Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lessons from the Fitting Front: Scary-Fit Muslin 1

This post is supposed to be where my enlightened self shows you pics of muslin 1 of NL 6356. Honestly, I don't know why people who show hideous fitting photos of themselves, in the name of science, are considered to be enlightened...

Here's the thing, S and I did some really good work yesterday.  (S is a private person so we're not going to show pics of her, though we may talk about fit as it pertains to her shape, which couldn't be more different than mine.) Let's have a moment where we give some basic info for future reference:


Bust 37 - 37.5
Waist 30
Hips 38.5
Height 5'3"
Build: Small structure, narrow frame, rather prominent bust, ingrained "yoga stance" (hyper-erect posture throwing chest forward), shoulder tips rotate slightly forward nonetheless


Approximate Measurements (in truth, I don't know - we're dealing with fit, not size): B34, W25, H35
Height: 5'8"
Build: Small structure, prominent shoulders leading to proportionately wide frame in that area - narrow everywhere else, rather small bust

Isn't it hilarious that two people of utterly different shapes are fitting each other? Let me tell you, I'm all cool with being me, but this process is really making me mindful of my body fat percentage :-)

S managed to intuit most of the challenges with my first muslin and slashed the side and centre back seam (a tip you'll learn in Sarah Veblen's book) which allowed the fabric to relax over my frame. I made the size 12 (FYI, S is using a Burda fitted, placket shirt and her muslin is size 36.) I continue to be so impressed by her ability to see what needs to happen. Note: S's been sewing for many years and has taken some in-person fitting courses in the past.

A brief word about the original fit: On first glance, it didn't look bad before we started fixing it because the fabric contained my breasts. Of course, that's not synonymous with "fit my breasts". All kinds of subtle arm and shoulder fabric issues present as a result... It was tight in the hips (very unusual for me) but that's cuz the finished pattern is supposed to be shorter than it was before we started altering (like 4 inches shorter). It's meant to fit high-hip and there are side notches in the pattern to provide additional ease. Unlike the pre-altered muslin (of which no photos exist, sadly), muslin 1 makes me look utterly boxy and large because there is no waist shaping to show the difference between large full bust and narrow under bust, and because there's no refinement of the fall of fabric over the breasts. As we fit, we'll adjust this.

Here are some "fascinating" things we learned about this pattern on my body:
  • Thank goodness I have such a short waist or my fitting challenges would be exponentially more extreme. Right now, the extra fabric required to cover my chest is met by the length I don't need in my waist. Add this to my narrowness and I require no "standard FBA" (even despite the size of my chest). Of course, the bust area needs additional darting and all kinds of shaping, just not the requirement - or so we believe at this time - for the addition of fabric over the bust / increase of width that often accompanies the flat-pattern FBA you read about in books. 
  •  Re: bullet above: We had to remove a RIDIC amount of length from the back waist, which proceeded to impact the flare of the opened lower back centre seam. Note: we'll probably add to the back seam and remove from the opened side seams which are now overlapping quite a bit as a result of the alteration.
  • The whole idea of taking fabric away from one seam and adding it to another really blows our minds. We get that the intersection of vertical and horizontal lines means that the action yields a very different fitting end result, but it's kind of hard to understand.
  • My posture is extreme?! Wow, I wasn't expecting to find out that I have what they call a hyper-erect stance. The combo of 25 yrs of Iyengar yoga and overcompensation (I'm not going to slouch just cuz I have tits!) has really influenced my shape. Add that to my forward neck (computer anyone?) and slightly forward shoulders and it's hard not to think of myself as a middle-aged disaster. Note to reader: I'm getting over myself. When we see how gorgeous I look in the finished product, all this will be water under the bridge.
Sadly, we forgot to take a pic before starting our work, but this will give you a sense of how my info above pertains to an initial stage of muslin 1 - at this point we've slashed seam lines and pinned fabric out of the back waist.  We went on to pin at least another inch out of the back waist at a later stage. (Lord, I cannot believe I'm posting these - it my own public service to prove just how relevant fit is...):

Note: It's like I'm wearing a sheet with neck and arm holes. There's nothing, except inadequately small darts, to provide even the most minimal shaping.
My vanity prevents me from presenting this without explanation: My ass has not widened by 2 times since last time I took a picture of it. I have a very small, small of back and shortening the fabric above the waist has produced a somewhat artificial flare in fabric leading to an optical illusion. I guess, now we know why I don't wear many RTW woven tops.
What you should know is that we've deliberately marked horizontal and vertical balance lines on the muslins (again - Sarah Veblen's books speaks to this at length) to ensure that our adjustments continue to yield a result that doesn't distort grain line in an effort to fit the body. The difference in the size of my breasts (left is larger than right) is show by the HBL tilting up at the left breast.

I'm not going to talk about bust until next muslin because there's a whole other series of adjustments going on there (not yet shown in pics). All I can say is, now I know why people love princess seams.


  1. Ok, convinced I need the Sarah Veblen book now. I'm really horrible about commenting (I blame by iPhone), in fact I've been following along for some time, and I wanted to te you that I really appreciate the fit information and how you are detailing your progress. Our figures are very similar, so it is really helpful. And yep, princess seams are the bomb.

    1. You really need it! Everyone does! :-) Thanks for your comment. Now I can visit your blog... And I really hope this is helpful to someone other than me - though being helpful to me is plenty fine!

  2. It's no wonder that RTW doesn't fit anyone...we are all such unique shapes. I'm intrigued to see how this progresses. Good luck to you both.

    1. Oh, I know! It's kind of a miracle any patterns fit anyone :-)

  3. Thanks for the muslin pics, we all appreciate them! Haha, I know feels weird to post them, but they are interesting! I have plenty of worse looking pictures of myself on my blog, haha.

    1. J: I am still cringing at the thought of them :-) (Mine, not yours!)

  4. I'm just in awe of this journey you're making because I did this one garment at a time not as deliberate fitting sessions. This is very intriguing and I'm sure that I will pick up a tip or two as I read along!

    1. Thank you so much for your support C! It means so much coming from such an expert.

  5. You know what's even weirder? Your measurements and mine are almost identical. Except that I'm a B cup and you're a.. well, much more endowed cup. Just goes to show how B/W/H only tells part of the story, and we can get so much variation even between just those numbers!

    1. Isn't that crazy!! It really tells so little of the story that I don't know how pattern companies design those "cup size" patterns.

  6. I'm getting the Veblen book.

    "The whole idea of taking fabric away from one seam and adding it to another really blows our minds." Me too.