Sunday, April 27, 2014

Confessions of a Plus Sized, Older, Type A, Overachiever

Well, good day everyone. I'm trying to make some changes in my actions and my reactions to things, and to that end, I think a confession is in order.

I pulled a quote out of a book I'm currently reading that really struck a chord in me. It says "We must always explore the root cause of our actions--to cling to our ignorance is to return to the mud."

Yes, I'm one of those. From where I'm sitting, I can see several quotes that are pinned up to remind me of things...

#1 "If you want to achieve goals you never have before, you simply have to start doing things you've never done before."  Steven Covey

#2 "Endlessly strive for what you would like to do, but also learn to love what must be done."

3. My real bugaboo... "When you don't exercise, your muscles let out a steady trickle of chemicals that tell every cell to decay day after day after day."

4. "Positive"

5. "Imagine"

6. "Something wonderful is about to happen."

7. "Choice!"

All of those things surround my desk every single day. And due to a lot of things, I am a 67 year old, 90 pound overweight plus size woman who WANTS to have perfectly fitting, classically elegant clothing. To that end, most of you know, I've been making almost all of my clothing for the last 15 or so years. I have the pants to the point where I am quite comfortable with the fit. My Pamela's Perfect tee shirt is pretty close to what I want, although after Jo Ann's input I will be increasing the sleeve cap a bit. Woven blouses, and jackets, not so much.

If you've been following me, you know I started a "quick tailored jacket" back around the middle of  March. It was going along quite well until I put the sleeves in on March 25. At that time everything came to a screeching halt. It looked horrible and I couldn't figure out why. It was my TNT jacket pattern that I'd made a few times already. I knew the fit wasn't perfect, but I thought it was good as it could get on my current body. But now a new issue had arisen that I hadn't noticed before.

Well, I reached out to a wonderful friend for some advice. She gave me great information on that problem, and also pointed out multiple other items that needed to be changed in the jacket for the fit to be right.

Here's the list:
1.     Narrow shoulder width by ½ to ¾”
2.     Widen should depth by extending the back shoulder ½” and overlapping the front shoulder ¼” inch at neckline tapering to nothing at the sleeve cap. True neckline.
3.     FBA
4.     Rounded upper back adjustment
5.     Add ½” up from underarm seam in the armscye, true seams.
6.     Widen bicep.
7.     Increase sleeve cap depth by about 1 ½ to 2”.
8.     Make sure sleeve cap seam is about ½” longer on both the front and the back than the armscye seam.
9.     Sway back adjustment, additional 1”, being sure to add back in that 1” at hem line. True seams.
10.  Add 1” above bust at front seam tapering to zero at side seam.
11. Add 1” at waistline front seam tapering to zero at side seam.
12.   Reduce underarm seam if it is too loose.
13.  True up front and back seams, trimming side seams as necessary.

Since I had the jacket basically completed except for hems, buttons and buttonholes, there was no way to go back and do all of those adjustments. In my disillusionment, I thought if I fixed the sleeves I would be okay with the jacket.

Fast forward a month. I'm still procrastinating about the sleeves. I know I need to narrow the shoulder some more, but if I do so, the sleeve cap will once again be too short. Lots more procrastination. Yesterday I finally talk myself into putting the sleeves in and finishing it off. Sleeves in. Hems in. Final press of the sleeves.

Try on again. NOT GOOD. I am totally unhappy with this jacket and KNOW that I will never wear it. I decide in all good conscience to give it to Goodwill so someone who is tiny can make a lovely silk twill something with a beautiful silk charmeuse lining.

That jacket that put a screeching halt to my SWAP is (not quite but soon) no longer on my mind, or on my radar, and is in the box for Goodwill. I am moving on.

BUT... Jo Ann also gave me some great advice on fitting. I am now measuring everything. My front half, my back half, where my boobs sit on my chest wall, how far apart the bust point is from my center front, where my waist falls, and where my hips fall. Front width at the bust, waist, hip, and Back widths at the same spots. I now know that I need to measure the pattern everywhere before I start doing anything else. And write down the measurements so I don't forget what was what and where I was in my process when I got interrupted and stopped to do something else. And to use gingham for my muslins so I can be sure not only my vertical grainlines are straight, but also that my horizontal grainlines are straight.

I knew about the gingham from a long time ago when I was working with Don McCunn of How to Make Sewing Patterns fame, but got lazy and quit doing it when my body changed again for the umpty umpt time.

For now, I will be using some commercial patterns and making adjustments, doing a gingham muslin first, making the changes to the pattern, doing a second muslin to check that out ad infinitum until I get the fit right. I'm really tired of wasting my beautiful collection of fabrics by making things that don't fit. Woven gingham is the best choice for me to use and is certainly cost effective in the long run.

So right now, I am beginning again. My first task is to come up with a sleeveless woven blouse that will work under jackets for work, and alone around the house as we get into our summer weather.

My next post will be my new Kwik Sew 3865 View B. Starting at the beginning. With comments, observations, and probably more than a few pictures! 

Thanks for listening!


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I, too, am working through plus sized fitting problems. I am gradually moving toward more tailored clothing and becoming more aware of all the fitting issues/adjustments you've mentioned. I will try using gingham for muslins. That's a good idea, identifying grainline issues. Well, good luck with the new muslin and the new Kwik Sew pattern. Looks like a nice one.

    1. The gingham really does make it easier to see where you need to adjust. Another idea that I saw is to take your "wrinkles" and pin them out until everything is nice and smooth and the grain lines fall straight. Just remember you will have to be able to move. :P}}

  2. So I read #3 out loud to my husband because it surprised me. He immediately responded "What? Why they gotta be so mean?! LOL Anyway, I know it's hard to worry about diet, exercise, making a living and aging all at the same time. I'm 51 and 40lbs overweight struggling with the same issues so you have my sympathies. I think we might even be more aware because we make our clothing. It's easier not to realize how much space is being added to your clothes when you go up a size or two. It's much harder when you're making the clothes and know exactly how many inches you've added.

  3. Great post! My reaction to #3 was -- I am doing this. But I need to work on #1 and #2. Though I can walk/jog 5K, my weight is stalled and I am showing some thyroid issues. I may have to change my meds by taking a stronger medication on alternate days. We kind of thought so.

    I wish I had your friend to help me with fitting as I have no one to help me out. I am going to have to play with Lynda Mynards course and books to fit myself another shirt. And I am going to try gingham. Did your friend recommend 1" gingham for muslins?

    1. Ann.. Try 1/4" gingham. Your alterations will be in tiny little amounts and with the 1/4" you can easily see how much alteration is needed. I'm going to be doing this step by step and going into probably agonizing detail with lots of photos. Anyone who wants to follow along will be able to see all the steps as I go. This pattern is a current one, so it is available everywhere I think.
      She's a wonderful person, but in reality, we all need to be able to see the issues for ourselves and figure out how to interpret the steps to correct them. I have found the hard way that the best way to start is to take photos, front, back, and each side, and spend some time actually looking at the fit and analyzing the issues. I have somewhere between 8 and 12 fitting books. I know HOW to do the alterations, but I am bad about seeing what is needed on my body and then figuring out what is causing the issue. Previous post about sleeve cap height was a real eye opener!

  4. Yes, Susan, I don't like that one either. It does feel like they're picking on us sometimes! I think when we get our lives all in synch, with everything just taking up a balanced chunk, everything works better. I am reminded of the "Circle of Life" by your comment. I was introduced to it a long time ago and loved the concept. If you picture your life as a tire... Then divide that tire into 12 equal sections. They include spirituality; creativity; finances; career; education; health; physical activity; nutrition; environment; relationships; social life; and joy or playtime. Each section needs to receive equal weight in your life or your tire develops a bulge, and as you drive along life's path, it is out of balance. When it's out of balance, instead of running smoothly, it goes along erratically with a bump every few steps. It's a hard process to learn to give equal weight to all of the necessary elements to have a balanced life!

    I agree. When we're buying RTW, if our size changes we can rationalize it by saying it's a different designer, or made for a different body type, but when we're dealing with hard numbers, it's difficult to ignore them! LOL

    1. I'd never heard of that particular "Circle of Life" concept. Thanks for sharing it.