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The things I didn’t know…………….

GailAnn | Posted in Fitting on

Went shopping with my sister in a “higher end” clothing store, than I typically visit.

Decided to purchase a top on sale.  I was pretty sure it would fit, looked like it, my size.

Sister strongly suggested I try it on, before I bought it, because, according to “know it all”, Sis, this particular store has different size groupings.

Yes, it did fit, but it looked SO BAD that if I had bought it, I’d have driven the 50 mile round trip to return it. 

Here is the thing, that store carries the same shirt, in various colours, and various SLEEVE LENGTHS!  The sleeve length I had selected was “elbow   length” (I thought “modest”, turns out “ugly” is the more apt discription).  On me, every other sleeve length was SO much more flattering than “elbow”.

Bought same shirt in “below elbow”  AND  “cap” sleeve lengths, and am quite happy.

Perhaps this is why I find myself unhappy with things I’ve made for myself.

Lesson learned!



  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    I had to chuckle to myself when I read your post my friend! My daughters always make me go in and try on some pretty weird and wild things when I go shopping with them, in my opinion anyway. To my utter astonishment and surprise, they often look way better and very flattering on me. Way outside the box to my way of thinking. The fit may not be perfect, but certain details, cuts or lengths work. So the next time I go shopping in a pattern book, I look for those types of styles and details, knowing they will be flattering.
    It pays to subject oneself to trying things on in a store, even if you do not intend to buy. Even if the store is not your style. It is good for a giggle at any rate, and you just might surprise yourself. Cathy

  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    With major fitting issues, I cannot consider buying something without trying it on; that's why I'm still resisting internet clothes shopping and why sewing for myself is often frustrating.   Sometimes, even two of the same size, same color, same brand tops will fit completely differently, or a darker color will look fantastic while the lighter one looks awful.

    Each season, I try on a few versions of whatever the latest trend happens to be, even if it's way outside my normal range, tos ee whether it might work.  Sometimes I find suprisingly good results--like your tops--and other times, I howl in laughter as I see that miserable lumpy woman in the dressing room mirror. 

    This weekend, I found a wonderfully shaped linen shirt but then burst into giggles when I tried on a modified peasant top...oh, what a difference! Using a croquis helps a lot when deciding what to sew, but even that often results in disaster.

    1. GailAnn | | #4

      I used to wear a lot of white top/blouses.  I must have had a dozen when I was working in an office.  After age 50, something changed in my complection (or possibly my teeth colour) and suddeningly, white just looked AWFUL.  Gail

    2. Tatsy | | #6

      I'm with you! Trying on clothes is a must and buying pants is the absolute worst. If I go shopping with people who don't sew, they'll rave over a pair that has a whole diorama of wrinkles in the  back. Those people must always make sure they're standing by a wall.

      On one shopping trip a few years ago I accidentally wandered into the petite department and was stunned to find that the pants that fit so well were petitie. I'm 5'6". Most of my friends call me tall and thin--No comments now on the sort of people I run around with--but petites are a far better choice for me than anything else. No saddlebags and usually enough width to hang modestly. But even then, I can't always find a pair that fits.

      The other problem I have is that fitting my middle puts me in a size range that leaves the shoulder seam hanging in the air and the sleeve cuffs at my first knuckle. It's too bad sleeves and armscyes can be such a bear to adjust. This is what keeps me sewing.

      1. Teaf5 | | #7

        I'm 5'8" , but a petite size large fits me better than Misses sizes as all my height is in my legs. I also have very long arms, so that I often get incredible discounts on petite tops and jackets with sleeves that are impossibly long for someone shorter than I.Sewing knowledge not only helps me judge fit; it also helps me alter "almost-there" RTW. Lately, nearly everything I buy needs some kind of adjustment--a lowered bust dart, a hidden pocket, a snap at the bust line gap, or an underarm seam adjustment to reduce gaping.

        1. Sancin | | #8

          I would gladly trade you some of stuff I have to cut off my sleeves and legs!! I try to think of what I can do with all these circles of different fabric I cut off when I shorten things ;-)

          1. Tatsy | | #9

            When the kids were small and women still wore hose, I made several of those pocket quilts stuffed with old nylons. We were broke and it was mostly a way to use up the scraps and nylons and get something else on the beds. I think they're ghastly, but the boys (middle-aged men now) and their wives dote on them.  Those discarded sleeve- and leg-ends would be perfect for that kind of recycling.

          2. Ocrafty1 | | #10

            I try to think of what I can do with all these circles of different fabric I cut off when I shorten things ;-)

            The 'circles' can be used for pieces in quilts.  They might also be used for making 'Barbie' doll clothes. If you don't make either of these, or just want to get rid of them, you might consider contacting a local quilting group, or if you live in the US, your local county extension office (usually listed under gov't offices in the phone book.)  They can put you in touch with a quilt or homemakers' group that would be happy to have the scraps for quilts. Some of these groups make lap quilts for nursing home residents. (Yes, they still have ladies that go to club meetings for homemakers...and with the current economy, those numbers may grow.)

            The scraps might also be used to make "yo-yo's."  These were popular back in the '70's and are making a comeback.  We made coverlets with them back in the day...and used them for appliques...they make cute flowers, fruits, and 'critters'...on children's clothing, purses, etc.

            Depending on the type and amount of fabric, you might use the fabric 'circles' for coordinating accent trim on garments....or maybe accessories...like a purse/bag... that you wear with the 'original', as well.

            'Circles', especially when cut from a dress/skirt, are perfect for 'trying out' or practicing a new sewing technique, or stitches; either by hand or machine...or for checking what temp your iron will work best on that garment...

            They are also the perfect size for 'little ones' to learn to sew... I used these type of scraps to teach my eldest granddaughter (9) to sew on buttons.  She spent hours searching through my fabrics and 'special collection' of buttons and sewing them on  (I have a tin of buttons that are too wierd for my projects, but they are perfect for her.) Then she played with ideas of what to do with all of her 'work'.  She went home with a bag to carry her 'hair thingies' in...and couldn't wait to show her friends what she'd made! 

            I have a large tote that I keep 'scraps' like this in.  I put them in 'baggies' and mark what type of fabric it is (if I know) Then I put those baggies in a larger one...sorted by color...makes it easier to find just what you're looking for... You never know when when you'll need just that piece of fabric. I've used scraps from wedding gowns, that I've altered for one client, for gussets in  gowns for other clients.  

            I could go on, and on...Hope this helps. 


          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #11

            One use you did not mention for those circles is as chair leg protectors! Several stacked and a stitch run through them, placed under the legs on heavy furniture protect your floors from scratching, and make it easier to move the furniture. Run gathering stitches around them and slip them over the ends of chair legs. Helps to keep the noise down on hard floors. They do wear out quickly, but are cheaper than constantly buying the felt thingies. Cathy

          4. MaryinColorado | | #18

            Love this one!  Chair booties!!!  giggle!  I'm going to try this one for sure!  We've been using industrial carpet pieces but they don't stay put.  You always have such innovative ideas!!!  Thanks for sharing this one!  Mary

          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #21

            He he he, just a sign of a warped mind, or perhaps one that does not think like other minds do perhaps? Cathy

          6. Teaf5 | | #12

            Hmmm...maybe you could connect all those rings from different pants to create a tube for a tote bag? Or a pillow cover? Or a handbag that will coordinate with several different outfits? And it's already pre-cut for a strip-quilted throw or picnic blanket...A few inches of a good quality bottomweight can make a handy garage-door remote holder, a reading glasses or sunglasses case, or an interior pocket on a skirt that doesn't have any other pockets.I also like to use random scraps like those to try out new techniques or get more practice with something new, like inserting visible zippers, adding piping, or making welt pockets. The first try is always scary and difficult, but working on scraps takes away some of the pressure and helps me get used to the technique and how it works on different fabrics.

          7. Sancin | | #13

            I am not seriously looking for anymore projects to 'deal' with hem scraps. I have enough to do. It just 'rots my socks' that, as a large woman, I have to pay more for my size and then have to cut more than I paid for off. One of life's little frustrations, of which there seems to be more than I care for! If I were really creative and a little more nutty I should try to piece all of the different types of fabrics and colours together and make a new pair of pants!!

          8. KharminJ | | #14

            Oh, what a delightful 'mind picture'! Truly a nutty project, but it sure tickles to think about! ;o) K

          9. Teaf5 | | #15

            Ha ha! I was going to suggest a pair of striped pants, but didn't want to sound quite that nutty. However, tomorrow, we have our annual Whole Earth festival in town, and striped pants seem to be the rage this year....

            Edited 5/14/2009 7:55 pm by Teaf5

          10. MaryinColorado | | #19

            giggle!  "amazing technicolor dream pants"  I don't think so!  teehee

          11. Palady | | #16

            What to do with scraps? 

            Read a post on a knitting board of using left over yarn to make circles for placing between teflon pans to reduce the scratching possibility.  Same could be said for between stacked dished.  Currently I use fine buuble wrap cut to shape.  Fabric circles might work for some folks.


          12. MaryinColorado | | #20

            Hey, thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!!!  Mary

          13. MaryinColorado | | #17

            I can relate to that!  After wearing my jean jacket for over a year, I finally got around to taking off the cuffs.  It's been waiting since last Autumn for me to finish the alteration and embellish it.  (I kept hoping those sleeves would shrink...a product of an overactive imagination I'm afraid.) 

            Aren't we lucky to be able to hem everything ourselves? 

  3. Josefly | | #3

    I find myself in the same boat too often: what I assume will look good looks downright awful, and some things my daughter suggests, which I would ordinarily dismiss out of hand, look surprisingly good on me when I give in to her pleas to try them on. Hard to know just what the issues are. See, if I had tried on the elbow-length sleeved top first, I would have probably assumed all the other styles would look equally bad. So glad you found some things you like.

    1. GailAnn | | #5

      How wonderful to have a daughter!!!  I appreciate mine more and more every day.  Gail

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