Day #1 – Curvy ‘Mingos

Flamingo knit

On this, the first day of September, I was inspired to sew and sew and sew.  While working on a client’s custom garment, I discovered some fabric that would be perfect for my curvy young friend.  The school year has begun and her back-to-school shopping yielded nothing but frustration and some awkwardly fitting uncomfortable clothing. A t-shirt dress with a wide billowy shape constructed from this lightweight cotton knit seemed to be exactly what the young lady needed. Knits are not commonly found in my nearby fabric shops, being in the heart of quilt country as I seem to be. I was lucky enough to stumble onto this for her and it screamed at me to become a curvy tween diva dress.

I updated her measurements and altered a “big 4” Girls Plus pattern bodice from a party dress.  Initially, I did what amounts to a pivot full bust adjustment (FBA) using her measurements.  I pivoted the bodice, adding 1 1/2 inches and then altered the rest of the bodice by re-drawing the side seams out to match her measurements at waist and hip.

I stitched up a fitting muslin and tried it on her.  There was an excess of fabric in the armpit but the fit was close enough and I set about cutting out the flamingo pieces. This I learned: always create a pattern based on the latest alterations. How do I know this? I did not do re-draw the pattern and I completely ruined the cutest fabric and an adorable dress for a young lady.  When I cut out the garment for the second time, on the flamingo fabric, I totally forgot to pivot it for the FBA.

To add insult to injury, I did not realize it until the t-shirt dress was complete and on its way to the recipient.  Suddenly, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  I was admiring my talented stitching, my wrinkle-less neckband, and my label attached at the hem. It was all beautiful and had no hopes of ever fitting her.

<Heavy sigh>  It’s a good thing I have 30 days to get this right!


Fitting Frustration

Does the quote “every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client” apply to sewing garments for yourself?  Does any one that sews to fit themselves have a nitwit for a client? Maybe not all, but maybe those that have difficult body shapes to fit?  I’m beginning to feel like a fool, nitwit and idiot.

Disclaimer:  I feel I must state here that I have a shape that has an above-average degree of difficulty to fit.  (No hating, it is what it is.)

First, there was the green dress.  I chose Butterick 6033 because I really crave a dress.  I would love a simple dress with a little shaping. It needs to be something I can put together quickly in an easy-care woven fabric.  I’m not a fan of draping clingy knit on my body.  I chose the Connie Crawford’s because they are the only ones close to my RTW size of 4X (34-36W). I picked a sweet little print in a pale sage green.  I cut a 4X but used a pivot FBA to add an inch to the bust measurement in some vain effort to fit my DDD+ bust.  I’d show a picture of it but that dress and all photo evidence has been deleted from my life.  I stitched the dress up quickly and was hoping to wear it to my daughter’s wedding shower.  On the day of the shower, I was able to get the dress on.  There was more than enough ease under the arms but when my husband asked if the armholes were supposed to show on the front of my bust, I removed the dress and tossed it.

Next, there was the Pearl Snaps and Pivot FBA shirt. I used a menswear western shirt pattern that I had used in the past with good results.  I pivoted the pattern to allow for the FBA and produced a western shirt that I have worn and will wear again.  It does fit around the bust AND the hips.  It has a rather large blocky shape to it and I fear it does nothing for my figure.  It is a fun shirt that I wear line dancing so I will continue to wear it for the fun of it. But I have been reading all of the blogposts on fitting a curvy figure and I crave a better fit.

Then, there was the Killer Bees incident.  My husband found a new sporting goods store to visit in a nearby town and I rode along to get in some quality time with him and my latest knitting project.  I happened upon a Hancock Fabrics store and decided to run in.  Fleece was on a fabulous sale and sitting right at the front door.  A few yards of golden yellow jumped off the fabric table and followed me home.  Why golden yellow, you might ask?  My university’s colors are blue and gold so I envisioned a fleece vest or jacket in gold with a navy zipper and navy top-stitching.

Days passed and the more I thought about that fleece and my shape, the more I began to worry.  A mental image came to me one day of John Belushi in his Killer Bee costume from Saturday Night Live.  Would I really look like that, I thought.  With that in mind, I pressed on.  I used McCalls 5252, opting for view D, the hooded full-zip vest.  I used the XXXL size, split the yoke and spread it about an inch and increased the width of the underarm side panel piece.

The vest is finished. I may wear it, I may not.  It does in fact fit around me.  It does fit around my hips. It is long enough to cover my midriff excesses.  But the armholes are large enough I could pass a small child through them while I’m wearing the vest.  I have so much extra fabric and space in my shoulder area.  Three strikes and I feel that fitting clothes for myself seems an impossibility at this point.

Yesterday, I ran across The Truth About Fitting post by  on the Curvy Sewing Collective. The timing of Mary’s blogpost was perfect.  When the vest did not work out last night, I simply filed it away as a lesson learned.  I analyzed all three of my epic-fail sewing as I prepared to write this post, and have come to one conclusion.  Fitting yourself is hard for EVERY body. It is hard to do and it is hard to get right. Perfect fit is a very elusive creature. I think trying to fit something on yourself adds a whole degree of difficulty that we don’t take into consideration.

So, I will not give up!  I will continue to try, to persevere. I resolve to not use any more menswear or unisex patterns.  I will continue in the ongoing search for someone or some idea that will help me conquer an XL FBA.  It’s out there, I just need to find it.  Or am I the only one of this size out there?