Susie's Home Ec
>> Susie Bright is an amateur dressmaker and a professional writer.
She blogs at susiebright.com.
The Case of
the Missing Curve
There’s a secret in the fabric shop. best in high fashion, it’s not a lie, or even a prejudice.
Dozens of women come in all day to A tremendous variety of clothes look great on hang-purchase soft minky for baby blankets, ers. If you have that hanger-like look, you should
retro oilcloth for totebags, and Betty Boop flannel try every crazy outfit under the sun, because it will
for pillowcases. probably look swell on you.
But these aren’t just eager homemakers and doting Curves require more care, and more discrimination
moms. These are seamstresses who are terrified to as to what will flatter. They take longer to draw, to cut,
make something to wear for themselves. They’re to sew — they are simply more labor-intensive.
hiding out in Home Dec, because the last time they Have you noticed how bridal designs in recent
made a dress, it was such a disaster they’re still years have focused on sleeveless, strapless gowns?
trembling with shame. They’re all the rage, and it’s not just because they’re
What was the problem? Why did they never sexy or romantic. No, it’s because drawing and
attempt a jacket, a pair of jeans — a T-shirt, even? tailoring a sleeve (a huge curve if there ever was
The answer is in one dreaded word: curves — the one) would add a tremendous cost to the dress, and
diabolical design of the female figure. Aside from so designers like Vera Wang realized that the profit
all the adolescent angst they cause, curving bodies margin lay in cutting those darn things off.
present the first real challenge to the home stitcher. Is there any hope? Yes, and a well-drawn pattern
The chief culprits are found in the unstated by someone who has devoted themselves to curves
prerogatives of the most well-known pattern com- is the place to begin. Don’t reinvent the wheel unless
panies. They don’t advertise this fact, but Vogue, you’re enrolling at Parsons and need the exercise.
Butterick, Simplicity, McCall’s, and New Look all Popular patterns from companies like Burda, Hot
design their patterns for a B-cup, no matter how Patterns, and Kwik Sew all feature designs that
large the chest measurement. You could cut out assume that as one gets bigger in size, the cup
the tissue with a 40" bust, and it would still be a size should change with the chest measurement.
B-cup; this is astounding when you think of how few Simplicity just offered a couple of experimental
women actually fit that measurement. patterns where they offer different cup sizes (one
These same patterns also place the apex of trendy jacket and one shirt-dress), and I intend to
the bustline (where your nipples sit) at a high flood them with encouraging letters.
angle, pointing at the stars. If you’re more at sea And then there’s Fit for Real People, a manual as
level or below, the finished garment is going to unpretentious as it sounds. It shows you how to
look ridiculous. slash, spread, and tape any pattern tissue into sub-
Why do they do this? To be honest, designing for mission! You’ll be flabbergasted by how great the
the flattest plane is the simplest, most forgiving models look whether they’re 6 feet tall or 80 years
assignment. It also allows for the most variety. old, top heavy, pear shaped, or round as a barrel — all
When they say that slender, boyish figures look the because they finally have something that fits. ×