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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: LeahRenee
Date: 03-12-2005, 09:28 PM (1 of 4)
I know that when you are looking at which size pattern to buy, to forget ready-to-wear sizing, and if you are between measurements, to go to the larger (I think).

Now here is my problem. My bust is 38" and my hips are 50"!!!!! Oh brother. Now if I want to make a dress, the pattern says I'm a 16 on top, but a 26 on the bottom. Or something like that.

As a newbie sewer, what should I do? I think I should stick to separates, right? I don't think I have anywhere near the skill to alter a pattern on the top (or bottom) by that much.

But...if I decided to try, which would I buy? 16 or 26?

User: LeahRenee
Member since: 03-12-2005
Total posts: 7
From: Mom of Six
Date: 03-13-2005, 01:42 AM (2 of 4)
If you are making something 1 piece. I would first make sure it is not fitted on the bottom then I would buy a three size pattern which would make it easier to alter. I would always buy for the top & add to the bottom because the bust is in my opinion the hardest to alter. If you are making seperates I would but 2 patterns but make sure you check the pattern ease. I have the same problem you do with much larger hips than top & I have found that I have too much room on the bottom in most patterns if I get the measurement that matches mine. I usually go one size smaller on the bottom but the sleeves are too tight if I don't get the right top measurement. I have been sewing for years & still find if I don't fit every pattern I will not feel comfortable in the close without altering a lot. I don't want to sound discouraging but I just want you to be prepared for some major alterations. remember adding too much can be fixed most of the time. cutting too small can't. I have a suit I just made that proves that point. It should fit if I lose another 10 lbs.
Happiness is having time to sew!!
User: Mom of Six
Member since: 11-03-2001
Total posts: 1115
From: LeahRenee
Date: 03-13-2005, 07:26 PM (3 of 4)
Thank you Barb. I think I'm going to be making lots of skirts. :up:
User: LeahRenee
Member since: 03-12-2005
Total posts: 7
From: paroper
Date: 03-13-2005, 11:39 PM (4 of 4)
I agree with Barb! The shoulders and bust are the hardest to alter. The bust is hard enough but if you get into major alterations in the shoulders...well, that's why people drink. The three sized patterns are a real blessing to people with this type of problem.

For the sake of looks, you may want to look at some of the longer jackets, esp loose jackets that go past the hips. McCalls and Simplicity have some very nice jacket/dress/skirt patterns available this season. Princess line dresses may be a good place to start also. Remember that if you are making alterations in the garment that if you alter on the sides you will divide the alteration by 4..adding to side fronts and side backs equally....for instance, if you needed to add 4 inches, you would add 1 inch to the side front and 1 inch to the side back. When your pattern is cut out (doubled) you will have 4 inches of change. If you needed only 1 inch, you would add just 1/4 inch to the same seams. In a three size pattern it is easy to tell where the pattern company drafted the sized upward.

Your garment will look nicer if you make your pattern alterations in the same places and the same proportions. If you abruptly add inches to the pattern at the hips you will find that there will be a pooch in the garment. These (pooches) are easily taken out after the garment is made. However, if your pattern allows you to ease the amount in from a higher place on the garment, it won't be as obvious; for instance, in a princess line dress, if you can start your alteration above the waist and below the bustline, your garment lines will be a little less distracting.

In the beginning you may want to purchase some stable woven fabric from the dollar bin at Wal Mart and make just the body portions of your dress (front and back, center front and back) to experiment on how the alterations can work for you. Sometimes I only make the portion of the dress down to where I have a problem with the just past the hips or to the waste, but in the beginning I would suggest starting with the whole front and back. If you baste the garment together, and try the "garment" on wrong side out, you can pin and mark your alterations, rip the seans open (where needed) and make all kinds of changes. I have also even split (cut) some of these and added fabric patches to the mock up version to get the amounts right (esp with full bust alterations). Once you have the mock up fitting well, you can measure your changes and make them accordingly in the actual garment. If your mock up garment is stable enough, you can even make the new alterations, remove the basting and use the mock up for your new pattern or trace it off on paper and use that. This works even better if you can get someone to help you with your fitting. This may sound a bit crude but it is actually a variation of pattern drapeing which is a legitimate form of design. I think that you will enjoy all of this once you get the "hang" of it. Have fun!

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
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