Ooh it's a dangerous subject. But it's been floating round my head for a few weeks so I thought I would tackle it. I guess it's a natural progression from the dress form really. The more I sew the more aware of my body I am. I kinda wish I had discovered sewing earlier, might have sorted out the typical girlie issues sooner.
My first thought when I started sewing was one of horror as I looked at the pattern envelopes to get my size. Now I'm gonna be very straightforward here and tell you all my measurements. Currently I stand at 42" - 35" - 44". This means I have put a bit more padding on my ass of late as my top and bottom used to be identical. These measurements stack up at around a 20/22. Man that knocked the wind out of my sails let me tell you. So I dutifully cut this out for my first pattern. It was a disaster. Apparently having a 42" bust means I am built like a linebacker. So I did some research and found out the one fact that changed the way I looked at patterns. They are all designed for a B cup. This means that those 42" are spread all around the circumference of the body pretty much. Now I can tell you in my case most of them are out front! If you are above a B cup one of the best things to do is an FBA (full bust adjustment). This is easier on some patterns than others but I think I have the hang of it now. To get the correct pattern size now I have to measure my high bust which is around my back and above my bust. On me this is 38" which puts me at a size 16 on pattern envelopes. By doing this the arm holes and neckline actually fit. Then I just add the inches where I need them with the FBA. It sounds far more complicated than it is. But it is certainly worth the effort as the end result is a garment that fits.
This is the crucial point I have discovered as I learn how to make clothes. It is not my body that is the problem it is the clothes. RTW clothes are made to fit a general size; my body is not general, it is mine. I go in and out in a way that no other body does. So how in the heck do I expect something off the rack to fit me? My first reaction when trying on clothes though is one of disgust at my own body and frustration. It gets even worse as I can be a totally different size in several shops. How does that work?!?! A long time ago I stopped looking at the number on my clothing labels. I still have the occasional hissy fit but not many.
A few years back I put on a lot of weight. I went up to 13 and a half stones (189 pounds). When I went and bought some clothes that fit instead of squeezing into smaller stuff I was instantly assured by everyone that I had lost weight. Since then I have lost all the extra and gone down to 11 stone (154 pounds) and then gone back up to and settled at 12 - 12 stone 4 (168 - 172 pounds). During that time I have gone up (and stayed up) 4 cup sizes. I think this accounts for the fact that I am heavier now than I was but I have had to put extra holes in my belt as it was too big!! During that time I have had to really evaluate how I feel about my body and my clothes. I am currently at the end of a love affair with stretch fabrics. They're good, don't get me wrong, but I think tailoring is the way forward if I'm making stuff myself. Making my own clothes also means I want them to look good. You put up with bad fit issues with RTW as you have no choice. If my sweat and tears and swearing and occasional blood is going into the clothes on my back they had better make me look fabulous. So it takes longer to make faffing with the fit, it's worth it in the end. To make something fit you have to honest with yourself about your body. No breathing in when taking measurements. No convincing yourself that your measurements haven't changed in 10 years. Making myself a dress form means I have to be honest. When looking at a duplicate of myself it's very hard to lie about anything.
Since I started sewing I started paying a lot more attention to what my clothes are telling me rather than what the scales say. So I'm 2 stone over the top weight I should be for my BMI, so what? If a Dr tells me to lose weight I will. Until then I'll judge myself by my trousers. They fit when I bought them and I was lighter, now they fall off. Clearly my weight is not a good indicator of my waist :o)