Ready-to-wear didn't fit me all that great either, but it was passable. So, when I got serious about sewing for myself, I searched out information on fitting. Books didn't give me enough - there were so many potential adjustments! I guessed I had sloping shoulders, narrow shoulders, forward shoulders, narrow back, etc etc- I tried them, with so-so results. I found myself unable to look at a garment and diagnose the fitting problem. I needed a system!
The first thing I tried was nearly extinct; a system called "For the Fit of It" developed and taught by Shirley Cunningham in Texas. She had a wonderful reputation as a teacher going back decades. Her system required a long list of measurements whcih you would mail to her to be entered into her proprietary software that produced a list of flat pattern adjustments. Shirley is not 100% retired and I was able to track her down and buy the system. It consisted of video tapes and printed materials. The list of flat pattern adjustments was called a "Road Map".
When I received my Road Map, I applied it to a simple jacket pattern and here is the result.
Here is what it looks like traced onto plain paper. The next steps would have been to rotate the darts to get back to the original style of the jacket.
It probably took about 40 hours to watch the video tapes, read the materials and come up with this pattern. The videos and written materials provided information on all possible adjustments one might make. So I found myself wading through a lot of material to find the 15% that applied to my Road map. In the end, I had a garment that was 2 inches longer in the back than the front. As I said, Shirley is mostly retired and unavailable for support. The videos mostly show her talking. There were parts I found confusing that I wished to see what she was actually doing, not her face. So, oh well!
Eventually I got in touch with Shirley and explained the system wasn't working for me and she graciously refunded my money (it was $280! I was grateful she understood).
Even if I had the system mastered (and the 2 inch discrepancy resolved) it would have taken quite a while to alter each pattern before I could sew it. I was impressed with the concept though! Using a computer to determine differences between my body measurement and the standard body seemed a good idea. In reality it generated a LOT of changes that were counter-intuitive.
For example, in one step you might remove 1.25 inches horizontally, only to add back 1.75 inches in a subsequent step. Doh! I even took the time to analyze each one and net them together.
My Road Map went from about 40 down to about a dozen steps once I weeded out the inapplicable ones. Does this tell you something about my personality? That activity counted as fun to me. Yep. Really. :) But hey if you are reading my blog, you know what I mean.
I think the system did give me some practice in handling a ruler, pencil, scissors and rotary cutter. My husband built me a cutting table the is the perfect height to stand and work. So I did get something out of the experience.
I still had no clue as to why my garments didn't fit well around my shoulders. I don't have a picture of the muslin with the sleeve- honestly I never got past the sleeveless muslin. It didn't look good enough to inspire me to carry on
In upcoming posts, I write about other fitting systems I tried.