Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stripes & Wales Trouser/Top Sketch + Measuring Misery

Stripes + Wales trouser outfit sketch

The lazy girl in me would totally wear this outfit every day if she could get away with it.

So I didn't even get to the muslin stage with my reckless wide-legged trousers last night. After little Z went to bed, I drew the above sketch, and broke out the Easy Guide to Sewing Pants, my Vogue trouser pattern and about a gazillion measuring tapes (including that fancy Myo-whatever one I read about on the Coletterie recently), rules and flexible curves.

Pants-measuring fun

The Easy Guide recommends getting a helper and doing a gazillion trillion measurements--waist, high hip, hip, crotch depth, crotch length, thigh, waist to knee, waist to floor (but not inseam? why, I wonder?) on yourself, and tying yourself up in so many pieces of elastic and masking tape you start to feel like a mummy. (My husband assisted with this process and found it highly amusing.)

Some of the measurements felt pretty careful and right on, but others relied on trying to use masking tape and elastic to visually guesstimate this that and the other, then sit on a table and hold the tape and do something or other.

By the end of it all I had some pretty reliable measurements (hip, high hip, waist), some questionable measurements (everything else), which I then tried to carefully compare to my pattern measurements. But since my pants pattern is a below-the-waist deal with a contour waistband, and the Easy Guide assumes you are making at-the-waist pants... my head started to hurt and I went to bed.

Busts and bellies I understand--I can do a full bust or belly adjustment like nobody's business. But crotch curves just confuse me. At least for now. I think I just need to muslin in a size 14 with lots of extra seam allowance and play around.

And a word on body image and taking measurements...

I'll also admit to finding the process of measuring myself for the first time after giving birth 18 months ago somewhat painful in other ways. I try really hard to cultivate a "I love my awesome body" attitude, and I know nothing feels more awesome than putting well-fitting comfortable clothes on your awesome body, whatever its awesome shape and awesome size. (Sometimes I accompany this inner mantra by reviewing photos of the lovely Christina Hendricks). And for that you need accurate numbers. Still, those numbers can hurt, which is why I only step on the scale at the doctor's office.

I actually found a comment I had left on Gertie's blog when I was still pregnant about how freeing it felt to not care about my waist size anymore, in which I noted that my pre-pregnant measurements were:

  • bust: 38"
  • high bust 33"
  • waist: 28"
  • hip: 38"

So I generally sewed a 12 or 14 in patterns and did a big FBA, depending on the style.

But now my new totally accurate no-sucking-it-in post-preggo measurements say:

  • bust: 38.5" (still nursing, by the way, so this may change)
  • high bust 34.5-35" (can't quite tell here for some reason)
  • waist: 29"
  • hip: 38.5"

Which I guess puts me at a 14 in most dresses and tops or maybe sometimes 16 or something in bottoms, depending? I'll have to try and see what works. Whatever, I'm totally cool and fine and it's really silly to look back at notes from my college sewing days and feel wistful (a 26" waist!? WHO CARES.)

P.S. I realize that to properly channel my 40s Sears-Catalog inspiration for my planned outfit, I need to tuck the top in. But I don't really like to do that, so whatever.

P.P.S. I made (a heavily modified version of) that Burda top already when I was pregnant, but not in stripes, so I can try that on to see what needs to be adjusted...

Burda 02-2010-122 Knit Top: Purple Short-Sleeved Version

P.P.P.S. My husband reminds me that I have a ready-to-wear top a lot like the Burda one I want to make (shown below)... so maybe it WON'T be the next thing I sew after my trousers.

BurdaStyle "Melissa" High-Waisted Knit Skirt

Anyway... boo to feeling bad about measurements. Numbers, schmumbers. Let's get sewing. Muslin tonight, hopefully.


  1. Nice top! I wouldn't worry about your measurements as long as you feel good about yourself. Besides, your measurements don't seem that far off.

  2. I love your inspiration sketch. Totally adorable. I feel your pants fitting/measurement pain. After baby #2, I bounced right back and was actually smaller than pre-pregnancy, but a year after baby #3 and I'm still sewing a size bigger. Sigh. I would fully support just sewing a muslin and playing around. With the crotch I've found that the shape can be critical - far more important than the numbers. Good luck!!

  3. M: Haven't even read this yet but I totally want to know how you do your sketches. I know you are an artist - so of course you have ability - but what program do you use? Do you use your croquis? I want to be able to dress my (in process - and not half as fun) croquis in fun things without it looking like a paper doll. Any info you have would be so appreciated. K

  4. OK, having read the post, let me say that it took me 5 years to lose my post baby weight - of course, eating bags of cookies from stress and never sleeping didn't help. Point is, even if it takes a while to get back to former measurements (if it's in the cards, sometimes our measurements return but our shape is slightly different - not worse, just different), you will prevail. Being a working mother of a toddler is a special kind of torture, IMO. Just think of how much more you must do now that you've had a kid than you ever did before. (I hazard to guess that every mother does far more once she has kids than she did before, even if she was a pre-parent hyper-achiever. It's the nature of the beast.) It will all come back to centre with time. And I think you look great now!

  5. Accurate measurements help you make terrific fitting garments. What's not to love? :)

  6. Yay, I've missed your sketches! You look great, and numbers are just a starting point. Nobody walks around with little numbers stuck in cartoon bubbles above their heads and only a Rain Man would venture to guess. Good for you for keeping on with nursing too! So good for the little people!

    I'd go for starting from a pattern and tweaking the muslin of said pattern instead of messing with too many measurements. Pants slip and slide around, so I find it tough to really get a good idea of how wide things need to be at certain points. By the time I've altered via measurments I've distorted a lot more things that would have easily been modified on a muslin.

  7. I think the most challenging thing about moving through the stages of our lives (and thus our bodies) is that our bodies are going to change.

    It does seem as if there is more pressure for women to maintain that youthful body of say oh 12 or 14 without the same accompanying pressure on men but since we are the more highly evolved of our species and since we give birth (and our bodies go through the birthing process and nurturing afterwards). There should be some acknowledgement of our superiority!

    Do you like where I'm going here! *LOL* Seriously though it does take time to lose the baby weight and in some women those inches never go away because of what our bodies go through to have babies. However, those changes in your body is the badge of honor (at least in my book) for getting the opportunity to mother the beautiful little miss Z.

    With a little trial and error you will be able to get some pants to fit!

    p.s. I hope you didn't mind me adding my two very large cents to the conversation!

  8. you all are awesome. Carolyn, you are so right--it's a badge of honor! My mom always says I should be proud of the stretch marks, because they were for the little Z.

    Elizabeth, if these pants give me trouble (I did cut the muslin out last night) I am going to try and get a Today's Fit pattern on Ebay...

    K, I'm going to try and give some notes on the digital croquis process (a little video tutorial) BUT I'm unsure how helpful it'll be for the average computer user who doesn't have PhotoShop and Manga Studio and a Wacom tablet...

  9. M: As luck would have it, I have a Wacom tablet that my husband bought for his own creative purposes. I don't have photoshop but I am using Inkscape (badly). I'm going to check out Manga Studio. I so hope it's open source...

  10. I am totally with Carolyn on the "badge of honor"! What a great term!

    I love the outfit and your croquis. Looking forward to your how-to post on these!

  11. Christina Hendricks measures in at 39DD/30/39, so you have almost the same awesome curves!

    Have you bought new under-things since Z? A lot of people change shape/size post-baby... And they say Christina wears the best lady under-things to help the curves be right where they need to be.


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