This morning I was sitting in front of my dressform (it's not really that bad--it's right next to my computer) mulling over fit. I decided my darts were too long in the front and back, 3 1/2" to be exact, because they were not ending right at the top of the bump, whatever bump that was. Either my butt or my front hip bone/tummy.
So I took my pattern pieces back to the kitchen table and redrew my darts 3 1/2" shorter. Then I took a little bit more out at the side seams in the lower dart area to account for the extra width from bottom of the dart that will not be stitched because of shortening them. So that's where I am with fitting my dress. Then I got to thinking how appreciative I am of my fellow bloggers and especially their comments this past week.
Among them were the following:
Alexandra commented a few days ago, "...I agree with Linda, it's the fit that matters. I am a big fan of the Whatever Works method."
Likewise, Linda commented, "...I'm all for what works. I don't care what the alteration police say. It is the fit that matters. "
I think the predominant theory on fitting is to choose a pattern by one's high bust measurement. This DOES work for many people. I just don't like it for myself. It's the principle of possible pattern distortion with big alterations by working with a smaller size and the sheer number of alterations I'd have to do if I used a pattern by my high bust measurement that bothers me.
I have a fitting book on my shelf, "Every Sewer's Guide to the Perfect Fit." I love that book. IMO, it's philosophy is to choose a dress by the full bust measurement. That's probably why I like it LOL. I love FFRP, too, but their theory is a bit different. However, it IS noted in FFRP that choosing a pattern by the high bust measurement works for 90% of people. Maybe I'm in that 10% that it doesn't? I have had many problems trying to use a pattern by my HB (technically a snug 33 1/2") and I stopped using that recommendation. My base size is a 12 for patterns that have neck and shoulders and a 14 for ones that don't. And even though so many people seem to think that altering the neck and shoulders is difficult, I find it to be so easy. Why is that? Why do people think this area is hard?
Perhaps I have been influenced by my sister who is experienced in draping. She's a master of pinching, smoothing, and darting everything in place. I think many drapers probably prefer to fit from a full bust that fits. In fact, there are fitting experts that say, "FB What?" They don't know what a full bust adjustment is. They simply manipulate the fabric on the body or dressform. I like that concept. It's easy, doesn't require a lot of math, and it is quick. I think it works well on a duct tape, My Twin, or paper tape dress form too. Those mirror body quirks better than the commercial ones IMO, even with padding. The store-bought ones can't mimic my asymetry or fuller right side, but my DTD does.
Jean Haas' is one of my fitting idols. I took her duct tape dressform and pants form class several years ago. She does draping and is an incredible inspiration to me. Ditto with Shannon Gifford, however, Shannon is more of a flat pattern alteration person IMO. At least in her Patternreview classes I think. I have learned much from both these wonderful fitting gurus and their different perspectives. And that's exactly what they are--different perspectives, both with merit.
I think what I'm concerned about is that so many people are told, "Choose the pattern by your high bust measurement." But for some people, I don't know if that is the best sewing road for them to follow. It wasn't for me. I struggled for a year trying to follow that piece of fitting advice. And it IS good advice which works for many people. But it truly isn't for everyone, myself included.
This goes back to neck gape. Often people will post about terrible neck gape followed by responses asking if the pattern was chosen by the HBM. If the answer is no, then the recommendation is to do that. But you know, that opens up a new door of alterations--the FBA among other issues like waist and hip. It is times like this that I think, "Why not just handle the gape and be done with it?" If everything else fits fine, just tackle that one problem. This thought takes me to my current project, my summer dress. It's a straight 14. With, what I consider to be, minor alterations. Transfering the gape, shortening my darts, making the top of the back darts a little deeper, a little petite adjustment--all those are very minor alterations IMO. If I had chosen to make this dress by my high bust measurement and choose the 10, I'd have to do an FBA, make the waist and hip bigger, still work with the darts, fuss with the back...it just seems so much harder.
But in the end, I think of Alexandra's comment about the "Whatever Works Method". Very wise and sage advice for fitting. Kind of like and I'm okay, you're okay kind of thing. Although my fitting methods seem far from popular than the standard MO of pattern fitting, it does work for me, just as others employ similar methods that work for them.
For those who alter like me, take heart in knowing (Twilight Zone type of music playing now...), We are not alone! :) I've often feel like I am, but it's nice to know I'm not.
Happy Sewing...and Fitting!