fabric and fitting

I’ve spent the past 2 evenings making a muslin of the Colette Rooibos dress.  I’ve been having some trouble with the sizing.  Here is the size chart:

My actual measurements are 32-27-36.  I decided to cut the bodice in a size 0, and the skirt/waist in a 2.  The size 0 bodice was pretty tiny (as in, can’t move my arms tiny, even though I’m smaller than the measurments,) so I made up the size 2.  The 2 is too big, and the size 2 skirt is also large (by at least an inch, maybe more, even though I am in fact larger than the waist/hip measurements for that size.)  I can go down a size in the skirt/midriff area, but I’m puzzled about the top.  I think I may need a small bust adjustment, so I will try that (I’m a b cup, but apparently these patterns are drafted for a c.)  I may also need a little less room in the back, as the low neckline gapes a little.   (See why I think it’s strange that the smaller size didn’t fit?)

Maybe I’m spoiled from knitting patterns, but I fail to see why sewing patterns don’t list all relevant measurements.  The hip/waist finished size is necessary in a dress.  I can measure the pieces, but a schematic would be far more useful.  And I am not complaining about this company… no one has this.  For some companies if you want to see the bust size you will have to take the pattern out of the envelope, and it may not be there at all.

Oh well… good thing I have brand new copies of Fit for Real People and Fast Fit to help me figure out fitting – it’s definitely the most challenging part!  Tomorrow I’ll try an adjustment for the smaller bust and take in the seams on the skirt/midriff band.  I’ve given up on a few dresses because of fit issues, but I’m determined to figure this one out.  It’s pretty simple to assemble, and I don’t want it to be super fitted, so hopefully I can fix my issues (I just have to not get frustrated, and remind myself that clothes in stores are often weirdly too big on me too.)

I shall console myself by dreaming of what some of my new fabrics could become (problem?  I don’t have a problem, really…)

Lovely leopard print doubleknit.  Slightly textured, but not fuzzy.  I bought it because it looks just like this dress, from my inspiration folder:

I love animal prints, and I will not apologize!  I’m not sure how I feel about exposed zippers – I appreciate that they are trendy and all, but they aren’t really me.

Plaid 100 percent wool jacquard.  I got this at Hancocks, believe it or not.  The Louisville Hancocks is pretty sad, but the one in southern Indiana (which is closer to me anyway, since I live downtown) is awesome.  This was on a clearance table for 3 dollars a yard.  I’m dreaming of a bias cut plaid skirt, a-la this 70s pattern.

Although perhaps a bit shorter.  I can’t decide whether I like 70s styles or not.  On one hand, Mary Tyler Moore (during her eponymous show) is one of my fashion icons.  But on the other hand? This:

I also blame the 70s for ponchos, so there is that… but I still like lots of the 70s patterns.  Many of the styles look very current, if you imagine them in colors other than orange.

I hope to have better news about my dress in my next post!


16 thoughts on “fabric and fitting

  1. Sorry bout the trouble with the fit, that stinks, hopefully you’ll be able to figure it out with the books though. I know what you mean about knitting patterns, they do list measurements better than sewing patterns, don’t they?

  2. I’m a couple of sizes larger than you, but have similar proportions and I’m definitely finding that a small bust adjustment is necessary for the Colette patterns. It’s kind of strange really that sewing patterns have fewer measurements than knitting, since knits are at least a little more forgiving.

  3. That’s really good info to know. I’ve been eyeing the Colette patterns, and I have similar proportions. I’ll have to get more comfortable with fitting things before I jump in.

  4. I don’t have similar measurements in fact just the opposite :0. One thing that helps me when sewing is actually measuring the pattern and subtracting the seam allowances on bust, waist and hip. Measure the front and back seperately. I always have to do a FBA(full bust adjustment) on the front bodice. I don’t have to do much to the back bodice. Also measure your front and back. You might have a narrow back, a slightly curved back, etc…

    Welcome to the world of sewing where sewing isn’t the challenge…it’s fitting 🙂

  5. My mother made that exact caftan!! And she did the embroidery around the neckline. She wore it in the mornings over her nightgown when she was getting us ready for school. What a blast from the past.

  6. I’ve really enjoyed reading your recent adventures in sewing– I too am a knitter who’s recently started sewing (again, for me, but after a decade long absence). It’s funny you should mention the difference between knitting patterns and sewing patterns, because I had that exact thought the other night when cutting the fabric for a skirt. I don’t understand why sewing patterns don’t have the detailed schematics knitting patterns have. I suppose I’m just used to reading knitting patterns… but wouldn’t it seem that everyone enjoys a good schematic?

    Good luck with the fitting.

  7. It always drives me crazy that sewing patterns don’t give more finished measurements or have real schematics. I want more information from patterns! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  8. I was curious, so I went to the Collette patterns web site to see their other patterns. The model looks very busty, so I think your instinct that they are drafted for a C-cup sounds on target. I am surprised though that the 0 didn’t fit you. BTW, talk about “vanity sizing”. I’m a 4/6 (top/bottom) in RTW and their 2 matches my measurements except for the waist.

  9. Misty says:

    As I was reading your post, I heard myself saying, “Ooh, I like that dress. Ohh, I don’t like that zipper.” Glad I’m not the only one! And I love the 70s skirt on the far right, with the contrasting colors. I think it’s adorable and wish I could sew so that I could make one for myself! Without the neck tie, though…

  10. I just wanted to commiserate – I am similarly shaped and have a horrible time finding store-made dresses that fit. I’m 33-28-34, and if I find a dress that fits in the waist it is always too big in the bust. I hope you can work out the fit issues for your patterns. What you’ve made so far is truly lovely!

  11. I’m coming from the opposite direction: I started with the hazily measured sewing patterns and I was so shocked to find how detailed knitting patterns were!

    Being busty, I’ve always had to adjust patterns. Some of the time I have to find two similar patterns and Frankenstein them together. Most of the time I simply give myself an extra four inches of seams, baste it all together, and then take out the extra inches where I need it during fitting. My adjusted flat patterns are never recognizable as the original, though the finished products usually look pretty close.

    If the smaller top is simply tight but has all the details in the right spot, I might suggest cutting a cross line to give you a tiny bit of width and length that still preserves all the appropriate lines. Or possibly use the front to the 0 and the back to the 2 and go meet in the middle.

  12. I am learning so much just watching you learn to sew! 🙂

    I love the leopard dress (the exposed zipper not so much) and I hope you get it worked out correctly because if so it will look great on you!

    I know you posted the caftan as a joke but I think it kind of rocks…

    What are your favorite sewing books (How-To books I mean) that have helped you get started? I just bought Teach Yourself Visually Sewing (I had the knitting version which kicks ass) and am underwhelmed. Maybe Sewing for Dummies? I remember you said you had a vintage book you really like, but not the title.

  13. ShirleyN says:

    By looking at the pattern measurements, it should have been size 0 for the top and size 4 for the bottom. Looking at the finished bust size the top should have fitted you. You’ve got some weird fitting issues with this pattern company. Could it be the fabric they used on the models? As a former (frustrated) sewer, my issues were with the availablility and economy of fabrics. If I wanted the look, was I willing to spend it on the “luxury” fabric that they used? My local Jo Ann sometimes had cheaper versions but not always in the right color, texture or hand. A lot of time I just didn’t find anything I liked and ended up buying the pattern and never making it!

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