In a perfect sewing-world, all sewing patterns are sized to perfectly fit a variety of body-types right out of the pattern envelope; sewing short-cuts really produce classy end results undetected by any clothier; fabrics selected are always a breeze to work with, and no sewn seam ever would see a seam-ripper for correction. Sigh, such a sewing-world is not to be believed, however we can come closer to our own particular need for comfortable fitting clothing by striving for one of the identifying hallmarks of great sewing – a fabulous fit.
Unless your fabric is not-to-be-believed expensive, exotic, hand-crafted unique, or heirloom quality, it is not always necessary to first sew a muslin copy to ensure the best fit. When buying and selling a home, the realtors’ simple but guiding mantra is location, location, and location. In sewing it should be measure, measure, and measure once again.
Some things to remember when trying for the best fit when using commercial patterns:
- Take body measurements as accurately as possible. Enlist the help of a friend or relative if necessary if you are measuring yourself for the hard-to-get-at neckline to back waist measurement and across the widest part of the back.
- Commercially printed sewing patterns are affordable when purchased on sale, with so many choices offered by various pattern companies. However, always use body measurements, not your ready-made, off-the-rack clothes size when selecting patterns. The pattern industry standard sizes have not changed in decades – patterns for women are still designed for the perfectly proportioned, 5’5” to 5’6” without shoes height, B-cup bra size, and are not at all close to contemporary ready-to-wear clothing sizes.
- Many pattern companies do offer a chance for adjustments with multiple sizes printed on the tissue pattern. It can be somewhat confusing to navigate these multiple size lines. If it is necessary to preserve the original pattern for future personal use, carefully folding a pattern piece along the lines desired may help to create the pattern modification desired. Otherwise, cutting the pattern along the desired lines for the modified size is somewhat more accurate to achieve the desired pattern alteration.
- For sport clothing, Lycra-blended fabrics are surprisingly easy to sew with a little adjustment to sewing techniques. Try not to stretch the knit fabric as it moves under the sewing machine's presser foot. If your particular sewing machine has a few stretch stitches, try out a few on knit scraps to ascertain which ones show the best results. Use machine needles designed for knits as these machine needle types do not pierce the knit fabric thread loops but rather pass through them by use of a slightly rounded ball point on the tip. Patterns originally designed for stretchy fabrics work much better than trying to adapt a pattern initially designed for woven fabrics.
- Children’s clothing patterns seem distant from the vagaries of fashionista whims. Children’s’ patterns are nearly timeless; it is today’s fabrics that provide the contemporary update. Fitting children’s clothing takes a backseat to planning for comfort, plenty of ease of movement, and durability of seams and closures.
Some of the offered sewing-thoughts may seem obvious. At times, a common-sense approach works wonders and gives the best results.
Sew happy, sew inspired.