chebe: (gerties sew-along 2010)
[personal profile] chebe
You have your pattern, now you need to buy your fabric. In order to know how much you require you need to take your measurements.

Warning: making your own clothes can put a dent in your self image, at the beginning. Sizes used for patterns tend to be of a historical sort, and older sizes were smaller. You may wear a 12 from a shop now, but that could be a 14 or 16 in your pattern. And, different companies use different sizings, so always, always go by the inch/centimetre measurement. Most patterns assume an ideal shape that almost no-one is. Also, most patterns assume a B-cup in bust. There are ways to alter your pattern to actually fit your real body.

The human body can be measured in many different ways, but for choosing the size of pattern you'll be working with you will usually need just three; bust, waist, hips. You will need a measuring tape. (Or a length of string, a ruler, and lots of patience.)

When measuring yourself it is best to wear figure-hugging clothing, but nothing tight enough to alter your shape (no Spankx). It is often suggested to get someone to help you, but I'm too shy about my body to do this, and have found having a mirror, preferably full-length, handy will suffice. Wear the kind of bra you intend to wear with the finished item.

Here are two illustrations from two different books to help you, the one on the left [1] shows most measurements, the one on the right [2] shows a more realistic body shape.

Bust: the fullest part around your chest: [1] the line marked 3, [2] the line marked 2.

Waist: the smallest part of your body, just below your rib-cage: [1] the line marked 5 (plus the line marked 18, front & back), [2] the line marked 4.

Hips: the fullest part of your lower body, around the buttocks and pelvis: [1] the line marked 10 (plus the line marked 21, front & back), [2] the line marked 6.

Try to keep the measuring tape as level/straight as possible. Keep the tape taut, but still comfortable. A finger or two gap between your body and the tape is often recommended. Make sure the tape can move around your waist. Try to rest your arms against your side while measuring your bust.


[1] Needle Craft, Judy Brittain, DK, 1989
[2] Sewing Lingerie that Fits, Karen Morris, Taunton Press, 2001

Write down your measurements. In inches and centimetres.

The Colette pattern, annoyingly for us Europeans, doesn't use metric, it's all Imperial inches and yards. If you look at the back of the Colette pattern you'll see a 'Body Measurements' section. Look up the closest match to your measurements. If you are between measurements go up to the next one. If, like me, your measurements don't all fit in one size go with the size of the largest measurement. So, my hips are 46" (size 16) but my bust is 40" (size 12). I'll buy fabric to match the requirements of the size 16.



To find out how much fabric you need you just follow the column down from your size.

First, decide whether you are making version 1 or version 2 of the dress. Version 1 has a round neckline, and wrap ties to match the fabric of the body piece. Version 2 has a sweetheart neckline, and wrap ties that contrast the fabric of the body, meaning essentially that'll you have two different fabrics. Version 1 you'll just need the amount in the first grouping, and the interfacing. Version 2 you'll need the amounts stated in both version 2 sections (in different colours), plus the interfacing.

Second, fabric generally comes in two widths, 45" or 60", ~112cm or ~150cm. Depending on the width you'll arrange the pattern pieces differently, so you'll need different amounts. It is good to know both. I always feel it's a good idea to round up a little, in case part of the fabric is damaged when it comes time to cut it, allowing more leeway.

Please Note: This is for getting the right amount of fabric. For actually making the dress you will probably want to cut out the pattern size based on the bust size, and make adjusts to the pattern to fit your waist and hip.

Gertie is recommending fabrics and fabric shops right now. I encourage you to shop locally if you can, but I know it can be difficult to get nice cottons in Winter. Just, please, check the cost of shipping before you buy. Have fun choosing your fabrics!
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