Slow problem solving

I make most of my clothing. I haven't used a commercial pattern in years. What I usually do, is a combination of using finished garments as a starting point, and drafting from my measurements. I like this method a whole lot because it allows me to make garments quickly. I can usually get from idea to finished garment in less than an hour.

If before I made a garment, I had to first go pattern shopping, and these days, that would mean on line, and then waiting for the pattern to be shipped before I then began cutting in to the fabric, that means a delay of several days to a couple of weeks before you could begin sewing.

The other real dirty secret of commercial patterns, is just like ready to wear clothing, each pattern manufacturer creates for a particular body shape. That ideal shape probably isn't yours. Most people who sew from patterns spend a huge amount of time adapting patterns to fit their particular shapes.

I like that when I fall in love with a fabric and bring it home I can start playing with it right away. I also like that in my universe of clothing making, my body is the ideal one. So much of the language of adapting patterns to fit is just plain negative, short waisted, long waisted, wide hips, protruding shoulders. It's hard not to feel crummy about your body when adapting patterns to fit your perfectly fine body when all of the language desribing the quirks of your body are just so negative.

So, I draft my own patterns for my body. Probably 80% of the time I end up with clothing that I'm really happy with. The disadvantage of my method is that sometimes I end up with garments that nearly work, but not quite. Just before the Obama inauguration I had a yen to make a 1970's style wrap dress. I had a length of heavy, navy blue knit jersey. I had made wrap tops in the past and I figured that I could extend the length into a dress.

When I had completed the dress it showed a crazy amount of skin at the bodice.  I filled in the way too wide neckline by adding a folded strip of patterned mesh fabric. My dress was now wearable for every day wear and not just for turning tricks on 10th Avenue.  I guesstimated how long to make the wrap ties to keep the dress closed. In order to play it safe, I over-estimated by a whole lot. To wear the dress I had to wrap those ties around my waist several times. The dress was wearable but not all that terrific. There was too much wrapping going on. The top tended to get unwrapped as i went through my day.  It was the dress I would wear when everything else was in the laundry. I wore the dress, which is red white and blue, while I watched the Obama inaguration on TV.

I will often play with an idea with variations until I finally understand it. I had purchased a soft printed knit that was screaming to be made up into a Von Furstenberg styled wrap dress. I sewed up the basic shape and was suddenly stumped about how to make the wrap work. I avoided finishing the dress for about two months. Finally, in frustration I just sewed the dress together where I wanted the overlaps to be. It looked like a wrap dress but didn't unwrap. My desperate solution was surprisingly elegant. The dress just looked good on me and I didn't have to deal with the dress unwrapping during the day.

I decided to use that solution on my not quite right wrap dress. I cut off the ties and simply sewed the dress into position. Sewing the front panels of the dress into place changed the fit of the dress drastically for the better. So now, the dress isn't my solution for what to wear when everything else is dirty but something to wear even for say a dinner out.

I suppose that if I were working from a commercial pattern, then some of the kinks in the design would have been edited out. But then again, my sewing buddies complain all the time about patterns not being drafted properly and about having to redraft patterns so they fit their bodies. My solution took about a year, but I figure actual sewing time at about an hour.

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