I finished that skirt and it turned out well. Then, following #2 son’s gymnastics class and errands, I began to cut the top. Knowing that I don’t have time to make a muslin as well as the real one, I decided to do some careful fitting with the pattern pieces before I cut.
Good thing. The top very distinctly doesn’t fit.
This made me think of Erika, one of my favorite sewing bloggers. She writes about fashion and fiber, and never gets distracted and starts talking about economics or good and evil or squid instead. But what I really like about her blog is that she takes these pictures that say, “See how great I look in this great thing I made!” Since most of us present our FOs with a list of all the things we did wrong and apologies for our figures and/or photography, Erika’s sassy attitude is refreshing.
She linked to this site, where you can put in a whole bunch of measurements and be given a definitive classification of your body type. I was surprised by mine — they said I was a P (essentially a top-heavy shape) and that is not what I would have thought at all.
But then, as I was deciding what to do about the top pattern, I considered it further. It is easy for me to fit pants and skirts, because I am essentially the shape that the pattern company expects me to be. I knew that the pattern companies generally design for B-cup girls, and I am a C, so I wasn’t surprised that fitting the tops is more of an issue, but I was thinking of this as a small matter. I have assumed that my ongoing difficulties with making tops are about my lack of sewing skill, not that the patterns are simply the wrong shape for me.
It is true with ready to wear jackets and blouses as well, though, that I can fit my bust or the rest of me, but not both in one garment. I generally buy a larger size for a blouse than for pants in RTW, and ignore fit issues, since I’m not sewing them. And sweaters with set-in sleeves have always been a fitting challenge as well — possibly, it now occurs to me, not because I’m bad at knitting sleeve caps so much as that a sweater sized for my bust doesn’t fit my shoulders.
I once read a quote from someone in the fashion industry who suggested that people ought to make more of an effort to conform to standard sizes, which I found quite funny. It is possible that the speaker was thinking that folks should slim down, but whether I’m a slim C-cup or a zaftig one, I’m going to be a C. And the girls whose thighs are their widest point, or those whose stomachs are rounder than their bottoms, or those whose waists are the same size as their busts — these shapes are not about size.
The site about body type is at a RTW shop, so they are not talking there about tailoring issues, thought they do give very detailed and specific suggestions for the styles and fabrics you might find becoming. But it seems to me that being able to achieve a good fit if you don’t happen to conform to the industry standards is one of the reasons to make your own clothes.
There are now a few patterns that have cutting lines for A, B, and C cups (doesn’t help the Ds, but it’s a start). Maybe the pattern companies should also consider offering bottom options. I am now imagining neophyte seamstresses standing in the fabric store trying to decide whether they are Round Bottoms, Flat Seats, Full Thighs, or Protruding Tummies, and attempting to combine that with their A, B, or C. Maybe the whole thing would give them the pip and they would decide to make a nice caftan instead. Or the pattern companies could adopt the letter system over at the body type site, and we could just grab a P or an H.
While considering whether to go with a larger size pattern for the top or to attempt the FBA adjustment of which the sewing bloggers so often speak, I went ahead and did some knitting. I completed another skein of the Bijoux Blouse, and three and a half rows of Erin.
I have now been working on Erin for over a year. True, in that time I have made four and a half other sweaters, a couple of pairs of socks and slippers, several hats, some dishcloths, and a tea cozy, so it may not be accurate to say that I have been working on it for a year, but it has at least been hanging around being a WIP for all that time.
When I started it, I did not realize that an oversized unshaped drop-sleeve cardigan with enormous horizontal bands was not a becoming look for me. Indeed, I never considered whether something I knitted would be becoming. I hardly considered whether clothing I bought would be becoming. Let’s face it, I hardly bought clothing.
In the course of my efforts (inspired at least indirectly by the Sew?I Knit sewalongs and more directly by the SWAP I began last May) to think like a dressmaker instead of like a quilter, I have perhaps also begun to think of sweaters as clothing rather than art objects that I happen to wear.
So I don’t know about Erin. Maybe I should adjust the pattern in some way. I am about half a dozen rows from the armscye, so this would be the time to do it if I am going to.
On the other hand, the new Knitting the Classics knitalong begins today. The book is The Joy Luck Club. I have already read this book, and am not in the mood to read it again. Indeed, having read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan last month for my physical-world book club, I think I have satisfied my appetite for reading about unhappy Chinese women for the foreseeable future. I intend therefore to watch the movie instead, and begin on an Asian-styled baby sweater for an upcoming baby shower.
At my rate of progress on Erin hitherto, that will allow me to put off decisions about it for another month at least. I do hope to make decisions about my sewn top, though, and will welcome advice from you knowledgable people out there.
I wish you a joyful Palm Sunday!