My Body: My general proportions seem to be somewhere between a cello and an apple- depending on how my weight is fluctuating at that time, and does it ever fluctuate! My waist can go anywhere from 38 to 42 inches in the span of a week. Because of this, I tend to stick with looser styles. I love what a shift can do in avoiding fitting my waist. I also love the look of the nipped waist, but won’t pretend I don’t avoid it when I’m feeling lazy. I have a very long torso in comparison to my arm length and inseam. You would think I would be lowering waists like crazy, but my natural waist is actually a bit a higher than the standard measurement block. I think my lower torso is just very long.
Measurements: 40-41″ waist today (but it fluctuates from 38-42″), 46″ full bust, 38″ under bust, 48″ hips
Standard pattern size: I normally choose either a 24 or 22 in Big 4 sewing patterns and adjust from there. In indie patterns I follow the size chart. For example, my measurements put me in a Colette size 18 if I add ease to the waist.
RTW size: In ready to wear, it’s a total guessing game. In pants and dresses I can wear anywhere from a 14 to size 20 depending on the store, cut, and fit. For tops I normally try on an XXL,but that can be too big at times.
Bra size: My bra size is very dependent on the brand. French brands like Chantelle fit my breast shape best. I usually buy a 36/38 F or DDD.
Adjustments I make: I try and make it a point to always toile new-to-me patterns. While it’s not the most instantly gratifying experience, I always wear the garments I’ve adjusted more. Because of the interesting torso issues I practically always need to lengthen my tops. There’s a sweet spot I like the hem to hit which is below the top button of my jeans, but not completely covering the crotch. I get really nitpicky about this length when sewing for myself, probably because it’s nearly impossible to find tops that fit this way off the rack. I don’t raise the waistline on pants, they seem to fit rather well (and I don’t sew them often, anyway). But I do need to shorten the length. At 5’8”, petite pants fit me best. I also end up raising the waistline on most fitted dresses. For all my lengthening and shortening work, I use the lines as marked on the pattern to adjust.
I always need a full bust adjustment. I’m an E/F cup depending on the brand, and nearly no patterns draft for that. I also need a box dart move. I have most of my breast tissue on the lower half of my breast, and that affects where I need the apex point. It’s a super simple adjustment that makes a world of difference.
I use a swayback adjustment to help with the pooling of fabric above my butt. While I have no shortage of inches in my hip measurement, I wouldn’t call most of it hips. I’ve been endowed with a strong, muscular, bubble butt. The swayback adjustment helps nearly all tops and dress fit better.
I often add a bit of ease to the waist. While the cello is the cousin of the the hourglass body shape (the hourglass seems to match up to most measurements given on patterns), it’s a bit less extreme in the the difference between the waist and the other measurements. Because I also carry a good deal of weight in my stomach, I make sure to know my sitting waist measurement as well. What’s the point of sewing a dress you can’t sit in, right? People with more squish tend to have more spread while sitting. Wearing your toile around the house can help you figure out what real life alterations you’ll need for movement in your garment.
I have a broad back, and often need to make a broad back adjustment. Sometimes my broad back issues can be fixed when I do my full bust adjustment. Other times I need to do the secondary broad back adjustment.
Things I love to sew:
Shift Dresses: I have what I call “the summer of the Colette Laurel.” While many people loathed this pattern, I loved the fit challenges. Did I have to make more toiles than I would’ve liked? Yes. Did I end up with a perfectly fitting pattern? Totally. It’s a trade off. My love of shift dresses since then has only grown.
Swimsuits and Intimates: While I’m not pro in this area, I totally enjoy sewing up fun lingerie and swim suits. I have yet to tackle anything super supportive, though.
Historical Costuming: I’m a huge history nerd, and love the costumes of the 18th century. I help run a local group dedicated to sewing historical costumes. I always find it funny how quickly the preferred body type can change to suit fashion. While actresses like Keira Knightley and Gwyneth Paltrow have portrayed the regency ideal, the ideal body type was much more robust.
Floaty Tops: If I must wear pants. At least my shirt can be comfy right?
Fit and Flare: When I’m feeling up for a fit challenge. I totally love fit and flare patterns. They easily work over my big butt and stomach.
Vintage Patterns: I have way too many vintage patterns. I love sewing them, and find they often fit me better. If you’re similar to my body type, Simplicity Slenderette and other half size patterns work wonderfully one me.