{Talking Fit} Where is the line between fixing fit, and changing design?

So last week, in Capsule and on instagram, I introduced a series of posts I'll be doing featuring 6 popular shorts patterns on the indie market.  

I'm PUMPED for the series - which you can read all about here - but amid my first shorts muslin process, an excellent question was asked that I just had to "drop everything and answer." 

Where is the line between fitting a pattern, and changing the design?

So I'll back it up for a second and start here: pattern alterations are NOT drafting. It's one of the more common complaints I hear from disgruntled seamstresses: "I don't want to have to redraft a pattern to fit me!" Dudes. I get it. I totally do. It feels like a lot, and when you're just starting out, it totally is! Why do you think tailors charge so much!? 

But we need to be reasonable here, too. Designers CAN NOT draft for you. (Ok, technically they could...) And even if they did, there'd be the same number of people grumbling about having to alter patterns, they'd just wouldn't share your body size/shape. So designers (for RTW and for pattern making) do what any sane person would. Pick a body size/shape somewhere in the middle of the masses, and figure it's the closest starting point for the most people to adapt the pattern for their figures. 

Which also means that designers are expecting you to make alterations. It's true! They're not sitting in there studio somewhere throwing a fit because a blogger somewhere actually USED those "lengthen/shorten" lines. And if they are, we can say a collective "bless their heart..."

They want you to look good in the design they dedicated weeks or months to drafting and testing and perfecting. Which means they also want:

  • Their pattern's bust point to match up with your bust point.
  • Their pattern's waistline to match up with your waistline.
  • Their pattern's hip to match up with the fullest part of yours.
  • Their pattern's design ease preserved at all the above body parts.
  • Their pattern's shoulder seam lined up with your shoulders.
  • Their pattern's hemlines proportional to your body.
  • And they definitely want your garment to be free of wrinkling, pulling, smiling, frowning, puddling, pooling, bunching, creasing, you-get-the-idea.

Any alterations you make to preserve the design's aesthetic, is fixing fit. 

When you consider that the product listing looks like....

It's pretty clear that the designer wanted it to fit like my post-alteration version. This is the Victory Simone pattern, by the way, and it's drafted for 5'9. No wonder you see so many inches cut out to fit my 5'2 (and a half!) body. 

Want to see that magic again?? Here's the Seamwork Reggie:

This is a style I'd have NEVER picked up for my body type, by the way. But I'm trying to put the "rule of thirds" -where your body is segmented into 1/3's by different garments, hem lengths, or belts - into practice in my wardrobe pieces and pairings. The Rule of Thirds is a "visually pleasing" ratio used in all kinds of art like architecture and photography. Anyway, my first "third" ends at high hip, not at my true waistline. So I figured I'd experiment with more tube-like styles like Reggie, and the colette shift dress, Laurel - which you can see here next to the Hawthorn dress. I can wear flats or pumps without ankle details with the Laurel, and the "proportional" hemline is longer - a few inches above the knee. But if I want a waist-hugging design like Hawthorne, I need a mini length dress and ankle-high shoes (either booties, or shoes with ankle straps/details. Which brings me back on topic...

Hawthorn is NOT a mini dress. It's not meant to be. It's not provided in the pattern. Does that mean it's hard to adapt? Heck no. It's probably easier to shorten a hem than it is to make any other alteration. BUT - it's not changing the fit, it's changing the design. 

"Wait, wait, wait! How come when you found your hem length the first time it was a 'fit change' and now its a 'design change'?" 

Simply put: One keeps to the designer's aesthetic. One accommodates mine. 

So when I blog these shorts (and I will blog them this week! I will, I will!) - you'll see lots of adjustments in keeping with the intended style of the shorts. They'll just be proportional to my body, and my height. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have many promised blog posts to write 😜 But if you want to keep reading about proportions and ideal hem lengths, you really really shouldn't miss out on my earlier post.


Where do you draw the line between changing "fit" and changing "design"? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!