Missing out by waiting for that “magical number”. . .

by Ramona on June 20, 2013

Pattern Alteration and Garment Fitting. Strikes fear in most of us, huh?

There are so many methods, each instructor having their own techniques that they have perfected. There are books by industry leaders like Palmer/Pletsch (http://www.palmerpletsch.com/), videos and Live Stream TV by Peggy Sagers (http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/), books that teach fashion pattern drafting  such as those by Connie Crawford (http://www.fashionpatterns.com/). Each having worked in the field fashion design and commercial pattern making. We are all familiar with these names and probably have many of their publications.

Besides books and DVD’s, there are bloggers who put forth great information. My favorite is probably Kathleen Fasanella. I’ve been following her blog for years. She has all kinds of information on all kinds of subjects related to sewing, opening a sewing-related business and patternmaking. I’d love to spend a week….no, a year in her studio and learn from her and pick her brain. (Note to self: You still need to order her book!)

There is a new blog website that was introduced to me this week. Her name is Roxanne, she’s a professional patternmaker having worked in the fashion industry, and she is doing an eight-part series on pattern fitting you may wish to check out. She has her own approach which is very much like what I used when I was doing custom dressmaking:

Strikes My Fancy

It’s no wonder we get confused. It’s no wonder we don’t want to sew for ourselves. It’s no wonder we don’t know which is the “right” way. I, for one, love to read it all. I take what works for me, and continue to learn. Heck, I’m even delving into old texts from the mid-late 1800’s to see what I can learn from the masters of the time. I wonder what we are missing in today’s techniques we could learn from them.

Me, I’ve decided if I had a dream visit to anywhere with anyone, I’d like to visit the person, or house, that produces the garments for Queen Elizabeth (read more here: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG9173551/Queen-Elizabeth-II-60-years-of-impeccable-style.html). When I taught classes on fit at my local ASG NG, I always put in examples of Her Majesty. From the time she was young, up through today, she always looks so elegant, her clothing proportional, colors becoming, and the fit is impeccable in my eye; nary a wrinkle on her clothing. Just take a look:


Of course, as a young woman, her figure was that of the era. Flounced shirts emphasized the petite waist. Pencil skirts of the time, below her knee and properly proportioned gave her a sense of being taller than she actually was.

So many times these days we think when we lose another twenty pounds, we’ll go back to garment sewing. Or when we are back down to a size 10 pattern, we’ll go back to garment sewing.  Tsk-Tsk. Do you know that there are no standard sizes in RTW and further, they in no way correlate to commercial patterns? It’s just a number. You are what you are. What you are, is missing out on sewing for yourself! I’m truly as guilty as anyone. I read a post by a friend of mine on my personal Facebook page this week that prompted this post. Please read it;  It will put some of our silliness into perspective. (http://myfriendteresablog.com/so-youre-feeling-too-fat-to-be-photographed/) Though that blog post is about photos–ya, we don’t want to be photographed, either, until we’re thinner–just substitute “sewing garments”. This is a poignant post by a very wise young woman who suffered a tragedy.

Just like most of us who sew who have borne children, been stressed by jobs, stressed by life in general, perhaps suffered some sort of medical issue where medication has caused unfamiliar body changes, or we just like to cook and eat, we change sizes as we age. Not only do we change sizes, but the body proportions and body shape change. Things sag and go south. Ah, no wonder we don’t like to look in a mirror below our neck.

Let’s look at photos of Her Majesty. Talk about a photographed woman. No matter her age or size, there is no doubt she is a beautiful woman. Her clothing impeccable, she’s coiffed and poised.

Elizabeth II with Obama


What I don’t think is discussed enough as part of pattern alteration and fit, is the need for good foundation garments. Our garments hang from our shoulders and waist. Clothes should cascade over the body with no undue stress on the fabric and no stress wrinkles caused by clothing that fits too tight. The fit should entail enough ease to move freely and without binding. This is different for every person. Youthful figures may wish things to be tighter to show off that tiny waist, yet as we age, many of us wear things that are just too baggy to “cover” things up. WRONG! With the proper fitting undergarments to hold our beauty in place, clothing shapes should silhouette the body. Wearing baggy doesn’t usually make us feel good in our clothing. With perhaps princess seams to give us appropriate curves and more opportunity for fine tuning fit, we present ourselves as we should and feel more confident to conquer our day.

Long gone are the days of pointy bras and binding girdles. Today, there are billionaire woman who have invented things like:

There are other brands, but even the “skinny” starlets wear these to keep things in place. Check your local independent undergarment store to be assisted with proper fitting undergarments for your figure. One bra does not work with all clothing. You should have several for the different clothing styles you wear. Same for lower body undergarments.

Besides proper undergarments, the other thing is the supporting structure that should be built into beautifully fitted clothing. Proper fabric for the type of garment, interfacings–perhaps layered– and more than one type in a garment may be in order. That is what I see when I look at the clothing Her Majesty wears. Dare I say  she may have some (**gasp!**) “motherly bumps”, but because her foundation garments are proper and the fabric properly supported, she shows not one majestic body imperfection. All we see is the beauty she is.

Ask yourself, are you missing out on your sewing journey by waiting for your “magical number” to appear? Wait no more. Just begin. Begin simply. Begin NOW! Get properly fitted undergarments. Get proper measurements. Get a pattern. Get sewing garments again! If your number changes, alter or remake the fabric, or better yet, donate it to a recycle center for someone else to enjoy and go buy yourself some new, gorgeous designer fabric and begin again! The magic number may be ever changing. Take measurements frequently as you sew. Learn from masters. Learn from new bloggers on the sewing scene. Continue to learn. Continue to sew.

Sew ’til next time, enjoy the journey of sewing!




Martha June 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I love this blog as it is exactly what I needed! I have been waiting for that elusive magic number and have been frustrated by not moving forward with sewing for myself again. I love the part about property fitting undergarments “holding our beauty in place!” Ramona, you always make me smile! And now, you have encouraged me to sew for myself, too!

Vicki Henderson June 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

I just want to say thank you for all that you do for ASG. Your energy and enthusiasm for sewing coupled with your desire to share your gifts through your technological capabilities has been a gift to me personally. I truly do not know when you sleep.

Thank you sincerely for your enthusiasm. Your contributions have truly made a huge difference in my experience with this organization.

Sincerely, Vicki Henderson
Denver Chapter

Ramona June 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Thank you Vicki, for taking time to write such nice comments. The Board of Directors are the real visionaries allowing us to do all this, and our Executive Director, Margo, makes sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together seamlessly to make the organization run so well. And of course we cannot be who we are without Maria and Jennifer taking care of all the behind-the-scenes things and day-to-day office goings-on, and Barbara to oversee chapters and help our organization develop new ones. They are all so wonderful to work with!

I feel truly blessed to hold the position I do within ASG. I wholeheartedly support this organization and I like furthering the mission through education. As far as sleep, since I was about 14, my motto has always been: “Sleep? Sleep is over-rated. I’ll sleep when I take my dirt nap”. LOL I need at least five more lifetimes to sew and accomplish everything I’d like to do, much like many of our talented members! Don’t we have the most wonderful organization ever! ~Ramona

chris July 22, 2013 at 7:06 am


Je suis française et je viens de lire ton article qui fût très intéressant.
Il est vrai qu’ il faut savoir accepter son corps pour le mettre en valeur et ainsi éviter les vêtements trop justes qui plissent ou les vêtements trop amples qui au lieu de nous donner une jolie silhouette, nous fait grossir.

Bonne journée

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