Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Measure of a Woman

True story: Yesterday, I wore the Spring Basics Palette spring top which I'm not supposed to wear till spring. And I don't even care. I am such a badass! I was so bright. So cheerful. So popular (as I paired it with yellow tights and a lavender mini skirt). I was the most colourful thing you've ever seen. Also, it's really attractive and it makes my boobs look fantastic! Seriously, run out and buy this thing and then give me the credit when you look so gorgeous you can't stand yourself. OK, give the Jalie people a little bit of credit too.

At any rate, as an update to my update in my last post (about why all my patterns seem to be fitting large lately), I'm regrettably wrong in my initial assessment.

That assessment was that I must be getting leaner as a) everything seems to be fitting more loosely and b) all my new clothes (of TNT patterns) are particularly roomy.

As soon as I got home I took out my handy tape measure and took some notes. Alas, the numbers are almost identical to those of 2 years ago (and then of 3 months ago) - though somewhat smaller than those of 6 months ago (when I was on the eating binge). In fact, my bust and hip measurements are identical to those of January 2009 and April 2010. Those numbers don't seem to change. My waist - it's about 3/4 of an inch larger. Whatevs. I'm working on it. And it's January. And I like wine. Leave me alone.

There are some theories:
  • I'm 41 years old. My body is changing in shape.
  • I haven't been doing as much weight-bearing exercise lately. My muscle mass may be down, affecting fit.
These are supported by the fact that my RTW clothing seems to be fitting more loosely, in addition to my new handmade wares.

However, I think the likeliest reason for looseness of TNT (and even new, handmade) garments is that I'm sewing with smaller seam allowances. I never seam anything wider than 1/2 inch allowances these days. Often, I use a scant 1/2 inch or a generous 1/4 inch. I don't see any benefit in cutting too much fabric, only to let it languish in a seam allowance which, let's face it, is generally serged away. I guess I've just got to start cutting one size down given this predilection.

I don't know why this kind of thing fascinates me no end. Point is, though, the tape measure doesn't lie. And don't sew with 5/8" seam allowances. That's crazy wasteful.


  1. Ok, I'm all for the 1cm seam-allowances (.5 cm for knits), at least on TNTs, but you need to adjust the pattern first to reflect that, right? otherwise you're not saving fabric (the cut pieces will be the same size)you're just creating an ill-matched pattern that's not going to fit as advertised, right? ;)

    I used to sew everything at .5 cm (I was mostly making up my own patterns at that point), but I had a lot of seam failures in wovens. I really like 1cm seam allowances :).

  2. I struggle with 5/8ths too, my eye just doesn't want to line up the needle there. It actually has me liking patterns without SA added so I can chalk out the seam line and add what I want for SA.

  3. It never occurred to me not to sew with 5/8 inch seam allowances, never thought about the waste factor.

  4. I personally like smaller seam allowances too, but if you made the original with 5/8 and then sew with a smaller seam allowance it will be looser fitting. The same is true for a pattern graded for 5/8 seams allowances. You may need to cut the pattern down to account for the seam allowance you actually use.

    Check the sizes before going down a size, the difference may be more than you think, but then this will also depend on the number of seams and the how much bigger this makes the actual garment as compared to the intended pattern measurements.

  5. I love wearing bright colors (especially destined for Spring blouses) in the middle of winter. It makes you stand out from a sea of black.

  6. This might come with experience, or using TNT patterns. For me, the waste in a 5/8" seam allowance is negligeable when considering it as insurance (to adjust fit, especially if it means I can forgo the waste of a muslin.)

    I do wonder about seam allowances for knit items. I'd be inclined to sew those with my serger, but don't have the first clue what seam allowance my serger lops off exactly or how to adjust accordingly. It's on my list to learn this year!

  7. T: I hear you. I have to be sure I understand the minutiae before I start changing things up :-)

    Sera: I never thought I'd get with that program but, pain in the ass tracing aside, it can be useful...

    Susan: It's not that much of a waste, but I'm paying for that fabric!

    M: That's so true. I'm not outright going to cut a size smaller. I will do a bit of sleuthing first.

    Janice: It's so true! (And then, today, I was the sea of black!)

    K: You make a valid point. Vis a vis the serger, the numbers that you set the width to i.e. 3.5 or 4.0 are generally millimeters. It's not that difficult to figure out, once you get into it. a 4.0 cut line, plus a little bit of fabric to actually cut off is more or less a quarter of an inch. Note: Your serger might be diff than mine so do the math!

  8. I love this part of your theory: "I'm 41 years old. My body is changing in shape." So realistic. Doesn't mean we have to give up on keeping our body fit and trim, but there will be changes and we'll be mentally and physically healthier once we accept that reality.

  9. I've been thinking a lot about this lately F. About how we can't do everything in a day. Something has to be put aside. Right now, I'm so focused on my job and my sewing. (And of course, parenting a preteen.) My body's not as it was when I did 10 hrs of active yoga a week. But this, as everything, is a moment in time. I just have to try to find some more balance and keep on.

    1. Yup, balance, that's easy . . .
      And apparently, yes, your threaded comments are working. I wonder if there's a chance that mine are, but not for me because I'm the "owner" of the blog?

    2. Mine work even as the owner of the blog. But I remember trying something like this on blogger a while ago, and it didn't work. Maybe it's buggy on some blogs?

  10. The plebs demand photos of this glorious ensemble that you describe!

    Girl, you look great! Drink that wine and carry on!

  11. It's important to have an idea what's going on. I am glad you're analyzing this and that you are taking care of yourself!


  12. R: Next time I wear it - which may be spring (it was a spring outfit after all!) - I promise to take and post pics. xo

    E: It's interesting how challenging it is to discern what's going on sometimes...

  13. I hear you about changing shape too. I'm 41 too, no wait I'm 42 (hell I don't know) and the bods on the move, so to speak.

    Seam allowances .... Knits are easy in that my serger lops off about 1/4", like yours does, and they are a little more forgiving if the sizing isn't quite right. On wovens I'm a total novice so use that 5/8" SA right to the edge cos it means I have plenty of wiggle room for balls ups, which are many and frequent!

    PS who said spring outfits are just for spring? I means, other than as dictated by weather and climate I guess...

    1. I have to agree, it's good to have that extra room with the wovens. I just traced a couple of patterns with 5/8 seam allowances and I kept them in. A little waste is better than a lot of waste in a finished product that doesn't fit for a mm here or there.

      I've been wearing everything I've made for the spring palette immediately. I'm not good at waiting :-)