Patterns can’t fit everyone

Posted January 30, 2015 by sewingplums
Categories: fit of clothes

Many people complain that patterns don’t fit. But devising patterns that fit everyone is an impossible task.
We have problems with fit, not because pattern designers are doing something wrong, but because we each have a different body shape.

– – –

Our different shapes

There are some data from North Carolina State University, which I analysed in a couple of posts starting here.

They found :
About 1 in 8 of us has waist larger than hips. About half of us have no clearly defined waist, the rest have indented waist.
About quarter of us are larger above the waist than below.
About quarter of us are larger below the waist than above.

How can anyone possibly design a pattern which fits all these people – except some sort of sack, with belt supplied for people who want to show their waist.

And they didn’t even look at fit issues like short-long waist, square-sloping shoulders, high round back.
Or any of the other 80+ fit issues mentioned by Liechty and Co. in Fitting and Pattern Alteration.
Here’s a list of common fit challenges.

My most obscure body shape element is that I have unusual armholes. Liechty and Co. is the only book I’ve found which tells me what to do about that. We all have different preferred methods of fitting. I like ‘reading the wrinkles’. Sarah Veblen’s good book on this method, Complete photo guide to perfect fitting, has a section on fitting individual armholes. But she doesn’t mention the major pattern change I need to get a comfortable fitted armhole.

– – –

“Yay, this pattern fits me !”

It always annoys me when people enthuse that a pattern fits them out of the envelope, without saying anything about their body shape.
Suppose I recommend a pattern because it fits me marvellously. Should you rush to try that pattern ? Well, I have hips two sizes bigger than top, small bust, short waist, high hip shelf. If you have square shoulders, a generous bust, and slim straight hips, that pattern would cause you a lot of fitting work.

I’m planning a post on patterns that do give some help with ift.

– – –

‘Average’ is best

Many RTW clothing companies use a ‘fit model’. They choose someone close to their idea of ‘average’, and make their clothes to fit that person. Yes, there are people who make their living by having clothes fitted to them. There aren’t all that many people who are close enough to ‘average’ US size 8/ UK size 12 to be eligible !

RTW companies use ‘average’ fit, because over the whole population, fewer people will be far from these measurements.

In the same way, the best that pattern designers can do for fit is to design for ‘average’.
(Unless they’re willing to target only a small part of the market, see separate post.)
An ‘average’ shape pattern, statistically, though not for the individual, over all the people who use the pattern, will need the least fit adjustments.

– – –

Bad patterns ?

Of course there are bad patterns. In these days when cheerfully inexperienced people can sell terrible download patterns, we’re all aware that patterns need to be of professional quality. So they do have ‘average’ proportions, no mistakes, and all the pieces fit together properly in all sizes. And they have clear markings and instructions.

But patterns aren’t bad just because they don’t fit a specific person !

– – –

Learn to fit

I think pattern companies make a mistake by not making this fitting limitation clear. Then people are disappointed with their product, and don’t understand that disappointment is unavoidable.

Beginner sewers can be upset that their hand-sewn garments don’t fit them by magic, even though RTW doesn’t.
Few instructions for beginners mention that there’s a lot of learning to do with gaining fitting skills as well as sewing skills.

Yes, if you make your own clothes you can have beautifully fitting clothes. But only if you do the fitting work.

Well fitting clothes make you look as if you have a perfect body.
I once saw an exhibit about ‘couture’ which included dress forms for some people who were famous for being elegant. Oh dear, some of them were a mighty odd shape underneath.

So it is worth doing the fitting work !

There are several methods of improving fit. Such as taking measurements and altering the pattern. Or making a muslin and ‘reading the wrinkles’. Tissue fitting is often mentioned but is almost impossible to do without help. You may need to try several methods before you find the fitting method that works best for you. There are several Sewingplums posts about body shape and improving fit.

Those of us who are further from average have to do more fitting work. It’s just something we have to accept as part of being us.

I plan another post on patterns that do help with fitting, as that topic expanded rather.

Good Luck to everyone who is far enough away from average that they have to do fitting work on all patterns. It’s inevitable for many of us !

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The Vivienne Files wardrobe plan : ’Starting from Scratch’

Posted July 17, 2014 by sewingplums
Categories: wardrobe planning

Janice of The Vivienne Files has been running a wardrobe building series which is simple, clear and step-by-step.

I brought the links together for my own use, and am posting them here in case anyone finds it helpful.
There has been an active discussion at Stitchers’ Guild.

The main sections here :
– list of links to the Scratch wardrobe plan.
– other wardrobe building plans from Janice.
– grouping the steps into capsules.
– some suggestions on personalising the plan.
– a few tips on co-ordinates,
– some designers and styles.

So many situations where building a wardrobe can be an inspiring idea :
– choosing a travel capsule,
– revising your wardrobe when you have a change in job/ lifestyle/ size/ climate or want to explore a different personal style,
– ‘shopping your wardrobe’ to check if you have any big wardrobe gaps.
– when you feel you have “nothing to wear”, your closet is full of clothes that don’t go together.
– when you feel your clothes are just tired out, or you’re tired of them.

– –

Build up a wardrobe

It’s good to take at least a day on each step, as Janice did with her posts. Every time you add a step, explore the outfits you can make by combining these with your previously chosen items.
I think this is especially important early on, when you’re establishing your own best colours, styles and clothing needs.
Choose colours that flatter you and that you love, not just colours that go together.
Pick styles which make you feel and look your best.
Don’t try to mimic Janice’s choices exactly unless this is what makes you happy.
Think about what clothes you need for your climate and how you spend your time.
(A little more about these decisions in later sections.)

Step 0. choose 5 colours – 2 neutrals, ‘white’/ best light neutral, 2 accents
click here

Janice has a colour planner available for purchase, showing a huge range of possible combinations, see here.

Step 1. pants – main neutral
click here

Step 2. shoes – same neutral
click here

Step 3. cardigan; tee – same neutral
click here

Step 4. jeans – same neutral; shirt – ‘white’
click here

Step 5. accessories I – bag, watch, bracelet, earrings, scarf – same neutral
click here
(other suggestions – belt, necklace, hat, vest)

Step 6. 2 tops – 1 in each accent colour; mixed colour scarf
click here

Step 7. layer; pants; shoes – 2nd neutral
click here

Pause for review
click here

Clarifying preferences
click here

Step 8. 2 tops – any of colours, may be print; necklace – accent
click here

Step 9. dressy [winter] outfit : skirt; top; shoes – all in main neutral
click here

Step 10. casuals : jacket – neutral; top – mixed colour print; casual shoes – neutral or accent
click here

Step 11. personal style outfit : layer; top; bottom, to fill in your needs – both neutrals
click here

Step 12. winter outerwear : coat; boots; scarf – mainly neutrals but your choice
click here

Step 13. accessories 2 : bag, watch, earrings, necklace, brooch/ pin – mainly neutrals
click here

Step 14. leisure wear : 2 tops – any of the 5 colours or prints; 2 bottoms – mainly neutral
click here

Step 15. dressy summer outfit : dress – neutral; layer – may be accent; sandals – neutral or ‘flesh’
click here

Step 16. evaluating and balancing neutrals (complete core groups of both neutrals)
click here
Sort your wardrobe by colour, plus ‘bridging’ garments which combine colours. Too many or too few of one of your colours ?

Step 17. finishing touches
click here
Many examples of things you might feel are missing.

Step 18. simple neutral tops as background for accessories
click here

Final summary, no new items
click here

Worksheets available
click here

Supplement : Summer wardrobe, all the steps in one post
click here

– – –

Alternates

Janice has previously posted several wardrobe building schemes with different perspectives.
Some of them add some other considerations, which can be confusing. On the other hand, if they‘re more like your style, they may make things simpler !
Just pick one to start from, as a way of building up a basic group of clothes. You can branch out from it later.

Alternate 1 : a 15-piece wardrobe for Agnes
– 5 layers, 5 tops, 5 bottoms.
click here
Buy all 15 items from the same department at the beginning of the season, and no need to think about clothes again. . .

Alternate 2 : Four by Four casual wardrobe
– four groups of four
click here
Janice has many versions of this – click on Four by Four in the labels section of her menu.

I wrote a couple of posts about this at the time :
Wardrobe of relaxed basics
Variations of the relaxed wardrobe

Alternate 3 : the common wardrobe
– 12 neutral casuals
click here
This is rather different from the Scratch wardrobe. Here a small group of neutral casuals is used as the background for interesting accent colour accessories.
In the Scratch wardrobe most of the accessories are neutral in colour.

Again I wrote some posts about this at the time :
Common wardrobe
Accessory styles
Where do you like your outfit variety ?
I gave up on listing all the colours Janice explored, but you can find them if you click on ‘A Common Wardrobe’ in the Labels in her menu. An amazing example of Janice’s wardrobe gifts in action !

Alternate 4 : building a working wardrobe after college
click here
Another simple group of classics built up a few items at a time.

Alternate 5 : a two-suit wardrobe
– 24 items
click here
More basics using 2 key colours.

For someone else’s recent suggestions on wardrobe planning, there’s the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns.

– – –

Sewing this wardrobe a capsule at a time

Elizabeth (ejvc) has grouped the Scratch Wardrobe items into 6PACs for ease of sewing. Each 6PAC has its own reduced colour focus.
In a ideal world you sew a 6PAC each season. 6PACs are groups of items which make a capsule, so you have plenty of wearable outfits even if you only make these 6 items. There are active discussions each season at Stitchers’ Guild.
Elizabeth calls the main colours ‘base’ colours rather than neutrals, as some people aren’t happy in neutrals. She counts a colour as a base/neutral if you’d enjoy wearing a pair of pants in it. So if you love shocking pink pants, shocking pink is a ‘neutral’ for you :D
click here for ejvc’s post

Some people are happy to follow Janice’s Steps. Others feel they have a clearer overview of the process if they group the Steps in Capsules and then the Capsules into a Wardrobe.
I’m a ‘one step at a time’ person, so long as I know there is a flexible overall plan which works out in the end. But some people instantly relax when they see Elizabeth’s scheme.
So do whichever works best for you.

– – –

Personalising the plan

Love dresses and skirts ? lace and frills ? studs and skulls ? Need many layers for warmth ? Have greyed warm colouring ? Many reasons why the items Janice picks may not be ideal for you, so try not to get stuck on specifics. If you’re not a city-dwelling working classic with clear cool colouring, it may take a bit of thought and experimenting to adapt this wardrobe to your own needs, but the basic ideas are very simple to deal with.

My e-book has some suggestions on identifying your own wardrobe needs.
click here

And there’s this post with some questions to get you thinking about your personal style.
click here

It’s also important to dress for your colouring.
Which describes you ?
light – dark
cool (blue based) – warm (yellow based),
clear – muted
low contrast – high contrast

The approach to colouring which works best for me is ‘signature colours’ – colours from your hair, skin, eyes, blush, veins.
I enjoy Imogen Lamport’s posts on this ’signature colours’ approach.
click here (search for signature colour)
But some people don’t look good in their personal colouring, and prefer the ‘seasonal’ approach. So try both.

For choosing clothes which enhance the details of your body shape, there’s the excellent and fascinating workbook ‘Flatter your Figure’ by Jan Larkey.
click here.

– – –

Co-ordinates

And then there’s the art and skill of choosing clothes that co-ordinate.
Several of my posts with suggestions on co-ordination linked to from this page.

Basically – you’ve simplified co-ordination by using only a few colours and a few prints.
Also just use a few silhouettes and a few style elements.
It’s easiest to have collars on tops and not on jackets, or collars on jackets and not on tops.
Make sure your layers are big enough, especially at the armholes and sleeves. Many fitted jacket patterns have sleeves that only work over a sleeveless top or camisole. Raglan and dolman sleeves fit over most other sleeve styles, but not vice versa.

– – –

Designers and styles

One way of making it more likely your clothes co-ordinate is to use patterns from only one designer.
Of course I can’t resist having fun with patterns and styles, so here are some of the possibilities.
(Instructions hugely varied in quality.)

simple classics with advice on easy pattern alterations :
Angela Wolf : patterns plus Threads videos on how to alter them : One Pattern Many Ways One, and Two.
Nancy Ericson : patterns with newsletters, booklets about variations.
Silhouette Patterns : patterns for several cup sizes, with DVD on pattern making,
Sure-Fit Designs : basic fitted slopers with booklets and videos about style alterations.
See also my posts on wardrobe pattern books linked to from this page.

modern classics :
Burda Style,
StyleArc

chic couture :
Claire Shaeffer
Marfy
Ralph Rucci

dramatic, high fashion :
Bootstrap Fashion
Lekala

softer :
Hot Patterns,
Loes Hinse

dresses/ ‘vintage’ :
Colette
Eliza M

loose and frilly :
Folkwear
Tina Givens

knits and active :
Christine Jonson
Jalie

crafter/ artisan :
Indygo Junction
Merchant & Mills

arty :
Cutting Line (under shop tab),
Marcy Tilton
Sewing Workshop

– – –

After all the thinking involved in writing Sewingplums, I have a fairly clear idea of my wardrobe needs and my personal style, my colouring and body shape, but I still learn something new from most wardrobe plans. I much enjoyed exploring this one. And am looking forward to using it as a guide for what to sew.

= = =

A Change in Direction

Posted November 16, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: sundry messages

I’ve noticed many blogs have a natural life span.
I’ve recently begun wondering if I was repeating myself.
What I wasn’t at all expecting is that I’ve quite suddenly stopped having a head full of ideas about what to say here.

Not that I’ve stopped having ideas but they’re about other things !

So I’ve decided to stop posting here. A good time to stop, with the holiday period coming up.
I may post occasionally when I feel strongly about something. But at the moment anyway, posts won’t appear regularly.

I’m hoping to do more sewing – but for some reason I feel no inclination to blog about it. And happily many people write such good blogs on that.

A four-year commitment, that’s pretty amazing !

Many thanks to you all for your interest.
I’ve found it very rewarding to see how many of you wanted to visit here and see what I had to say.
I’m planning to leave it all available in the hope it continues to be useful for reference.
My most visited posts are ones written several years ago anyway !

Best Wishes to you all, and Many Thanks for your encouragement.

Enjoy sewing lovely life-enhancing clothes.

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

= = =

Pant/ trouser sewalongs

Posted November 9, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: sewing technique

Love the extra support from following a sew along ?
I like following detailed instructions with lots of illustrations and demos the first time I do something. I also like instructions from a friendly encouraging voice, even if written !

This is the last of my sewalong series, links to the others are listed on this page.
And no, I’m not planning to post on sewalongs for dresses or blouses :D

If (like me !) you only ever wear one style of pants, here’s a couple of styling ideas :

If you wear casual pants, but want to get away from jeans, YouLookFab has a post full of suggestions.

Once you’ve got a good basic pants pattern, here’s a Craftsy class about altering a pants pattern to make many other pant styles.

I have a couple of posts with ideas on pant fit :
Pant patterns and body shape
Fabric wedges below the waist

In this post, I’ve put the sewalongs in 4 groups :
– pants/ trousers, in 2 sections – on written tutorials and videos/ DVDs,
– jeans,
– sweat pants,
– elastic waist pants – not mentioned here, there are links to several sewalongs in my post on making pyjamas.

– – –

Written tutorials with photos

Colette Clover

”coletteclover”

tissue pattern with side seam zip
sewalong

Sewaholic Thurlow

”thurlow”

tissue pattern
sew along from Ladybird (scroll down for links)

Burda Style 07/2010/ 127 vintage style pants

”burda127”

download pattern
sewalong by A Fashionable Stitch

– – –

DVDs and on-line videos (not free)

Sandra Betzina
pattern Vogue 2948 is oop but supplied with class

”v2948”

Craftsy class (associated class on fitting pants)

The Sewing Guru
Ladies trousers with no pockets, invisible zip, faced waist.
The Sewing Guru course tells you how to draft your own facing pattern so you could adapt Butterick 5391, which is also used in The Sewing Guru skirt course.

”b5391”

pattern
sewalong on-line videos in Collection 10

The Sewing Guru
Men’s trousers with slant pockets, fly zip, waistband.

”v2836”

pattern Vogue 2836, also used by The Sewing Guru in his courses on men’s jackets.
sewalong on-line videos in Collection 5.

Palmer-Pletsch
The pattern they mention is oop.
Their current pants pattern, McCall’s 6567, has more difficult pockets.

”m6567”

There’s also a Palmer-Pletsch chinos pattern, McCall’s 6361 (includes skirt).

”m6361”

‘Pants for Real People – Sewing Techniques’ DVD (also a DVD on pants fit)

Those instructions suggest specific patterns, though they can be used with many other patterns.
These 2 are more general, just suggested style elements :

eSewing Workshop
self drafted pattern
sewalong – online videos, can be used with other patterns

You Can Make It
pattern : pants with side pockets, fly zip, fell and welt seams.
sewalong : teaching DVD. These DVDs are cumulative not stand-alone. Level 5 assumes you know the skills taught in Levels 1 to 4.
Level 5 DVD (scroll down page for information)

– – –

Jeans

Kwik Sew 3504 men’s jeans

”k3504”

pattern
sewalong by Male Pattern Boldness (free online written instructions with photos and discussion)

Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 5894 misses jeans

”m5894”

pattern

2 sewalongs for this pattern :

Palmer-Pletsch
‘Jeans for Real People’ DVD

The Sewing Guru
this is the current version of the jeans pattern used in his
Collection 12 (online videos)

Pattern Review class from Jennifer Stern
Blueprints to Blue Jeans
uses her own jeans pattern.
Includes videos, fitting, styling, sewing.

There are 2 Craftsy courses on making jeans, not linked to specific patterns.

Kenneth King Reverse engineer your favorite jeans

Angela Wolf Sewing Designer jeans
recommended patterns listed in class

I don’t usually mention ‘chat and encouragement’ boards, but there’s a huge amount of useful information about sewing jeans in this one :
Pattern Review Jeans Tips and Tricks

– – –

Sweat pants

Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous tailored trackpants

”hp-track”

tissue pattern (use drapey fabrics, knits not necessary)
YouTube demo

Silhouette patterns 3400 3-piece yoga pants

”sil3400”

tissue pattern
free webcast

– – –

Whew there are a lot of these. Any of them right for you ?

Many thanks to all the people who post the free sewalongs – those do represent a huge amount of generosity and work. Isn’t the internet marvellous !

Hope you enjoy these :D

No guarantee of completeness or quality. This is another use of the internet which is happily growing.

– – –

Links and patterns available November 2013

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