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FFRP: Frustrations For Real People
What kind of freak am I?!
kellymailinglist

kellymailinglist
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Ohio USA
Member since 2/3/07
Posts: 168
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Date: 4/26/08 8:49 AM

Hi all: This is my first forum post, so please forgive me if this isn't the right category for this post.

First, since I'm new, a little background: I'm pretty new to sewing--it's been about four months, and I've taken a basic sewing course that didn't cover fitting issues at all. The sewing scene in my city, Columbus, OH, seems to be completely composed of quilters, but I'm more interested in apparel. I've finished a few skirts, a couple of dresses, some other odds and ends. But I've been bothered by the fit--poor fit of RTW was also a major reason I decided to learn to sew.

I'm *extremely* pear-shaped, with what (now) seems to be a size 18 at the over-bust/chest and a size 28 at the hip. I have been simply grading out gradually to the larger size in multi-size patterns, yet something still isn't right. But I enjoy a challenge and I like to thoroughly research things that intrigue me, so I've read and read and read about fit, both here at PR and in books.

I bought FFRP, seeing as it's so highly recommended. When I read through it I felt the information was a bit disorganized but easy enough to figure out. I made my Body Graph (where you basically create a silhouette of your figure)... so far so good. I purchased the McCall's fitting pattern according to my above-bust measurement... check.

I went through two fitting patterns trying to use their tissue-fitting method (with the taping of the curves) because I kept ripping the patterns in such a way that I couldn't tape them back together accurately. Grrr. I didn't even get far enough to determine any kind of fit!

So I decided to trace it onto Pattern Ease, which has allowed me to actually work with the pattern. I can't keep pins in anything, it seems, so I'm using safety pins. I put together the bodice and for the life of me, I can't figure out what's wrong.

That's sort of the method, right? You try on the pattern as printed, see what's not fitting, then make the alterations in the pattern, and try it on again. But no matter what I do, I can't figure out why the as-printed pattern doesn't fit right!

Or, rather, I can *see* the problems, but I don't know how to characterize them in such a way as to use their alteration methodology. For instance, I can see that, when I turn to the side, my waist in front is about two or three inches longer than my waist in back. (I'm using a comfortable elastic waistband from an old skirt that I cut out, wearing it around for a while, and letting it "settle" to find my "true" waistline.) I suppose that's a "Swayback" adjustment, and I did have some success simply shortening the back piece of the bodice, but then that seemed to throw off the places where my back is narrow. It's like I didn't take out the extra length in the right place, but I have no idea where the right place is.

I can also see that, thanks to a mighty slump, my back's pretty rounded, but the "High Round Back" adjustment didn't work at all. My shoulder point seems to be about 20 degrees off vertical (perhaps this calls for the "Forward Shoulder" adjustment they mention in the book but don't provide any instruction for). My back at the waistline looks to be quite a bit narrower than my front at its waistline, as it turns out. My chest seems to be even narrower (and scoopier) than I had thought, because the front bodice piece is wider than I am, although the rest is too small.

As a matter of fact, I'd say the person in the book I most resemble is the elderly woman Olga, but the "Very Rounded Back" adjustment didn't work at all--it just made the bodice ride up my neck. My silhouette looks mostly like the 80-year-old silhouette (with the addition of a lot of poundage). But I'm only 42! ARRGH!

I actually made up the bodice, using safety pins, rather than using just the two pattern pieces, to see if I'd be able to figure things out any better. I tried to observe the wrinkles to see what was wrong, and it seemed like the wrinkles indicated things that were in opposition to each other. Like, my back is very rounded but I'm not getting the gap at the neck--yet I have a tremendous gap at the back of the armscye. Frankly, it's all a blur at this point...

It's like I can make the back work, I can make the front work, but I can't make the back *and* the front work together. It's like the front half of me is an entirely different person from the back half of me!

I was reading a post at the blog called Fashion Incubator, a post about bra fitting actually, and she suggested something about shape that kind of explains things, but doesn't explain how to work with the shape. Basically, if you take a cross-section of your body and look at it from above, some people are an oval shape (an oval on its side) and some people are egg-shaped (in my case, I think, an egg with the narrow end toward the back). Patterns and clothing are made for oval shapes, which makes it tough for egg-shapes. It explains my weird front half/back half problem very well. In the context of the bra discussion, I have the fitting problems of the egg-shape figure.

It still doesn't help me fit a pattern to my body, though! Am I forever doomed to shapeless, baggy clothes? Can anyone shed any light on my problem, or suggest how to adjust for it? I could post pictures if it would help... although it would take me a while to get the pics together.

My next step, I think, is to start without a pattern and simply make my own custom bodice. I have a book called "Make Your Own Patterns" by Rene Bergh, which looks to be similar in concept to King's moulage. Does that seem like the way to go?

Help me Obi-Wan PatternReview! You're my only hope!
-- Edited on 4/26/08 8:55 AM --
-- Edited on 4/26/08 8:55 AM --

Karla Kizer
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In reply to kellymailinglist


Date: 4/26/08 9:15 AM

Can you stand the thought of purchasing and reading another book? This one addresses the challenges you've mentioned, and the author appears to be fearless when it comes to tackling fitting. Some of her examples are way outside the box - but the pictures prove they work. I can't honestly say I've used every one of her methods, but I learned a lot by reading it, and it's the source for the little chant I use while altering patterns: put the fabric where you need it!

ooooops: I forgot to say Welcome!
-- Edited on 4/26/08 9:19 AM --

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



kellymailinglist

kellymailinglist
Beginner
Ohio USA
Member since 2/3/07
Posts: 168
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In reply to Karla Kizer


Date: 4/26/08 9:19 AM

Hi Karla: Thanks so much for the recommendation! It's funny... on PR, it seemed like FFRP is used as a guide more often than FFFEB, so I started with it, but it sounds like the other book might address some of my frustrations. And hey! You can never learn too much!

Thanks, and I welcome any further suggestions for reading or figuring out what the Sam Hill is up with my body!

xstpenguin
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xstpenguin
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UNITED KINGDOM
Member since 4/30/06
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Date: 4/26/08 9:36 AM

Hi Kelly

And welcome from me too. I have the FFRP but not the other, so can't comment on it's usefulness. The point I wanted to make is that most major alterations will throw off something else, so it is important to do them one at a time. yes this is slow, but it's the best way to see what is happening.

I'd suggest investing in some muslin fabric (either actual muslin or some old sheets or other cheap fabric, but steer clear of prints, they'll muddy the water!) It's also a great thing to have a digital camera and tripod to take pictures of you from all sides and get a proper look onscreen. (I'm assuming you don't have a fit buddy to help in person, that's even better!)

I've done classes in pattern drafting. The basic method teaches you to draw patterns to fit a skinny, perfect size 12. This is soooo useful. I mean do you know any perfect size 12s? Even my slim friends all have some fit issues. Trying to draft, as a beginner, using your own measurements can result in a deformed pattern (think picasso here ) so unless you have a class with an experienced teacher to go to - I'd say stick with where you are and trying to fit with a sloper.

The main ingredient you require here is - patience. Boring, I know, but you will get there in the end. Hope that helps!

I wish you luck in your endeavours!

Cheers,
AJ

lynda828

lynda828
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AUSTRALIA
Member since 4/1/08
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Date: 4/26/08 9:38 AM

I can totally relate I have spent 2 days trying to get a Kaliah ali pattern that comes with size C and D bust alterations already done to fit and I thought great no more fitting just sew out of the envelope. Boy was I dreaming. I like you made the high round back adjustment didn't work - back neck up to high I had made back width adjustment from shoulder to hem this i think has helped and sloped shoulder adjustment- ended up cutting as per Nancy Zieman a size 14 top and letting out to size 18/20 at side seams she maintains that you measure from armhole crease at top from left to right and pick your pattern number by this measurement she does have a chart ie 14 inches = size 14, 15 inches size 16 etc. Sorry wish I could put in a link for you but haven't worked that one out yet. I have always made a size 18 up top and have had problems in the shoulder area things look too big. Well this afternoon I think I've got it and to top it off I used the C cup instead of the D cup which is my bra size. Oh and I also dropped the bust point (a first for that one- nerve racking). So now I say a little prayer - no a big one and hope that with all the slashes cuts adjustment I can cut real fabric and it fits together again and FITS. I know how frustrating it can be but keep at it - I never in a million year thought I'd cut a 14 at shoulders but so far seems to be working maybe it might help you.

The scary thought is as my daughter pointed out 'mum you'll have to do this for EVERY shirt you sew' Lucky I'm stubborn!!

Karla Kizer
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Date: 4/26/08 9:42 AM

Quote:
The main ingredient you require here is - patience. Boring, I know, but you will get there in the end.


And keep reminding yourself that it's no more boring and frustrating than shopping for RTW, and paying for something when its only redeeming characteristic is that you can fasten it around you.

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



Debbie Cook
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Debbie Cook
USA
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Posts: 9727
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Date: 4/26/08 9:49 AM

Quote:
I could post pictures if it would help... although it would take me a while to get the pics together.


Yes, that would help tremendously.

------
--
"I base my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." — Gilda Radner
http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com

Fabienne301
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Fabienne301
Intermediate
Ohio USA
Member since 2/17/07
Posts: 545
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Date: 4/26/08 9:51 AM

Please let me ask a whopping great question: if someone is having multiple fitting problems/ajustments/ challenges...would it just be easier and cheaper in the long run to buy Wild Ginger and start making your own patterns? Yes, the initial investment is big, but thinking of all the books, patterns, time, and wadders hard-to-fit sewers face...I am suspecting that do-it-yourself is actually better. What do you think?

------
Let's...BUILD A HUT! (or a yert).
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Sherril Miller
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Sherril Miller  Friend of PR
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In reply to Karla Kizer


Date: 4/26/08 10:02 AM

Quote: Karla Kizer
shopping for RTW, and paying for something when its only redeeming characteristic is that you can fasten it around you.

Isn't that the truth Karla?

I sure wish I could see you in the pattern to help you better with the issues you are having. I agree that you need to sew it up in muslin to really see what is happening. Even though you are using pattern ease, it's not very cooperative, as I'm sure you are finding out. It has no drape or give, the way real fabric does. I can't pin pattern pieces to try on either. Check out my BLOGto see how I use muslins to help fit my last top. It is OK to make several muslins. I used to think it was wasted sewing, but that can't be farther from the truth. You need to sew the muslin together instead of using safety pins. Then you can either pin away or cut open and add fabric where you need it. It is a trial and error process, but so worth the effort in the end. Also, since you are a beginner, be kind to yourself. Things are going to look like a beginner made them at first. How can they not? But eventually, you'll get better and things will come out better. Don't quit now while you are frustrated because we were all beginners at one time. Your garments are going to be fantastic some day soon.

------
Visit my blog at http://sewingsaga.blogspot.com

If it's worth sewing, it's worth sewing well;
and if it's worth sewing well, it's worth FITTING FIRST! - TSL

Debbie Cook
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Debbie Cook
USA
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In reply to Fabienne301


Date: 4/26/08 10:04 AM

It's kind of trading one thing for another. When you create your own patterns, you need to know a lot about what you want and how to get there. For instance, how much ease do you want in that jacket? How long/wide do you want the lapels? How much ease do you want at your pants knee? How much flare at the hem? How wide/low do you want your blouse neckline? How much height/ease in the sleevecap? Etc., etc., etc.

And then you have to know how to construct it all without instructions specific to your design. Lots of things in commercial patterns that you take for granted, things the designer has already decided for you.

WG works out of the "box" but only for the simplest of garments. Once you want to copy RTW or commercial pattern designs, you have to know something about drafting (and fitting too). And then you will have to learn how to do it in the Pattern Editor program, with its tools.

I'm not trying to discourage a purchase of WG programs because I love them, but fitting and drafting for a specific body (instead of a perfect generic model shape) go hand in hand and there's no quick shortcut. They both involve trial/error, time, muslins, and with WG ... lots of paper/ink.

------
--
"I base my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." — Gilda Radner
http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com

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