Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Is Here!

Fall is here with a vengeance! Temps in the forties, brisk winds, frost warnings....in keeping with my 'Frosting vs. Cake' epiphany, i'm doing my best to remember how to stay warm without using tons of visible layers. Undershirts, wool socks, long sleeved knits, wool tights are all coming into play - but not making an appearance!

Jeans are also uppermost in my mind. They are warm, with enough spandex they do not bother my legs, and they are a great foundation for a smart casual look. The trouble lies in finding ones that fit, that flatter, which are not completely encrusted with beads, embroidery, metallic gewgaws more fitting an aged yet flirtatious hermit crab than a stylish woman of a certain age.

For the last few months i have been plotting constructing my own jeans. I found a pattern (McCall's The Perfect Jean #5894 by Palmer & Pletsch), found fabric, did my pattern fittings and plunged on in. As i type, i am sporting the finished product!

You'll have to wait a bit for pictures of the jeans all sewed up and in an outfit. But i wanted to show you a bit of what is involved in custom fitting garments to your figure. I took these photos after i had partially constructed the jeans and had pinned the inner and outer leg seams. In both pictures the right side is the one i have altered from the original fit. My aim was to decrease the bagging and tugging on the back of the thigh. The difference is fairly distinct - in both cases the leg on your right has a smoother fit. In the end i sewed a closer fit than that shown here. The next time i make this pattern i will make an alteration in this area before i cut into the fabric, which should result in an even smoother line.

Here you can see the alterations i made to the inner and outer seams of the back pattern piece. In each case i've taken in less than half an inch width, but the difference in fit is quite noticeable. I've been reading stylist Kendall Farr recently and in her experience and opinion fit is the foundation of personal style. Yet we rarely read about fit in style blogs and fashion magazines. You don't hear about the thrill of having pieces personally fitted at the tailor's.

I agree with Ms. Farr about fit, and this state of affairs is a shame as far as i'm concerned. It takes time and fuss to really nail fit in your garments. But it is possible to do so and it makes a world of difference in how your clothes look, and more importantly, feel on your body. Wearing clothing that fits your own individual shape is a completely different experience than the pinching, pulling, and wiggling associated with today's standard off the rack fare.

It can seem way too daunting to jump right into custom-made clothing.  That's just for the very rich, the privileged, the fashionistas, the anyone-but-me. Frankly, you don't need to have every garment designed for you from scratch. But i do challenge you to start small......move the buttons on your shirt cuffs to just the right spot. Hem that wrap dress to your most flattering length, even if it's a difference of only one inch. Stretch out those shoes that are just a wee bit too tight. Pick one or two little projects, just a few dollars or half an inch. Try it out, then see if you can honestly say to me that you can't tell the difference.

Jacket: Peruvian Connection
Scarves: own design
Jeans: Levi's Curvy fit (discontinued)
Boots: Dansko
Handbag: Isabella Fiore
Hoodie: Free People
Jeans (in process): McCalls' 5894 Palmer & Pletsch 'The Perfect Jean'


  1. Very inspiring! I'd love to have some clothing made, but your suggestions are much more affordable and do-able. BTW, you look pretty fantastic in your custom jeans, my friend!

  2. Love your jacket. I love animal print but also love prints that are not animal print but are dappled in such a way as to remind of animal print.

    I always have problems with too much fabric at the back upper thigh just beneath the rear. When I look at suggestions for altering the actual pattern piece it doesn't seem to translate to altering a finished garment. So you're saying you narrow the outside and inside seam of only the back piece?

  3. I love that jacket..the fit is perfect and I really like the print. Wish I could sew, but I do not even really hem...must have help!

  4. You look wonderful. Very cozy and wonderfully layered.

    And while I can't afford custom made clothing either, I am big proponent of hemming and moving buttons on cuffs; it really does make a difference.

  5. Thank you Patti! i'm a big believer in starting small and deciding if you want to go larger. Jump on in, the water's fine!

    Hi Vildy! that's a great description of those type of uber-useful prints!

    yes, on a finished garment you can take out some of the extra by removing excess only from teh back piece. in these pics the wrong side of the fabric is much lighter than the right side, so it's easier to see what's going on.

    To do this on a finished garment, start by taking out excess on the side seams (the least fuss). Rip out the seam from a couple inches below the waist to a couple inches above the knee. pin out the excess at the area next to the baggiest part of the pant, then taper the seam allowance back to normal. It's worthwhile, esp. when you're first trying this, to pin, try on, re-pin, try on, etc. to get the best result possible given the pants.

    You can also pin out back piece excess at the inner leg seam - in this case you'll rip out some of the crotch seam first (the seam that starts beneath your belly button and goes up your butt crack). (Not that any of my perfect readers actually possess a butt crack - just pretend.) Pin and fit until you get the best fit you can. Re-sew the seams, then re-sew the crotch seam.

    As a general rule, you want to alter the part that's giving the trouble. So if the back is baggy and the front fits fine, alter the back piece only. Leave the front alone - it looks good! It only works to distribute alterations all around a garment if the fit problem is occurring all around the garment. if it's in one spot, first try dealing with that spot. (i feel a post coming on!! :)

    Heehee Pam, you bust me up! hmm, looking at my K. Farr book here, hems fun from $8-15. could be worth it~! ;)

    Hi Gracey! well, to be brutally honest that jacket is kinda thin, i could have used better insulation underneath. Which is completely do-able!

    Thank you for chiming in on how the little alterations are worthwhile! Putting your own stamp on your clothes brings you into a closer relationship, doesn't it?

    Happy Wednesday! steph

  6. Your jacket is absolutely stunning. Been round here a couple times since finding your via Citizen Rosebud and have been enjoying reading your blog and advice.

  7. Hello Wendy! Thank you so much - i do enjoy Peruvian Connection's designs, tho mostly in day-dreams :) it's so fun to have a couple of items in the flesh! And thank you for the compliments on teh advice - sometimes i think i'm getting too wordy and 'thinky', but it's nice to know that there are (quite stylish) ladies out there who appreciate it!

    Happy Day! (or is it nite in Australia?) steph