Accommodating Bulk When Layering

Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks: Accommodating Bulk When Layering

Accommodating bulk is something everyone knows about in theory, but you might not give it due consideration when sewing. I recently made a Victorian evening suit for a 16” fashion doll: trousers, shirt, waistcoat, tailcoat, bow tie, the works. When I finished the waistcoat’s mockup, it looked good. That is, until I tried it on over the doll’s shirt. I could barely make the front edges meet and the doll looked like a stuffed sausage!


Too-Small Waistcoat

So, what happened? Did the waistcoat shrink? It fit perfectly, at first. But I forgot to take the bulk of layering into consideration. That is, the waistcoat must fit over the shirt, so it needs to be made slightly larger. This holds true for any garment that will be worn over something else. The tailcoat needed to be even larger, because it had to fit not only over the shirt, but the waistcoat, too. If I made it to fit the nude doll, it wouldn’t stand a chance of fitting once I put it on over the other layers.

It’s a simple concept, but not something you always think about. Each layer adds bulk to the size. The more layers you have, the larger the person (or doll) becomes. This is why patterns always recommend that you take your measurements over any undergarments you’ll be wearing. In my case, not doing so led to a mockup that was too small. Imagine how much worse it would have been if I’d been sewing for a person, rather than a doll. All that work, down the drain!

It was easy enough to add a little to the side seams of my doll’s waistcoat and enlarge the armscye to accommodate his shoulders. The finished garment fit beautifully over his shirt.


Well-Fitted Waistcoat

Next time you’re sewing something that will be worn layered, keep in mind the need to adjust for bulk. Make each subsequent layer slightly larger, so it will fit over the layer beneath it. Your garment will look better and will fit more comfortably.

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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2 Responses to Accommodating Bulk When Layering

  1. ELizabeth Thompson says:

    You make male doll clothes, too!

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