crafts · outfits · Sewing

Thoughts on fit vs comfort: Me-made June Days 8 and 7

Dress: Vogue  8380, blogged here

Cardigan: Thrifted

Shoes: MIA

I think this is the first time I’ve worn this dress since making it.  I have a few overall comments on the make, then I’ll move onto my topic.

The good: I love the print, and I think the overall shape is flattering on me.  I like the drawstring neck, though I’ve covered it up today.

The bad: Poor fabric choice.  This dress really calls for lightweight cottons with some drape.  I used a cotton sateen which, while lovely, is really too heavy.  The bow doesn’t hang well at all, and could be longer,  so I just tucked it into the sweater.

Styling: The sweater wouldn’t be my first choice.  I know what I want – something in a light color, cropped, with the ability to look good worn open.  I just don’t own such a garment!  It’s definitely going on my knitting list.

Anyway, there is a reason that I don’t wear this dress much.  I fit the empire band pretty tightly, in an attempt to avoid the maternity look (always a fear with an empire waist!)  I pretty much feel like I can’t take deep breaths.  I read in a sewing book once that athletes require more ease in the ribcage area, due to the more developed diaphragm muscles.  I’ve trained my entire life as a classical singer, and I almost always breathe low.  I measured once, and my ribcage expands 2-3 inches with a normal breath.  I see a lot of sewers sewing vintage, and fitting the bodices tightly, wearing the correct vintage undergarments etc – and I can only imagine the strangling feeling of not being able to take a proper breath all day.

It’s the old style vs. comfort conundrum.  When I first started sewing, I would sew any style.  I soon learned that it didn’t matter if it looked good or not, if it wasn’t comfortable it wouldn’t get worn!  You notice I no longer make straight or pencil skirts.  The reason?  I realized that I hate the feeling of something tight around my hips and waist, so I never wore them.  I will wear a full skirt, but how tight to make the top and waist?  I try to solve this problem in a few different ways:

I use a lot of knits, because knits stretch.  I can make something fit tightly, but still be able to breathe – amazing!  I try stretch wovens, which can sometimes work, depending on the level of stretch.  If I use a stretch woven, I make sure to sew the horizontal seams with a tiny zig-zag, so the seams will have a little give.  I learned from the dress above that I should watch the direction of the stretch – the waistband was cut the wrong way to have any, else it would have fit better!  I make things a bit loose and wear a belt (those belts with elastic in the back are wonderful!)

I make waists with 1.5″ of ease, but I require 4-5 inches of ease in the ribcage.  I’m forever cutting between sizes on patterns.

I’m also a big fan of the current trend towards loose tunics over skinny bottoms.  I do own jeggings and leggings, both of which I wear often in the fall and winter.  I don’t like regular skinny pants, because it is again the constricting feeling, but lycra is wonderful! The more I sew, the more I realize that I need to narrow my focus to the silhouettes and fabrics that get worn the most.  I will leave the wiggle dresses to someone else, someone without my fear of passing out!

Speaking of comfort, here is yesterday’s outfit:

Dress: Vogue 8469 (blogged here)

Cardigan: Simplicity 2417


This dress, it grows on me.  Here you see one of my strategies for comfort: the tie waist.  A waist tie not only gives you some fit wiggle room, it makes it so I can change how tightly I tie the waist based on my activities of the day.  The dress itself is made of a stretchy cotton blend.  It fits in the shoulders, which isn’t always the case – it took me a long time to figure out I needed a larger size in the shoulders!  So while I initially thought “I made this dress too big,” what I should have thought was “This dress, I will actually wear it.”

Does anyone else have this fit vs. style issue?  Or perhaps my weird issues with needing extra room for breathing?  Or my general clothing claustrophobia?