Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fitting Tricks

I am just only learning now that a big advantage to sewing your own clothes is having clothes that are flattering and fit well. In high school, I just followed the directions for whatever size I cut out and presto, I ended up with a garment that fit well-enough. But I am older now and wiser, and I hope I am getting better at fitting. (Although I have run into some fitting problems recently...)

1 Start with the best pattern size for your measurements.
Take your measurements periodically just to be sure. Note that the bust measurement on the picture below may be better taken as the "high bust" - meaning across the back, underarms and above the bust. I actually take my bust measurement because fitting the upper body isn't usually an issue. Many women prefer to take the high bust measurement because then the shoulders fit well and then make an adjustment to the bust if needed.

2. Trace your pattern!
If you are going to alter the pattern, keep the original in good condition. That way, if you make a mistake or if you change sizes later, you can still use the pattern. I trace using the 100ft roll of kids' craft paper at Ikea(It sells for $5). It is high quality paper and I use it for tons of things (gift wrap in a pinch; lining cupboards, floor paper when I paint, etc). If you are hard-headed, like me, you may have to ruin a pattern or two before you abide by this sage advice!


3. Tissue fit (or make a muslin...)
This is the lazy woman's way to avoid a muslin. I tissue fit the pattern to my body as a rough guide to whether I will fit the pattern. I don't bother pinning darts or pleats (as these can be played with when putting them in). All I am looking for is whether the fabric I cut will fit my body. I haven;t used Swedish tracing paper, although many people have told me this is fabulous paper to trace the paper on and then use as a muslin. It is on my Christmas list though!!!

3a. Size up with Grid paper
I use graph paper to add to a pattern. Then I simply count squares and add equally to both sides, should the paper pattern need to be enlarged in spots. Graph paper keeps the calculations to a minimum and it is easy to tape the same number of squares to each side.

3b. If the pattern isn't in your size, measure the distance between sizes that are on the pattern and use a multiple of that measurement to make the pattern bigger. 

I learned this one from a Burda magazine tip. It is so smart. And it is time consuming. But a few times, I've fallen in love with a pattern that is too small. And so, with some work, I can re-draw the pattern to fit me simply - remember to measure each part of the pattern piece for the difference in sizes to ensure that the shape is not "lost" in the process.

4. I cut with wider seam allowances, especially when sewing pants.
I learned this trick from reading Pants that Fit, and it is a godsend. The trick is to mark the seam lines so that the shape of your garment isn't hopelessly lost in the extra seam allowance. 


I'd love to hear any tips you can add to this list. My goal this fall is to fit each pattern I make, so that it works on me!

16 comments:

  1. I find knowing about a pattern's ease allowance is key to getting a good fit. Compare the measurement for the size of the pattern selected vs. the finished measurements. If you only are a few centimeters from the size selected sometimes there are no adjustments to be made because the cut of the pattern can absorb the extra amt. Other times, and this is expecially so on sleeves, I find that I am adding ease because I need my clothes to move with me...

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    1. I agree but I think adding or lessening ease is for a more experienced seamstress than me - at this point. I do notice, all of a sudden, that I can eyeball a pattern and know if it will work on me. So something good has come of all the frustration I've experienced in sewing!

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  2. You know learning about FBA's through blogs was an earth shattering moment for me. I've had much better luck getting a decent fit since I started using my high bust measurement and adjusting from there.

    I have always been a tracer. It just doesn't feel right to cut into a multisized pattern to the size I need and folding around things to make it the size I want doesn't work. And as you say, I can make changes to my tracing and still go back to the original pattern if I screwed it up too much.

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    1. I haven't done a FBA yet but I just may have to...I think it is an important part of learning to make clothes that absolutely fit well.

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    2. FBA's will change your world! They are so amazingly simple and make a real difference to fit. Just remember to add enough extra! Voice of experience!

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  3. When fitting pants, it took me ages to figure out how important crotch depth and length are.It is important to check and adjust the crotch depth first, before checking and adjusting the crotch length. So simple yet it took me so long to learn!

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    1. I found the book, "Pants that Fit",(link in post for my review of the book) had an excellent section on crotch depth vs length. It is simple, once you know about it and try it once or twice.

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  4. Lovely post. I'm not really a crochet type, but these are good tips. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I put the waist darts in at the end. This way I can make them deeper or more shallow based on fit. SOmetimes, I remove them altogether

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    1. That's a trick I just learned too. I bought a pattern called "the magic pencil skirt" and I learned so much from one single pattern!

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  6. Dealing with interfacing and getting it just right is my sewing "trick" as you say. I buy several yards of interfacing of different weights. First, I always have it when I need it; 2) I can choose a different weight if I don;t like the way the interfacing works with the fabric: 3) I always iron it on both sides, to be sure that it is truly fused to my garment; and 4)I cut interfacing out on the seam line so that I don't have heavy seam to deal with.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for the great tips. I never thought to buy different weights of interfacing and find the one that suits your fabric best. (I learned to sew by a drill sergeant...and she taught me well, but breaking the rules is all new to me...)

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  7. I am so excited to have found your site! I learned to sew from my mom when I was growing up but haven't done it in years. Now that I am blogging and on Pintrest more I have an urge to get back to it. I think this site will be very helpful.

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    1. Thanks! Your experience has really been similar to mine. I found myself reading all the sewing blogs and all of sudden I was excited to sew again!

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