The House of Tatterdemalion

Unfashionable, unskilled, inexpensive--but still sewing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Anatomy of a Troll

Several years ago (I don't remember exactly when, maybe it was like a year and a half ago? Two and a half? It feels like forever), when I was first starting out my dreadful fitting saga, I was getting on the computer to post my fitting problems to the on-line sewing community for help. (Which, I'm sorry to say, wasn't very helpful, in my case.) A few brothers asked what I was doing.

"Trying to get help figuring out how to alter this pattern to fit me."

"Oh." Pause. "Why don't you just buy one that fits?"

"I can't find any that fit!"

"Oh, that's easy!"

"Oh, really?"

"Sure, just get on-line and go to the place where they sell dress patterns for trolls."

"There isn't a company that makes dress patterns for trolls!"

"Oh, well, dwarves, then. They have dwarf throwing contests in England, don't they? They must have patterns for dwarves."

"I really don't think they go throwing around dwarves while they're wearing dresses."

(Brother no. 2 speaks up). "I don't understand why you even need a pattern."

"Because I don't know how to---"

"But it's easy. You just get a burlap sack, and you cut three holes in it. Ta-da! See? Easy."

"Yeah, why don't you just do that?"

At this point, they generally lost interest. Seeing that their utterly brilliant logic was once again being wasted, as pearls before swine, they no longer found it agreeable to pursue the issue any further.

Perhaps, if nothing else, you are wondering why I didn't object to the fact I was being described as a troll. Well, one can't over-look their equally amazing powers of perception--it was a rather apt description. At barely 5 foot and 1 inch and 135 pounds, the Body Mass Index puts me at 25.5--over weight, but not yet considered "obese". However, as is a common rant against the Body Mass Index, this has a fair amount to do with the fact that I (insert horrified gasping noise here) lift weights! Short, stocky, more muscular than the average (which isn't saying too much, I'm afraid), hairy, ill-tempered, near-sighted---well, it does rather describe a troll, doesn't it?

Have I solved all fitting problems? Not yet. (I'm keeping the optimistic "yet" in there, thank you very much.) In the process of trying, though, I've discovered a rather lot about my body shape, and the supposed "average" shape, that I never knew before. Hopefully this post will help other women, weight-lifting or otherwise, to discover what it is that differs from the "normal"---after all, finding the problem is the first step to finding the cure, right? Besides, I'll end the post with "Fitting solutions for these problems--coming soon!"--and up-date the post in another, oh, thirty-five years. If you can't swallow any of that, then I will have to put a in a sub-plot, called "Why on earth isn't there a pattern company catering to trolls so I wouldn't have to go through all of this work just to get something that fits me relatively decently?" and we'll call the whole thing a therapeutic rant. Which usually aren't that much good for the one ranting, but can occasionally put the listeners in near hysterical giggles. (But then, I think that is often more because of my facial expressions than my actual choice of words, so perhaps you all are missing out on the best part.)

We shall start with the bodice front. Apparently, most pattern drafters think that the typical women has spent most of her life lying flat on her back with a baby elephant using said average woman's ribcage as a cushion for sitting upon. I can find no other reason to account for the fact that they draft the bodice front as though---well, as though the ribcage has been sat on by a baby elephant for one day too many. Yes, yes, they put darts in, and all that jazz. But the front is drafted to be very wide and shallow, as though one were only two dimensional, and if we all turned sideways no one could see us. The front is wide enough it keeps wanting to slip off the shoulders. At the same time, it doesn't allow enough room at the sides (beneath the arms), causing it too pull and strain at the sides as the rather flat pattern tries to wrap around a rather round rib-cage. This means that the bodice front is simultaneously too large AND too small!!! How utterly brilliant! I don't think I could have dreamed up anything more sadistic if I tried!

And, as further proof of their brilliance, you can't add more to the sides without messing with the armhole, and if you mess with the armhole, you have to mess with the sleeve---The sleeve! That great accursed thing that no one can understand or properly alter! In one breath-taking move, the pattern drafters have got you cornered. I'm pretty sure they have a little check-list:

#1. Is the garment too small? Check.

#2. Is the garment too big? Check.

#3. Will the Cursed Ones---I mean, Consumers--have to alter the sleeve, regardless of what problem they're trying to fix? Check.

I can just hear them giggling up their sleeves, even now. Someone must have gotten a big raise when they dreamed up this problem.

I'm trying to side-step the whole "sadistic pattern drafters" issue by drafting my own patterns. The problem is that, as they say, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. To paraphrase, not knowing what you're doing can get you in a lot of trouble.

For instance, the waist. Where, exactly, is your waist? If you had to mark out, in a straight line, where you waist was, where would you put it? Well, the standard advice from great fitting gurus (who might also be laughing up their sleeves; that is of yet undetermined) is that your waist is (a) where ever your side creases when you bend to the side and (b) where there is the greatest amount of indent on the side of your torso. By both of these criteria, the small bit of knowledge I grasp to, my waist is right exactly after where my ribcage ends. This is where I was putting in all of my attempts at drafting, until someone pointed out with crushing logic that, regardless of what the supposed experts say, putting your waistline there looks stupid (agreed), and the whole point of drafting your own is to get it to look right. So either bring it up a few inches and call it "empire waisted" or down a few inches to where it looks right. Well, duh. I should have realized that.

This means that my waist is at the place where my back bends inward the most, running right along the top of my hip bones (not the joint, the ischium). This makes complete sense; that's where I always put my waistbands anyway. I don't supposed I would have ever considered putting it higher, if I hadn't been told that my waist was where I bent at the side, where I was most indented.

This brings me to my second great mystery, moving from the bodice front to the skirt front. Why, why, why do they put darts in skirt fronts? Darts point to a bump. Where is there a bump below my waist? If I put my waistline up high at the end of my rib-cage, then I suppose I get a bit of a rise. But a careful scrutiny of a fitting shell pattern showed that the waistline did indeed fall at the top of the hip bones, not the end of the rib-cage. They showed, and all the gurus claimed, that the "abdomen", the lower torso below the waistline, protrudes. This flabbergasted me.

I mean, yes, my waist does protrude a bit. I think I fall within the healthy range of fat for women--18%-20% (as opposed to the 10%-15% for men), and of that percentage, some of it expectedly falls around my belly button, causing me to have a domed belly--wait, did I say fat? Scratch that. I keep forgetting that the word "fat" is now politically incorrect--it's "feminine fluff". And if there's a bit more than might perhaps seem proper, then it is shortened down to "fluff". Remember that, now. (I'm terrible at being politically correct.)

Anyway, the point was, I don't bulge out below my waist. My waist is my most protruding point. And I couldn't for the life of me figure out why on earth anyone would. I finally found my answer in, of all places, a weight-lifting book. (Frederic Delavier's Women's Strength Training Anatomy.) Page 109: "Ptosis: Inferior displacement of an organ, most often because the structures normally maintaining it have let go. When the abdominal wall lacks tone, it cannot retain the viscera, and the belly collapses and creates a pocket in which the loops of the intestines rest." This weirds me out considerably. I don't like the idea of my guts all falling in a heap. I'd much prefer that they some how all stayed in place, regardless of my muscle condition. Guts just seem like an altogether much too important part of the body to go moving about like that.

I am happy to report that all of my guts are firmly in place. Thank goodness. Does anyone else besides me find it disturbing that this condition is considered the normal? All the fitting shells have these front darts. How on earth can it be considered normal to have your guts falling out? Though I suppose that perhaps in may be a reason why the "normal" also has a smaller waist measurements--if all of your guts have decided to take up a southern vacation home, I suppose that means they've evacuated from the more northern waist, which I suppose means the waist can collapse inward more, causing this supposedly normal person to have a narrower waist.

What happens when you put in front waist darts and you don't need them? This. See how the skirt is all poofy in front, even though it's supposed to be a fitted skirt? The darts create a "pocket" of fabric for something that isn't there. This lady obviously needs the darts. She isn't fat, but she does bulge out a bit below the waist.

So, hypothetically speaking, since I don't have a "protruding abdomen", my skirt should fall straight down from my waist, right? Wrong! Here's where that dratted weight-lifting comes in. Whoever the heck it was that decided the "normal" person was someone with a totally atrophied muscular system certainly never includes this as a "fitting problem". It's called--"protruding quadriceps"! This terrible condition happens when you actually use your muscles, namely the ones on the front of your thighs. (I'm not talking about "saddle bags", or lumps and bumps on the side of the legs, but the muscle groups on the front of the thighs.) My skirt situation is thus:

(a) belly domes out with fat--I mean, fluff.

(b)belly slopes back inward, due to the fact that guts are comfortable where they are, and are not currently considering a move to a more southern-ly retirement home.

(c)quadriceps--on both legs--bulge out from (shockingly!) physical exercise. The front circumference measurement across the quadriceps exceeds the front circumference of the waist!!

This is a scandal!! My thighs are bigger than my waist! And it's not like I have a teeny-tiny waist either! And no one tells you how you're supposed to make a skirt when your legs are sticking out further in the front than your waist does! Do you put in darts, pointing toward the muscles in your legs? That would work, I suppose, but it would look awfully weird. And how are you supposed to deal with the whole fact that there is an indent between waist and thigh? Right where I'm supposed to be taking the abdomen measurement (where my stomach is supposedly sticking out the most), my stomach is sloping inwards. By the time I'm level with my hip joints, there is a definite indent. There is no way to tell what width the skirt should be between waist and protruding quads, so I just have to wing it. (The actual measurement wouldn't help me, because I want the skirt to fall evenly from waist to thighs, without indenting.)

But this is certainly one reason why I have to wear loose-fitting jeans. My quads usually have to "borrow" fabric from the back of the pant leg, as the "normal" person who wears jeans apparently doesn't put their quads to much use. Or else the jean designers are just as sadistic as the pattern drafters. I'm sure there is a conspiracy in here somewhere.

Moving along, we come to the bodice back. I can't see my back, so it's very hard to make diagnostics. My first clue that something weird was up was that everything seems to strain across my upper back, leading me to wear, um, loose t-shirts. Once the shoulder seams are falling off my shoulders by a few inches, I have enough room to comfortably maneuver without feeling the fabric tighten and constrain across my back. This also means that, in any dressy-type blouses, by the time I get the shirt big enough I'm not in danger of ripping out every back seam the garment has (and perhaps creating a few new ones), the front is as loose as a burlap sack (a large burlap sack), and the sleeves look like they belong on some supposed primitive pre-human whose knuckles drop down below it's knees. What does that make me? An Incredible Hulk? I mean, Hulkess? I think I'll just stick with troll.

A digital picture of my back proved the fact that I have, an, um, back. And, from all appearances, an un-normal back. The whole "normal means disintegrating muscular system" is making more and more sense all the time. Apparently, it's decidedly un-normal to have a healthy, well used body. So sue me! I actually use the muscles on my upper back. This, apparently, is another fitting problem.

I also have a bunch of probably-also-abnormal muscles popping up around the back of my neck, making it awfully hard to figure out where the "shoulder seam" is supposed to fall. It also gives me the added "bonus" of making my already short neck look even shorter.

Next comes the skirt back. My version of the saying "No if's, and's, or but's" is "No hips , and a big butt." I am practically straight-up-and-down at the sides. I pin-fitted some Pattern-Ease (translucent interfacing for the purpose of tracing pattern on to) about my hips; the resulting curve wasn't curvy. If I mark my hip joint as point A, and my waist at point B, and draw a straight line connecting the two, the resulting line is at exactly 98 degrees. I am seriously serious. I went and got my sister's protractor and checked. At the point where my hip curve actually curves out the most, it's 1/4 of an inch away from touching line AB. My hips curve out only 1/4 of inch, how's that for un-normal?

My rear, on the other hand, is either full of enough explosive muscle power to take me to the moon, or else is carrying around enough supplies to get me through a particularly brutal 7 year famine. I choose to believe the former, thank you very much.

This pretty well concludes my rant.

Please don't conclude that I think the entire industry ought to switch to drafting to my exact measurements; my rant is more against the ridiculousness of calling any body shape "normal", when they're so obviously all different. It's not truly against the pattern drafters or clothes manufactures, or any body shape, or lack of shape. No doubt, if you have ever struggled with fitting issues, you're thinking something along the lines of, "That's nothing! You should see what I'm up against!" or else, "Just wait until you get old, then you'll really having fitting problems." Quite true, I'm sure. I'll probably be writing some rant entitled: Why isn't there a pattern company that caters to aging trolls who still haven't figured out how to alter for their fitting problems?

12 Comments:

Anonymous Arlan said...

You can't be seriously serious. If you only have two points and you only draw one line, you must have 180 degrees--no more and no less.

If you had a third point or a reference line, you could perhaps get 98 degrees. So, are you measuring off of a perfect horizontal? Or are you just seriously introducing an entirely new form of geometry?

8:14 AM  
Blogger Neefer said...

You might be better of focusing your energy on learning how to alter instead of ranting. It's not difficult.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

Arlan,

Yes, I am measuring off a perfect horizontal. The "hip-line" on my pattern draft is perfectly horizontal. The diagonal runs from the perfect horizontal to the waist line, hence the angle.

Neefer,

Ah, but ranting requires no energy! That's what I do when I haven't got enough left for anything else. When I do have the energy (which is a good deal more often), I'm busy teaching myself pattern drafting. Which takes more thought and energy to write about than complaining that there is no perfect normal.

I will probably write about my pattern drafting efforts after I've got something finished; while I'm working on it, I spend enough time thinking about it I don't want to devote another brain-cell to writing about it.

And I have tried pattern altering in the past; I'm sorry to say I found it very difficult, very confusing, and not very helpful. Pattern drafting seems to fit my mind-frame much better, though I realize it's not that way for everyone.

But thank you for the good advice. It's very true that ranting about things doesn't get anything accomplished. (Since that wasn't my goal, I'm not too disappointed.) Unfortunately, this blog quite often winds up being rants, so if those don't amuse, the blog probably won't, either. The blog certainly gets the leftovers of my time, not my best energy.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Bluecatahoula said...

Hi, I stumbled across your blog when I was googling for info on pattern drafting, and have been enjoying it! I noticed your mention of the waist line being too high when measured by side indent/crease. If it's any help, I just finished a class on basic block construction, and my instructor said that the main purpose for having it be so high is to ensure that the darts fit the bust properly. The drafter can then lower the waist line (making diamond-shaped darts by legthening and tapering in the triangle darts suggested with the basic block), or raise it to fit their design. I found that in my case, lowing the waist creates something that looks like a better-fitting version of the patterns I've bought all these years (which are my only basis for comparison right now). I don't know it that was any help, or if you already knew this from your reading. Just thought I'd put my two cents in!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

Aha! Thanks for your two cents, bluecatahoula, they're valuable to me!

I did notice when I compared the meausurements of my indent to my waist that if I adjusted my dart for the difference, I'd wind up with a diamond shaped dart. I thought that for my bodice and skirt slopers, I'd use my waist, and for the torso block I'd make diamond shaped darts using my indent measurments.

At any rate, it explains why everyone tells you to find your waist like that, even though everyone wears their waist lower nowadays.

You have not only answered my curious mind, but you have also given point to my point-less rant. I need more readers like you! ;)

10:48 AM  
Anonymous bluecatahoula said...

Glad I could be of help! I don't know if you've read it, but the book we used was very helpful in drafting: The Costume Technician's Handbook, by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey. About a third of it is just basic sewing (how to sew a seam, how to find a grainline, etc.), but it has some great information on drafting, as well as translating the basic block into a real pattern. Cheers!

11:54 AM  
Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

No, I've never even heard of The Costume Technician's Handbook before. I just went and looked it up on Amazon, and it looks great! I'm definitely going to have to add it to my wishlist. Do you have the 2003 version or the 1992 version (or some other edition)?

12:10 PM  
Anonymous bluecatahoula said...

I had the 3rd (2003) edition, and it worked very well. I don't know that there's a big difference in the 2003 and 1992 editions; a quick glance in my copy shows the the main changes were about things like managing a theatrical costume shop, equipment, and some other things we never covered.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tatter, thanks for the post, we have several features in common, although I'm tall so I guess that makes me a ogre instead of a troll. :)

A lightbulb just went on in my head and I want to thank you. My rib cage is wide front to back! It just never occurred to me this was the problem with my shoulder fit and it explains a lot. Thank you so much for talking about that! I also appreciate the comments on the waistline. I too don't have much of a waist, but I have given up on Wild Ginger because it insists on drafting my waistline six inches above my navel, over my ribcage. I wasn't aware my bustline was the problem and still don't quite have a handle on this but at least I now have a handle on upper body fit.

As far as the comment on ranting goes, where else can you rant but your blog? People don't have to read it for goodness sake:) Anyway, Thank you!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

Hello, anonymous ogre! Welcome to the circus troup, or whatever it is I've got started here. (What are you supposed to call it when an ogre, a troll, and goodness knows who else, get together?)

You guys have made my day. I'm very happy to hear that it helped you realize some of your "issues"--I thought it was a bit of a long shot to hope that it would help someone else out, but I'm thrilled it did (and so soon after posting, too)!

If you, like me, find your ribcage is deeper front to back than is considered "normal" you may find this post to be of some interest:

http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/a_question_of_thoracic_shaping.html

I found it a big difficult to follow, as she uses the words "round" and "egg" where I would use "flatter" and "more round" or "normal" and "deeper". If you just keep in mind that the "egg" is you, it does seem to make sense. Unfortunately, she does not yet offer any solutions, either, but maybe this will help another lightbulb go off in your head.

I'm afraid I can't help any with Wild Ginger, though. I've never used a computer program to draft, partly because of the expense, and partly because I hate fighting with computers to get them to do what I want. I've been working out of Elizabeth Allemong's European Cut, and I find the drafting part to be quite easy. (The hard part is getting accurate measurememts, which, for some reason, has been quite a nightmare for me.) I hope to post more on that later, but time always seems to get away from me.

As for neefer's comment, I think she just meant to point out that complaining about things doesn't fix them, and I certainly didn't take any offense.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

TatterD, I think you would be best served by the Palmer/Pletsch Fit for Real People series. They cover a great many different types of body variations, including certain of yours.

Ummm ... and I'm going to go with the whole frustrated-and-ranting approach, because, you know, even people who have actual belly bulges aren't necessarily suffering from ptosis or an atrophied muscular system. I have a belly bulge, which I have had since I was nine, and a small waist, and I too am a weight-lifter. It's a body design courtesy of my mother, who test-drove it. And I don't mean I "tone" with weights, either. Even at a size 2/4, I had, and have had, a belly; a mound of muscle covered by fat* (and skin, because otherwise, EWWWWWWWWW). The darts give room for what is, indeed, a fairly customary, i.e., NOT "abnormal", distribution of body fat on women. You don't happen to have any there. That's normal too - for you. But there happen to be more women who have it, which is why patterns are designed to have darts there. The Real Fit books are good to work with - they'll show where you should eliminate darts, and they actually show a woman whose body fullness, like yours, is lower than the hips; I expect that you could make the same alterations she made to get a straight skirt to fit you. I would, of course, suggest that a straight skirt might not be the most flattering choice for your particular shape, and there are other pretty skirts you could wear which would be less work for you.

It is difficult in the first place for most women to figure out what alterations they need to make to alter a pattern to fit. It is much more than doubly-difficult for women who lift weights to alter patterns to fit, particularly as most fitting books haven't begun to address the types of variations that can occur with shifts in muscle mass. I know that I will always, always have to alter patterns to fit - I'm 13" across the back from scye to scye, and 17 1/2 inches across the front from scye to scye. That measure is chest, not bosom; it's above where the bosom starts. And although my back is narrow, my shoulders are wide. And my neck pitches forward, and my hips are pronated 7 degrees, and by the way, it SUCKS trying to find a bra that fits right, because Victoria's Secret doesn't seem to believe that women are lifting weights, either.

Check the Real Fit books; they should help tremendously. You may find that for the armhole, you would be best off boxing the armhole, and moving it (draw a box around the entire armhole, and fit the bodice side; then move the entire box with the unaltered armhole back into position.

When you say that your waist is the part that "sticks out the most," do you mean that literally? Is your thoracic area somewhat protruberant, rather than flat, or even indented? If so, it sounds like the body type described as "barrel-bellied," unfortunate as that sounds. It doesn't mean fat, it means that's the way you're shaped - literally, like a barrel. It does make your pronounced quads more of a challenge to fit.

You also may not be making the best style choices for your figure; this will increase your fitting problems exponentially. If, like me, you have a nice big buildup of muscle at the base of the neck, a high fitted collar won't be your most flattering choice. Similarly, a straight skirt won't be your most flattering choice (nor will it be the easiest to move in, which makes me wonder why a weight-lifter would choose it, but hey, I like them myself, and they're not MY best choice, either) - but I will defend to the death a woman's right to love a style that doesn't suit her the best. There are also jacket patterns out there that will be MUCH EASIER for someone with a round muscular butt to wear than others; anything, for instance, with a horizontal AND a vertical back seam, which make alterations for a muscular upper back, and a backside protrusion, easier (this would be a jacket pattern with a peplum). Also, remember that you want to level your skirts from the waist to get the hem even, because otherwise you'll still have slanted side seams where your butt is pulling the skirt up (and it does, too, I bet).

It's just ... I know you're annoyed and all, but just because your body varies from other people's doesn't mean that it's because you work out and they don't. It's because bodies vary. I get being proud that you work out, and annoyed and defensive that, damn it, the pattern companies sure don't seem to have you in mind**, but I'm pretty sure you don't want to make other women feel annoyed and defensive about their bodies, too, because it's a crappy feeling.

*Fat, muscle, blood, bones, skin, hair. All perfectly good words, and all parts that go into making people the shapes they are. Women's curves are shaped by fat as well as muscle. Fat is not a perjorative; fat is just fat. My cat's tail gets "fluffy;" I am not "fluffy," nor do I have fluff. I have fat. More in some places than others, more overall sometimes than others. It's just a body part.

**50% of all women have to alter patterns to get them to fit - and that was back in the 80's. I'm guessing that probably more women, and not fewer, have to alter their patterns now.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Tatterdemalion said...

La BellaDonna,

Thank you for your wonderful long comment!

I would like to begin my response by saying--hopefully more clearly than I did at the end of my post--that I do not think that fitting problems are "only" due to working out, and that if I didn't work out, every thing would fit. Nor am I particularly proud of working out (I do it for health reasons, mostly; bad backs run in the family). And I don't mean to say that my shape (what ever shape that is) is in any way better than anyone elses bodies (what ever shape they may be). In fact, I meant to be in sympathy with women--of all shapes--because none of us has a shape that is considered "normal". So, you are correct. I, in no way, mean to make anyone else feel annoyed or defensive. Far from it--I meant to be commiserating with all who have struggled with fitting issues, no matter what issues they were. Though, since my issues are mainly issues that arrive from working out, it is only natural that I will be able to identify better with those with the same issues--not that those issues are in any way better or worse, but they're certainly the one's I'm the most familiar with!(I confess to say I almost didn't post this because I was afraid it would offend/hurt someone's feelings. I hope I didn't make the wrong choice, and if I have inadvertantly hurt someone, I'm truly sorry. That wasn't my intention, although I know I can be clumsy with words.)

The second thing I want to address is Fit for Real People. I have actually gotten this book out of the library, so I'm, at the very least, somewhat familiar with it. My problem is, as you so aptly put it: "It is difficult in the first place for most women to figure out what alterations they need to make to alter a pattern to fit."

I floundered terribly. Despite my best efforts, trying to figure out where to start, and what even needed to be done, and what problems I had, and what they were called--it overwhelmed me, and gave me no direction to start.

I am currently using a drafting book, European Cut, which MAKES SENSE. It doesn't matter, in pattern drafting, what your shape is called, or whether or not it is normal. You start by taking measurements; then you draw the bodice to fit those measurements. This gave me the firm footing I was desperately looking for, and I have made progress much more quickly since I switched from pattern altering to pattern drafting. I realize this may be a quirk of my personality, but I have tried Fit for Real People, and it didn't seem to help me as much as it has helped other people.

I accept your rant as a perfectly valid one! Not only that, you obviously think like me. I laughed when I read "a mound of muscle covered by fat* (and skin, because otherwise, EWWWWWWWWW)". We also obviously think alike on the subject of using the word "fat"--it's as much a body part as "skin" is, and please, no one tell me it's politically incorrect to refer to people as having skin, nowadays! I am quite interested to learn that your fat tends to settle below the belly button. I,too, have a mound of muscle covered by fat (and skin, thank goodness), but my fat makes a mound right around my belly button, not below. I will take your word for it that is fairly customary, and consider myself educated.

You asked When you say that your waist is the part that "sticks out the most," do you mean that literally? Is your thoracic area somewhat protruberant, rather than flat, or even indented? To answer this question, I had to go look up the definition of "thorcic". "Thorcic" seems to refer to chest/rib-cage area. The waist, as discussed in my post, has been described as either where the side of the body indents the most, or running right on top of the hip bones. (For clairity, when I refer to "waist", I am referring to running right along the top of my hip bone.)

I think (please excuse me if I'm wrong) that you are referring to the side of the body. http://fashion.about.com/cs/7/l/blmeasure.htm Here's a quick a sketch of a "normal" person I found on the internet. They put the waist where the side indents the most. I do have such an indent. This indent, for me, is right where my rib-cage ends. It's much higher than I would place my waistline. I mark my waistline about two inches lower than this indent. Now, when I refer to my waist as being my most protruding part of my stomach area, I'm speaking as though I was standing in profile. The underlying muscles are basically straight up and down. The fat on top of the muscles mounds out the most right where I've placed my waistline. So when I mention my waist as being the most protruding part of my stomach area, I'm placing it in contrast to having what is decribed as a protruding abdomen--when someone stands in profile, and their abdomen (below the belly-button) sticks out further than their waist.

When I speak of protruding thighs, I am also speaking in profile. Looking face foward, as in a mirror, my thighs don't stick out (I'm basically straight up and down). But from the side, one can see that they stick out further than my waist. I'm pretty sure the cure for this is simply shaping the side seam more, but the hard part is getting an accurate measurement for drafting with. (Changing your stance, of course, dramatically affects this measurement.)

Another thing I think I have to explain in more detail is that I'm not currently up the point of drafting clothes patterns. Then what on earth am I drafting? A sloper. This (if properly made) a skin-tight shell drafted to your exact body measurments. It's sole purpose is to show how much and where your body takes up space. After getting a properly drafted sloper, then one adds wearing and style ease to get the desired clothing pattern. The sloper is a fitted bodice and a straight skirt--when both of these fit right (no pulling or wrinkles), you can then make clothes, of any style, that fit.

So, yes, a straight skirt is quite possibly "not a good look" for me, but right now I'm working on fit, not style. I can't stand wearing straight skirts unless they have a great big huge walking pleat, because you're right, it's nearly imposible to walk in them comfortably. I do have the build up of muscle around the neck, and I most certainly avoid high fitted collars!! And I have always been attracted to jackets with a peplum, but not for fit reasons. I just like the way they look.

The sloper I have now is pretty good. I had some draw lines from the bust diagonally toward the hip; when I let out the waist seam by the hips, it confirmed my sucspicion that I didn't make the skirt side seam long enough. The side seams of the skirt also swing foward (right at my quads, big surprise) as well as straining across the front. Other than that, it really fits quite well. I keep trying to steal a few moments to see if I can adjust the thigh area satisfactorily, but my time keeps getting sapped by things that have deadlines.
This makes it hard to have time for things that I really want to do, but don't technically have deadlines.

What I want to do after I finish adjusting the sloper (and the only reason I have to adjust it is because I screwed up on the measurements, I think), is to trace out a copy of my sloper and a standard pattern company sloper on the same piece of paper, just to see how they differ in shape. And also I'd like to figure out exactly what "standard" adjustments I would have had to make in order to get a "normal" pattern to fit me. In other words, find out what I would have had to do, had I gone the alteration route instead of the draft-from scratch route. I think finding out both of those things would be quite fascinating.

I also find what measurments that you mentioned of yourself to be interesting. It sounds as though you normally stand with your shoulders thrown back. (Which would increase your front chest measurment, decrease your back measurement, and make it seem as though your neck pitched foward.) It sounds a bit like classic military posture. I'm not quite sure what you mean by pronated hips, as I don't believe I've ever heard of the phrase before.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment! I'll try to post more about my sloper and fitting progress when things let up a bit, and I'm sorry if my post came across as though I had disdain for others' fitting issues.

6:55 PM  

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