Before I start with the post, I wanted to tell you that in this updated draft-along there will be only one post about drafting as such. Most of the posts will cover measurements and their effect on the fit. I am doing it because I believe that it is possible to eliminate most of the fitting problems before they even arise. I want to explain the relation between measurements, simple drafting concepts and the fit, so you can apply them in your projects.
Many home sewers, including me, consider fitting as the most challenging part of the sewing adventure. Understanding the logic of each drafting step is key to understanding fitting as well. Critical thinking is not particularly addressed in pattern-drafting education. I want to change it.
To achieve this I divided the measurement steps into several posts, and for today's draft-along post I will focus on one essential measurement, hip circumference. Why? Because we create first fitting problems by relying on measuring instructions designed for ready-to-wear. However, they don't measure for our bodies, right? Take the classic 'Patternmaking for Fashion Design', for example: "Measure widest area with tape parallel with floor," it says.
Now, let's look at Liz and Kate.
Why does it all matter? Let's imagine a straight skirt as a cylinder, before it is shaped at the waist. And, let's agree that we are not working with stretch fabrics. To fit correctly, the cylinder has to fall straight from all protruding parts of the lower body.
I highlighted them in red on pictures. If we make the cylinder as wide as Liz's or Kate's true circumference around buttocks, we won't be able to fit their tummies correctly.
Since for both of them tummy (or mid-hip) circumference is less than hip circumference, the cylinder is wide enough to accommodate tummy area. However, the problem is that the tummy is protruding in the front, while the buttocks are protruding in the back. For this reason, following any known physical laws, the cylinder must distort. Below, you see what happens to the side seam. And the purple lines indicate possible drag lines that are usually visible when there is a fit issue I described.
The idea is that fabric will always be pulled toward protruding parts on your body if there is not enough width. Side seam serves as a great indicator of a fit issue, if hip circumference is too small: the seam will be pulled toward the front at the top, and toward the back in the middle. Because of the overall distortion, the hem won't hang parallel to the floor as well.
Now, you may ask, a standard dress form also has a slightly protruding tummy. How do the standard pattern-drafting methods go around it? The answer is simple: ease. They add ease to hip circumference, which compensates for this little extra volume in the front of a 'standard' body. If your shape is different, forget the ease altogether, you need to figure out how to measure your hips/buttocks taking into account your tummy and, possibly, hips and thighs.
Yes, hips. To make the matter even more complicated, let's talk about your hips. Look at your body and observe whether the widest hip portion is on the same level as the most protruding part of your buttocks. Mine are on different levels. Hips are getting wider lower than my buttocks, Liz has a similar issue. It does affect the fit as well, but can be addressed by proper shaping of the side seam, and measuring hip circumference using a custom made hip measuring band.
CREATING A CUSTOM HIP MEASURING 'BAND'
Prepare a strip of poster paper long enough to allow you to wrap it around your hips (take appr. 1,5 of your hip circumference), and wide enough to go from your waist to 10cm (4") lower than your hip line (not buttocks).
Now, from one end of your strip measure the value of your true hip circumference, and make a vertical line. From there on, add up to thirty (30) parallel lines every centimetre, and mark the values.
Your band is ready.
MEASURING HIPS WITH THE BAND
Now, grab two paper clips and wrap the 'band' around your hips in front of a mirror. Secure the top and the lower edges with paper clips as soon as the cylinder feels snug and falls straight, perpendicular to the floor. The open vertical edge of the cylinder should be aligned with one of the parallel lines that you drew on the band. Unfortunately, I don't have an image of me measuring, as I wasn't able to control the cylinder in the mirror and take pictures of myself at the same time. Hope it helps to show it just like this for now.
Adjustments: Now, you need to observe yourself in the mirror, the cylinder edges should be perfectly perpendicular to the floor, both from the side view, as well as from the front, like the shaded area on the picture below. Adjust the clips if necessary and only then note the value you got on the paper.
That's it, readers. The value that you noted will be the width of our skirt, with all the necessary ease already included! Please do ask questions...
For the next post, I would like to ask you to take picture of yourself in leggings/tights and figure hugging t-shirt. You need to take image from all four sides, left, right, front and back. Place the camera approximately at the waist level. Watch the posture, do not tilt forward or backward if it is not your natural posture - camera makes us take very unexpected poses, so be aware of it. Trace the outline of your body from one side, front, and back to a letter-, or A4 size paper and make a few copies of it. In the next post we will start discussing shaping.