Saturday, May 14, 2011


I am something of a perfectionist.  And while it is certainly a character flaw that I am continually working against, it also makes for some odd learning patterns.  You see, I don't really like to practice things.  I like to learn about them, think about them, do everything I can except the actual task until I feel I can do it sufficiently well.  I didn't talk until I was three, but then spoke in complete sentences.  I don't think I said a word in my freshman French class because I wasn't quite sure how to pronounce things or how they fit together, but went on and did well in French through all four years of college.  Starting out as a piano major in college doesn't really fit that pattern, because all it is is practice, but then I didn't stay a performance major because of my dislike of practicing.  It has been an issue all of my life.

Consequently, when something I'm doing doesn't work out well the first time, well... let's just say it's difficult for me to handle it gracefully.  Take last night for instance.  I have several sewing projects which I started for myself, one of them being a dress I began three years ago.  It has sat that long because first I was pregnant with G. and L. and then was nursing for two summers.  Because I couldn't wear it, there was little motivation to work on it.  I pulled it out a couple of days ago and decided now was the time.  One reason I had put it aside was that I had nearly finished it, but discovered it wasn't fitting right, so ripped out a bunch of seams with the intention of trying to make it fit.  And there is sat.

And sat.  But I was feeling confident yesterday I could fix it.  I had just had quite a few sewing successes and had done a lot of reading about fit and alterations.  I just knew I could do it.  And I did fix the initial problem.  (For the curious, I am very short waisted, but did not take that into account when I cut the dress out.  The bust darts were somewhere down around the bottom of my rib cage when I put the dress on.)  But after all the work of resizing facings and such, I put the dress on again... and hated it.  I didn't like the way the fabric looked on me; the back was way too big; it was too tight across the top.  So I took it off and flung it aside decided it wasn't worth anymore effort since I would probably never choose to wear it.

I am now frustrated.  I can make children's clothing, but have had only a very few successes with making things for myself.  I measure myself, match it to the pattern measurements, begin to sew the dress and it inevitably is too big.  (And I'm even cheating with the measurements a bit and picking a size that I should barely fit.)  I had more success when I didn't measure, picked the size I thought I was and went blindly forth.  Is it possible to make oneself dresses without a dress form... you know, the model that you can put the dress on and then adjust the fit?  It must be because I'm pretty sure not a lot of people have these, yet make clothes for themselves.  I just wish I knew what I was doing wrong!  Because I'm not really a trial-and-error-let's-experiment-until-we-get-it-right kind of person and I'm feeling little motivation to try again at the moment.

So, help me out here.  Do you make clothes for yourself?  Are you successful?  Is there something special you do?  I'd rather be able to figure this out for myself and avoid taking a class (for time and money reasons), but I don't think I'm going to work on it today.  I think I'll do other things and stew about it for a bit longer.  Because that's a nice, pleasant thing to do on a dreary, cold, and wet May Saturday, huh?


Bev in PA said...

I took a pattern making class years ago. I can't remember the name anymore and the book is buried somewhere in an unpacked box in my basement. It was a one day seminar. My mom and I took it. She bought the pants master pattern and I bought the dress/shirt one.

It did work pretty well because you make a basic pattern using your measurements. Then you sewed a basic fitted shift. Once you had that down, you could make your own alterations to match what style you want. For example, you moved the darts from the side to the waist. Or incorporate the darts into a princess seam.

I found when I used it I spent more time drafting the patterns than actually sewing, but I was pleased with the results. The last time I think I used it was when I made a bridesmaid dress for my daughter to wear in my sister's wedding. It was so helpful because while my daughter was very slim, she was not proportioned at all like a bought pattern. I was able to alter the pattern to accomodate her bust size while keeping the rest of the dress fitting properly.

Anonymous said...

One trick I learned was to "fit the back" first - then the rest seems to take care of itself. But accounting for shortwaisted etc. is another issue.

Vintage Girl said...

Maybe try vintage half sizes. They were designed for short waisted gal.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Pin It