"I have [long arms, big boobs, a short waist, a flat bum, wide hips, broad shoulders - or vice versa] - Patterns weren't made to fit me. I can't sew for myself. Everything I make I throw right in the trash."
I'm going to level with you. This is NOT what the beginner women's apparel sewist wants to hear. But you will never move beyond beginner status clinging to these ideas. You just won't.
These reasons? These excuses? They're lies. Lies to you, lies about your skills, and lies about your bodies.
They're reasonable excuses - at first, anyway. They no doubt soften the immediate blow of sewing failure. How sad can you be if a project was ill fated from the start? But... think of the long term consequences of saying such things. You can't sew a project you love... because of your body? Think of the shame and guilt these thoughts breed. Your body isn't a scapegoat. It's perfect, exactly as it is - in all it's lengths and lumps and every variable in between. Your BODY is not failing you. Your clothes are.
Ready-to-wear clothes? They're designed to fit the "average" woman. But what is average? It's a calculation. The AVERAGE measurement of a woman with X bust size has a waist measurement between Y and Z. Centuries worth of measurements have been plugged into formulas, and out comes a range of widths that make up our standard measurements charts. They're a realistic tool, the "best guess" designers and manufacturers use to draft their patterns. But they're just numbers. They're not BODIES. They're not YOUR body.
Stop confusing the "Average" with the "Majority." If MOST women fit RTW clothes, I wouldn't be in a group of nearly 400 women testifying that their proportions are all over the charts. If MOST women fit RTW clothes, I wouldn't see women in public with straps falling off their shoulders, gapping at the neckline or armscye. Women who chose to size their jeans to fit their hips, unable to wear them without a belt to hold them up at their waist - or tugging at them constantly to keep them up. You wouldn't see so many major retailers relying on the "flexibility" of spandex in wovens and knits to provide the greatest range of fit in their garments. They're designing for "average" and finding materials to fit the masses. It's sound business practice, but it is not full-proof.
Odds are REALLY GOOD that the clothes you have don't fit you perfectly. In your defense - how are you to know? Everyone around you has carried the same "if I can put it on in the dressing room and it doesn't fall right off, it must fit" logic around most their lives too. And retailers have no reason to provide an alternate script.
But maybe the last post got you thinking about gapping. Thinking about lengths. Thinking about what "fit red flags" you've been wearing. And now you're looking at that stack of patterns, and thinking "can I pull this off? Can I sew myself something better than I can find at the store?" And you cycle right back to those lies you've told yourself for so long: "Patterns weren't made to fit me."
Here's my new truth for you:
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE TALENTED. AND YOU ARE CAPABLE.
And your body? It isn't average.
The patterns you have? They're full of lengthen/shorten lines, multiple sizes to blend between, multiple sizes to "franken-pattern" your perfect fit, and they're full of design options to give you versatility and the most flattering silhouette on your figure. BUT, If you sew them right from the original pattern pieces, you have to expect them to fit you the same way RTW clothes do.
How do you tap into the potential of those patterns?? You need to KNOW THY SELF.
Bookmark this link. Print out pages 14-20. Use the earlier pages as a guide for taking your measurements - and be HONEST. Where do you fall? Do your findings confirm what you already knew? Explain things you didn't?
I took all of mine tonight with the help of the hubs. While I acknowledge a decent margin for error, I also know my results have confirmed a lot of my own suspicions.
- I'm 5'2, technically "petite". But according to my measurements? Only in the torso and arms. My legs are "average" length.
- My RTW jeans - I get a size 2. But that's because I have a larger booty, and a smaller front. Since Gap (to my knowledge) doesn't carry a 4 rump + 0 front, I have learned to split the difference for an ok-fitting size 2, but I can sew a better fitting garment with this knowledge.
- I have muscular shoulders (yeahhhh yoga!) but scrawny little arms. I cut a size small armscye, and taper to an extra-small sleeve.
"Beccaaaaaa, do I really need to do this? I know my bust, waist, and hip measurements already. I sew for them, too!"
YES, yes, a thousand times yes. Had I done this over a year ago when I started sewing for myself, it would have answered my questions before I even HAD them. Waist, Hip, Bust - these are width measurements only. They describe our bodies as though they are 2D. Without our vertical measurements, our understanding of our proportions are simply incomplete. Without SPECIFICALLY measuring front and back width measurements, you'll never understand why "splitting the difference" will only ever yield mediocre results. Why you'll simultaneously have gapping in the back, and pulling in the front. You just won't know.
The burden is not on pattern designers to design for our individual frames. They design for the "average." And now you know - YOU are extraordinary. Start sewing for your Extraordinary Body!
UPDATE! Jocole has agreed to sponsor this week's giveaway! 3 patterns are up for grabs! All you have to do is tell me about your EXTRAORDINARY BODY. Hashtag your progress #extraordinarybody #summercapsulesewalong and tag @beccaduvalphoto on Instagram, leave a comment on this blog post, or on this thread to enter! And don't forget to give Jodi big sloppy kisses for her generosity - she rocks :)
#thisiswhywemuslin a few simple before/after tweaks to the @califayecollection makes the #basicstank a petite-friendly pattern! No visible bra straps, no gapping. Next I'll show you how I use this muslin to make an updated pattern piece for my final tank. PS, this took 10 minutes and 50cents worth of scrap muslin ;) #summercapsulesewalong #summercapsuleupdate
Swing the fabric so that the armscye dart is closed and our new dart is "released" (aka not stitched) to the hem. I'll use the original pattern piece to pretty up that armscye curve again, and trace this new shape on pattern paper. Is it still the #basicstank ?? YES - but now with a custom dart to fit my petite frame. Pretty cool huh??#summercapsulesewalong #thisiswhywemuslin
Detail shots of the custom dart: if I poke the apex of my bust and tug the arm opening taut, the dart starts to form on its own. Then I can fold it over and mark the outsides of the v shape. I'm drawing on flesh so lines are bound to get wonky, but we can eyeball the at the machine to straighten things up. #summercapsulesewalong #thisiswhywemuslin
Now this pattern has an a-line shape built in, just not specifically where I needed it. Now that I've added a released dart in the middle, I'm going to take fabric off the fold at the bottom to stay true to the intended silhouette of the pattern. Now I have my nee pattern piece, time to cut intoy good fabric! #thisiswhywemuslin #summercapsulesewalong #isew #memademay