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Permalink 11:06:14 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 473 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Taking your Measurements

The Back Width measure is the second-most important measurement with Truly Victorian patterns. It is a rather hard measure to take, more guessed at than decidedly placed.   But once you get an idea of where to measure to and from, it really isn't that much of a problem.

And the really good news is that with the TV sizing system, even if you get the back width  wrong, you still have a pattern that fits. It also means you can fudge it if you need to make the pattern a little easier to work with. For example, if the math tells you that you need a size that is beyond the range of the pattern, you can adjust the back width to a number that gets you back on the chart again.

So what exactly does the back width do, if it doesn't matter what number you measure?  It basically tells you where along the bust measure your armhole is placed. The armhole placement determines where the back ends and front begins and the proportions of front to back.   This helps give you a different pattern  that suits both 42AA bust and a 42DDD.  The 42AA bust has more room in the back and less in the front, whereas the 42DDD has less room in the back and more room in the bust.    The armhole placement can also be adjusted for manually, during a mockup fitting, so making changes to back width measure can still be worked around if needed.  As you will always have the 42" needed to get around your body, it will fit no matter what, but you might need to make extra modifications.

I love the historical idea of this measurement, and how it relates to the sizing system.  Today, we just measure the front and the back and go from there. But in Victorian time, men (tailors) where starting to make women's clothing.  And it would be a horrible breach of propriety for a man to be "fondling" a woman's bust to take measurements.  So the idea was to measure the whole, from behind as discussed in the previous chapter, and then  measure the back.  When you subtract the back from the whole, whatever is left has to be the front by default.

So, how do you take the measurement?  The first step is to find the point on the back of the shoulder where the arm seems to attach to the back.  Many of the old manuals say to measure from dress armhole seam across the back, but if you don't have a dress already, that doesn't help much.    Halfway between the bottom of the armhole, and the top of the shoulder, at the back of the arm, is the "sweet spot".   Once you have found the place, measure across the back from one side to the other.


Permalink 06:43:07 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 697 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Working with patterns, Taking your Measurements
Ok, so you have decided to start a new sewing project. You have chosen your patterns, and are looking at them trying to figure out where/how to begin. Yay! Congratulations, for getting past the wishful thinking/design stage!

The very first thing you need to do now, is take your personal body measurements. It is tempting to take quickie measures by yourself, just so you can get to the next step. But you really need to take your time, get a friend, and do this part right. Unlike modern patterns that have a minimum of 4" of ease added to them, most historical pattern have virtually no ease allowances. Which means if you measure poorly, your dress most likely won't fit. A really big problem is that the 4" ease gap of modern patterns has allowed hobby seamstresses to become overly lax in taking proper measurements. In particular, the Bust Measure. The most important measurement of them all.

But let's back up a minute.  Before you take your measures, you need to put on your underwear and corset.  I highly recommend that you wear a proper corset, and not just a modern bra/panty set.  I will save the corset debate for another post.  But if you are measuring over a bra, and not a corset, the resulting lower bust height can be a little problematic with getting a Victorian bust measure.   Another note is that historically, a tailor would take a ladies measurements OVER her clothing.  As we today take the measures over the corset, not the dress, be sure to not pull the tape too tight.

Ok, back to the bust measure.  Have your partner who is measuring you stand behind you, holding the end of the tape in one hand.  As your partner passes the tape around your body, you are in charge of placing the tape so that it passes over the widest part of your bust.  Interestingly enough, while you fiddle with this, your elbows will be up in the air.  During this time, your partner should be lifting up slightly on the tape, so that the tape passes up into your armpits.  While your partner maintains enough tension on the tape to keep it in place, you drop your arms to your sides, and stand comfortably straight, head up, shoulders down, back, and even.  In this position, your partner can take the tape straight across your back and read your measurement.  Unless you have a very high back to your corset, this will most likely place the tape above the corset.  Lay the tape smoothly across the back, but don't pull it tight.  If you have a lot of extra tissue that comes out over the top of your corset at the back of the arm, you can pull the tape a little bit tighter.  (This will make the dress pull in some of that tissue later.)

View from the back.



View from the side.



View from the front. (the tape slipped upwards slightly durring the photo sesion.)


As you can see, the tape will most likely raise a little bit at the back.  If you are wearing a bra, the fullest part of your bust may be lower in front, and the angle towards the back more pronounced.

This method measures you at the absolute fullest part of your body.  This is the most fabric that you will get in your bodice.  And remember, there is no ease.  What you measure is what you get.  Commonly today, a person will stand in front to measure.  But doing so allows the back of the tape to drop too low, or to fall about bra band level.  It is my experience that allowing the tape to fall in the back will make your measurement a full 2" less than what it should be.  I get complaints all the time about mockups and bodices that are 2" too small, or reviews saying the patterns runs small, etc.  Well, this is  where it all most likely went wrong, not taking a proper bust measurement at the very beginning.

Up next, the back width and other measures.

Thank you, Sandy and Tonya for modeling for me!


Permalink 11:49:55 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 471 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: New Patterns

Here is the link to the new pattern, just to get this out of the way first:  TV403 page. And now my story:

When I told my sister Laura I want to find ideas for and Early Bustle bodice, she was mildly interested in helping me look.  For about 5 minutes.  Undaunted, I pulled a dozen books off the shelf and set to finding the next "new thing."   Every five minutes or so, I made her turn away from her computer to look at what I had found, receiving an unenthusiastic "okay..."  to the proffered item at hand.   After failing to really get her attention by the 10th try, I had to give up and try a new tactic.  So the next hour was spent whittling down the list to 3-4 pics I thought might work.   I then showed the short list to Laura, and asked her which one she liked the best.  She picked one, and of course, I picked another.

Laura's choice:



My choice:


The more she looked at the one she liked, the more excited she got about the idea of a new bodice.  She already had a skirt and overskirt made up for a new dress, she just needed a new bodice to go with it.  This would be the perfect match to what she needed.

But since I am the one who does all the work, I finally made the decision to do the one I liked, and "thank you for your help."  Her response was to turn back to her computer  and mumble "okay..."

So, over the next few days, I draft up the pattern for my new bodice.  I work out the kinks, have it pretty much finished, and ask Laura if she wants to try it out for me.  She says she is going to wait for the other one.  This one won't really work right for the skirts she already made.  Looking at her outfit, I can only agree.  And then I start to think about it, what kind of skirt/overskirt would this bodice go with?  Answer?  Not much.  As I picture the bodice paired with each of the patterns in the TV line, I am left with the realization that it just doesn't blend well with what I have.

I am forced to concede to Laura's wisdom, her bodice is indeed the better choice.   A few days later, I show Laura the pattern for her bodice, and she says "Print that up for me,  so I can make it."  Laura, who hasn't made a bodice in over 2 years, started in on it right away. And even more surprising, she finished it in a couple weeks.  OK, she still has some finish work to do, but it is wearable.

End result, I have to say, Laura looks amazing in this dress.


Permalink 09:42:14 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 228 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: In Other News

Truly Victorian has always been proud of being a small local company, that uses local services and products to produce our patterns.  The one downside, is that we are then limited by local availability.  Recently, our provider of paper for the cover sheets of our patterns, Kelly Paper, has cut back on paper types and styles.    Specifically, the legal-sized, colored, cardstock sheets we've been using are no longer available.

Which left us with a dilemma.  We could keep the color, but go down to a letter sized sheet.  Or we could go with keeping the legal sheets, and loose the color, going with a white sheet for all the patterns.  After much debate, and redesign, we have come up with a compromise, which I like even better than what we have now.  I wish we had come up with this earlier!

We are going with white sheets and new colored print.  Here is a sample of how it will look.  The patterns will still be color-coded by time period, so you can easily find patterns that can be mix-and-matched for complete outfit.  But the overall look of the patterns will be more consistent, for a cohesive, professional look.  We will be gradually easing in the redesign, as we exhaust our existing supplies and stock on hand.  I hope you all like the new look as much as we do!


Permalink 11:21:47 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 119 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: New Patterns

We have a new pattern for the Edwardian enthusiasts. Edwardian Underwear - TVE02.

This pattern includes a chemise with inserts at the neck, French circular drawers with 2 leg options, and a corset cover with ruffles. We have even included instruction on how to turn the corset cover and drawers into a combination.

Time to start practicing up on your heirloom sewing! And if anyone is looking for some fabulous cotton fabric, I found some beautiful combed lawn sold by the bolt at Dharma Trading Co.   They also had silk habotai, perfect for underwear.

Oh, need a pic...



I am hoping to get photos of the garments this weekend.  I will post them as soon as I do.

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