Thursday, April 2, 2015

analysis instead of paralysis

Yesterday on Stitchers Guild, rivergum had a brilliant comment about fitting and design:

One thing I found with fitting, or rather getting the right proportions for my short and stout self, because I don't wear fitted clothes, is to look very carefully at the picture and analyse exactly where everything is.

Where is the hem on the model in relation to her knees, how much wider than her body is the garment, where is the arm scye/sleeve hem on her (in relation to her elbow/shoulder), how wide is the neck etc etc.  This is estimates of course, and I often use the width, length of her hands, lower arms etc to estimate, something like 'the neck edge of the garment is half the width of her hand away from her neck'. Not terribly accurate but much better than nothing. If i like the inspiration picture i could do worse than replicate the proportions on my own body. Doesn't always work when translating from long and thin to short and less thin, but it's a good starting point.

Somehow this idea never occurred to me before, and it is a fantastic way to learn to look at various garments. This technique could possibly be combined with the croquis, to try out a style concept before even making a muslin. I am going to analyse a few of the various criss-cross aprons I have uncovered with this concept in mind...

First off, almost all of these aprons are shown on slender women with small busts. This tells me that the design will look quite different on a voluptuous figure. The free pattern that I found and used, is shown on a woman with shoulders as wide as her hips, and noticeably long in proportion to her width. The apron sides are open to hip level, and the apron itself is about knee length. This vintage pattern diagram is for a criss-cross back that is made by extending the edge binding, which is an interesting variation. This image of an apron from 1922 shows an apron back that covers all the back, the sides are only open to the waist, but the entire apron is very narrowly cut, as is the gown underneath. The Marin shop "Rough Linen" shows, amid all their other svelte and artistic customers, one woman who is a size 22... Given all this observation, it isn't surprising that the apron pattern style is a bit challenging, though not impossible, to transmogrify into something that will fit me well...

Also, and somewhat amusingly, I found this video where a six year old demonstrates how to put on the pinafore/apron


  1. First - your apron is so cute! Wonderful fabric on you. You're getting me in the mood to make a new one for myself, i wear one every single day and have been meaning to get a new, more 'me' one for several years now. The one mom got me is so long-lasting and sturdy!

    rivergum's observation is very good. I always look at the model's proportions as well as taking into account where/how a garment falls on the various body landmarks (bust point, crotch height, etc.). This allows me to 'map' the garment onto a croquis pretty easily and accurately.

    When i started doing this my own preferences for best shapes, proportions, and 'lines' (hems, princess line points, etc.) became obvious quickly. Then dressing became an exercise in working within a smallish range of these parameters. Some people can say it's boring, but i'm more interested in looking consistent and good than different all the time so for me it's good.

    Very nice to see you looking so fetching in a garment you made for you! take care, steph

    1. Thank you Steph! It is always a treat to hear from you, and I wish I had a teleportation transporter, so we could visit in person, we could have so much fun!! I definitely agree with you in the "having a consistent personal style" with a narrow range of parameters is what works for me as well. I encourage you to attempt a personally stylish apron of your own, I had no idea that you were another "apron wearer"

  2. oh! lying in bed with a bug yesterday i got a thought to add - how the model poses will affect the look as well as any nips and tucks the stylists' do to improve the look of things out of view of the camera (we've all seen clips at the back of department store mannequins, adjusting the fit of garments).

    On the plus side all of this three dimensional imaging must be tremendous exercise for our brains!

  3. I somehow always forget that the online photos we see are so heavily "styled". I know that there is a lot of information on some of the knitting blogs about how to decipher the styled photos of a knitting pattern, that often look very little like the finished garment.
    I hope that you are feeling better soon... springtime bugs are the worst!

    One thing that I figured out after completing the apron, is that I actually found the low arm openings to be useful, since it makes it easy to reach into my garment pockets. I am going to try another apron with different proportions, just to see what works the best for me...

    I suspect it is good for our brains to exercise the design and create skills, I remember reading somewhere online that things like knitting and sewing use so many different parts of the brain that they literally help keep our brains in good shape

  4. "One thing that I figured out after completing the apron, is that I actually found the low arm openings to be useful, since it makes it easy to reach into my garment pockets."

    This is something i don't think i've ever seen recommended in beginning sewing advice, but it is so useful! Wear your stuff around (town, the house) to see how you like it before going further. Whether it's a matter of fit, what type of closure you want, hems, or if you're making multiples it gives you such valuable info you can't get any other way.

    Good to have it out there!

    Bug seems to be fading fast, thank you - though allergies are still going strong. This spring is awful around here for allergies, even people's pets are feeling it! Hope the shadowboxing goes swimmingly! :)