Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Analysis of the "Swayback," the making of V8532

In spite of my blog silence the past month, it does not mean my sewing machine has been in hibernation. In fact, it's been quite busy, sewing up a few projects. None have been completed though because of the issue of my dreaded swayback. The latest project to fall victim to the swayback, is Vogue 8532, a lovely alternative to the classic sheath. Empire waist, fitted design, and my favorite and most flattering neck line. Observe...

I've sewn up a muslin because the sheath would present serious fitting challenges that would have to be worked out before cutting into fashion fabric. In that effort, I've consulted at least a dozen sewing resources trying to establish the best and most effective (read: easiest) way to alter the pattern so that 1) I'll have this awesome dress to strut my stuff in and 2) basic alteration I can use for most similar patterns.

The swayback is my greatest fitting issue and has been the source of pretty much every single UFO in my closet. Most patterns (and RTW clothing) are made from slopers that conform to more universal measurements, meaning they fit to the least curvy denominator. So, it then falls to the sewer - or tailor if you are not sewing inclined - to alter patterns to fit your various curves and hollows. After consulting various sewing resources, the most common fix mentioned is to remove the excess fabric at the back waist by taking a "horizontal tuck" until smooth. Also, this is typically accompanied by letting out the side seams or center back seam to achieve the perfect fit.

In V8532, I tried the "tuck" method. First, I sewed up the unaltered pattern and tried to pin out the excess fabric from the back and sides. Emphasis is on "tried" because it's exceedingly difficult to pin fabric while you are wearing it as every move, twist, bend, contortion attempted pulls and creates yet another wrinkle. Anyway, I was able to guestimate well enough to determine I needed to remove a full 1" from the back waist. I did this by cutting the pattern along the waist line from center back seam to side seam. At the CB, I removed an inch and then drew a line to taper this to the side gradually to nothing. I also had to increase the dart. Here is the result; the original pattern is underneath and my alteration is on top:

Here it is sewn up, from the front and the side. I wasn't able to successfully photograph myself from behind but you can get a good idea of the issues that remain, even with my fairly significant alteration. The wrinkles on the front are because of the way I cut the front piece after the first sewing. Let's just say I can cut a straight line but curves are another matter entirely...Anyway, once I smooth out the actual patter, I expect the fronto lay smooth(er). I have a much bigger issue with this image of the side. It's just as bad on the right as the left. That wrinkle starts from the left waist and extends to the bottom of the dart. I'm not really sure how to fix it, either. Any suggestions???

What is a sway back you ask? Good question, because it is the subject of some discussion lately and people really wonder exactly what is the swayback. From an anatomical perspective, it is a condition called "Lordosis," where the spine curves inward between the ribcage and the pelvis causing stress and discomfort. It can be from general bad posture or be physiologically based. Here is a good image of what it looks like in silouhette:

The sway back affects the way clothing fits and is typically diagnosed by the resulting "wrinkles" or "pooching" at the back waist, above the hips. The wrinkles can also be caused by proportionately large hips (waist:hip ratio), otherwise known as having, well, a big butt.

In my next post, I'll be highlighting how different authors deal with the swayback. Stay tuned and please, feel free to chime in with your particular fix! I need all the help I can get!