When was the last time you made a top or dress and found the neckline was much lower than the image on the pattern suggested? This is a frustrating dilemma that many sewers, including me, encounter from time to time. A better pattern fitting would have probably avoided the problem. But, there is another way to ensure you get the neckline you want every time: Create a fit diary or sewing journal to keep a record of your preferred styling standards and formulas.
Your fit diary will be your ultimate resource for sewing a perfect fit and style each and every time!
Truth be told, this concept comes to me by way of Peggy Sagers, noted sewer extraordinaire and my fit/sewing guru. She clued me into this idea some time ago, and I have lived by it ever since. The concept is simple. The fit dairy records basic measurements for select fitting or design standards tailored to your body.
With these ready-made measurements, I can adjust patterns to a fit in a way that I know will work for me or according to styling standards I like. The neckline is just one area where the diary works particularly well, but it can be used to record all kinds of measurements and styling formulas.
How to make your own sewing journal: the neckline
Using the neckline as an example, I use the diary to record measurements to achieve a variety of neckline styles I prefer. I have measurements for a jewel neck, scoop neck, boat neck and V-neck. Anytime I make a garment with one of them I can refer to the diary to make the appropriate adjustments to the pattern to ensure the neckline fits the way I want it to fit.
To create the diary I use garments with necklines that work well for me: both my store bought garments as well as garments I have. I measure them using a curved ruler and jot down the measurements needed to create the look into my diary. Here is where all those garment sewing rulers come into play. For the neckline standards I use a standard dressmaking curved ruler.
Select a set of garments with necklines you like. Choose one to being with.
You’re going to use a curved ruler to record the measurements for the front. Start from the base of the neck at the shoulder line. Align the curved ruler to fit the neckline. Don’t worry if the ruler doesn’t fit the whole neckline; just record a section at a time, writing each section in the diary.
Since not all necklines start at the same point along the shoulder, also indicate the distance from the neck base to the neckline starting point.
Repeat the same process for the back. Record all neckline styles/types in this manner.
Always start at the same point for every style. The shoulder/neck base point is the best starting area for necklines. Then move to the center front/center back.
Move the ruler to the next garment and record that, etc. The combined measurements create the formulas for the style you want.
Note the date the measurements are being recorded as well as identifying the items used for the measurements.
The neckline is just one area where the diary works especially well, but it has application for almost every body measurement needed to sew your own clothes or clothes for clients. Every year, I record my own basic body measurements into the diary to reflect what body changes – mostly weight gain, seldom loss – that may have occurred that will impact my pattern.