Why you don’t sew clothes you love.

One of the biggest frustration I hear from all of my students and when I interact with sewists online is fit

As in, sewing clothes and trying to get the fit right and feeling completely frustrated by that process.

I can understand that; it’s a deep topic with lots of steps and our bodies are dynamic and wonderfully, three dimensional.

But it doesn’t have to be so frustrating.

I have certainly made clothes that did not fit.  Clothes that were too big or, gasp, too small.

I once made this fitted, button-down shirt out of gorgeous felted wool. 

It was one of those makes where I took my time and spent the effort on all the details…french seams, lovely topstitching…you know. 

Only to have it be too tight in the hips.   Gah.

I was heartbroken and so frustrated.

I let it sit for a day, to think about things, and I came up with a plan to add godets to the shirt bottom.   Whew.

It turned out lovely and saved the garment I had spent so much time on.

Now, I make sure I start every new sewing pattern with some math.

Here’s the process I use…(below is a simple overview, but you can get it in all it’s glory here!)

  1. Measure your body.  Be kind and gentle with yourself…sewing is an act of self-care after all.
    Pull the tape snug but not tight and for goodness sake, don’t lie to yourself.  Well-fitting clothes are the most flattering.  
    Compare those measurements to the chart on the sewing pattern.
  2. Choose your size based on your high bust measurement.  Then get comfortable making YOUR regular adjustments.
    For example, I always make a full bust adjustment (and a full butt adjustment for that matter!) and I shorten the bodice pattern for my short waist.
    So…I choose my size based on my high bust measurement and plan to make my adjustments to the pattern.
    (oh hey, want the cheatsheet I recently made on how to make adjustments and judge the fit on your knit garments?  Get it here.)
  3. Adjust the Pattern.  I like to make simple adjustments before I ever cut my fabric.  
    Using your measurements and the measurements on the pattern chart will allow you to see early on if the pattern needs adjusting.

    Things like…shortening and lengthening the sleeve or bodice, grading between sizes, adding or subtracting a bit to the hip area, adding or removing some room in the bicep.

These steps (print them here) set me up for a much more pleasant sewing experience and to sew clothes I love.  

I don’t know about you, but it’s super frustrating when you take the time to do lovely finishes, like french seams, only to have to sacrifice them for fit alterations. 

Does that happen to you?

What’s your process for getting a good fit?   Do you have regular adjustments that you always make to patterns? 

What are they?

In Kinship,