Tango is dangerous for your sewing . . .

Dancing has many benefits. One of those is getting into shape. But no one told me about the disadvantages. I’ve just discovered that in the past three weeks (thanks to 15+ hours of tango a week), my body has changed enough that my three new Simplicity 1500 skirts no longer fit me.

My measurements are exactly the same. But the skirts now sit an inch or two lower on my body, and instead of looking cute, they look dumpy.

Such a small difference, such a short period of time. And yet, I don’t have any idea how to fix this and salvage the three skirts I’ve made from that pattern, so happy that I finally would have something that fits.

Lightbulb Moment With Lekala


Lekala 5088

In my quest to sew things that actually fit well, I decided to try out one of Lekala’s free patterns, 5088. It’s a three-seam straight skirt with a waistband. Lekala’s system drafts a pattern for you based on the measurements that you input, so ideally the pattern will fit you perfectly. I ordered through the Russian site, using a string order, which gives you more options in terms of saying what adjustments should be made to the pattern to get a better fit. 

However, I’ve never really had a grasp on what my proportions are compared to the average block. I’ve gathered in ballroom dancing that I have quite long arms, and I’ve gathered through sewing that I have narrow shoulders. The others measurements, however, baffled me. Do I have I long neck? No clue. 

I left the majority of the adjustments on “average” and printed my custom pattern. Since I was already cutting out Simplicity 1500, which I’m sewing up several times over, I decided I might as well squeeze a pencil skirt out of the remaining fabric. If it didn’t work out, it was no big loss–because that leftover denim was just going to be wasted otherwise. 

The Lekala skirt sewed up quickly (though adjusting to a 3/8″ seam allowance was tough!), but when I tried it on (sans waistband) I found the fit was rather loose. Considering how little ease Lekala is supposed to have, I was surprised. I tried the skirt on several more times over the course of the day, and again this morning. Finally, I realized that it seemed like the pattern was expecting the widest part of my hips to be higher than they are. The looseness is, I think, because the widest part of the skirt is a couple inches above the widest part of me!

It occurred to me that, perhaps, I needed to ask for an adjustment for being short waisted. I did some googling, and found a couple methods for determining if you have a short, long, or balanced waistline. Lo and behold, I am indeed short-waisted.

I will adjust this skirt to adjust for the actual location of my hips, and as it uses so little fabric and is one of the free patterns, order another one and test whether my adjustment fixes the issue. If I can figure out my body proportions and get Lekala to draft a pattern to fit me, it would make my sewing life so much easier.

10 Essential Patterns

On PatternReview, I posted a thread asking other sewists what ten patterns (plus five bonus patterns if they were very, very good!) they would pick if that was all they could have to build a basic wardrobe. I excepted underwear and accessories from consideration. It has been interesting to see what items (and what specific patterns) various people have picked.

When I sat down to make my own list, I found the first ten items to be fairly easy to come up with. First, I came up with basic rules:

– Fitted at the waist/torso.

– Yokes and waistbands required.

– Tops should have interesting necklines to draw the eye up and give my body balance.

Then, I went looking for clothing types. I think I could dress to my satisfaction every day and in almost every circumstance with the following ten items:

1. Jeans (bootcut/flare)

2. A simple knit top that could work as either a t-shirt or shell, if sleeveless.

3. Bootcut/flared pants.

4. A woven top with waist definition (“peasant” style).

5. A buttondown.

6. A pencil skirt.

7. A gored or circle skirt (basically, a skirt with some flare).

8. A three button jacket, possibly with a peplum.

9. A sheath dress/fit-n-flare dress (ideally, this would be a fitted bodice with two options for the skirt).

10. A tailored coat.

It all falls apart, though, when I have to decide on five bonus patterns. There are too many options that would add zing and variety to my wardrobe, and I can’t decide what is most important. This is the best I can come up with:

11. Nightgown/cami/slip pattern.

12. Knit top with an interesting neckline.

13. Yoga pants for lounging.

14. A knit cardigan/sweater.

15. A woven shell/top.

Then, I went looking for patterns, and the project became even more unmanageable. My initial reason for posting the thread was that I was thinking about how to create a basic, well-fitted wardrobe. I keep thinking of Lekala’s tempting, interesting patterns, which are drafted to match your custom measurements.

Lekala offers an option to purchase their patterns in bundles, including bundles of 10 and 15. If I could have ten to fifteen custom patterns–patterns that I had a good chance of getting to fit quickly–could I dress myself for all occasions? I wondered.

It’s more difficult than I expected. In following posts, I will share my selected “wardrobes,” both all-Lekala options and mixed.