Last year for my birthday I received a dressform from my fantastic in-laws. I was really excited because you can adjust the measurements to be your measurements. It didn't take me long to realize that not everybody's bodies with the exact same measurement has the "shape" dispersed the same way. That makes a huge difference in the way something fits. I began to look at all the tutorials for how to draft a sloper--a basic shell of a "top and bottom" that has no style but rather fits you perfectly and serves as a jumping off point for fancy pattern pieces--to cover my dressform with in order to stuff it to look like me. It is super helpful that my dress form has the adjustment dials, it makes for a lot less stuffing effort! I spent a lot of hours learning how to do the drafting method of it all. I finished the project... But it wasn't right. My brain HURT just thinking about it. I put it away, considering it finished... But unusable. Sigh.
And like all things that I dabble in, it began to percolate in the back of my mind as it sat in the closet.
Someone suggested I watch "Project Runway" since I "like making patterns." I found it on hulu just for fun. One day, I was watching them tape their dress forms as they made the muslins for these cool garments. It was a duh moment. I was going to need some dark tape and a friend. That was in January.
Two weeks ago my very new friend came over to help. I consider it a crash course in being friends with me. I am weird and focused and sometimes will do anything it takes to accomplish a goal... even if it is to have a relatively new person come tape my boobs and help me mark my apex (aka nipple). That's just the way I roll. I only had her help me with the top. Ryan helped me last night with the bottom part. Taping my crotch line seemed to be a bit much for a new friend. See? I can recognize boundaries.
I would recommend this method to anyone attempting to do a similar project. I slaved over those measurements while drafting for HOURS. It took about 15 minutes to tape lines on my body to look like this:
From this book:
It took about a half hour for each pattern piece. We did only half my body since the pieces would be laid on a center fold and doubled. The (natural) waist divided it vertically into two pieces. This gave a front-top, front-bottom, back-top, back-bottom. It was amazing.
We lined up the grain, smoothed it over my biggest parts, and folded in the appropriate darts, marked it all... And took it off to cut it.
It beats, hands down, the drafting method because my brain just doesn't work that way.
I finished the pieces last night, had a first fitting and will have to change a couple pieces. I knew the grain lines would need to be straight, but did the front-top before realizing that the centerfold would need to be the first line I smoothed. As it stands right now, it is kind of a weird, loose, baggy, "draped" front. It didn't take long during the fitting to smooth that back out and realize I need to draw the shoulders differently.
It fits perfectly. It is comfortable, unlike the last attempt which was so very, very tight. It is a good sign that we did it right. I am ITCHING to finish so I can start making clothes I love and stop dropping money on cheap clothes that don't fit all that well and only last for a season. One step at a time.
I will post a final picture when the shoulder line is finished.
My brain has expanded in so many ways on this project. I have stopped listening to the "letter of the instruction" voice and started listening to the "spirit of the instruction" voice. See Julie, Don't Let Them Tame You strikes again.
Side note: I was listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR the other day and he was interviewing a guest about her new book, Overdressed. It made me happy to have already started down this journey of learning to make my own clothes. http://www.npr.org/2013/05/02/180557959/ethical-fashion-is-the-tragedy-in-bangladesh-a-final-straw