The 1940’s Wrap Dress is designed to sit at your natural waist for a nipped in 1940’s silhouette, so making sure the length of the bodice is right for you is important. As everyone has different proportions, some people will need to lengthen or shorten the bodice to make the pattern fit their figure, as otherwise the neckline will gape or it will sit too high on your body. On the other hand, for some people the pattern will be just right as it is!
In the last instalment of the 1940’s Wrap Dress sewalong we advised making a toile to help identify any fit issues. This can be a simple shell – there’s no need for the collar – but we do recommend adding the sleeves.
Try on your toile and check to see where the waist sits. It should sit level all the way around your body. If it doesn’t, but it sits higher at the front than at the back, this is a sign that you may need to make a full bust adjustment (FBA), rather than simply adding length. Similarly, if the bodice is lower at the front than at the back, you may need to make a small bust adjustment. We will be covering both of these adjustments for a dartless wrap bodice in upcoming sewalong posts.
For today’s adjustment, we’re focusing on long and short torsos. If the bottom of the toile sits at your natural waist (i.e. the smallest part of you), you won’t need to make any alterations. If you find it falls short of your waist and the toile waistline is higher than yours, you will need to lengthen the bodice. If it sits below your waist, creating a gaping neckline when you wrap the bodice over, it is too long and you will need to shorten the bodice.
Working out much to lengthen or shorten by
- If the toile falls short of your waist, simply measure how much more length you will need for it to reach your natural waist. Tying a ribbon around your waist can assist with this.
- If the toile is too long, pin up the hem of your toile until it sits at your natural waist. Measure the amount you needed to pin it up by, and use that as the measurement to reduce the bodice length
- Instead, if you know your nape to waist measurement, simply compare that to the nape to waist measurements on the pattern and adjust your pieces accordingly.
Once you’ve determined the amount you need to lengthen or shorten the bodice by, follow the instructions below to alter your paper pattern.
If you haven’t already done so, trace the front and back bodice pieces, as well as the collar, onto dot and cross paper.
Lengthening the bodice
1. Using the lengthen and shorten lines on the pattern pieces, cut across this line on both the front and back bodice. You will need to apply the instructions to both pattern pieces. Here we’re just using the front bodice.
2. Tape the top part of the front bodice to a spare piece of dot and cross paper, leaving enough room at the bottom to accommodate the extra length you need to add.
3. Extend the grainline with a straight line.
4. Draw a straight line parallel to the bottom of the new top bodice piece, creating a gap between this line and the bottom of the top bodice that corresponds to the adjustment measurement (i.e. the amount of length you need to add to the bodice).
5. Tape the bottom part of the pattern along the line you drew parallel to the bottom of the top piece, matching the grainlines.
6. Redraw the front neckline edge, matching the shoulder to the waist corner.
7. Draw in the rest of the side seam. Using a ruler, reconnect the underarm and the waistline edge. Cut along both of these new lines.
8. On the back bodice, you will also need to adjust the dart. All you need to do is reconnect the top of the dart to the notches at the waistline with two new lines.
9. To lengthen the collar, simply cut across the lengthen and shorten lines on the pattern piece and extend the piece by the same amount as the bodice. You may need to re-draw the curve in slightly.
And that’s your bodice lengthened!
Shortening the bodice
1. Using the lengthen and shorten lines on the pattern piece, cut across this line on both the front and back bodice. You will need to apply the instructions to both pattern pieces. Here we’re just using the front bodice.
2. Above this, draw a line parallel to the cut line, creating a gap that measures the amount you need to remove.
3. Tape the bottom part of the pattern along the line you have just drawn, keeping in line with the grain line.
4. You can see that the side seams and front edges are no longer matching, so we need to rectify this. Stick the pattern to some spare paper at the side seam and front edge.
5. Now re-draw in the side seam. Using a ruler, reconnect the underarm and the original waistline edge.
6. In the same way, connect the shoulder and the front waist corner together. Cut along these new lines.
7. As with lengthening the bodice, you’ll also need to redraw the dart on the back bodice. To do this, reconnect the top of the dart to the notches at the waistline.
8. To shorten the collar, simply cut across the lengthen and shorten lines on the pattern piece and reduce the piece by the same amount as the bodice. You may need to re-draw the curve in slightly.
And that’s your bodice shortened! If you want to double check the fit you can make a second toile, but if you’re feeling confident the bodice is sorted you’re ready for the sewing stage. We’ve got a few more alterations posts coming, but we’ll be starting to sew at the end of next week so we’ll see you then!