Original armscye - prior to altering:
See how round and relatively symmetrical the armsyce is? There's no dart on the side front piece, as yet, to skew the length and depth of the front armscye.
New armscye - plus sleeves (admittedly, the lining pieces, but proportions are basically the same):
|Note: I closed the dart on the lining piece before cutting out the fabric, so that is the"darted side front" on the left...|
I sense, this is why every time I do a "regular" darted FBA it's a mess. The way I'm shaped, I need sharp, forward projection at the centre bust but I can't take it anywhere else or it gapes (under the bust, in the waist - and, most notably, at the side of the breast at the front armscye).
For kicks, check out that sleeve head. I wish I still had the original to show you but, trust me, it's an entirely different shape. The original looked like a bell on the front (right side of the right piece)and a steep slope on the back (left side of right piece and the piece to the left of it). My version, as you can see, is like a bunny hill on the back and a very short jump on the front. I removed 3 inches of depth from the apex of the sleevehead.
I couldn't have intuited this. I had to drape it. (Well, my super-smart fitting friend S. taught me how to do this and has helped me to accomplish it in the past. This time, I'm just starting to feel alright about completely changing the shape of everything.)
This is why I'm really starting to question the value of multi-sized patterns, for me. I can never simply grade between sizes. I have to do surgery on these pieces. Seriously, EVERY piece (save interfacing) has at least one alteration and most have 2 or 3. If you multiply that by 12, you're looking at 36 minor to significant alterations, to get this pattern to fit. The only ones that grading might have helped me with (but not adequately, given how short in the waist I am), are length of pieces and width in the waist. Peeps, I can shorten a piece and narrow a waist, practically by eyeballing (ok, not true! I don't eyeball!). It's the ready-made FBA I want.
No one's ever going to design patterns with my bust shape, dimensions and arms in mind. They'd be stupid to. I'm one in a million, from the pattern drafting perspective. (Oooh, that makes me sound so good!) Chances are, you're one in a million in a totally different way.
While I'm not suggesting that they don't work for some, my emerging opinion is that multi-sized patterns give people a false sense of security. They make you think that you can go from one size to the next, with the help of a curved ruler, and fitting will miraculously occur.
Fitting is a freakin' production. Oh, and while we're at it, so is tailoring. So is sewing beautifully. And don't forget about that truly nuanced and delicate art - choosing which fabric will work with what pattern on what shape of body. This is why it takes years to become an expert. You'll flirt with one element, only to let another fall by the wayside. This is ok, in my opinion. I love the complexity of sewing.
I do think that, if you want to get good, sewing the same pattern again and again and again - in different fabrics having different properties, using different techiques and methods, refining fit each go round - is a fairly solid approach. Of course, it's not high on the novelty scale.
But I guess you can't have everything all at once.