Monday, July 12, 2010

fit to flatter

I've been meaning to post a link to this fabulous series of tutorials over on Stash, Knit, Repeat for a while. Although they are designed for knitters to help in choosing patterns and making modifications to get garments that really flatter your body shape, most of what's in them apply to any garment choices, not just knitting. There is so much to be learned from what Amy writes, and her photos are wonderfully illustrative of the difference a choice in neck shape or sleeve length can make.

I'm not creating an argument here that all clothing choices should be based on what is most flattering - that line of thinking can land us all in 'invisible' clothes pretty fast. But nonetheless, sometimes you want to know if something really suits your body shape more than something else, and Amy's lessons are really helpful in that regard. I think in part the value is in really looking at our own bodies in greater detail and recognising (as Trinny and Susannah would say) that it is all about shape, not size.

There has certainly been a few light bulb moments for me in understanding that choosing for shape isn't the same as choosing for size, and when you really do get your shape, your clothes look and feel so much better. In many ways understanding how to flatter my shape has helped me make bolder clothing choices, to stop dressing so much like a fat girl and more like someone who wants to make the most of how I look.

So head on over and check it out. And then let's all cross our fingers that someone half as smart as Amy can put something similar together for skirts and pants...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

more fittings

True to my word I have taken the really wrong pants out of circulation and have been dissecting the pants I put in the could be better pile.

First up a quick fix. These jeans were OK, a bit big but not enough to either jetison or bother with a major renovation. But really it was their colour that didn't work for me so I tossed them in the washer with a couple of packets of black dye and voila, much improved. I try not to have an all black wardrobe, but can't argue that with my colouring, I really think darker colours work better for me.

Next I tackled the jeans I made myself in February. While I was pretty happy with these, I wasn't 100% - particularly with the waistband. Since I decided to pull it off, I took the sides and the back seam in a little while I was at it. I would have fiddled with the leg inseams too, but with a whole lot of top stitching as well as regular stitching to fight through, and a fit I was pretty happy with I called it a day. I redrew the waistband, particularly the back section, and re attached it. A better fit and more comfortable. I bought a piece of cheap denim when I was out on the weekend so my next step will be to go back and redraw all the modifications on the pattern (including the leg inseam modifications I thought I should make but didn't) and then make another pair to check that I have it right.

Although the 'after' pictures on the right look much lighter, these are indeed the same pair of wide leg black bengaline pants. I removed the wide, shaped waistband, took in the side seams, took in the leg inseams (more from the back than front) and re sewed the crotch. I took in the waist band and then sewed it back on. I think these are much better (though still not perfect!)

I took off the waistband, took in the side seams, took in the leg inseams and took quite a bit out the backseam all the way through the crotch, took in the waistband and then reattached it. pretty much teh same as above - lots of improvement, not perfect but certainly closer to the right fit.

I was tempted to set to on a skirt I wore the other day, but I managed to stop myself in the nick of time. I thoroughly recommend this focus on a single garment thing. I really feel like the subtleties of fit are much easier to see if you aren't distracted. I've also gotten a lot from a few books about fitting and alterations, such as Fast Fit, which demonstrates a range of common alterations for body shapes and problems. Very worth while.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Those of you who read my blog may have noted the vow I made at the start of the year to stop buying premade clothes. I was clear back then that there may be some exceptions, but my starting point was home made is best. I have been taking photos of what I wear and trying to pay attention to the garments I wear, how flattering I think they are, how comfortable, what they cost, how well they last. I wanted some data to back up my feeling that buying clothes is not better, and to help me decide if, what and where I'd be buying any clothes I didn't make.

I've been finding this vow an easy one to keep. In fact once I made the decision and stopped paying attention to store made clothes I felt entirely liberated about six different ways. But then I got a yearning. I read this post and I suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to buy me some jeans. Some designer jeans, made especially for plus sizes and heavily discounted. I had just made myself some jeans and they weren't bad but they weren't perfect either and in a rash of consumer lust I just wanted a pair of perfectly fitting wear every day jeans.

Now I wear jeans a lot. If I'm not at work and the weather isn't too too hot odds are on that I'm wearing jeans of some kind. I love them and for me they are pretty close to the perfect garment in terms of practicality and comfort. I'd started sewing my own last year because at my size I have pretty much been confined to cheap chain store plus size versions and for many years I bought pretty much any pairs I could find that fit me because, well they weren't too easy to come by. At around $50 a pair I've probably bought and worn out (or thrown out) a pair or two a year and while I've continued to buy and wear I don't have many super fabulous my favourite jeans memories.

On top of all this I've lost a little weight in the last year. Not a heap mind you, but just enough to make the jeans that were a wee bit big before too be quite big now. I've kept on wearing them but my consciousness is growing that they are probably looking worse now than they ever did. I think I tend to sit between two sizes and err on the side of caution, buy them slightly too big, wear and stretch them and end up with baggy bum syndrome.

So when I seriously considered buying some new fancy pants jeans and started touring the Embody site it didn't take long for me to start lusting in earnest for some proper fitting jeans. And when I found the model I liked the most had a discontinued colour that I could get for less than a quarter of their original price it was a done deal. I bought them, dyed them to darken the colour and shortened them. They were a much tighter fit than I would normally buy and at first I was hesitant. I wore them for a day and found them quite comfortable, but they gave me a bit of a 'muffin top' (a look I detest) so I decided I needed to do some comparing.

I started out just wanting to compare them to the jeans I had most recently made, but the exercise quickly extended to every pair of pants I own.

My conclusions?

Most of my pants need altering!

Pants that look OK from the front can look pretty awful from behind. I think this is because my belly is the most 'oversized' part of me shapewise and because I can see it I tend to buy or make clothes that look right from the front. The lower part of my butt is relatively small and all my hip shaping is at the back instead of the sides. So while I need to measurement of the hips to be big, it needs to be in front and back, not side to side, and I don't need a correspondingly large measurement across the lower bottom.

I think this means I need to work harder on making the same pattern until I get a better fit around the butt. There are a few things I already know to do on patterns - drop the side seams a little, curve a shaped waistband to have the curves further towards the centre back and front rather than the sides, slightly raise the centre back and take in the centre back seam. But I need to mess with those crotch angles to do something about those flappy bits above the tops of the back of my thighs if I ever want to wear wide legs again!

I also need to pay a lot of attention to fabric plus pattern plus fit. Rows 11, 12, 13 and 14 are all made with the same pattern but different fabrics. One has already been altered and another needs altering, but the other 2 are fine. There are other examples here of the same pattern used twice, though in different sizes, and both times whatever was wrong the first time wasn't fixed by changing the size, because shape is just as important as size.

So weigh in - which ones do you like and why? What ones look awful, what alterations do you think need to be made to what? Can you guess which ones were bought or home made, which ones were expensive (in either fabric or bought garment) and which ones were cheap??

edited to add -
I've done my first refit! The last row pants now look like this - befores on the left, after on the right.

As though I were making the pants new I took in each seam - it would have been good to pull them apart before I did this but I didn't know when I started that I'd have to go this far! I took off the waist facing and started with the side seams. Next I took in the back and crotch seam and then the inleg seam. Before attaching a new waist facing I lowered the waistline, most on the sides, then the front and least on the back. Lastly I attached a new waist facing. They aren't perfect by any means - the back of the leg still sits lower under the butt making creases on the bias from front to back. Not sure how to fix this! Anyone else know?

Also - I am fascinated by your opinions - thank you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh oh oh - very nice jeans on sale for plus sizes!

I read this lovely blog post by one of my fav fashion bloggers, Frocks and Frou Frou. She's promoting an amazing 25% off great jeans for plus sizes over at Embody. But be quick!