Why am I always surprised that the most basic of garments are the ones that are often the hardest to get right? I guess the upside is that the hunt for the perfect tried-and-true pattern for these kinds of clothes makes it that much sweeter when you finally land on that perfect design!
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Such was the case with my cami pattern saga. Ever since the Ogden Cami pattern came out, I’d been wanting to try to make some similar tops to add to my wardrobe. I mean, what’s hard about a basic v-neck camisole? Should be easy to find or adapt a pattern, right?? Wrong! I don’t but a lot of Indie patterns both because of the cost and the unpredictability, so I grabbed a vintage pattern from my drawer with similar lines and gave it a try. It’s beautiful! But, the fit is all wrong. The neckline is too wide and too low (I probably made a size too big; this was before my always-make-a-muslin days) and the back had a ton of extra fabric, even after I added French darts. I used Liberty fabric for it, though, so I’m still not ready to toss it in the bin. I still think I can make it better, so it’s currently sitting on my sewing desk awaiting a light bulb moment. You might remember this cami from this recent post. I love how the fabric scraps add interest to the binding and straps!
After that disheartening experience, I waited a few months and then decided to go ahead and buy the Ogden Cami pattern. I mean, sewists everywhere are OBSESSED with this pattern. And with good reason, it’s beautiful! It seems to work for everyone and the pattern hacking potential is endless. I whipped up my first version using the fabric from a thrifted full skirt my daughters outgrew. I made a muslin, made a full bust adjustment adding darts (when will I learn?) and went ahead and cut my fabric.
I ended up taking the side seams in and giving them shape, giving more of a curve to the center back seam AND eliminating the half-length facing, as it just got hung up on my bust every time I moved my arms. I cut it into a normal facing and top stitched it 2” from the top. In the end, I do wear this cami, but only under a cardigan, because even after all that, the arm holes are too big and show my bra. (This is not a rant against the Ogden Cami pattern, it’s clearly a wonderful pattern. It’s not you, it’s me, Ogden Cami).
I’d spent money on that darn pattern though, so I wasn’t ready to give up on it. I made a second go of it a few months later, altering the arm holes and drafting a new front facing for it. This version is just ok too. The pattern is just not right for me and after all those alterations, it’s a different design than the Ogden Cami altogether.
I am not a quitter, though! I had made a dress several months ago that just hadn’t worked out, but I’d kept it in the drawer hoping I could use the fabric somehow. The skirt part was just big enough for another try at a cami. Digging through my drawer, I came up with McCall’s 2219, one I’d thrifted years ago and made the cut when I cleaned out my patterns last year. I think it’s out of print, but not super old, so not at all hard to find on Amazon or Etsy.
The reason I’d overlooked it before was because it’s a bias cut design and I’ve been using small bits of fabrics for these camis, nothing big enough to cut pieces out on the bias. BUT, since I’d made those other camis, I had learned that if the pattern has bust darts (this one includes them!), then a cami will fit fine cut on the straight of grain. I cut it out, barely having enough and wouldn’t you know it …
This pattern fit, FIRST TRY!!! No alterations required. I love the V neckline, and notice how much coverage the straps give me. The facing is exactly the style I had drafted for my Ogden Cami and the length is perfect. Now that I have a basic pattern to go to, I can hack this into other designs. A straight across neckline will be first, I think, then maybe a dress!
So, here’s what I learned. Once again, just because a pattern seems to be great on everyone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be great on me. I knew better than to buy a pattern without bust darts and with such floaty lines, when what I wanted was something completely different and more fitted. And I knew better than to try that first vintage pattern without making a muslin.