With our April/May issue of Sew News, we celebrate the start of a new mini-series on finding the perfect fit for your body, with fit expert and Fit for Art Patterns (fitforartpatterns.com) Creative Director Rae Cumbie as your guide. The series will explore fit garment type by garment type, starting with skirts. From classic skirt shapes and silhouettes to waist treatments and length to picking the right shape for your body type, the first installment of the series discusses all things skirt-related. Read on to learn more about Rae’s perspective on fit, current skirt trends and skirt selection tips. For the full article, grab the Sew News April/May issue.
Why is it important for people to understand fit principles when selecting patterns? We all want successful sewing experiences, especially if you are making clothing for yourself or others. Understanding your personal fit preferences and the basic elements of fit will lead to good choices in your preparation for sewing which includes picking a pattern. Understanding how to read and understand the size charts for different pattern companies, the info on the flat pattern itself with regards to finished garment measurements and the flat drawings on the back of a pattern allow you to be informed as you choose a pattern and then adjust the pattern as needed to fit your body and style.
There are a lot of factors at play, but what’s the most important consideration when picking the right skirt pattern for your body? When it comes to skirts, the hip to waist ratio is most important, and buying a pattern that accommodates the size indicated for your largest measurement is a good choice. It is easier to adjust a skirt pattern down to accommodate the smaller measurement, rather than up to accommodate the larger measurement.
What’s the most important alteration to know when making skirts to fit your body? This is dependent upon your body shape and where you need to adjust for your own proportions. Once you learn to adjust for your own curves, you can make those adjustments on other patterns in the future. A multi-sized pattern gives you the luxury to adjust the skirt in the waist, hips, thighs and length if necessary. A solid understanding of necessary adjustments and the confidence to make those adjustments will carry you through many years of sewing as your body shifts and ages.
What skirt trends are you seeing for spring and summer? Your question prompted me to start a Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/raecumbie/skirt-trends/ with skirt trends I have observed. Often the trends are more related to fabrications and details rather than skirt styles. For instance, short a-line skirts have been in style for many seasons, but this year, they have scalloped hemlines or button-up fronts. Tribal prints and florals seem to be very popular for fabrication. Volume seems trendy with full pleated skirts, or gathered lace and tulle skirts. There are longer lengths, but lots of slits as well.
What’s the most complicated garment/pattern type in terms of fit? Garments that involve fitting several areas of the body are most complicated. In a way, that means dresses are quite challenging because they incorporate fitting in the shoulder, back, bust, waist and hips. Pants are complicated too, because they require you to fit both the body’s width and the body’s depth.
Another way to think about it is that very fitted garments are harder to fit than relaxed-fit garments. When we wore pleated trousers as pants, they were easier to fit than the skinny pants that are in style today. In the same way, a very tailored sheath dress is harder to fit than a trapeze style dress. Learning to fit garments with a relaxed silhouette first, can lead to better results as you move to more complicated garments with a snugger fit.
What pattern selection and/or fit issues do you see most commonly? I am always struck by sewers who want to make every garment from a new pattern. Each pattern company has a different fitting formula and each pattern a different design. That means you are often starting from scratch with each new project. In some ways, if we could figure out what types of garments work best on our bodies and our activities of daily living and match a few basic patterns to those features, it makes getting a great fitting wardrobe easier. Then you can add details or fabrication to your basic patterns to freshen up the look with current trends.