The long and the short of it

No, there hasn’t been a terrible CSI incident in my sewing room.

The book that went along with series 2 of Great British Sewing Bee has a curious suggestion to help with fitting. The idea is to look at the different proportions of your body to find out where you’ll need to lengthen or shorten a pattern to fit you. I thought I’d give it a go so you don’t have to.

You will need:

  • An empty piece of wall
  • A large sheet of paper that’s as big as you (several pieces taped together would also do the job)
  • Masking tape or Blu-tack
  • A plumb line, or something else you can use to get a vertical line
  • A felt-tip pen
  • A spirit level
  • A friend to help you

Start by taping or sticking the paper to the wall just above head height. Use a plumb-line or a weight on a string (I used my fabric scissors tied onto a length of yarn) to draw a vertical line down the paper.

Wearing close-fitting clothing (or ideally just your underwear if you’re not planning on taking pictures to share with the world!), and in bare feet, stand with your back against the paper, positioning the vertical line directly behind the centre of your body.

Get your helper to draw around you, creating that essential murder-scene style outline.

Mark the following points with dots or crosses: the top of your head, either side of the base of your neck, the end point of each shoulder, both armpits, either side of your waist, each side of your hip, and your knee line.

Then use the spirit level to draw  horizontal line in each of those places.

Finally, take the paper down from the wall and cut along the line you marked across the top of your head. Fold the paper in half lengthways and make a crease at the fold. Then fold it in half lengthways again and crease the fold.

Unfold the paper, and you should have an outline of your body that’s been folded into quarters lengthways. You’re going to compare the fold lines with the lines you drew earlier.

 

In a standard figure, the book says, the first quarter would be head-armpit, the second armpit-hips, the third hips-knees and the fourth knees-toes.

I marked the crease lines on mine in blue, and comparing them with the red lines you can see they’re pretty close, meaning that I’m not especially long in one area or another. But I am at least 4″ taller than Ms Average, so I know I’ll need to lengthen each area of a pattern an inch or so to get it to fit.

(The comparison also shows up my lop-sidedness. My left leg and pelvis are larger than the right-hand side, and this causes a corresponding slope in my shoulders.)

Overall, this isn’t a massively accurate way to take your measurements for fitting, because it only compares proportions rather than absolute numbers. That said, it’s quite fun, and you do get a life-sized drawing of yourself to cut out and keep.

Would you try this at home? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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