I should start with a caveat. I think the idea of ‘flattering’ is so steeped in society’s obsession with controlling what women wear, that writing about picking patterns that suit my body type feels like walking a very tricky line. That being said, we cannot deny that certain silhouettes will make us feel wonderful, will send us out into the world with a smile on our face, and others, will do quite the opposite. We all have items of clothing in our wardrobes that we try on and put back every three or four months, because no matter how often we give it a chance, it just doesn’t do what we thought it’d do for us.
So with all of that in mind here are the ways I think about picking patterns for my body type.
First, I go shopping
When I first started sewing, I completely denounced RTW. I refused to step foot in Zara and I didn’t. It meant that I lost touch with what I loved about fashion, I stayed in much safer territory, I sewed the patterns everyone else did. But eventually I realised it’s much easier to experiment when all it takes is slipping something over your head in a changing room. Rediscovering the ability to window shop and try things on has been a revelation. I don’t often buy anything, but now I can get more familiar with what types of items I enjoy wearing and the things that no matter how much I want them to, don’t suit me. I pin whatever I find to my Pinterest board and then I go on the hunt for the closest pattern, or work with a sewing tutor to draft my own. The picture above is the dress I tried on (very very expensive, I could never buy it) and the dress I made out of my Fabric Store cotton inspired by the shape of the skirt.
I do my research
I mentioned it in my last post, but when I find a pattern I like, I hunt Instagram for pictures of other people who have made the pattern before me. I try to find people who have a similar body type to mine and see if I like the way it works on them. Googling a pattern is another good way to start. Everyone has a personal preference for how things fit, so there’s no “I made this and I love it”, you have to make your own choice about whether it’s something you’ll make and wear, or make and end up gifting or giving up on.
I think about proportion
When we think about body type we often think about the shape of our body and miss the question of general proportions. Length, volume, those elements of a pattern are often the first thing that will count me in or out of a style. The thing to remember about proportion is that a lot of that can be fixed by editing the pattern to suit you. I made the jacket pictured above that I should have loved, I loved it on everyone else, but something about it wasn’t working at all. In the end, I realised it was the combination of the colour and the length and made some adjustments. It’s much better, but I’m still not sure it’s something I’ll say is perfect for me.
I try to lighten up
Not everything I make will be something I want to keep forever. I’m trying to lighten up about nailing everything first time. Part of that is double checking sometimes if it doesn’t suit or if it’s just a bad fit. I toile and toile and then sometimes I make something and it’s still not working. If I can gift it I do, otherwise I donate it and in the event of a truly awful turnout, I put it in my ‘large enough to do something with’ scrap bin and try to forget about it. The picture above I’m still not sure about—something in the fit, something in the foili-ness of the fabric…but I’m working on losing the idea that making something I don’t like is a waste and try to consider it a learning experience. I mean, how much have I spent on a takeaway that turned out to be less brilliant than hoped? How many hours have I spent watching a TV show that was ruined by a bad ending?
So there you go! A great comment from my last post inspired this piece, so let me know what you think about picking patterns for your body type below and you never know, maybe it’ll become the spark for the next one.