31 January 2018

Fitting the Mila Dungarees

Mila dungarees sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Mila dungarees? Wondering what size to pick or think you need some fitting help? Vanessa here today to offer some tips on sizing and fitting.

We designed Mila to be made in woven fabrics with a bit of stretch, which makes them relatively easy to fit as the stretch does some of the work for you - hooray! Some of you won’t need to make any fitting changes to the dungarees, but of course we all come in different shapes so you may need to make some tweaks to the pattern before sewing your final garment. Getting a personalised fit is one of the bonuses of DIY dressmaking!

This post will be quite long but feel free to skip straight to the parts that feel relevant to you. We will cover:

  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening the legs
  • Lengthening or shortening the bib for larger and smaller busts
  • Combining pattern sizes
  • Lengthening or shortening the crotch seams
  • Full booty adjustment
  • Small booty adjustment
  • Saggy back leg adjustment

It’s always a good idea to trace off a copy of the pattern pieces you are adjusting so that you can keep the original version intact in case you want to change it later. Remember to trace off notches, grainline arrows and any other markings.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Choosing your size

First up is choosing the right size for your measurements. Use a tape measure to find the circumference of your bust, waist and hips, by which we mean:

  • Bust - the fullest part, around your nipples
  • Waist – the point at which you bend to the side
  • Hips – the fullest part - it helps to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is

Don’t hold the tape measure too tight around your body - you want to be able to fit a little finger between you and the tape.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Circle your measurements in the ‘body measurements’ chart in the instructions. If your measurement falls in between a size (for example, if it's 27in rather than 26in or 28in) it’s nearly always better to choose the larger size, as it’s easier to take the dungarees in if they're too big than to let them out if they're too small.

If your bust, waist and hip measurements all fall into one pattern size – fantastic! That’s your size! There’s a key on the pattern sheets that shows a particular style of solid or dashed line for your size – that’s the one to use when you cut your fabric.

Don’t worry however if your bust, waist and hip measurements span 2 or 3 different sizes – since our bodies have different proportions, this is very common! This calls for a bit of mix and matching – see ‘How to combine pattern sizes’ below.

Lengthening or shortening the legs

If you are particularly tall or petite, you may want to adjust the length of the legs.

Check the waist to hem measurement for your size in the finished garment measurements chart included in the pattern instructions. If you want the legs to be particularly longer or shorter than this and don’t want to affect the shape by simply extending the hem, you can change it on the pattern before cutting your fabric.

To lengthen the legs:

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

First you need to draw two parallel lines on a bit of paper, the width between them being the amount you’d like the lengthen the legs by. Draw a vertical line between the two in the middle. Repeat so you have a set of lines for the front and back legs.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Cut along one of the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ lines on the front leg pattern, separate them, and then insert the paper strip you just drew. Align the two parallel lines up with the cut edges, and the vertical line up with the grainline. Stick them down with tape or a glue stick. Repeat for the back leg piece.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Using a ruler, redraw the inside and outside leg seams of your pattern size to neaten them out.

To shorten the legs:

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

To shorten the legs, draw a parallel line above the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ line on the front leg pattern, the distance between the two being how much you’d like to shorten them by. Cut along one of the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ line to separate into two pieces. Repeat on the back leg piece.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Overlap the bottom piece of the pattern over the top piece, aligning the cutting line with the new line you’ve drawn in and the long vertical grainline. Glue or tape it in place. Repeat for the back leg.

Using a ruler, redraw the inside and outside leg seams with straight lines to neaten them out. Cut away the excess.

Lengthening or shortening the bib for larger or smaller busts

If you have a particularly small or large bust, you may want to adjust the length of the front bib to create more or less space for your boobs.

Compare your full bust measurement (measured around your nipples) to your high bust measurement (measured around your upper chest just under your armpits). If the difference between your full bust and high bust is 10cm (4in) or more, you may want to adjust the length of your front bib.

A good estimate for how much length to remove or add on is ¼ the difference of your full and high bust measurement over 5cm (2in). So, for example, if your full bust measurement is 10cm (4in) larger than your high bust measurement, you will add ½in in length. If your full bust measurement is 10cm (4in) smaller than your high bust measurement, you will remove ½in in length.

To lengthen the front bib:

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

First you need to draw two parallel lines on a bit of paper, the width between them being the amount you’d like the lengthen the front bib by. Join one end with a vertical line. Repeat so you also have a set of lines for the front neckline facing.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

About half-way down the front bib, draw a line at right angle to the grainline from the centre seam to the side. Lay your front neckline facing over the front bib and trace the line you drew onto the front bib.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Cut along this line to separate the pattern, and then insert the paper strip you just drew. Align the two parallel lines up with the cut edges, and the vertical line up with the centre seam. Stick them down with tape or a glue stick. Repeat for the facing piece.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Using a ruler or a steady hand, redraw the side seam of the bib and facing with a gentle curve to neaten them out.

To shorten the front bib:

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

To shorten the front bib, draw a line at right angle to the grainline from the centre seam to the side. Draw a parallel line above this, the distance between the two being how much you’d like to shorten the bib by. Lay the front neckline facing over the front bib and trace these lines.

Cut along the lower line to separate into two pieces.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Overlap the bottom piece of the pattern over the top piece, aligning the cutting line with the new line you’ve drawn in and the centre seam. Glue or tape it in place and then repeat for the front neckline facing.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Using a ruler or a steady hand, redraw the side seam of the front bib and front neckline facing with a gentle curve to neaten them out. Cut away the excess.

Combining pattern sizes

If your proportions don’t match one pattern size – for example, if your waist is a size 4 and your hips are a size 6 – you can mix and match sizes to make a pair of dungarees that is tailored especially for you. If you’re lengthening or shortening the pattern as well, combine the sizes after you’ve done that, as that adjustment will affect the shape.

Choose your bib size according to your bust measurement, your waistband size according to your waist measurement, and your legs according to your hip measurement. Trace off the notches at the top of the waistband according to your bust size, and the notches at the bottom of the waistband according to your hip size.

Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

On the pieces you need to change, re-draw the side seam so it gradually tapers from one size to another. If you are drawing between waist and hip, start your new line about 15mm (5/8in) below the waistband seam cutting line. This way the stitching line will stay the same and the waistband will still fit.

The pink line in the photo above shows a side seam that tapers from a size 6 at the waist to a size 4 at the hips. The green line shows a side seam adjusted for a size 4 waist and size 6 hips. You can do this by either sketching the line out with a gentle curve, or using a curved ruler. Repeat the process for the other pieces you need to change.

Adjusting the crotch seams

When making any kind of trousers, it's a good idea to start by making a toile, in other words, a mock up in cheap fabric. The fabric will need to include stretch and be similar to the fabric you want to make your final dungarees in, as different fabrics can fit very differently. You may want to consider your first pair of dungarees a "wearable toile", and make any adjustments needed to your second pair.

Whether you decide to make a toile or not, check the fit of the legs before sewing them together. You can either pin or tack (baste) the side seams and tack the crotch seam (you don't want pins down there!!), then try them on. Check the fit is comfortable both standing up and sitting down. If you need to adjust the seams, mark your new stitching line on the wrong side of the fabric with chalk or a fabric pencil.

Don't be tempted to over-fit your dungarees! There will always be some creases around the crotch of trousers - the extra room allows you to sit down and move around comfortably. But if you're finding a crease particularly noticeable or obvious, you could consider making one of the following alterations. This is by no means an inexhaustible list of fitting adjustments for trousers, but probably the most common ones...

Lengthening the front crotch
Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons
If you can see drag lines coming up from the front crotch that resemble smile lines, it may be a sign that it needs more length. On the front leg piece, stick or tape some pattern paper next to the end of the crotch seam and extend the cutting line. A little goes a long way, so around 15mm (5/8in) should make a big difference.

With a ruler or steady hand, re-draw the inner leg seam so that it gently tapers into the original cutting line.

Shortening the front crotch
Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons
If you can see lines dragging down from the front crotch that resemble frown lines, it may be a sign that it needs less length. On the front leg piece, mark around 10mm (3/8in) from the end of the crotch seam, and the with a ruler or steady hand, re-draw the inner leg seam so that it gently tapers into this point. Cut away the excess.

A little removed goes a long way with this alteration, so don’t rush into taking off too much – it can be a process of trial and error though!

Full booty adjustment

If you have a fuller derrière, you might find that extending the back crotch seam will make the trousers fit better and be more comfortable to sit down in. A good sign that you need to do this is a back waistband that pulls down, and drag lines that come from between your legs.
Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons
Cut along one of the ‘Lengthen or shorten here’ lines on the back leg from the crotch seam to 15mm (5/8in) away from the side seam. Cut from the side seam to this point so that the two sections are still attached by a tiny pivot point.

Pivot the top section away from the bottom by the amount you would like to increase the crotch seam by - 20mm (3/4in) is a good place to start. Tape or stick down over a strip of paper, and then redraw the crotch seam with a straight line to neaten it out. Cut away the excess.

Small booty adjustment

If you have a smaller derrière, you might find that reducing the back crotch seam will make the fit much more flattering. A good sign that you need to do this are drooping drag lines under the bum.

Cut along one of the ‘Lengthen or shorten here’ lines on the back leg from the crotch seam to 15mm from the side seam. Cut from the side seam to this point so that the two sections are still attached by a tiny pivot point.
Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons

Pivot the top section over the bottom by the amount you would like to shorten the crotch seam by - 20mm (3/4in) is a good place to start. Tape or stick down and then redraw the crotch seam with a straight line to neaten it out. Cut away the excess.

Saggy back leg adjustment

If you don’t feel you have a particularly petite derrière and are still finding excess fabric at the top of your back thighs or underneath your bottom, giving you that delightful ‘droopy booty’ look, it might be that the pattern is too large or long for your thigh. Pin out the excess fabric in the back of your thigh from one side to the other (a sewing buddy or willing family member is helpful for this!) and work through the following adjustment.
Fitting the Mila dungarees - Tilly and the Buttons
Identify where the excess fabric that you’ve pinned is situated on your pattern by measuring down the inner and outer leg seams. Draw a line between these two points on your pattern. Draw a second line starting a third of a way along this line and ending at the crotch seam.

Cut along the second line from the crotch to the first line, and then cut both ways along the first line, ending 15mm (5/8in) from the side seams.

Pivot and overlap the upper pieces over the lower leg by the amount that you pinned out of your toile. Tape or stick down. With a ruler or gentle hand, re-draw both legs and crotch seam to smooth them out.

*****

And that’s it for this post! Fitting is a massive subject, and we can't cover absolutely every adjustment you may need to make. If you need any extra help, we recommend The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen (this is an affiliate link).

But please remember not to stress out too much about fitting! Sewing is supposed to be fun, and no one else is going to notice those little niggles you may have because you've been staring at your homemade dungarees for too long. Just enjoy the process and revel in the glory of wearing dungarees that you made yourself :)

We're really looking forward to seeing your finished Mila dungarees. Share a pic with us on Instagram @TillyButtons using the hashtag #SewingMila so we can admire them.

1 comment:

  1. The Mila dungarees look sick! It's perfect that they're designed to be made with woven fabrics, that way they'll be super comfortable. Making your own clothes will definitely save you the worrying about shipping and transport business. There's no better feeling of accomplishment or glory than showing off something you made yourself!

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