Josephine’s Gabi Block experience

One of my lovely pattern testers, Josephine, has very kindly allowed me to share her detailed feedback on her experience of using the Gabi Block pattern to prepare her own bodice block. Josephine’s Instagram handle is @youshouldopenanetsyshop where you can see her gorgeous sewing projects!

Josephine started off with a size 11, as recommended for her full bust measurement, and then graded to suit her waist and hip. The instructions show how you can increase the waist and hips to suit your measurements.

Josephine also drafted this plaid top from her block. It has a button-down back and a widened neckline, and she says it fits better than any top she’s ever worn!

For reference, Josephine’s body measurements were: Upper bust 46″ / Full bust 51″ / Waist 44″ / High hip 51″ / Low hip 51″

Josephine’s notes and photographs:

Toile number 1:

Alterations: I used size 11 at the shoulders & bust and graded to size 12 at waist and size 10 at hip. I lowered the bust dart by 2″ and lowered the upper half of waist dart accordingly.

Positives: The waist and bust fit very well. The hip circumference was accurate but needed a little finessing.

Negatives: My uneven shoulders needed to be accounted for, and I had some gaping at the neckline. The bodice fell shorter/higher at front than the back. There was not much arm mobility. I also had some draglines across the upper back.

Toile number 2:

Alterations: I made a hollow chest adjustment, lengthened the front, graded the hip differently (removed 1/2″ from center front at hip and added 1/2″ to the sides at hip level on front only), and raised the bottom of the armscye by 1/2″. I pinned but didn’t sew the left shoulder seam, to experiment with different adjustments there, and I didn’t make sleeves because I knew the armscye needed more adjustment. I also made a 1/2″ broad back adjustment.

Positives: Much better fit at chest, neckline and hip. The hem is now level, and I was able to decide on appropriate increase to the height of the left shoulder for my next version (3/8″).

Negatives: I’m not sure that it shows but I had some extra fabric between the armscye & bust dart, it made sort of a bubble.

Toile number 3

Alterations: I extended the left shoulder height by 3/8″. I redrew the pattern pieces to put the front on single piece with left and right marked, and to have different left and right back pieces. I narrowed by 1/2″ between the armscye and bust dart, raised bottom of armscye by 1″ & redrew the armscye using a french curve. I adjusted the sleeve to match, which resulted in a lowered sleeve cap but no change to the bicep width. I pinned the waist darts but didn’t sew them because I wanted to be able to experiment with different amounts of ease as I was already designing a top based on this block! 

Positives: It fits really well all over! There’s room for improvement at the front and back of the shoulder where the sleeves attach but it’s beyond my ability to alter and I doubt it would be as noticeable in a fabric other than quilting cotton… I will do more research!

Negatives: Fabric color choice!

Self-drafted plaid top

I let out the waist darts and added 1/4″ of ease to each side seam at hip (1″ all around). I deepened the bust dart by 1/4″ and added as length to front. I added 1″ to each side at back center to create enough overlap to use buttons. I widened the neck opening by 3/4″ on each side and 1/2″ at each center and created a facing for the neck & arm holes and back closure. The facings were made from the outer fabric and lightweight fusible interfacing.

Positives: fits better than any top I’ve ever worn! 

Negatives: should have added more ease at the hip: letting out the waist darts gave me 4″ of ease around the waist so I should have added quite a bit more than 1″ at hip, but I’ve been able to get around that by wearing it with the 2 bottom buttons open. I would narrow the shoulders next time, and I won’t deepen the bust dart again.

Michelle’s notes

I’m tremendously grateful to Josephine for allowing me to share her real-life experience with the Gabi block.

  • I just wanted to note that size 11 is drafted for a D cup, which assumes roughly 4″ difference between the high/upper bust and the full bust. As Josephine has a 5″ difference between these two measurements, one alternative to grading out at the waist and lengthening the bodice at the front, might have been to try a 1″ full bust adjustment (which adds width through the waist and hips and also length at centre front) and then reduce the hip circumference as necessary. However, there is no single right answer with fitting adjustments, and Josephine ultimately arrived at a fit that she is very happy with!
  • Following tester feedback, the fitting adjustments section was expanded to cover more potential adjustments, so I hope that, like Josephine, you’ll be able to work through any fitting changes you want to make and arrive at a good starting point for a self-drafted dress or blouse pattern.