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Readers,

After stalling for weeks on a couple of sewing projects I am back on track again, thanks to a recent fitting appointment I had with Gail Kelley at Sewing Hive, here in Columbus.  I was blown away by what we accomplished in under an hour.  After some simple pattern alterations I will start sewing wearable tests.  Hooray!

A top in a sleeveless version of View B is a great wardrobe-builder–if it fits perfectly.

I felt so lucky to have an hour, in person, with a fit expert and wanted to make every minute count.  It occurred to me to bring my laptop to our meeting, and I’m so glad I did. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then my eight pictures we looked at together saved us 8,000 words and no small amount of time and frustration.

Since my pants pattern-fitting project a couple of years ago it’s become my routine to set the self-timer on the camera and take front, back, and side views of myself in muslins. A few months ago I learned how to add text to my photos. Now it’s no big deal for me to zoom in on a fitting problem and record my observations right on the image.  I’m not a fitting genius, but I can spot a drag line or wrinkle. Over time, using books and videos, I have been able to make some fit improvements on my own.

But with this New Look top and Vogue jacket I’d gotten to the point where I was making changes but no improvements.  When Sewing Hive was able to reopen under under the current health and safety guidelines I was excited to book an hour with Gail to crack these fit puzzles.

I reviewed  my project notes, pressed and tried on each muslin, and took a new set of pictures.  I was able to add text to the pictures of the top but ran out of time with the jacket.

I’m trying the jacket as a core collection pattern.

Believe it or not, this is one of my better facial expressions in these muslin photo shoots.

Not more than five minutes into our meeting, Gail and I were looking together at the pictures of the top and zooming in on fit problems. This was such an improvement over what I’d done in years past in sewing classes and fitting sessions. Typically, I would be wearing the muslin and straining to see and understand the problem with the back that the teacher was pointing out . I might make the pattern alteration but not understand why.

Looking at the photos I’d taken at home, I could say to Gail, “This looks too roomy here, but if I took out that space I could be overfitting,” and she could give me her perspective.

A common problem: bunching up at the back waist.

The photos I brought were a good orientation and conversation-starter. The next step was to take a close look at each muslin on the living, breathing, moving me. Gail pinned out some excess fabric. Then she asked if I’d like pictures of the changes–she could use her iPad. Great idea!

The New Look top with Gail’s changes pinned in

With the “before” picture up on my laptop and the “after” picture on Gail’s iPad, I could clearly see improvements in the fit of each muslin and understand the reasoning, which was very gratifying. After our meeting Gail sent me the photos to add to my project notes.

The Vogue jacket is looking much better.

For both student and teacher, photos are powerful tools for documenting, communicating, and solving fit problems.  The format of our meeting turned out to be one I’d happily repeat endlessly, for being so engaging and results-oriented. Handling fit, I’ve always felt a vast, unbridgeable gap in understanding between myself and the teacher or fit expert. Now I feel I can contribute something important on my end to help myself and the expert, and the expert is then in a better position to help me.

At last, looking at the same screen, I feel like we’re on the same page.