As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was taking a 'Master Fitting Class' at the Stitchery, led by Cassandra. We are working on a fitting dress pattern designed by Cassandra for her new independent pattern company, Storybook Patterns. I'll add a link once the first pattern is released but in the meantime, you can find information about the Storybook Patterns on the Stitchery blog. I am looking forward to the release of Cassandra's first pattern, hopefully soon. The fitting pattern is a simple bodice and skirt kind of dress, similar to the dress below, although ours has the shoulder darts on the back piece and a bust dart in the front. I am not sure if this type of dress has a name?
|Find the image here|
It is not quite my style of dress, it doesn't pass the 'comfortable for cycling test'. I also would be unable to climb trees, although of course I very rarely climb trees these days.
But this type of dress is a basis from which many other dress variations are derived and working with it is useful to not only learn about patten adjustments and garment fitting but also to learn about garment design and body shapes. The possibilities for making variations on a theme are endless. V-neck, scoop neck, separate top and skirt, sleeves, shift dress, even a dress with a flared skirt. And this is before you even consider replacing the darts with princess seams.
After we took measurements and analysed our body shapes we chose our sizes. Cassandra had each size sewn up as a toile for us to try so we had a head start. I made four different toiles for my bodice to get one that fits just right. It has more ease than one would normally have with a bodice like this, because I feel more comfortable with just a bit more freedom of movement. Still, the bodice follows my body shape nicely. I have learned a lot about my body shape and now understand why some of my sewing creations have ended up in the charity bag and not in my wardrobe.
I ended up grading my bodice across three sizes. I did a full bust adjustment, followed by a back adjustment because there was just a little too much fabric in my underarm area. I made a shoulder adjustment and I moved some darts around, too. The skirt seemed a bit simpler as essentially it needed to fit around the bum and to the top. It involved a bit of taking in and moving and resizing darts. I ended up taking in the back centre seam. Again, it is less fitted than other skirts in the class, for personal comfort. I don't have any photos because I need pinned in at the back and there is nobody to do this at home.
It was a good class and I am sad it is finished (although I am glad to have Tuesday evenings free). We have learned so much! Apart from making adjustments to fit garments to my own body, I have also learned to make other useful types of adjustments that I don't necessarily need myself, for example a sway back adjustment or a small bust adjustment. I feel quite confident that I can now adjust any bodice to fit me, with a little time and patience. Ok, lots of time and lots of patience, and probably some set backs. As our fitting dress does not have sleeves at the moment, we learned to to draft those based on our arm measurements, or how to adapt a sleeve from a different pattern. We learned how to convert a darted bodice into one with princess seams. Amazing stuff I tell you! We learned to draft different necklines and facings, too. In between learning and doing we chatted, a lot. We talked about pattern companies and how they develop their patterns. The big pattern companies use 'standard' bodies, Indie designers often their own to design patterns for. That's maybe why Tilly and the Buttons patterns would need more adjustments to fit me than Cashmerette or Colette patterns.
The course lasted eight weeks and I would really recommend it if you are local. To be honest with you, sometimes I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the the information and I would have liked the course to be two weeks longer to go at a slower pace but I guess over the coming few months I'll be practising some of these new skills. We'll also go back for a evening in July to finish our work.
With all that fitting and adjusting, it is probably not surprising that I have been thinking about my body shape a lot in the last few weeks.
I have had not always felt at ease with my body. I still don't always do, it depends on my mood. This unease dates back a long time. I wasn't a fat child but my weight must have been above average for the 1970s and early 1980s. I remember having to visit my GP as a child to loose weight. I don't think I was in my teens yet but I can't be sure. It was a humiliating experience and I don't like recalling it now. The only lasting effect was a negative body image and continued struggles with self confidence. Like so many I fell into the diet trap, putting on more weight as I moved through life. I have lost my current body weight at least once, and put it back on, plus a little more.
Looking back at photos of my younger self it is difficult to understand why I didn't like myself the way I was. Since then, my body has not been getting trimmer or more toned or more shapely, instead it is slowly loosing contours and different areas of my body morph into each other. The waistline in particular is less well defined. Still, I am quite happy with myself. Still, there is shape left, I realise this now after seeing my body shape analysis photo.
Nevertheless, I have been loosing weight slowly for health reasons. Type 2 diabetes runs on the maternal side of my family and is something I would like to avoid. I also find exercising more difficult, some yoga positions are tricky because the belly is in the way, and running with a lighter body is definitely less strenuous. But I am not trying to loose weight because I don't like who I am or because I feel unattractive, which I think is an essential requirement for success.
Going back to sewing, I have grand plans for this summer. I have now a plain simple bodice and skirt, which fits me well. I am making a card stock of the bodice at least to make tracing quicker and I am going to make a variation of a shift dress with a flared skirt I think, to accommodate cycling legs. I am not actually feeling as confident about making this as it may read here but the toile is my new best friend and I have some old sheets that will be just perfect to have a go.
In the shorter term, I have two tops to finish. I hope to show you them soon, once I have a chance to take a photo or two. And yes, I did think about the fit and made toiles and adjustments. I'll leave you to guess which of the fabrics I am going to use. xx
P. S. Who is watching the Great British Sewing Bee? I am a bit disappointed with this years edition, I can't quite say why.