Monday, June 30, 2008
I want to sew, not do yoga!
I have a lovely Simplicity retro dress pattern. I have beautiful Liberty cotton fabric (see above!). I even managed to make VERY successful alterations to the front bodice, which is no small feat given that it meant grading a midriff piece and two bust "cups" to accommodate my DD bust shape. I even have the resolve right now to make a thorough muslin test garment, including making a muslin lining and finishing all of the the seams to double check everything. However, before I can move forward with any of this, I need to adjust the back of the dress, and I can't seem to manage it by myself.
Here is the situation... Imagine me with redrafted pattern pieces traced on gridded quilting material, trying in vain to drape them across my back where they are supposed to lay when the dress is finished. All I want to do is make sure everything overlaps with enough seam allowance to put in a zipper, and ensure that everything is straight. It sounds simple. Yet instead, I find myself contorting my body this way and that, trying to simultaneously pull the fabric into it's correct position while keeping my center back in view of the mirror. And when I extend my right arm over my shoulder to try and grope the top of the back piece, while I twist my left arm up toward my spine, I manage to contort my posture into a position that no dress could fit.
At this point in the process I have attempted to enlist the help of my poor husband, who never wanted to become a seamstress in the first place. "Hold this here" I say as I unbend my arms from the pretzel position and crane my neck around to see the back. "Things aren't matching up" he says, "Where!?!?!" I ask in panic, trying so hard to see my back in the mirror that I start to move in a circle like a dog chasing its tale. This of course moves the fabric out of its intended position and causes husband to stick me with a pin. We regroup and try again, but unfortunately my man is not a sewer, nor has he ever worn a dress, which I think might be a vital step in understanding how to fit one in tissue. So after a few minutes of becoming ever more frustrated with each other, we both give up.
How do solo sewers do it? I know other people make dresses, I am just not sure HOW. I have come up with two options. Either 1) they are perfectly sized and therefore never need to adjust anything that they can't easily reach, or 2) they belong to some magical guild of sewers - The Order of the Friendly and Knowledgeable Fitting Assistants - and they help each other fit garments with minimal contortionist effort. Either way, neighter of these options is available to me.
There is one other explanation for how other people fit their clothing perfectly to their proportions, and that is 3) they own a custom dress form. And I want one. But it turns out that purchasing one is expensive... we're talking hundreds of dollars expensive... and I can't afford that. Plus, standard dress forms, even adjustable ones, are unlikely to mimic my exact body proportions. What I really need to ease my frustration is a "me form".
I conducted a quick Google search on custom dress forms, and it produced several links to homemade, customized dress forms. Most notable, and my favorite, is this article with instructions and wonderful photographs. There is also this article sharing four options for homemade forms including two duct tape dress forms, and this article with step by step instructions. I have already planned my Wednesday night and you better believe you will find my in a plastic trash bag with arm holes, wrapping myself in tape. My poor husband doesn't know it yet, but Wednesday we are now committed to binding me in paper tape to create a body double. Isn't it great to share a hobby with your spouse? ;-)