Monday, January 16, 2017

Fitting Dresses.....What is a Good Fit? Part 1

A friend gave me a little booklet that her mother had. The title is Fitting Dresses.  It is a publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a revision date of May 1946.  Here's a picture of this little publication:

I thought it would be fun to walk through the book.  Granted that this book is really geared toward working with wovens as I don't think that knit yardage was available during this time period.  Anyone know for sure?

I loved the very first sentence in the introduction!  It simply states:

      "For most women who make dresses, the biggest problems arise with fitting."

Isn't that a very true statement with most clothing that we make?  It sure is for me.

This bulletin specifically states that it deals with the fitting of a dress that has already been cut out and basted or after the ready-made dress has been purchased.  It doesn't deal with the special problems of altering a pattern.  So, let's get started.

The first section deals with "How to Know a Good Fit".    A good fit brings out the good points and skillfully hides the poor ones.  You will know a good fit by:

1.  Direction of grain of goods - Crosswise yarns are parallel to the floor at center front, back bust line, and hip line,  unless the dress has unusual style details. Lengthwise yarns on the sleeve cap lie in the direction of the arm when it hangs straight at the side.  This varies slightly on different figures but in general the crosswise yarns are also parallel with the floor.  (Fig 1)

2.  Direction of the seam lines - Seam lines that lie and hang straight keep the dress in proper line on the figure.  The set becomingly and smoothly on the shoulders.  Armhole seams make a good curve underneath the arm and over the top of the shoulder.  They are straight front and back of the arm except when special style features such as extended shoulders require otherwise.  The waistline appears straight around the figure - it dips slightly in the front, following the natural waist curve.  Underarm waist seams and skirt seams hang straight down -- no swinging to the front or back.
 (Fig 2)

3.  Smooth lines - You can expect some folds to form in the dress when the wearer moves but when she sits or stands still, there should be no unbecoming  folds.

4.  Wearing comfort - The properly fitted dress is comfortable when the wearer stands, sits, or moves around.  It is snug where fashion demands, but never feels tight or strained.

There are likely to be fitting difficulties and the dress may never fit if:
  1. The style is not suited to the wearer's figure.  Simply styles are always in good taste and can be fitted more easily than elaborate ones.
  2. The pattern is not the right size or not altered to fit.  Get a pattern with measurements corresponding as nearly as possible to your body measurements.  Do not select a pattern by the size of ready-mades you wear.  Ready-mades are not always mad like nor sized the same as patterns.
  3. The dress is carelessly cut and made.  Carelessness in laying the pattern on the goods or in pinning, basting or stitching often results in a dress that fits poorly and cannot be made to fit well.
I don't really see anything in this information that is different from what we do today.  Normally when I order a pattern, I just pick a size range and go on.  Today, I decided to look and see which size was being recommended.  Thankfully, I do usually pick out the correct size but I can also say that I need to have many sizes in one envelope.

Next time....helps toward a good fit and darts...

Happy Stitching!

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