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The Sew What’s New Archive

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: Lynnie
Date: 06-22-2006, 10:01 PM (1 of 21)
When you sew for yourself, do you have to make a lot of alterations to make the pattern fit or am I just a freak of nature? Sorry this got so long. :nervous:

I've been working on Simplicity 4823.

I wanted a nice basic pattern for woven fabric that had sleeves, wasn't extreamly fitted, but not just a shapeless tunic. (I'm still scared of knits and my Joanne's doesn't have squat for a selection anyway.) This seamed to fit the bill. This pattern also has a tie in back to help the bodice fit.

I never used to consider myself difficult to fit, but I realized when I started sewing that almost all of the tops I wear are knits which are problably forgiving of my figure flaws.

I guess I am considered pear shaped but with broad shoulders, if that makes any sense. I'm a small 34B on top and a RTW size 10-12 pants. I have a small head to boot, so if the neckline is too gaping I really end up looking like I'm playing dress-up in mommy's clothes. :whacky:

I got some sale cotton that I hoped to use as a wearable muslin. My bust measurement is 35" so I chose a size 14. So far to get it to fit I have had to:

1. Add 2" to the length. I wear pants that sit below the natural waist and don't want to be showing skin when I sit down.

2. I added 1/2" width to the back at the underarms on each side by cutting an "L" down from the shoulder and out to the side so I could add the width at the underarm without disturbing the sleeve opening or the shoulder. This adjustment is why I wear almost no RTW woven shirts. They are too tight across the back at the underarm.

3. I had to shorten the shoulders (pull the bodice up) to bring the neckline back into territory that was decent to wear in public. This means I also have had to alter the lenth I cut for the neckline facing.

So I was just wondering if everyone has to make this many changes to a pattern? Am I that strangely shaped or am I perhaps picking the wrong size?
User: Lynnie
Member since: 02-23-2006
Total posts: 44
From: LauraM62
Date: 06-23-2006, 08:15 AM (2 of 21)
Well lets see here are a few of my usual :whacky:

-forward shoulders (too much computers work & home)

-slightly rounded back - goes with the forward shoulder often

-Full Bust Alteration - since patterns are a B cup and I'm a D cup

-Board Back - I use to love to swim, still do, plus just my build

-Then check to see if I need alterations is armhole & bicep for those swimmers arms/shoulders

-Lengths! Sleeves if long are never long enough for my monkey length arms :bg: I am short waisted, like to wear lower waisted pants, so is it hitting the waist correctly, & is it going to cover that 40-something 3-kids later tummy?

-Oh and lets not forget sway back :cry: if I'm making a dress

Hey we haven't talked about pants yet - so yes I have lots of alterations. But it is part of why I sew, I love that the clothing I make it fits so much better for me then RTW! Even simple things like flannel shirts - I make 7 of them last winter because I live in them on our little farm in the winter. I dressed them up with embroidery, but the sleeves were long enough, the torso was correct, they are comfortable!! :up: I try to keep a check list of my fitting alterations as I go to check off it seems so bad!
SW Indiana

If everyone cared and nobody cried; If everyone loved and nobody lied; If everyone shared and swallowed their pride; Then we'd see the day when nobody died --'If Everyone Cared' by Nickelback
User: LauraM62
Member since: 08-10-2003
Total posts: 246
Date: 06-23-2006, 08:52 AM (3 of 21)
I was looking at the shirt wondering it really that easy...

I think most every one does have to make adjustments - even in the beginner section...people are making adjustments.

My first skirt.....I had to make it shorter (I am short), so I had to learn how to do that...Thanks Julie....
Then I decided...I will make another skirt...just to make sure I got it and it went well

I am making a dress right now "IT's so easy kinda dress...."

I have had to adjust the dress in two different places for shortness and now the bust dart thing....since I am a D...I have I think...escaped the full bust alteration but who knows about the neck and arms.....I am really hoping it can be salvaged as I picked the pattern with the full bust and not the high bust live and learn...

It appears that adjusting effects all of us...even the "IT'S SO EASY....YOU CAN DO IT...TYPE OF PATTERNS."
Member since: 11-30-2005
Total posts: 27
From: mozeyrn
Date: 06-23-2006, 10:25 AM (4 of 21)
I'm envious of you ladies that know how to do your own alterations.
Once we get settled in FL, I'm going to look for a sewing class (in-between my free time, lol!). There are some things that can be learned from a book but I've always been a sight and kinetic learner (I've got to see it and do it).
I'm almost 5'4" (petite RTW is too short) with a little waist (many RTW pants gape at the back of the waistband) with 37.5" hips and since I gained a little weight (stopped my crazy exercise routine) I went from an "almost A cup" to a B/C cup (dh is happy about that). My big problem is my lower abs - they're not as flat as they used to be - hopefully that will change since I'll be standing at an O. R. table for hours on end 5 days a week.
My thought is maybe a class will fill in all the stuff I've missed learning on my own (and with the help of all you wonderful ladies (and gentlemen) here on SWN).
- Maureen.
Learning something new with every stitch!!
Kenmore 16231000
User: mozeyrn
Member since: 11-29-2005
Total posts: 349
From: Lynnie
Date: 06-23-2006, 10:29 AM (5 of 21)
Thanks, I feel better now. When you learn how to sew the directions always go something like this:

Buy pattern & material, pin, cut out, sew. Voila! You have a shirt.

They forget the part about trying it on, noticing the bust line is hovering somewhere around your naval, ripping out stitches, re-sewing, trying it on again, noticing you can't reach forward with both arms without ripping seams open, etc. :whacky:

I cannot for the life of me get the hang of paper fitting so I always have to sew some type of muslin. At least it's good practice and I'm starting to learn a lot about what fits and flatters me.
User: Lynnie
Member since: 02-23-2006
Total posts: 44
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 06-23-2006, 01:41 PM (6 of 21)
You are not alone.

I have to make alterations on most everything for a custom fit.

My main problem area is my small neck and shoulders. My high bust measurement still makes the neckline to big - and I definitely have a "mommy dress up" look if I dont alter these.

Too bad I didn't know this on my first shirt, lol.

As for the body - everyone has a different shape, almost no one follows the same size from hips to waist to bust.

I have rounded out after being sick to 5'1", 125 lbs, a 36C+ bust, 30 waist, 36 hips. All is fine, except I can't get rid of the "pooch" - thats what I call my rounded tummy in the front, the part you can't get rid of after kids. I've done ab workouts till I'm blue in the face, and that skin is not going anywhere!
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: plrlegal
Date: 06-23-2006, 03:15 PM (7 of 21)
Butterfly the only thing that seems to help that "poochy" stomach thing is a good plastic surgeon and a $12,000.00 "tummy tuck"!!! :shock:

User: plrlegal
Member since: 05-19-2001
Total posts: 318
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 06-23-2006, 04:54 PM (8 of 21)
I know, I already checked, lol - it just aint worth the staples! Like I'll just go pick $12K off my money tree . . . .
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: MartySews
Date: 06-23-2006, 09:44 PM (9 of 21)
Since I have no shoulders to speak of, I have to alter almost all of my tops and add fullness for my x-large upper arms, midriff section and waist and hips. Once you get a basic fitting muslin for tops, pants, and skirts, alterations become easier. This is because you can lay the pattern pieces against the muslin and know exactly where to enlarge or shorten. With practice it does go smoother and faster. I am seriously tempted to get some patternmaking software so I can key in all of my measurements and just print out patterns when I want something new. Of course there is a learning curve so I've started studying pattern drafting books to better understand how the process works. :up:
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: DorothyL
Date: 06-23-2006, 10:17 PM (10 of 21)
Maybe this is one of the blessings of being fat.
Everything fits me if it is big enough.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: guppie
Date: 06-24-2006, 01:43 AM (11 of 21)
ROFL, Dorothy! My philosophy exactly! :dave:
User: guppie
Member since: 12-29-2004
Total posts: 43
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 06-24-2006, 09:00 AM (12 of 21)
I actually ran across a website that does that for you. You send your measurements and pattern, they print it custom for you anf send it.

I'll have to go and search around for it.

It was not expensive as I recall, compared to the software and a plotter for printing your own.
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: kglick
Date: 06-24-2006, 01:45 PM (13 of 21)
If the website you came across was Unique Patterns it is a wonderful site. I've used it for almost 5 years now. It definitely saves me time when it comes to having to alter patterns especially as I am I 4'11" super BBW. At first the cost of the patterns seemed a little steep till I remembered some of the outfits that I have altered that didnt fit well after they were finished. And the plus is that they periodically have some discounts.
User: kglick
Member since: 05-20-2006
Total posts: 1
From: bluebirdie
Date: 06-24-2006, 02:27 PM (14 of 21)
Being cursed with hour glass in shorter upper half and longer lower half, I simply look odd in today's RTW fashion. A lot of clothings especially designer ones will only look right on me if we chop a quarter of myself off vertically and cynlindrically. Not only do I need to alter all the patterns, I also need to alter most RTW clothings. My interpretation of RTW clothings is Ready To Wear when you take them home. So there's got to be something wrong with me :-(
- Robin
User: bluebirdie
Member since: 03-12-2006
Total posts: 139
From: Butterflyrf71
Date: 06-24-2006, 08:09 PM (15 of 21)
There is NOTHING wrong with you. You are as God intended you to be . . . so you are beautiful.

But, I also know what you mean. I have to alter most RTW clothing as well.

I am 5'1", and until last year, 105 lbs ( :whacky: ) I was wearing a girls 16 with the adjustable wasit so I could get it over my hips but fit the waist!

Well now I'm not sick and mid 30's have set in (lol) and I have more curve, and waist.

I have a longer torso, small neck and shoulders, average bust (I think) and short legs. So - if it fits over the hips, its too big for the waist, if it fits the bust, its too large for the shoulders. I really have trouble with camisoles, I alter them - every one - no matter how nice and expensive it is when I buy it RTW. Same goes for jeans. Don't have one pair that fit me right.

I stopped buying clothing at regular price. Everything I was buying didn't fit anyway and I couldn't see spending the money if I had to come home and make it fit! IF I buy RTW, I buy on sale or goodwill.
You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, AV
User: Butterflyrf71
Member since: 05-02-2006
Total posts: 257
From: sable
Date: 06-24-2006, 08:29 PM (16 of 21)
I'm lucky in some ways. I usually only need to drop the bust point to get patterns to fit, but that it a right royal pain to do! Especially as my favourite patterns tend to be empire line so I don't have any choice on those. I also have a sway back and a kangaroo pouch after 2 babies. I'm hoping that'll improve with going to the gym, but nothing is going to change where my breasts sit.
I also have to shorten the legs (by about 2") and the arms a wee bit too, and grade down the waist measurement. Maybe that's why I love knits so much, very forgiving without adjustment with most patterns
User: sable
Member since: 01-10-2005
Total posts: 76
From: morningrose
Date: 06-25-2006, 03:03 PM (17 of 21)
I make custom clothing as a side line, so have learned alot about the RTW business along the way. There is no such thing as a "perfect" anything. If you look around at people who where RTW without customization, you'll notice that their clothes just don't fit right.

Even my kids, whom are average to slim compared to their peers, can't buy anything that doesn't need something done. And of course my 4'11" frame after 2 kids, and 5 back surgeries is anything BUT 'normal.'

Ergo - I either buy on sale and alter, or make it myself. I don't even buy patterns anymore. Just either make my own (I have a CAD based program that is pretty good once you figure out the ease for the fabric and your body) or just 'eyeball' it, which I've gotten pretty good at.

I'm learning drapping from a book (kindof hard to do, but I haven't found a class for this yet) but then you do need a somewhat custom body double. Best for that is the Duct Tape double. Its simple, doestn't cost much, and takes about 2 hours with a friend.
User: morningrose
Member since: 12-16-2004
Total posts: 15
From: weezyrider
Date: 06-26-2006, 12:18 PM (18 of 21)
Being extremely broadshouldered, I don't bother with any fitted or tailored patterns. If someone told me I had to wear one - they'd be told where to go. I usually work off men's shirts or use a pattern designer and do my own tunics.
I really don't care what the designers dictate. I keep old stuff that fits the way I want it and make patterns from that. The most adjusting I do is toss the shoulder pads in RTW. Women's clothes just don't feel right.

User: weezyrider
Member since: 08-19-2003
Total posts: 218
From: gmcsewer
Date: 06-27-2006, 09:08 AM (19 of 21)
Hi. It is good to hear so many of you have so many adjustments to make to a pattern. I have narrow shoulders, large bust, poochy stomach, long waist. When I make pants I have to add to the crotch seam since I am thicker front to back than side to side and longer legs than most ready to wear. Bu t this is why I wanted to learn to sew, because as a young teenager I was too thin for the ready to wear dresses and skirts. I do alter ready to wear most of the time also, resetting the sleeves and raising the back waist 1/2 to 3/4 inch which makes the side seams hand straight instead of swooping to the front. I find that Burda patterns are more my shape and they seem to fit better in the bust and hips.
User: gmcsewer
Member since: 08-19-2003
Total posts: 45
From: paroper
Date: 06-28-2006, 11:49 AM (20 of 21)
There are few of us who have perfect figures. The patterns became aware of that a few years ago and presented us with multiple sized patterns which are wonderful. I usually encourage people to purchase for the most difficult to fit areas and the rest can be altered. If the problem is fuller hips or waist, usually large problem those things are not that difficult to alter. In my opinion, the number one hardest area to alter and the one that effects the most pattern pieces is the shoulder/neck area....or the area above the bust. Second most important is the bust area...past that alterations large or small are generally not that difficult. When it comes to bust area I always buy for the shoulders and go from there.

I hear many people saying to use the high bust measurment rather than the full bust measurment to buy your patterns but the fact is although this is probably an improvement for many, the pattern is not made for a flat chested person. It may take a little bit to find the perfect bust measurment for pattern fit. Generally I would tell you that if you are a C or D cup purchase as though your bust were 1 size smaller than the chart...that should be pretty close. The wild card here is how the pattern was intended to fit when designed. Sometimes we visulize that the pattern is more fitted than the designer intended. I had a raging call to Simplicity one time because they had added 12 inches of ease to the waistline of a pattern and 8 inches of ease to the bustline. The garment on the pattern was shown to be tightly fitted which was the intent. (I had 27 to make and no time to waste). This was an UGLY revelation!!!! When I made a snide comment to the girl that I should have been a little less comfortable because they did not use a live model for the illustration her comment was that often they just pin the garments to flatter so that even with a live model they are not necessarily a good representation of the pattern. I don't recall ever being so upset with a pattern! However, the call did give me insite.

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
From: stephi
Date: 06-28-2006, 01:33 PM (21 of 21)
Hehe all women are shaped "funny"!!! I was about 4'5" all through high school until my senior year when I came back these two huge tumors had grown on my chest. I could still wear kids clothes about a 12-14 depending on who made them. Infact I wore youth pants until I had my D about 5 years ago then I jumped into women with both feet. My inseam is 28" I am 5'4" and my torso is long, from the bottom of my hip bone to the point of my shoulder is about 26" :shock:

So yes we all have to adjust, thats why I hardley ever make stuff for me :wink:

"No body knows what it is that I do until I dont do it"

"if you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten"
User: stephi
Member since: 03-17-2006
Total posts: 361
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