Here's something I learned recently, while S was assisting me with the (ridiculously intense) bust adjustments on the Tailored Suit (cue sharp intake of breath): I no longer have full-on-top breasts. You know how I've been telling y'all for almost 5 years about my unique, sometimes challenging, always observable high bust? Well, it's moving on, apparently.
How did I learn this? I gained some idea when I did a muslin and discovered this (see photos). But it turns out, no matter how I tried to resolve the extending puff of fabric above my full bust, it didn't go away till S suggest what I needed was an SBA (small bust adjustment) above my full bust which had already been FBAed up the yin yang. Um, what?!
I'm the woman with the notable full upper bust. How is it that I had to adjust my (on paper) size 6 pattern into an (on paper) size 4 pattern between an inch above my nipples and my breastbone??? (The trolls are going to have a field day with that sentence, by the way.)
Here's my point (and Fitting Barrier 1): One's identity does not always reflect reality.
I can dwell on how I feel, existentially, about a full bust that has lost some of its fullness, projecting my angst (if nothing else!) and assert that nothing's changed. Or, I can fit the bust I have and make it look terrific. I have opted for the latter and I recommend it.
All this is to say that fitting is a dual experience: it's the determination of how to shape cloth around the body for optimal effect AND it's the ability of the one being fitted to allow the body to be what it is. To allow the fit to be simply what is.
Caveat: This is not the optimal time to dislike any aspect of how you look (not that that's necessarily in your purview). If you can't get with what you see as you fit, I can only suggest that you aim to change it by other means. Fitting is focused solely on what is, not on what you would like it to be. I've had these hardline words with myself on more than one occasion, I assure you.
Fitting Barrier 2: The second barrier to good fit? Fear of unknowable complexity. New sewists are particularly susceptible to this. Hello - it's hard enough to figure out a princess seam without applying it to a garment that's been fitted to perfection. What do those drag lines even mean? Are they drag lines? Maybe they're puffs of extra fabric. Maybe they aren't even there. How does one reflect changes to a muslin back onto a paper pattern? How does one make changes to a muslin? What's a muslin?? What's the point???
I'm not going to sugar coat it. It's practically impossible to learn everything at once, regardless of how kick ass you happen to be. Maybe, as you develop initial technical skills and confidence, fine fit (as opposed to excellent fit) is just fine. I worked mainly with stable knits for much of my first 2 years of sewing. I'm only just beginning to tackle the vast unknown that is my fitted torso. And I now have the benefit of a fitting friend!
That brings me to Fitting Barrier 3: You only have 2 hands and a certain amount of energy before you'll likely want to chuck everything out the window. I cannot recommend a fitting friend strongly enough. I'm not saying you will find one (though I wish one for you, truly), simply that you should be eternally open to the possibility. Seize upon it at any opportunity. And, as you continue on your own, recognize that you can't do everything in one session. Finding good fit is iterative. Iterations go faster with more hands.
Why am I focusing on barriers? Why not?
These are the landscapes in which we find ourselves. You're probably challenged by one of these barriers to some extent or another. Maybe you have others you can share.
Would it help you to know that most everyone feels out of his or her depth? I mean, I haven't done a scientific poll, but every book I read, every blog, every person I talk to reiterates this sense of fundamental concern. What if I'm not doing it right because...?
I think it helps to assess our concerns. I have encountered - nay, continue to encounter - all of these concerns on a regular basis. But I'm trying to push through in pursuit of the greater good.
So, today's questions are: Do you consider yourself a novice or an expert (or somewhere in between)? What fitting barriers have you experienced, do you continue to experience? Experts: Can you give us some tips about how to develop confidence and skill? What are moments of epiphany you've experienced?
Let's take some time to talk about our concerns and, in so doing, release them. OK?