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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Fitting and bodies

Thanks for the nice comments on the menopause post. It is very helpful when I write something and think to myself "am I nuts?"

The interfacing is due to arrive tomorrow. 

That's a good thing because, I am warning you, I have pretty much got most of the best shirt ever made done, and it really needs a collar and facings. It is so loud and colourful and cheerful. Very retro said my husband, searching for words, but then again so am I.

Of course I wrote about the inside of the change of life and since fitting is an issue here, I should talk about that too.

A few things happen and here they are. No need to panic, like Bunny said once in a comment here, it is possible to be easier to fit after what I like to call the change back to yourself than before.

OK, the body things:

1. Your skin starts to look like your mother's in places that you thought were safe, like your legs. Cross your legs in shorts and you have leg wrinkles. Well, what do you know. And you might rethink mini skirts because your knees... well mine are reminding me of a basset hound's chin, and this too is sort of surprising. This impacts styles like say a mini skirt, except for the part that if you are of this stage - if you want to wear them you will and folks can just cope.

2. After a life time bending over children, desks, computers, and, yes sewing machines, your neck sort of gets bent forward. This means your front chest measurement gets narrower and your back gets wider. Some sewers deal with this by cutting a smaller front and a bigger back. I actually know someone who wears as size 12 front and a size 20 back. Imagine that, and she looks totally normal.

The really important thing to remember, and I am bolding this because it is so important, is if you sew you look great because things fit, it is only poor fit that makes "figure flaws" which IMO are just pattern/fitting issues, not person inside issues.

I personally deal with the bent upper back thing (which I have earned as a tall person in a short world and time spent with students/children/dogs/sewing - all completely worth the alterations) by looking for centre back seams and princess seamed backs so I can easily taper in the top of the seam. As Nancy Zeiman would say "Viola."

3. Your waist gets bigger. If you are lucky you may have fully functioning members of society out in the world after a start from behind that same waist. Larger waists are not a bad thing. Small children find them comfy props when you read to them and a really good belly offers good support to a nice plate of snacks and to the head of a hopeful fox terrier. In a hard world it doesn't hurt to be soft I figure, and sometimes is appreciated. Remember your best hugs of your life. It wasn't from someone bony was it?

OK, back to fitting.

When I was younger, before I did so much with my life, I had a 28" waist. This was a whole lot smaller than my hips and was a real pain to alter for. I had to go through my undergraduate lectures with uncomfortable darts sewn into the waistbands of my jeans.

For the first time in my life, post change-back-to-myself, I have few fitting issues with waists - I just add to them. This is because, and this is sooo true, it is always easier to make something bigger than it is to make something smaller. As a general rule in fact, when between sizes buy small and add -  trying to reduce a pattern usually is disastrous.

3. You develop boobs. This may be an issue if you had lots to start with, but if you didn't really this extra also makes fitting easier. Just remember to lower the bust darts. I am not sure if increase in bust size is not really some of that stuff packed away just-in-case under your armpit moved to the front, but I will take it - fitting is easier.

I think I have more to say about being a woman at this stage - and if you aren't there now, you will be, so I will be writing more on this in later posts. I also have things I want to say about being a young mother and about working hard in the world.

It all matters to me.

But for now what would you add to fitting the experienced sewer?


Bunny said...

" Remember your best hugs of your life. It wasn't from someone bony was it? " Amen, sister!

I can so relate to your post. I am definitely easier to fit now than in my earlier extreme hourglass youth and I love that. Other than the new "bagging" aspects, I like this body better and I sure don't worry about it like I did the other!

What the heck is happening to my skin? I knew it would suffer the effects of gravity at some point, but this dryness is just nasty. Doesn't help the baggy thing, either. I try bottles of different creams and haven't found the right one yet but at least it's getting a little lubrication. Oy,,,,I just don't feel as old as I think I look.

Great post. Thanks, Barb.

Karin said...

I love these posts. I particularly like the phrase "change back into yourself" and "pattern fitting issues" rather than body issues. You definitely have the right perspective on life.
My waist got bigger after two daughters. It's made fitting and buying RTW much easier. I am still a size or two bigger in hips than my waist, but I am not crazy extreme anymore.

Anonymous said...

Love these posts! A couple weeks ago I did a program for my local ASG doing muslin fittings for a basic jacket. Most all the ladies were of mature age and all were surprised how their bodies had changed! Hopefully I was able to correct their muslins so they can now get the fit they deserve.

Karen in Houston

Christine said...

Amen! "it is only poor fit that makes "figure flaws"" - this is so true, and an epiphany I had a few years ago that was a huge boost to the way I looked at my body. My body isn't wrong, it's the clothes (or pattern) that's wrong. How can my body, which is a product of my parent's love, birthed 3 wonderful boys, and can do SO many things for me be wrong?

Anyway, thank you so much for these posts. I still have a few years before menopause (I think) and it's so nice & refreshing to hear someone talk about the change in such a positive manner. You obviously are comfortable in your own skin, and that is great to see.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lordy! Ten years after THE CHANGE, I don't have that soft, wrinkly skin like my Mom; it's more like my GRANDMA!

Besides the fact that the non-bony are more fun to hug, I found in art school that they were a lot more fun to PAINT! Those who looked like emaciated fashion models just didn't have enough character.

The 1st fitting book I read was the one from G Street Fabrics. Their advice is not to look at the numbers, just focus on getting the right fit. There are no bad bodies -- only clothes that don't fit right. And that's what we're all about fixing. Yes! when your dress/jacket/etc is fitted to your forward jutting shoulders & back, it looks really SWELL -- and the number you picked up from Talbots that doesn't fit DOESN'T look swell.

When I complained of being too short to reach some stuff on my boat, my GYN prescribed multiple sessions with a PT to improve my posture. I continue with these -- doesn't straighten you out, but keeps you from getting more bent so quickly.

Thank you -- your posts are refreshing. It's good to share this information. This is real life -- enjoy the ride!


Rose said...

Hugs to you for a great post. (I am not bony!)

Ripple Dandelion said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on fitting a maturing figure! I rather missed the boat on having a knockout shape when I was a young thing, always being on the plumper side of what I thought would be good. I'm about 20 lbs. lighter now than I was in high school and my wedding dress is too big. So although there is sagging and too much stuff around the middle, I feel that things are moving in the right direction. Maybe by the time I'm fifty I'll be hot, in more ways than one!

Texan said...

LOL, is true you no longer have to cinch up the waist on things and try to hide the extra bulk under a belt LOL or try to sew in darts where none were meant to go in the first place, so they just never seemed to look right LOL.