Sunday, October 2, 2011


I read some more in my various fitting books today and figured out why I have problems with getting things to fit properly in the bodice area.

For those who don’t sew, sewing patterns are not based on the weird arbitrary sizes used by various clothing manufacturers—those vary from line to line and heck even within the same maker. So the size we buy in clothing stores has nothing to do with the sizes used in sewing. Sewing patterns are all based on actual measurements at specific points on the body. For women, that includes two bust measurements—a high bust measurement and a bust or full bust measurement, plus the waist and the hips.

I run into two problems when selecting a pattern size. First, based on my frame, I've finally realized I shouldn’t use the bust or full bust measurement to pick the pattern size for the bodice. I need to use the high bust measurement, which is taken below the armpit and across the top of the bust. I have a smaller back and my fitting books agree that it’s far easier to increase the full bust area on a pattern top than it is to tighten up the high bust, the back, the neck and so on. When I use the full bust measurement, as I have always done, I have too much material above my bust and often too much across my back as well. This isn't a new thing, I'm just paying a lot more attention to it now.

The direct opposite is true for bottoms. There I should continue doing what I’ve been doing and use my hip measurement. Then I take in a lot through a taper up to the waist.

The other missing piece in my fit dilemma is the area directly above my bust. I have what one of the books calls a hollow chest. That means I’m very lean above my actual bust.

If you look at the pictures I posted yesterday, you can see it. The reworked pink top looks really good—that material has enough stretch to pull a bit tighter across my upper chest. The white shirt I wore in the picture with the gray skirt has some excess material there and doesn’t fit as well.

That’s the problem I faced with the purple dress. Even now after taking in over three inches through the bodice and tapering out through the hips, there’s still too much material in the bodice and especially above my bust. So I’ve learned a couple of things from this project. Going forward I need to select patterns that don’t have a lot of excess material in the bodice area and if the fabric has stretch, then I really need to be careful which size I cut out. I also need to start making a muslin or test garment first.

I do love the color of the dress and I love the fabric. Kent assures me it’s a flattering look in person but I am a little disappointed at the end result. I hoped for a perfect fit and I’m not there yet.


lemming said...

Loving the skirt (easier to like it when I see it on a person) and glad that the kitty nip went over well. :-)

Diane Russell said...

I have the same problem with bodices. Which of the books that you bought to learn about resizing do you like the best? I really could use a good one myself.

I assume learning to resize is like learning to sew in the first place. I don't know about you, but I made a lot of mistakes while I figured out what it was I SHOULD be doing.

You may not be happy with the fit yet, but it sure looks good on you in the picture. That's a wonderful color!

Jeanne said...

Have you ever considered dressmaking-by-mail as a business? I spent the last week shopping for something to wear to a "black tie optional" event at the end of this month, and luckily I had more money than sense, because at my size you can't even order anything less than a formal gown. I would love a tea-length dress, but there's no way I can get one proportioned to fit me. I walk by the cocktail dresses and--sometimes literally--think I'm in the children's section.

kd said...

I agree with Jeanne. You could make a full-time job just with your FRIENDS. You have skillz. I'd buy from you, and would pay plenty for a custom-fit dress with your taste to boot.