Ending at the Beginning

One of my goals this year was to get a handle on fit. Up until now I’d steered clear of patterns that needed fitting or else steamed ahead hoping for the best. If I made a garment that didn’t fit well enough I chalked it up to the learning curve. Hone your sewing skills, first, I told myself. Maybe the fitting skills will follow. Turns out they won’t. Not without intent.

I’ve avoided fit because I don’t understand it. I wonder if I even know what a good fit means. I read about alterations and wonder which apply to me. Body measurements should be fact, right? But I find I have a fundamental misunderstanding of what my body looks like and I have created a lot of fiction about my body. The numbers seem to lie and change. The distinct dimensions of my body become indistinct amorphous ideas in my mind.

My logical mind insists fit should be as easy as measuring and matching. My emotional mind subverts this strategy. Fitting a garment is not only adjusting a pattern, but finally trying to understand what the actual proportions of my body are and not what they should be or what I want them to be.

I quit hemming and hawing and wondering where I should start by deciding to just finally START already. I dove in with York, a simple garment that would require a good fit to showcase a fabulous fabric. I cut a size 6 with a half-inch forward shoulder that I naively hoped would be the answer to all my fit problems like it was for that one lady I heard on that podcast that one time. In defense of hubris, sometimes the idea that something will be simple or easy is the only way we convince ourselves to undertake the thing that turns out to be neither.

Baggy, baggy, baggy. Imagine a copious quantity of fabric across my chest because I don’t have a photo to show you. After pinning, musing, donning, contemplating, and sleep, ideas that had been rattling around in my head finally coalesced and I made a small bust adjustment (why do full bust adjustments get all the attention?!). I was so confident that THIS was the ANSWER (even as I was quite unsure that I was doing it right) that instead of pin-fitting I went ahead and sewed the entire top together sleeves and all This was the result:

Hey! No copious bagging across my chest. But what was that weird pulling behind my arms?

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Oh dear. Here I am pointing to where the shoulder seams fell. You might notice they are NOT ON MY SHOULDERS. The armscye wasn’t sitting on my shoulder and that weird pulling was the shirt back stretching when I moved my arms forward. Also note the bagging across my bicep because the sleeve isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

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In the end I made my mistake in the beginning when was choosing my size. I need to grade between sizes like whoa. Which in retrospect is fairly obvious, but it gets back to my confusion and wishful thinking about how my proportions relate to one another and how to transfer those proportions to pattern schematics. It’s no surprise I would experience a false start or three or more when I’m so unsure of where the starting line is in the first place.

I tore out the sleeves and side seams and will try again, pin-fitting this time before sewing.

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