Pop Quiz: fix this dress

pop_quiz_button_stand_smThis photo was posted on another site (click the photo for a larger image). I refrain from linking because I posted what I thought was the appropriate answer and also, there are suggestions there that I felt were off the mark and I don’t wish to embarrass anyone.

The most common diagnosis was that the problem is with the button stand and sewing, that the button placement is inappropriate. I don’t think the root of the problem has anything to do with sewing or the button positioning. The person posting the query followed the offered advice which -in my opinion- only made the problem worse.

It is important to know this dress is a copy of an existing style. The original garment shows the same problems although not as pronounced. It is difficult to know how closely the copy follows the original because the latter is shown on a hanger rather than a body, meaning, the original may actually look more like the copy were it shown on a body.

So if you have the time and are up for a challenge, fix this dress! Have fun.

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  1. Kerryn says:

    The shoulder slope is wrong, it could be the models posture but I would angle the shoulder seams more – so the outside circumference of the neckband is a few inches smaller (total), it’s hard to know how much the inside might need to change until that’s fixed.

  2. Brina says:

    You’ve mentioned this before, Kathleen. The yoke pattern was not cut so that the two ends overlap correctly. so that causes the placket to gape the and bottom of the yoke ends where it’s buttoned to splay. Moving the buttons won’t help, instead it will make that area lay even more wonky.

    This is not as noticeable with the original green dress, maybe because the yoke is narrower.

    In addition it looks like the bodice is too small across the back–which makes the gape even larger.

    I am kind of amazed at how many sewing sites/blog have the blind leading the blind. Not that experts are always right–but you’ve got more of a chance if you’re asking someone who has a lot of experience.

  3. Brina says:

    Oh, what Kerryn said about the shoulders slope being wrong–if corrected might help some but the overlapping ends need to be corrected regardless.

  4. Victoria Kathrein says:

    I see three possible problems.

    1. Dress two short across shoulder blades.

    2. Yoke hits the shoulder blades and makes the dress gap.

    3. Original dress cut on bias, I think, and the closure might have been stretched out during pressing, sewing process.

  5. Kerryn says:

    The dress doesn’t seem to be too tight in the chest or cross back but it’s hard to tell without a side and front view. I’m still sure the placket is collapsing due to the neckline shaping, I guarantee if you pick up the shoulders and pin them as described above the placket will sit correctly.

    The pattern-maker in me also wants to switch the placket to overlap right over left as the original because ‘ladies are always right’ but that is completely irrelevant to the issue ;)

  6. dosfashionistas says:

    The shape of the yoke is off both at the shoulders and at the center back. The shoulder slope looks like it needs adjustment, but the center of the yoke needs to have more rounded shaping so that the buttoned ends can meet one another at a right angle. Essentially, take fullness out of the lower part of the yoke close to the shoulder (Do not shave off the shoulder seam!) and take fullness out of the neck edge close to center back. With all that, I also think the back needs to be larger across the shoulder blades and the upper part of the dress, where the yoke attaches may need adjustment. The yoke and the upper part of the dress are fitting over the curve of the shoulder blades, although not at the apex. The shape of the dress needs to reflect that.

  7. Eranda says:

    Looks to me like the angle of the back yoke is too low. The curve of the yoke should be shallower. I don’t think the shoulder slope is that off because the right shoulder looks OK.

  8. It looks like there isn’t much of a button extension. Similar to if you try to pull something in smaller. To fix it during a fitting, I’d smooth up from the bottom and pin it together on the way up, then mark cb and figure out my button extension.
    As a quick fix, I’d take the buttons off, smooth it, then mark where the buttons would land. As a quick fix I’d also add velcro :P

    Depending on how it felt to the model I might also add some length to the armscye or shorten the placket.

  9. Paul says:

    When I first looked at the, I did not notice the yoke sitting off the left shoulder. My first thought was that the back length might be a tad short. I think if youo fix the yoke and opened the seam where the yoke joins the back you might find that the yoke sits higher than the present seam; i.e. the back panel is too short and may be a bit too narrow across the upper back at the armscye level.

  10. Sherry says:

    The yoke isn’t cut to meet the CB at right angles, and so it is pushing down the placket. If you removed the yoke, the placket looks like it would probably sit flat.
    Which leads me to believe that the back yoke could have been inserted the wrong way around, ie the shoulder seam has been wrongly sewn towards the CB, since the shoulder is also wonky! The shoulder length looks different to the CB yoke length so the pattern piece is not symmetric , and of course they would be at different angles (CB square, shoulder slanted).
    Unless there was a shoulder seam notch, this would be quite an easy error for a machinist to do, as the lower back yoke notch denoting where the back panel begins would be close to halfway – easy to mix up.
    Shame – the buttonholes are done now…

  11. My first impulse was.. the placket was not centered properly, looks like the right side is wider then the left, A quick measure .. though only the photo, proved it. When I measure the original, the sides are even. Looks like the yoke is also not evenly cut, one side wider then the other. – adds up to a big fat gap.

  12. Kevin Bishop says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with these pop quizzes. I love them, because they make me think. I hate them, because they make my brain hurt. More seriously, I do appreciate the way that these quizzes force me to really think. The pain of cognitive dissonance is the only way to really learn.

    Dresses of this type hang from the shoulders. The weight of the dress pulls down on the collar. The pull marks on the left side show that all the weight of the dress body is being supported by the inside part of the collar. (There is an optical illusion on the right side where the skin tone and background are similar in color to confuse the problem.)

    If the collar was only flattened down on the outside, there would still be pull marks. The collar would have to twist or torque to support the weight of the garment. There is no straight path for the body of the garment to pull on the collar, so the collar has to twist. If the collar was completely stiff, like metal, it would be possible to pull on the inside of the collar without twisting.

    The body of the dress should attach to the collar closer to the middle of the collar, not on the inside edge of the collar. The weight of the dress would pull straight down on the collar, not forcing the collar to twist as the inside of the collar supports all the weight. The effect can be seen in an exaggerated state when the dress is on a hanger.

    If the collar is made very stiff to prevent the weight of the dress from twisting the collar, then the dress would have to be custom made for each variation of shoulder slope. There would be no give in the collar to allow the collar to mold to the minor mismatches of the shoulder slope.

    There may be some desire to flatten the collar on the outside, so the weight of the dress acts to keep the outside part of the collar down against the skin. The outside of the collar would barely bend up like a Belleville spring. That effect would be impossible, if the collar was made very stiff.

    Changing the button placement or adding buttons will not help, because the collar is going to bend when the dress cannot pull straight down on the collar. The weight has to be supported.

    It would be possible to keep the dress body the same and make the collar closer fitting to the neck. As long as the dress body can pull straight down on the collar, the collar will not have the need to twist.

    That is my guess

  13. LizPf says:

    It looks to me like the pattern was drafted incorrectly. [It’s always the pattern, right?] To my inexperienced eye, it looks like the copier did not allow for the rounding of the shoulders, and has no implied darts in the area.

    The original also looks too flat in the back. It doesn’t show on te hanger, but put the garment on a human body, and … gap!

    I’m not enough of a pattern maker to know exactly how to correct this, but it would involve re-cutting the back, not the neckband.

  14. Before I would evaluate this pattern draft, I’d have to see it constructed properly. The yoke doesn’t seem to be interfaced at all ! (imagine my shock ;) I noticed this when I clicked on Kathleen’s article link “makes the problem worse”. The yoke looks all wonky and stretched out.

    It makes it more difficult to for me evaluate the draft when the garment looks likes it’s been stretched during the sewing phase due to lack of interfacing….or maybe by the maker trying to yank the garment into place then pressing it to death after sewing.

  15. Robin says:

    @Brina – The blind leading the blind? May I play devil’s Advocate here?
    As a home sewer, with decades of home sewing “experience” – what I really had was decades of home sewing isolation. I didn’t meet other hobbyists until the sewing blog community blossomed. Sure- I see it too; I see situations where folks decide they are experts and they steer the unsuspecting down the unproductive path. It has happened to me, too.
    But over time, I have learned who knows what they are doing and who doesn’t. And my sewing has improved considerably in the last 3 years, thanks to the hobby home sewing community. Learning from mistakes works pretty well.
    I sure am glad to find sites like this one where professionals share their knowledge so generously.
    And looking forward to reading the solution to the puzzle!

  16. Pierced Rivet Head says:

    I think that the yoke *might* be part of the problem, but I’m wondering if maybe the armhole is incorrectly shaped. It looks like there’s not enough ease there to allow the back of the dress to fall where it should; from this shot, it looks like it’s falling on the body in the incorrect spot. If the back armhole was a little looser and the curve reshaped, perhaps that would help? This type of garment isn’t really my specialty though.

  17. ClaireOKC says:

    Oops! Guilty on all counts. You know it’s hard to do this with just one picture, but you’re right, the back left piece look like it was tilted wrong. Wish we could see this back on the dress to see how it came out, and usually when I do alterations like this, I always pin. I probably forgot to say that in the directions, however with the pucker in the yoke, and the left shoulder tilted wrong, this looked like it might be an easy solution to try to see if it worked. I will go over there and correct my mistake now.

    Thanks for calling me on this

  18. Marian says:

    Looks like the two sides are not the same length / width. I would lay them out and make sure the opening is the same length from its base to the collar / facing. Then I would make sure the collar / facing was the same size. If they are then it may be a problem with the degree of the curve on one side being different then the other. Its very hard for me to make a best assumption without being able to lay it out flat.

  19. It looks to me as though the way the placket was created is forcing the upper part of the bodice apart – sort of in a Y-shape. Bringing the upper arms of the Y together by buttoning them together at the yoke is creating distortion. (It’s a kind of drunken, wonky Y that’s flopping to the left. The right side is actually straight, but I don’t know a letter with the shape I’m thinking of.)

    You can see this to the lower left of the placket where a fold starts at the strawberry leaf exactly where the placket topstiching ends, as the placket forces the left side over. It’s creating a gap above the placket and fullness below the placket – but to the left, not the right side.

  20. I like Sherry’s idea. Maybe 2 right sides were cut instead of mirroring. Ir if they are self faced the left side is the wrong way around. It helps account for it rising off the shoulder. It is easier for me to tell lying flat and on a model rather than on a hanger. I’m not a big fan of hangers.

  21. Barb Taylorr says:

    The way the placket is pulling apart indicates that it is too tight here. My first hunch is that there isn’t enough shaping in the bust so you’d need to add some fabric there. Of course the yoke looks crooked and poorly shaped too, but until you make the bust fit you won’t really be able to tell what is going on there.

  22. Brina says:

    Point taken. I should add that a person that has well rounded experience–enough to have made the mistakes and learned from them, worked with other people and learned from them (even if it’s to learn what not to do). And plenty of experts know their area well but when they step out of their circle, not so much. Add to that that there is not always one right way…

    I did not mean to disparage the whole home sewing/hobbyist community on-line or off. As so many people who sew for their own entertainment/amusement/self/family/friends/charity do amazing things and know stuff I don’t, as a professional know. I’m related to some of them. And then there are others…

  23. Brina says:

    Here’s the post that I vaguely referred to in my answer.
    Do I get extra points for referencing the blog author?

  24. Kathleen says:

    Brina, how ironic you link to that entry. A client has a folding problem at the neckline/collar juncture and in this case, it’s caused by the neckline being too low and an improperly shaped collar. And, there was no fusible in her sample, that would help.

  25. Lesley says:

    I am far from an expert and as such I would have started by not doing the back as one piece, being that the overlap(?) required at the top for button overlap would be hard to do without twisting and pulling. I don’t work alot with knits but I think having a center back seam with 2 cut pieces that offered a notch out at top would have allowed for the greater overlap needed for the button placement. Hopefully this makes sense as I do not recall the right terminology.

  26. ken simmons says:

    I vote with the person who thinks the seamstress sewed the CB to the shoulder and vice versa. After teaching for so long I know this would be the 1st mistake made, even though the notch placements would try to prevent it.

  27. oriole says:

    To me it just looks like the two curves don’t match. I want to add length to the dress body at the armhole or shorten the center back at the placket.

  28. Debi T says:

    I am only a novice but there appears to be a problem with the left side collar banding. I think it is where the dress and the band intersect in the cross of the bias. Its weight alone appears to pull at the fabric and cause an undermining of the weft of the weave. I hope that I would be articulate enough to express this in writing but not sure,

  29. Kerryn says:

    Ha! Ken you’re so right…. the pattern might not be intuitive to sewing correctly, with similar shaped pieces and no shoulder notches this could definitely be the problem….

    although the shoulder seams look slightly shorter than the CB yoke depth? or is that my eye?

  30. Kathleen says:

    Brina: The irony is that my client’s problem is that the neck is too low whereas in the post you referenced, it is too high. Namely, whether too high or too low, it can render the appearance of the same symptom and one can be left at odds as to whether they should lower or raise the neckline.

  31. Sandy says:

    Ok, I’m a newbie, so thought I’d just jump right in with an answer, right or wrong.

    I would lay the dress flat and pin the opening together all the way up. This would lower the left yoke where it is not laying flat on the girls shoulder, and it would make it obvious that the left side of the dress under the yoke is too long, and misshapen, from armhole to top, where is joins the yoke. The top of the left side where it meets the yoke would be recut to match the right side and everything matches when sewn back together.
    If I am way off track, oh well, at least I am getting in on the fun.

  32. Kathleen Gaffey says:

    Assuming the pattern was cut out perfectly and body shape/slope is close to normal. Im just wondering if the left yoke or interfacing was cut off grain. This could probably solve all the fit issues?

  33. Yvonne in England says:

    It appears that the sides of the placket are different lengths – possible the incorrect seam allowance has been taken as the upper part appears longer than the under side.

    I’m wondering whether the buttonholes are correctly stitched. It looks as if the lower buttonhole end is closer to the side seam. The buttons naturally move to the edge and, if the buttonholes are not finishing the same distance from the edge, this will cause the upper part of the yoke to pull in tighter than the lower part, thereby causing the ‘twist’ on the yoke.

  34. Peggy says:

    I am not sure about fixing the actual dress that is shown in the photo, but to fix the pattern for the next version of the dress, I think two things could help (assuming that in this version the yoke was applied correctly and that is not the root of the problem):
    1. Add length to the dress pattern at center back, tapering to none at the armhole edge of that piece. This would allow the yoke to sit higher on the body at center back and would bring the outside edge of the yoke at shoulder down onto the body. It would also correct for the improper alignment of the yoke closure.
    2. Add a center back seam to the dress so that the placket could be applied to seam allowances rather than to the edges of a narrow “V” cut in the body of the dress which will necessarily throw the grain of the dress back off no matter what else you do to try to fix the closure.

  35. Matthew Snow says:

    It appears to me that the yoke is not sitting flat in the CB. The buttons need to be repositioned so the yoke laps neatly. As she has probably already put a buttonhole on it and cut it, I would suggest adding a 3rd button.

    Once the button placement is corrected and the yoke is now sitting flat, you can look at how it is attaching to the dress. See if any bit are bubbly and need to be pushed into the yoke. Recut and sew this.

    Shoulder slant should more or less be fixed by fixing the buttons and correcting the lap. The topstitching at the bottom of the placket may need to be restitched as the angle may be incorrect. If the shoulder needs reshaping from there on, then pin either the shoulder from zero point at the shoulder to a value at the neck edge, or reversed, depending on the slope of the shoulder.

    Without pinning the garment I cannot see if there are any other points needing changes.

    You have all put in good points. Good interfacing is definitely a good idea.

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