17 July 2020

Fitting the Stevie Top or Dress

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Stevie pattern or Stevie add-on pattern and want a helping hand in getting a good fit? Well, make yourself a cuppa and take a seat, because this post is for you!

The Stevie top, tunic dress and add-on patterns are suitable for beginners, as they’re simple to sew and fit – yay! This post will cover the most common fitting adjustments you might want to make to your pattern. However, don’t feel like you need to do all of these adjustments, or any of them at all. They’re here to guide you just in case you need them :)

In this post we're going to cover:

• Making a (wearable) toile - or not!
• Choosing your size
• Lengthening or shortening pattern pieces
• How to combine pattern sizes
• Bust adjustments

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Making a (wearable) toile – or not!

A toile (or “muslin”) is a practice garment made in a cheap or leftover fabric to test the fit, or certain techniques, before making the garment for realsies. Whether you make a toile or not is totally up to you. If your fabric is special and expensive you might want to whip up a quick toile to check it fits OK just in case you need to make any changes to the pattern. If you don’t feel that precious about your fabric, then go for it! Since Stevie isn’t fitted and has a bit of ease, you can definitely get away with not making one, as long as you cut the correct size according to your measurements. Which leads us nicely on to…

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Choosing your size

Using a flexible tape measure, find the circumference of your:

- Bust - take the measurement at the fullest point i.e. around your nipples
- Waist - where you bend at the side
- Hips - the fullest part - it helps to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is

Check the tape measure is sitting level with the floor all the way around.

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Circle your measurements on the ‘Body Measurements’ chart in the pattern instructions. If your measurement falls between a size (for example, if your bust is 41in rather than 40in or 42in), it’s usually better to choose the larger size as you can take it in more easily than you can let it out.

If your measurements fall into one size on the body measurements chart, that is your size - yay! Take a look at the size key on the pattern sheet and find your size line – each size has a particular style of solid or dashed lines to help you follow them easily.

Don’t feel perturbed, however, if your bust, waist and hip measurements span several sizes. If you’re like me (and millions of other people) with body measurements that match different sizes, you’ll be pleased to know you can join up the size lines to create a garment that fits you perfectly. See ‘How to combine pattern sizes’ below for more details.

But first, before you combine pattern sizes you might want to consider...

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons
Lengthening or shortening the pattern

Our patterns are drafted for a height of around 5"5 (165cm). If you’re particularly taller or shorter than this, have particularly long or short legs, arms or torso, or want to change the garment to suit your personal style, then you may want to lengthen or shorten some of the pattern pieces.

The process on how to lengthen or shorten any of these pattern pieces is (almost) the same – hooray for simplicity! Take a look at our post on how to lengthen or shorten pattern pieces.

We have included the following sets of lengthen or shorten lines on the original Stevie and add-on pattern pieces:

1) Bodice

The lengthen and shorten lines on the front and back bodice are located between the waist and hip notches. Use these lines to alter the overall length of the front and back bodices if you’re making the tunic dress or top.

If you’re making the gathered dress version from the add-on pattern, we’ve provided a template which shows you where to cut the bodices at the average natural waistline. If you have a short torso, or just fancy making the dress with more of an empire waistline, you can move the waistline template higher up the bodice. If you have a long torso, or want a drop-waisted dress, you can move the waistline template further down. Do this on both the front and back bodice.

2) Sleeve – add-on pattern

The sleeve from the add-on pattern is designed to sit three-quarters of the way down your arm. If your arms are particularly long or short you can use the lengthen or shorten lines to amend the sleeve pattern piece.

3) Gathered skirt – add-on pattern

The gathered skirt from the add-on pattern is designed to hit the knee, and is 59cm (23 1/4inches) from waist to hem. If you think this sounds a bit too long or short for your height or personal taste, or if you've moved the waistline (see point 1 above), you can alter the length of the skirt to suit you.

4) Skirt pocket – add-on pattern

If you’ve altered the length of the garment you might want to also amend the size of the skirt pocket. It’s not essential, but if you’ve made the gathered skirt significantly shorter you may need to shorten the pocket too.

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

How to combine pattern sizes

If your measurements fall into different pattern sizes, you can draw a new line ("grade") between pattern sizes to get a tailored fit to your body. We have a blog post with step-by-step diagrams to show you how to do this in more detail, and some Stevie specific fitting tips below.

If you’re making the original Stevie top or tunic dress, the most important areas to fit are the bust and hips. There’s quite a bit of ease in the waist so you most likely won’t have to alter this area to fit you. However, if your waist is three or more sizes bigger or smaller than your bust or hips, I’d recommend grading out or in to your waist size to make sure it fits. If not, don’t worry about it!

The straight side seams of the Stevie bodice make it mega easy to combine sizes. Draw a line between the bust and hip notch, tapering it a little bit as you reach the hip notch to create a slight curve. You can use a ruler or pattern master for this – I tend to do slight curves like this by eye in pencil. There’s no need for any special equipment here :)

If you’re making the gathered dress version, you only really need to worry about fitting the bust and the waist. As the skirt is gathered into the waist, you can choose your hip size for the skirt as it doesn’t have to match the bodice exactly – hooray! If your bust and waist measurements are different sizes, draw a line from the bust notch to the waist notch to make your new side seam. Easy peasy :)

Fitting the Stevie top dress tunic sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Bust adjustments

If you often find your clothes are a bit tight across the bust, and usually have excess fabric pooling above the boobs, then you might benefit from doing a full bust adjustment (FBA) to the front bodice. Check out our dedicated blog post all about how to do a full bust adjustment on a dartless bodice for more info on how to do this.

It's unlikely that you'll need to do the opposite adjustment - a small bust adjustment - to the Stevie top or dress, due to the easy-fitting shape and design. If you do however feel that you have excess fabric above the bust, you can indeed do a small bust adjustment. For more details and step-by-step guidance on how to do this, check out the Bettine pattern fitting post, and scroll down to the small bust adjustment section.

And that's it, c'est fini! If you've read this far then you've hopefully picked up a few useful fitting tips for Stevie along the way. Remember, sewing is supposed to fun - don't get too bogged down with fitting. I bet your finished Stevie is going to look amazing :) We're so excited to see what you'll make using the Stevie add-on pattern! Don't forget to show us your finished makes and progress shots on Instagram, tagging @TillyButtons with the hashtag #SewingStevie. Happy sewing!

Author - Nikki Hoar
Step shoot photography - Jane Looker
Model photography - Jane Looker, Kathy and Mick Perchard
Models - Zeena Shah, Alexandra Bruce and Kathy Perchard
Mustard viscose linen fabric - Sew Me Sunshine (kindly gifted)
Stripe linen and cotton blend fabric - Lamazi Fabrics (kindly gifted)
Yellow trousers made with the Safiya pattern from our book Make It Simple
Blue ikat fabric - Fabrics Galore 
Black hearts viscose - Brixton market