Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Fit Journey

All master skills are a journey, not a weekend class.  Fitting garments is a journey for me.  I have not arrived, yet.  The last few weeks have been a leap forward on the journey.

Fitting Fallacies I have heard. Learned through experience they are not completely correct:

  • Find the right size pattern, most sew the wrong size.  
  • All patterns from the same company will fit once you find the company that is most like you.  
  • Once you find the correct alteration, you will do the same one on each garment.
My frustration reached an all time high recently with a simple top that I could not fit in the sleeves.  I started with my normal size 14, but it was larger than a maternity top.  So, down to a 12 and still fit issues.  That lead to a little more research and the idea of remaking a muslin sloper.  It really was an experience from, "If you give a Mouse a Cookie."  One thing led to another and before you know it, I had some great answers.

High points on my recent fit journey:
  • Moulage = skin measurements = skin tight garment
  • sloper = moulage plus enough room to move
  • pattern = sloper plus design ease to make a fashionable garment
So, coming up with my sloper would give me a visual picture in pattern form of what I look like.
  • I redrafted my Vogue 1004 sloper about 6 times before I was satisfied with the fit.
This is the HARDEST part, coming up with a good sloper.  After I finished this trick, I found Kenneth King's "The Moulage" CD, which could  have made this process easier.  To help me through this phase I relied on some handy resources.  
  • Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
  • Fitting and Pattern Alteration by Liechty, Rasband, and Steineckert
I found through this process that I have:
  • slopping shoulders
  • one shoulder slopping 1" more than the other
  • miraculously, both shoulders are the same width
  • full bust
  • near normal waist and hips for a size 14
  • forward rotated shoulders
  • rounded upper back
  • lower shoulder needs more height due to being thick......who would have thought 
  • outward rotated elbows
My crazy shoulder outline

Now, it would be lovely if someone would catalog all the adjustments in one place. Currently, you must shuffle through all your fit books to figure out the why's and how's.

So, now I have my sloper drawn on tissue paper.  I added the seam allowances.  Through all this research I found an old article in Threads on using your sloper for altering commercial patterns.  This led to Lynda Maynard's CD De-Mystifying Fit.  (Highly recommend her products.)

So, if you followed the "If  you Give a Mouse a Cookie" trail through this, you will see I have a sloper and the tools to alter commercial patterns before I cut my first muslin.  

What I did with my new knowledge and tools:

I had on my cutting table a knit dress that I had constructed before.  It didn't have a lot of fit issues, but I wanted a garment that I could wear all day and not pull or tug it back into position after I moved around.  

So, Butterick B5778:
I marked the bust point on the pattern and a vertical matching spot on front and back.  This pattern is above the waist.  To have enough height to reach my shoulder, I added about 1".  I added it to the bust, since I know this is a B cup pattern.
This pattern has three pieces across the front, so each had to be adjusted in height.  You can see where the bottom dart matches my sloper.

The back was too short.  I added the 1" plus a little more for the rounded back.    I ended up cutting off a little in the back during construction.  
I hope you can see the crazy shape I have on this sleeve cap.  It solves the forward rotating shoulder issue.  I moved the center top mark to match my center top mark on the muslin.  

My Results

I used all the length adjustments and shoulder adjustments from my sloper to the Butterick pattern.  Since I had made this dress before, I knew the width was not an issue.  I did take off a little of the shoulder length, so the sleeve looked correct.  This pattern has an off the shoulder sleeve, but it also was a shaped sleeve.  It looked so dorky.

Wow!  So glad I chased that mouse!
This dress fits wonderfully.  I wore it all day and never pulled or repositioned it.  
People wanted to know how much weight I had lost!  None, just found that clothes fit better when the bust, waist, and hips are where they belong!

Butterick B5778
The results were fabulous!
Back view of B5778

Can't wait to work on a few more projects using this information!!!  The fit tools I learned still do not let you skip making a muslin, but you will be so much happier with your first try!

PS - My daughter is in the middle of her gymnastics season.  A few pics from the last few weeks.

Mary Lou Retton handing out medals.  She won Olympic Gold 20 years before my daughter was born.   My daughter had to have a detailed explanation of who this was to fully appreciate the moment.
A beautiful cartwheel handstand on beam.

A happy third place all around finish!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your fit journey. It is one of the most interesting blog posts that I have read for some time! I have been sewing pretty much all my life, and am still working out fit. I need to follow your example and take that next step to make a moulage and use it! Thanks - and your dress does look wonderful!

  2. I have all of this fitting CD's and books; they are so worthwhile. You did a fantastic job on making the pattern fit better. Your dress does look great on you. I need to pull out my DeMystifying Fit book as I need to practice that again. Again great looking and fitting dress!!!

  3. Thanks for this post. Fitting is something I need to look into more and I will use these resources you've suggested. And congrats to your daughter! I'm sure she has worked very hard.