Sewing for Giants

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Hi! I am Wendy from CoserCosas.es and apparently, I am a freak… just kidding… I’m only slightly above average height with my 177cm (5’9″).

The discussion started here on the Sewcialist blog about identity is very interesting. I am not going to list all my identities here, so let’s just keep it simple with white, middle-class female. And apparently I should add ‘tall’ to that list.

I never really consciously think about my height or other parts of me, it is just something that is. Just like I never think about my glasses, the shape of my toes (BTW, I think they are cute, although they are often referred to as sausages), the big birthmarks on my back, or even my nationality. They just are.

Now that the Sewcialists made me consciously think about it, I guess I am above average height?

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I am from Belgium, but now live in Spain. In Belgium I am considered average to tall. My husband is 2 cm taller than me (for those non-metric people, that’s ¾ of an inch), which sometimes bothers him. In Belgium he is considered average. He would have liked to be a bit taller, but I don’t mind. It makes it easy to walk hand in hand or to put my arm around his back or my hands in his coat pockets. Most of my friends in Belgium are slightly shorter than me, but I also have a few friends that are taller than me. Nobody ever comments on my height in Belgium.

However, in Spain where I live now, I am considered tall. I don’t think I personally know any other woman in Spain who is taller than me. I get a lot of comments on my height, so here I am considered tall. I guess it all just is in the eyes of the beholder. I do notice that, when in Belgium I can easily buy RTW clothes, but in Spain, the waist sits too high and thus the dresses and hems are too short.

When I first started sewing, I never considered my height to be something to be taken in to account. Now that I know a bit more, and am a bit more confident in adjusting patterns, I do lengthen patterns.

Height adjustments are probably the easiest of them all. It all starts with knowing yourself and your body proportions. I have relatively long legs, so I don’t have to add much to bodices, just a few centimeters. I usually add 1 – 3 cm (again, 3/8” inch to ¾”) to the waist. For skirts and pants I add 5 cm to the hem and then before hemming I see how much I chop off again. Although I sometimes skip this for hems of dresses or skirts because, well, I like ‘em short.

Something I have to start doing consistently, is adding length to sleeves.

I think the most important thing in fitting for a taller than average person, is to take the following measurements and then compare those to the pattern pieces.

  • Full height
  • Leg height
    • Ankle to waist
    • Ankle to hip
  • Torso height
    • From neck to hip
    • From neck to waist
    • From shoulder to hip
    • From shoulder to waist
  • Arm length

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There is also a cultural difference in pattern brands (I think)! Some brands share the height their patters are designed for, and others don’t.

  • For example, Named Patterns work perfectly for me, but Pauline Alice Patterns or La Maison Victor Patterns are always too short in the bodice (La Maison Victor designs for 168cm tall women in my size, and is a Belgian sewing magazine).
  • I recently found a new-to-me pattern brand Dressy Talk and they actually make their patterns in 2 different heights; one for 164cm (5’4”-5’5”) and one for 170cm (5’7”).
  • Burda also has a few patterns for tall people, they use a reference height of 176cm (5’9”), so those are worth checking out.

Do you know any other brands that make patterns for different heights? I really do love that approach since size is more than circumferences, it is also height and proportions! I would love to see more pattern brands make this distinction. If any of the mentioned pattern brands could share the standard heights used in their blocks, that would be great!

So that’s it for me, nothing earth shattering (after all, I am only slightly above average) but I hope this was of use to someone.

Happy sewing!


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