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I don’t like using patterns. Weird, right?
But, before you get any wrong ideas, let me explain:
I am short. And, I am also lazy. Both things have absolutely nothing to do with how I feel about pattern makers or their abundant skills. In fact, I believe that so many talented pattern makers are currently producing beautiful and creative styles. But, regardless of the great work that pattern makers breathe into existence, I am still short. And, I am still lazy.
I can now look at any pattern and see exactly where I am short and where the pattern will be too long. And I can begrudgingly sense the amount of time it will take to make petite adjustments. Initially, learning how to make petite adjustments was a huge challenge. The “knowing” is still a mountain to climb, but just not as daunting. But now, the true challenge is finding the motivation to do the grunt work and actually make petite adjustments.
Hopefully what I teach in this post will help you with your “petiting”. Most of what I do as my petite protocol before ever cutting into fabric was learned through trial and error. So much trial and so many errors. But, I have gotten it down to a process (and I just need to motivate myself to do it).
Jalie 3134 – The One Piece Racerback Swimsuit
If you’ve been following along with my posts, you know that I broke my arm at the very beginning of this year. I’m pretty limited in the activities that I can participate in (such as the things I freakishly love like volleyball and tennis), so I decided to take up lap swimming for cardio.
Also, if you know me, you know that I’m always in a two-piece bikini. I have resisted making one-pieces because I just knew I would have to make length adjustments. Did I tell you I’m lazy?
But, now that I’m taking up swimming, I thought now is a good time to conquer my apprehension and my laziness. So I chose to make the Jalie Racerback Swimsuit. I love how it resembles the super athletic swimwear worn by Olympic swimmers. If I can’t swim well, at least I could try to look the part. (Just indulge my hopefulness, won’t ya? lol)
My “Petiting” Process
This swim pattern involves a lot of pieces. I do suggest using a simpler pattern for your first round of “petiting”. Heck, you might even find that you won’t need to make any petite adjustments! Just in case you do have to make adjustments, feel free to try out my method:
- Identify the shoulder line, bustline, waistline and low hip line of your pattern. With Jalie 3134, the notch marks on many of the pieces corresponded with these landmarks. After identifying your landmarks, draw horizontal lines on all the pieces that correspond with your landmarks.
2. On your pattern, measure and record the depths between the landmarks. Then, subtract any seam allowances (most notably at the shoulder seam).
3. Next, measure and record your body’s depths:
4. Now compare the pattern measurements to your body measurements. Before comparing, first subtract a “shoulder drop” value from the pattern’s shoulder-to-waistline measurement. A common industry standard measurement for shoulder drop is 1 5/8″. In other words, this is your formula:
Shoulder to waistline – 1 5/8″ (shoulder drop) = Pattern center front waist length
Compare that value with your body’s center front waist length.
Move on to compare the remaining pattern and body measurements. Did you come up with any discrepancies?
Typically, my body’s center front waist length is anywhere between 1 1/2″ to 1 5/8″ shorter than the pattern’s measurement (depending on the pattern company). And that difference is usually distributed between the B and C sectors in Figure 3. In other words, I almost always have to raise the pattern’s bustline as well as raise the waistline.
For this pattern, I didn’t have to raise the low hip line. But I normally do for leggings patterns.
Now, what do you do next after making these comparisons?
5. Slice the pattern!
Make sure to cut the pattern at areas with the least amount of curvature. Blending (i.e. truing) the pattern will be so much easier that way.
Draw a straight line all the way through the center of your pattern and perpendicular to the landmarks. Then, start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Imagine that you have to shorten your pattern between the same landmarks as I do:
First, start between the shoulder and the bustline. Raise the bustline by the amount that agrees with your body’s measurement by sliding it along that vertical center line that you drew. Then, tape your pieces together and true up the pattern. Re-measure the center front waist length of the pattern.
Second, raise the waistline by cutting your pattern in between the bustline and the waistline landmarks. Again, slide the bottom piece along that vertical line. Tape and true.
The scenario described above was exactly what I had to do for Jalie 3134. I initially chose pattern size S because it matched very closely to my current body. But, after making the flat pattern measurements, I knew it would end up being too long.
It was also a little too wide through my waist and bust. However, after reducing the width of the back band, I couldn’t get the damn thing over my thighs and hips! So I had to split the back band and use a swim hook to close the back.
Another pattern adjustment I made was adding a built in shelf bra. I did a tutorial on this a while ago, so check it out here: How to Add a Padded Shelf Bra
After petiting, I believe I achieved the fit that I wanted. But, what I truly love about my new swimsuit is the fabric!
I’ve been eyeballing Phee’s Insane in the Membrane fabric since summer 2018, but never knew what to make with it. I couldn’t resist the fabric’s beckoning any longer, so I decided it will be perfect with my Jalie suit. Let me just say that I am so impressed with the quality of Insane in the Membrane. It feels luxe and has the thickness that I search for in swim fabrics.
I wanted to add a punch of color, so I chose the Phee’s Neon Yellow Tricot.
In the past, I’ve had terrible luck with neon swim fabrics. They would bleed all over everything once wet. As soon as I got Phee’s Neon Yellow Tricot, I cut a 2″ x 2″ swatch, soaked it in water and laid it over a piece of white cotton jersey fabric. I checked on it the next morning, and guess what?
No bleeding! I’m so thrilled to have finally found a neon fabric that doesn’t bleed! My ’80s baby heart is ssssanging, y’all!
- Shell: Insane in the Membrane
- Accent: Neon Yellow Tricot
- Lining: Bisque Lining
- 1″ elastic for shelf bra: personal stash
- Swim Cups: personal stash
- 1″ swim hook: personal stash
We sew our own things because we want to get the best fit, right? My process doesn’t account for FBA or SBA, and doesn’t go into the width adjustments that I also make. But, I’ve found that it’s typically in the vertical measurements where I fall short (get it?). So hopefully my petiting method will help someone out there achieve a better fit. Talk to you, soon!