.

  2. That makes perfect sense...what I can't figure out is a way to know how to adjust the armhole so that it is properly fitted. It's not like 'measure the waist and add x amount to all seams'.

    I've been just trying to find a magic draft that I can use as a template, but so luck. I've about decided I'm gonna have to just start muslining my way through the adjustments until I come up with my own template. Sigh.

  3. It still looks nice, and on you as well.

  4. Love this blouse, but, sorry, can't help you with the sleeve fitting. (Could it be too narrow across the back?)

    I love stripes and often cut a collar in such a way that the stripes go against what we usually think should be their direction. I like the look of yours.

  5. Lisa, I still have this one in muslin stage from more than a year ago and I think you nailed why I don't like it yet. I made all the same adjustments that you did but I still didn't like it. I think Ruthie's idea about raising the armhole higher (something Sarah Veblen drilled into me) will be both more flattering in the bust area and also give us the mobility. And maybe someday I'll pull that muslin out and do it!

  6. Oh, the binding sleeve, too bad. Your stripes match in front even though you had a bust gather at the seam. Very impressive!

  7. I agree with Ruthie, raising the bottom of the armscye so that it is higher and closer to the armpit will help. Take your pattern piece and add to the height of the side seam at the top, the armpit, and then blend it into the armscye. The sleeve cap height will also have to be reduced to fit into the smaller armhole.

    But, Congrats! You did finish something and I love the way this looks in stripes.

  8. When we run into this fitting problem we do a sort of cut on gusset. Imagine the football shape of a standard gusset. Now add half that shape to the pattern at the armpit (thus raising the underarm as others mentioned) and half to the sleeve pattern at the underarm (which not only decreases the cap drop but decreases the circumference of the sleeve armscye so it fits into the smaller body armscye better).
    Note that if you add a large amount you will get the appearance of a gusset when you raise your arms.

  9. Your shirt turned out beautifully! I must admit that I also had this exact same problem with this pattern when I sewed it - more than a year ago. I never reviewed the pattern because I kept thinking I could figure out what I had done "wrong".

  10. You look good in this shirt, and did nice pattern-matching also. It's too bad about the arm binding issue. That's why I have many unsewn button-front shirt patterns in the stash.