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.

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Lightbulb Moment With Lekala

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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.

The Saga of Simplicity 8523 (Part II)

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!”

This is a little too much for a basic, boxy top. I think this nice lady is mocking me.

All the time I’ve been in Virginia, I’ve been looking forward to getting home to NYC and getting back to Muslin #2 of my Simplicty V-Neck (8523 – View F: Blogged about here and here). In the first post, I showed off my inner-draftswoman by tracing the pattern that I’d already cut (ill-considered on my part) on the smallest line, in order that I might add to the hips, lower the waist, then lift the hem below the new waistline without losing my beautiful, new, hip-accommodating hemline. All I had to do–so I thought–was to put in a nice sway-back adjustment to take care of the extra fabric pooling at my back, and I’d be smooth-sailing towards an (admittedly baggy for my tastes) first top.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so eager to return to this project. First, I’ll show you the fruits of my initial labor (dropping the waistline and then raising the hem after tapering from a size 8 at the waist to a size 12 at the hemline). It was promising:

Muslin #2: Front

Muslin #2: Side

Muslin #2: Back

Unfortunately, there was still an excess of fabric in the back (though much improved from the first version). I’ve tried pinning in a swayback adjustments several ways. At first, I took out larger pinches of fabric because the top is just so saggy. Then I read that swayback adjustments should be more than 1/4″ pinches, so I tried that:

1″ tuck taken 1″ above waistline.

1″ tuck taken 1.5″ above waistline.

1/4″ tuck 1 1/2″ above waistline.

Yes, pinning this fabric out smooths the back noticably–even when it’s just a 1/2″ pinned out. But when I try to put these adjustments onto the pattern piece, it distorts the grading I did to a achieve a larger hip size.The new hem actually becomes concave.

Concave. After all the work I put into making the hip wider.

At this point, I’m wondering whether this isn’t just a terrible, terrible pattern for me. Either that, or there is an undiagnosed fitting problem other thank my long waist and swayback that is making this muslin look so awful.

I’m tempted to call this whole project (and pattern) a wadder. The hard thing about being a beginner is not knowing what is a “user error” and what is just a misfire.

Any thoughts? Am I missing a simple fitting issue, or is this just a terrible pattern for me?