The Saga of Simplicity 8523 (Part I)

Simplicity 8523

Simplicity.

Such a lovely word. And–coincidentally–the brand-name for my first two successful sewing projects, both skirts. Now that I feel more comfortable with my very basic sewing skills, I felt ready to try sewing a very simple top. I’d picked up Simplicity 8523 at Daytona Trimming, which has a dusty selection of 80s and 90s patterns, 5 for $10. When I got home and checked the reviews for this pattern, I was pleased to see that it is generally well-liked as a simple “wardrobe-builder.”

I have a list of styles from head to toe that flatter me, and among those styles are square and v-necks. Therefore, I picked View F, the sleeveless, zipperless top. I figured that sewing a top with facings in the neckline and around the arms was enough in terms of adding new skills.

Besides, hubby and I are saving money by not using the air conditioning for as long as possible, so it is hot in our apartment. In such temperatures, sleeveless is ideal.

This top goes together easily. However, it has proven more difficult than expected to fit. The pattern has darts in front, but from there it drops straight down to the hemline. Because of my triangle-shape and the fact that the top had 11″ of ease at the 28″ waist (and my hips are 38″ right now), I cut out a size 8, figuring I’d just hem the top so that it hit me above the widest part of my hips.

Bad idea. Here is a what I ended up with for my first muslin:

Muslin 1: Front

Muslin 1: Back

Muslin 1: Side

Now we can say it in unison: “Ugh!”

Lots of discussion ensued on Pattern Review’s forums, which included compliments for the neckline and arm-scythes and more suggestions than I could possibly follow for how to fix the bags and lumps.

From those comments, I learned the following things:

  • Despite the 11″ of ease, I really did need to grade out from the size 8 around the bust to the size 12 around the hemline (using a french curve to draw a gentle concave line).
  • I have a long torso and will probably have to adjust that by adding tissue on every pattern. Then, I’ll have to fold the pattern up below the waistline to take out some of that extra length.
  • I also have a swayback, and pinning that extra fabric out of the center back (even pinning, and without fixing the above problems) makes a big difference in how the muslin looks:

Back: Swayback Adjustment Pinned

Side: Swayback Adjustment Pinned

These images convinced me of three things:

  • It’s time to start swimming again–look at those rounded shoulders!
  • I should never, ever cut pattern tissue. I’ll be tracing from now on, especially if I have any doubt about whether I might need to grade to a larger size somewhere.
  • I don’t like shirts with a lot of ease, even if they are simple to make.

The posters on Pattern Review convinced me of a few things, too:

  • That this isn’t nearly as dreadful as I thought. I shouldn’t be such a perfectionist! (ie. there is a such thing as “good enough.”)
  • I can learn a lot from making something very basic.
  • Sharing my experiences with others can help everyone learn.

Since making this muslin, I’ve spent hours tracing the original pattern, using another, uncut pattern piece to add the wider, size 12 hip and curving it into the size 8 waistline. I’ll detail the process of Muslin #2 in an upcoming post.

Sometimes even the most simple projects aren’t simple after all.

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2 thoughts on “The Saga of Simplicity 8523 (Part I)

  1. Mary says:

    A simple shirt is rarely simple-if we fit it as you have. Imagine how easy your next top will be. I listed my standard alterations a few days ago in the petite forum on PR…the list was LONG.

    • demoiselle says:

      I’ll have to check out your alterations list! I think that, once I get through this shirt, I will discover several other mandatory adjustments that I need to make each and every time I make a bodice. 😀 Better to know sooner rather than later, though, right? That way I can get on the path to well-fitted clothes quickly rather than several years down the road.

      As long as I don’t get so discouraged that I stop trying. 😉

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