Taming the waist

In my previous post I talked about fit – the difference between correct and perfect fit and why most of us will not like the clothes fit to perfection.

I also showed you the bodice pattern I was working on – it fitted me perfectly and I hated it.

Let me tell you more about this bodice.

This is one of only a few boned bodices I’ve sewn in my entire life. It is also a muslin, and by sewing it I’ve learned a massive lot about my preferred fit, and look of this type of garments. I am almost happy with the way it turned out, the next one should be even better.

To develop this pattern I started with my personal block with 0 cm ease. I adjusted the front princess seam from my sad convex to a much better looking concave shape.

I do admit, this made me nervous: “Oh my god, it wont fit. It will cut in, my zip will split, I won’t be able to breathe, how can it possibly work?”

On a plus size, this adjustment alone took 2 cm off my waist measurement.

Then I sewed 16 bones into the bodice and had my first  fitting.

To my surprise, it was very comfortable, maybe a bit too comfortable. I even had to check several times if it was actually zipped.

I wanted more. I wanted that snug, hugging feeling only this kind of bodices can give you.
After a couple of adjustments I finally got it.

My perfect block has -1 cm ease at the bust and -4.4 cm at the waist.

It’s hard to believe that a garment that is 4 cm smaller than you need could be comfortable, but somehow it is. I don’t feel tortured, breathless or sausaged in – only “controlled”. I even started wondering if I could bring it in at the waist even more! If I take it in right here (diggs thumbs into her sides) it will look even more fab!

But this, of course, will be a completely different story. This story will be called “Lena sews a corset” and I imagine it will happen eventually. I have already done some research into modern corsetry, it took me places I’ve never been before.

To my surprise, corsetry and tight lacing are still alive and well, with quite huge demand (and an adequate supply) for all sorts of daily corrective wear for both women and men.

Have you heard of waist training? There are before and after pictures of people who significantly reduce their waists by wearing special corsets day and night. There is no way I’d do that, I treasure my comfort far too much, but after I saw what just 4 cm off my waist feels and looks like, I find the idea of corrective undergarments under special occasion clothes very attractive.

The websites for waist trainers advise to start slow – reduction of 3 to 5 inches for your first corset should do just fine.

Wait, what? 5 inches??

That’s 3 times more than my attempt I am so proud of! I will not be striving to achieve that, but this information gave me the range to work with.

And so, I call this experiment a success. A few pattern adjustments and some bones here and there do wonders for one’s self esteem, bringing our figures closer to that ideal image we all have in our heads. I’ll do more of it.

A little more perfect.

I bring up the topic of fit once in awhile, as it is one of my favourites.

We all say we love clothes that fit, but what do we mean by that? Do you like clothes following every curve of your body? I think not, and let me explain.

The reason I started thinking about it again was the trip to bridal salons a week ago. My friend is getting married and I volunteered to tag along and have a good look and feel of the wedding dresses.

My friend is not a standard size, just like most of us, but the dresses were. It was even more interesting to see her try those dresses because I’ve sewn for her before and I made her a custom block. Theoretically, none of those dresses would be even close to perfect fit for her body.
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Aldrich pants – the final

I have finally fitted the Aldrich pants. A few more things had to be done to achieve the fit I was after. At my last fitting I was still unhappy with the large diagonal fold at the back. I have referred to my ease reference tables ( I love them to bits, so many times they have saved me ) and discovered that there was too much ease at the thigh level. In fact, 4cm too much. The back crotch extension was just too long ( also called “fork” in tailoring ).

The diagonal fold pinned

Then I adjusted the back inseams by making a horizontal tuck taking in 0.5cm at inseam and tapering to nothing at the side seam. This removed the horizontal folds at the knee level at the back.

Inseam adjustment



And here it is, the final pattern. The trousers toile fits well, ready to be used as a base

The final pattern

Aldrich pants: Second fitting

I have made the alterations to the original pattern and came up with this pair of pants. The 2 cm fold has certainly solved a few fit problems such as bulging front and excess at the back. The trousers also fit closer to body and feel  “secure”. Please disregard the terrible lump on my right hip – there is a fat seam there and it is sticking out like a sore thumb. Look away!

Ok the waist is comfortable now and the strain is gone


The butt ears have been removed



And here is the back view. The back seam really is comfortable and not cutting in ( it looks like it does though ). I still have a slight problem with the fit though. Those diagonal wrinkles bother me, and there seems to be too much fabric at the back. I think it might have something to do with the back inseam being too long for my type of figure. I might pin that wrinkle and see if I like the result.

Fitting Aldrich pants

Fitting pants is a difficult job, especially if every fitting flaw shouts at you. I can’t help it, I always assess how clothes fit everywhere I see it – in shop windows, on models, on unsuspecting people on the street… It is a practice in a way – I see the flaw and imagine where it is on the pattern and how I would rectify it.  And when it comes to making a pair of pants for myself or my client I have to set myself limit on the number fittings and tweaks or it might never end.

For a long time “Metric pattern cutting” by Aldrich was my go-to book. The drafts are pretty simple, using standard measurements and all is very clearly explained.

Metric pattern cutting book cover

I have tried almost every pattern draft in this book and some of them are more successful than others. I find skirts and bodices fitting very well and pattern draft for stretch materials is excellent. On the sleeve pattern draft page I have a bright red “Do not use” sticker, I really don’t like that sleeve. and trousers, surprisingly, I have not tried until now.

So I have decided to draft a standard size 14 trousers by Aldrich ( the closest to my measurements ) without any alterations and see how they fit and what I would change to make them perfect.

So, are you ready? Here is my toile Fitting #1

Fitting #1 Front
Critique is welcome, please tell me if you see any problem areas, where they are  and what do you think should be done to rectify them.