Back to school
A few months ago I did something I’d been meaning to do for a really long time; I took one of London College of Fashion‘s short courses, in Custom Pattern Cutting and Fitting. I’ve got to say it was excellent, well worth the money.
What was it all about? Designing and fitting clothes based on actual body measurements, rather than standard sizes. This is the basis of bespoke tailoring and couture clothing, and something that was a total mystery to me before taking the course. I’ve been sewing from patterns for about 20 years (yikes! I’m not that old, I started young), and I’ve got pretty good at adjusting by trial and error. But sometimes, no amount of adjusting makes something right.
Day one of the course covered taking body measurements. As I’ve long suspected, it’s impossible to measure yourself, and in fact it’s quite a skill to locate various points of reference on the body on someone else. The waist for example, is the narrowest part of the torso, which is much higher than what most of us think of as out waist. Having an accurate set of body measurements for the first time ever, it was clear why I have trouble getting things to fit (aside from my elongated proportions) – my shoulder measurement is a UK10, while my bust and hip are a 14, and the rest somewhere in between.
There wasn’t a single person on the course who was a ‘standard’ shape, which made me wonder how off-the-shelf clothing ever fits anyone! Our tutor explained that brands will choose a body shape that best matches their market and use that as their pattern block. So that’s why Ted Baker fits me, and H&M doesn’t (at least that’s what I tell myself when justifying expensive purchases). One of the few places that bases their pattern blocks on detailed surveys of real people is M&S.
I’ve been meaning to blog about the course for some time but other things have got in the way recently. So why now? My good friend asked me to make her wedding dress. This is exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I’m confident I’ve got the skills to do it but nervous about the time scale, the wedding is in September. So, I’ll be providing progress reports, without revealing too much about the final dress of course!