Friday, 22 March 2013

Fitting your body

Madame Grés fitting a model in the 1940's
Last Wednesday we had our first tailoring meeting. The usual difficulties in getting a time when everyone is able to come, applied, so it was just Pimpinett and Betty and I, meeting up at my place. After scones and tea, we talked tailoring and Pimpinett worked on her jacket and I on my first mock-up. Which is bringing this post, as some of the, for me usual, fitting issues applied. It is also partly inspired by this post by Pimpinett.

A great thing with sewing for yourself is that you have the chance to make clothes that actually fits you. Ready-made clothes are, by necessity, made after a standard figure, a figure that very few of us possess. But to make your creations fit, you also have to take a long hard look at your body and address the way you look without fibbing. If you ignore something because you don’t like the way you look, the result will be badly fitted clothes that probably will highlight what you want to hide.

This is what I see when I look at myself: From the front I look like an X. My bust and hip measurement are rather equal, with a waist that is significantly smaller. But from the side I look much more like a B. Basically all excess weight I carry around are placed on my bust, hips and tummy, but I have a very flat derriere and also no sway to my back to talk about. Other important points are my high waist and rather narrow back. This is what I look like. I may, and I do, like some parts of my body better than others, but they are all part in how my figure looks and I need to take them all in account.

Clothing Construction Lab, 1943
When I was new to pattern construction I regularly lengthened the waist on my patterns too much. The pattern pieces looks so odd having such high waist, they looked better proportioned, as pattern, with a longer waist. This invariably led to wrinkles at the waistline, as they got too long for my body. That’s what I got for ignoring what my body actually look like.

My jacket, after Pimpinett has helped me with the fitting, has few alterations in the front, the waist darts has been tweaked a little. The side seams are left as they were, but the back has some drastic changes. The waist darts have been tweaked, and the whole back shortened, which has also lead to a new armscye. An excellent example on what a large bust can do- here it is eating up length in the front. Another option is to make a full bust adjustment, but I think it will be easier to change the back. The jacket is also too long, which plays havoc with my proportions- my legs look shorter and the lower body longer.

Regardless of body shape, clothes that fits you well, makes you look better. And if you know your body, you have a much easier time when it comes to choose a fit that looks good on you. To use myself as an example once again, a jacket shouldn’t be too short either. My narrowest point on my body is my waist, and a jacket that ends there, makes me look bigger than I am. A reason to why I rarely use this faux fur jacket, despite liking the style a lot.


Anonymous said...

I think I have my basic shape down pat, for the most part, but I regularly end up having to take enormous amounts of surplus width out of sleeves to fit them into the armscye, or doing several adjustments to sleeve head darts. The standard ease used for sleeves I've been taught is entirely too much, and somehow I haven't really sat down and just made a couple of basic, working sleeve blocks adapted to the armscye of my standard jacket block. Classic case of laziness generating far more unnecessary work.

Isis said...

pimpinett: I have managed to construct a working base pattern for my 18th century clothes, which do makes it so much easier, but I have yet to make one for other clothes. I claim laziness as well...

Artemisia Moltabocca said...

I just made another dress cover for my dressform. My yoyo weight and weird sizing makes it difficult for me to get the right fit.

I'm keeping tabs on your tailoring posts to help inspire me start my own 40's wardrobe.

And speaking of inspiring, I've given you The Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Isis said...

Artemisia Moltabocca: Thank you so much :)

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