Friday, May 1, 2009

Do You Measure Up?

My DH has CAD. After having a 5-bypass surgery last May, he again has blockages. He has been in the hospital this week for a heart cath and stint, and will be going back in two weeks for another. I have had neither the time nor mind to sew. My jeans are laying, cut out, on the sewing table for a week. I will get back to sewing as soon as things settle down a bit here.

I've been reading your blogs this week, however. A daily dose of "sewing talk" via blogging is very good mental therapy.

I've been interested in the different ways that people think about fitting their patterns. A lot of people like BWOF, saying it's a great fit, and have misgivings about the "big 4", feeling they have too much "ease". I was never privileged to be able to sew a pattern without a lot of alterations to it. I've been every size in RTW from 10 to 18 in my lifetime. Regardless of size, I always have had to make the same alterations. Body shape pretty much remains the same, even though there may be more or less of it from time to time! Anyone KNIM? So, I had to learn to fit, or quit sewing, one or the other!

There has been discussion on the PR Jeans Sew-Along about the difference in sewing jeans with stretch fabric vs. stable denim. Some people simply go up a couple of sizes when the fabric has less stretch than the pattern calls for. Actually, you can sew any pattern, with stretch fabric or without, using flat pattern measurements and compensating. In other instances, I've read where sleeve caps have too much ease or shoulders too wide, and the solution being to go down a size. There are a lot of inventive ways that people are dealing with fit.

In my sewing notebook, I have a list of all my measurements. I also have a list of how much ease I like in a specific garment. For instance, I like my shirts to have 4" of ease in the bust, 4" in the waist, and 6" in the hips and 3" in the sleeve girth. That's what feels good to me. I know I want 2" of ease in the thigh of a fitted pant. When I lay out a pattern, I compare the measurements on the flat pattern to those that I want in the finished item.

Knowing how you like your garments to fit is a good tool when working on a pattern.

When making a blouse, I begin by measuring my high bust- not full bust. The high bust measurement will come closest to fitting the chest, shoulder and neckline of the body. Upper body garments hang from the shoulders (or should)! I use the high bust measurement instead of the full bust measurement and trace that size pattern. From there, I measure the flat pattern in all key areas--bust, waist, high hip, hip, shoulder length,sleeve girth, armsythe and sleeve cap, and all length measurements.

I make all length alterations first. Then, I compare the flat pattern measurements to those that I like my finished garments to be, and make the adjustments. Most often, I have to reduce sleeve cap ease, as most sleeve patterns have way too much ease to fit the armsythe properly. I usually have to add to the hip. And--I most often make a muslin, unless the garment is really loose fitting.

Does this sound like a lot of fooling around and being finicky? We like to get to the fun stuff, which is the sewing. I would love to grab a pattern and just cut and sew. I envy those who can. But since I can't, this method works for me and I seldom have bad surprises.

So, do you measure your pattern and do any comparisons? If so, what do you measure? Or, do you forgo all of that and get right to the cutting and sewing?

I'll be sewing ASAP. Have a great weekend and sew much! Or, grab a tape and measure!

23 Talk to me:

Anonymous said...

Dear Gwen, I'm sorry to hear that your DH is battling with health problems... DO take good care of you, eh!! (We caregivers CAN end up sicker!)
I think pre-teens can sew "right out of the pattern envelope"... After THAT, there are alterations to measure. OR, we end up with the same mass-produced product that we find in RTW, eh!!
Soft hug,
Rhonda in Montreal (PR)

Lauren said...

I hope your DH gets to feeling better quickly- so stressful to have a sick loved one.

I measure like crazy, even with that I still struggle quite a bit with fitting so muslins are necessary for me unless it's something like a simple knit top- then just comparing measurements will work.

Nancy K said...

I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I went through open heart surgery with both my parents and it must be even more difficult with your husband. Good luck to you both.
I am impressed that you know the ease preferences so well. I do flat pattern measure and I know how much ease I like in my sleeve and hip and waist. The bust? I don't know the ease I prefer. I don't make muslins except for very expensive fabrics or if I am not sure if I'll like the style. I like to fit patterns themselves, though I don't find that this works for pants, contrary to what Palmer Pletsch say. I do make mostly BWOF. I used to make a lot of Vogue, especially designer before I discovered Burda. I also sew Hot Patterns because I love the styles.

2BSewing: said...

Gwen...I know it must be hard when your hubby has to go through surgery. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your DH.

I enjoyed your sewing post. I always measure my patterns and if I have a TNT pattern, I will also do a pattern comparison. I always shorten the length of my patterns, unless the pattern style is cropped...then the length will be fine.

QueenSH said...

Sending prayers your way..just take it easy for awhile and relax and concentrate on getting him back into good health. The sewing isn't going anywhere LOL! I usually don't do too much measuring before I sew. I worry about alterations when I am almost done.

ClaireOKC said...

So sorry you have to go through all this with your DH's health...it's harder to watch than to endure it yourself. Sewing - if you can get back to it - is wonderfully theraputic.

I guess I'm lucky - just a few alterations to patterns. I've done it so often that I know just about how much to add in the hip and the inseam of my favorite pants. But I do end up measuring...have cut out too many mistakes not to.

Lori said...

So sorry about your dh's health issues, wishing you both the best.

I tend to go by the flat pattern measurements.

Faye Lewis said...

I'm praying that all goes well with your husband. Thanks for the fitting info. I need to write all of this down.

knitmachinequeen said...

Will add your husband to my prayer list. I know how health issues, either yours or someone close to you, can wreak havoc on your sewing.

I tend to do the same alterations on all patterns from the Big 4. My biggest gripe is the amount of sleeve cap ease that they allow...way too much! I always check the amount of ease that is added to patterns and keep muslin and test garment fabric close at hand if I am in doubt.

Cindy said...

Sorry to hear of your husband. As you read in my blog this week, it isn't fun to have a sick partner. I hope everything is okay and my thoughts and prayers are with you. I know the stress!
You bring up excellent points. I find if I have exact body measurements along with ease requirements that I like are the best. Sometimes I feel flat measurement of the pattern works the best for me. I just haven't mastered the drape.
I am just in the learning point of fit--I see feel as if I am a bit lost! I am buying a dressform and hope that helps!
Thinking of you! Cindy

window dressing said...

I am new to your blog. Sorry to hear about your husband's health issues. My prayers for a full recovery of health.
Only recently have I started to take my own measurements and ensure that the garment fits perfectly well. I am also starting to cut everything on a muslin. In the past I would cut directly on the material and then take ten thousand years to make the alterations. Very frustrating!!!

j.kaori said...

I hope your husband makes a full recovery, and I hope you take care of yourself as well in the interim. You'll be back to sewing soon! Thank you for your comments about fit. One of the reasons I like to make garments is because they can be crafted to actually fit well. I know my key measurements and I know how I like my garments to fit, and I always make a muslin. For more complex projects, I fit the paper pattern first, then make a muslin.

Kristine said...

Keeping you and your hubby in my thoughts and prayers. When I was younger, I didn't care as much about the fit, but now... that's a whole new story! I also think with age comes patience!

Tany said...

I consider myself lucky for not having to make major pattern alterations, but I do measure my patterns and make adjustments if needed. I also make muslins but only when I feel very insecure about the fit of a specific pattern.

Sewfast said...

Dear Gwen,
My prayers go out to you and your DH. Good health is a precious gift. I must admit I often just eyeball the measurements and adjust later! (Bad Mary!!!) It's just how I roll... :)

Uta said...

An interesting post. I've only just tried flat-pattern-measuring for the first time, but I never tried it the other way around - figuring what the ease is in garments I prefer. I have so much to learn!
I hope your worries over DH will ease soon. All the best for you both!

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

So sorry to hear about your husbands health issues. Take Care of yourself!

Julia said...

I'm sorry to hear that your husband is sick. I hope and pray that he is feeling well very soon. I hope the procedures in two weeks go well.
Thanks for all the tips on fitting. Since I do plan to start sewing for myself again if I can ever get caught up with my other projects, this will come in handy.
I see that you've already visited my blog and saw that I awarded you with the blogger buddy award. You deserve it. I consider you a friend even though I've never met you.

Faye Lewis said...

Hey Gwen, thanks for comment on my blouse. I really LOVE it. That's a great idea about changing sashes on the black dress, THANKS!

Dale said...

My prayers go out to you and your hubby. I do hope he's getting better everyday.

I recently started a sewing notebook for myself too and have finally got a place to keep those ease/fit notes. Been trying to do it by memory for so long and I finally realized that my 45 year old memory is not what it used to be!

Looking forward to your next creation Gwen.

MaryPat R said...

I hope your husband feels better soon. Thanks for sharing your tips and experience.

paco peralta said...

ohhh. Gwen .- I hope that everything has returned to normal. I wish speedy recovery for your DH. Ahhh. patterns, I am always correcting. every customer is a "world", so I have no other choice.

greetings, Paco

Kat said...

What a great post! I sometimes do measuring, sometimes don't. If I can get a pattern with Big 4 size ranges of 10-14, then I'm a happy camper. I'll morph from 10 at neck and shoulders to a 14 at mid-chest down. Even so, I'll measure front and back separately. And I do so many alterations, it really doesn't matter about measuring--all in a day's work.

To tell the truth, I know there is a lot of talk about an enormous amount of ease in Big 4 patterns. However, I find some have too little, some too much, so it all evens out for me. Personally, I've been fairly happy with Big 4 patterns.

I hope your DH has a good recovery!

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