Monday, May 31, 2010

Estimating Fabric

Years ago I read a bumper sticker reading "She who dies with the most fabric wins." My husband has long since stopped complaining, as it does him no good. I must have enough fabric now to open my own retail store, but still, it's not enough. The personality of the fabric reaches out to me and I see a clear picture in my minds eye of the perfect style. The fabric "speaks" to me, telling me what it longs to be... and I tell myself that it's my duty to make it come to pass.

I don't know about you, but I assume that estimating yardage is a regular event for those of us addicted to fabric. I found this chart made available by an online fabric shop, which I'm sure is very helpful to many folks, but myself, I found it a little overwhelming.

Personally, I think in simple terms, such as the area the fabric needs to cover, rather than in terms of standard or average yardage. In most cases, for a slim style, the fabric will be wide enough to accommodate one side of the body, so measuring for the desired length for all sides is really all that is required. It might also be helpful to remember that the grain of the fabric usually goes down our center front and back, thus the reason for measuring in "lengths" = whatever your term of measurement is.

Example: Let's say we want to make a fitted dress that has a pencil skirt, short sleeves and contrast collar. We want the skirt length to be 30", our backwaist is 16.5, and the sleeves will be about 10". We'll also want to add in a few extra inches to each of these numbers to give ourselves room for hems and some style and layout flexibility.
1. First add the body length measurements twice (for front and back) .
32"+20"=52"x 2 = 104"
2. Now we'll add in one length for sleeves.
104" + 12" = 116"
3. Now divide by 36" (number of inches in a yard).
116"/36" = 3.22 yards
I would round that up to 3.5 yards. Always round up.

Now we have to think of the contrast collar. Is it wide, like a sailor collar? Measure the length it will cover from front to back: how far down will it come in the front? How long will it hang down the back? Will 1/2 yard be enough? Maybe 3/4? You get the idea.

When it comes to full skirts, think in terms of doubling or tripling the length for each side, but just for the skirt section. Will two lengths per side be full enough? For a 45" wide fabric, the skirt with double lengths would be up to 150"- 160" in circumference.

There now! If you have not yet become a fabric collector in the race against time, you now have the most important knowledge necessary to become one. Because as they say, "she who dies with the most fabric wins!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The anatomy of a waistline

With the internet, who needs an encyclopedia anymore? I'm always looking for information on the internet. We have a whole world of people sharing with each other, so some of it has to be good, but some estimations put less than half as solid and true. I once tried to find a video tutorial on how to accurately measure yourself for a pattern. One video suggested I should choose a waistline location where ever I thought best. Hummmm...Really? I guess I didn't need a video after all!

Webster defines a waist as: "the typically narrowed part of the body between the thorax and hip." Okay, so it's typically narrowed, but not always, so that's what throws everyone off (that and low rise jeans!). The real answer is in the last part of the description. Your waist is actually an anatomical place we can point to! I ask my students to feel for that place between the hip bone (pelvic girdle) and the rib cage. This is the place where your body can bend because it's not encased in bone. Your body is unique to you, so that space can be rather long, especially if you are tall, and other times it's extremely narrow. If you still have trouble finding it, feel along the bottom rib to your side where the bone and rib come the closest. It is at this defined point, all the way around and parallel to the ground that is your waistline!