Those of you following The Drapery on Instagram will have seen that we were posting photos for 'Me Made May', an initiative started a few years ago by blogger Zoe of 'So, Zo... what do you know?'. Sewists pledge to wear 'me-made' clothes - as much as they wish to commit to - and document their outfits for the month of May.
Now, I don't know how to link to Instagram since I'm not on there myself but if you are, you can look up The Drapery and have a peek.
Warning: possibly TMI to follow
Now, I'm kind of putting myself out there in this post and examining my body shape and probably providing Too Much Information, but I hope it's useful to sewists out there!
Me Made May is a bit different to sewists posting pretty posed pics of their freshly-made garments. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But MMM shows what really is worn day-to-day, how it's worn, and can be very helpful in identifying most useful garments, wardrobe gaps and so forth. Some items are thrashed, others are dragged out of the wardrobe only for the sake of not having a photo taken in that denim Grainline Moss Skirt and brown leggings again!
For me, perhaps the biggest lesson has been to finally address a fitting issue. I've been sewing most of my own garments for six or seven years now. There's a 3.5" difference in my high (across chest right under armpits) and full bust measurement. I'm a pear shape with narrow shoulders and I've never done a Full Bust Adjustment.
Oh, the shame (haha).
But it's taken a series of photos to make me properly take my measurements and realise that for most garments, I should be starting with a much smaller size in the shoulders, making an FBA and working my way down. Duh. Isn't this pretty basic fitting information? I'm not sure why, but I think I was under the impression that you started with your full bust measurement and then did an FBA. (I should take a moment here to point out that neither Fiona nor I are at all professionally trained in this sewing business, we're just enthusiasts who started a shop!)
Perhaps the garment that has made this most obvious to me is this very recent make, a Sewaholic Granville shirt.
Do you really fit the size?
I thought I'd hit the jackpot with this pattern because my measurements fit almost exactly with the size 12 on the packet. Sewaholic are designed for pear-shapes! I'd pretty much never seen my measurements so accurately reflected. Bring on the champers. Except. Sewaholic is designed for a B-cup. I'm a D.
It's hard to write about these things in non-specific terms! In any case, cup-size is actually a comparative measurement of under-bust to full bust so D-cup in itself doesn't mean that much. Am I making it worse by writing more about it? Hey everybody, look at my lady-mountains!
In any case, if we start with my high bust measurement, I'm nowhere near a straight Sewaholic size 12. My high bust/waist/hip puts me at 4/14/10. Le sigh.
Self-image and averaging of sizing
I believe another factor preventing me from starting with a much smaller size was body self-image. Being a pear-shape with a full bust, I have been locating most of my measurements in the size 12 - 16 range, depending upon the pattern. I'm never going to be a 21 year old size 8 again and I totally accept that. However, by sewing to a kind of 'average' of my measurements, I'm ending up with a bit more frump than flattery.
Here's another MMM photo of something I think is flattering on my shape. Although - note - Plantain top partially falling off narrow shoulders!
Narrow shoulder adjustment versus FBA
For a short time I wondered if a 'narrow shoulder adjustment' on my usual pattern sizes was what I needed. However this would leave me with excess fabric from a large pattern size across my upper and mid-back, when what I really need is just more room in front.
You can take a look at my 'fitting tips' Pinterest Board here, to see the progress of my research.
So, to the FBA, Batman! And I have just the project. An 'event' to attend this Friday, the Christine Haynes Emery Dress pattern and some pink & gold Cotton + Steel linen/cotton.
My First FBA!
I have started with a bodice, going on my high bust measurement, in size 6. If I had gone with my previous 'average' sizing theory I would have been spread across 10 - 14 and probably settled on a 12. Bit of a difference, huh? I performed a 1.75" full bust adjustment as per this excellent tutorial. The only thing I did differently was to restore the waist dart to its original width at the end, rather than widen it, because I need the room for toasted cheese sandwiches and beer.
What I ended up with was a rather gigantic side bust dart, which did not make an ideal shape in my muslin. So I looked up how to divide darts and changed it into two. A second muslin and I was much happier. (Additional fitting adjustments were to lengthen back bodice to match front after FBA, widen slightly at side seams towards waist, widen back shoulder dart, narrow back waist dart and nip out some back bodice length at centre for sway back adjustment - phew!)
Here's my hot mess of a front bodice pattern piece:
|The astute among you may notice I haven't added the 'hat' to the top bust dart but frankly there's only so much stickytape this thing can support, and I was running out of steam.|
And the fit is pretty good! (And yes, I did muslin up a size 6 sleeve to check I'd retain circulation in my arms.) Fortunately the skirt on this pattern is simply gathered to fit the bodice so no stress on the fit of that. Fingers crossed for a successful full-garment-reveal in a few days.
Is two side bust darts weird?
Do you measure by your high bust or full bust?
Have you ever done an FBA?
Have you ever had any major fitting revelations?
- Jane & Fiona xx