Whenever I teach a sewing class at Brooklyn General Store I always make my students take their measurements and the reaction is always a series of groans followed by the words, “I don’t have to say them out loud, right?” But when I ask the same people why they want to learn how to sew the answer is almost always because they want to make clothes that fit them.
It’s a sad fact that we have such an aversion to our own shapes. When I was a senior in high school I lost 30 pounds (almost exclusively from above my hips, darn it!) About the same time I bought my first vintage dress – a purple cotton lawn with translucent purple buttons up the front. It came in at the waist and had a full skirt. It was my first glimpse of what having something the right fit and shape can do for a girl and I was hooked. Today my closet is full of dresses that fit similarly – both vintage and handmade.
After I graduated from college I worked for the designer Mary Adams. Here I saw women of all shapes and sizes come to the store and walk out with the most beautiful wedding dresses that fit them perfectly. It was a lesson in taking the time to make something right that I will never forget. Each dress began with a fitting and was followed by a series of muslins before the final dress was even cut. Making something fit is not usually something you can do on your first try (in fact, the bicycle dress above had to be taken apart at one point because I needed to take the waist in and up) but the first step is always to know your shape.
My measurements haven’t changed much in the years since high school. Since I will probably always have an extra large backside I make things that highlight the things I like about myself like my waist and flatter things, like my bum and thighs that I’m not so crazy about. I’ve even grown to accept (and, gasp, even like) my knobby knees.
I always use my measurements as the example in my classes, I consider it a sign of trust.
So here we go – 32-27-42. A perfect pear.