Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sew Colette: A Personalized Croquis

"Designers often begin the design process with a 'croquis' comes from the word 'sketch' in French. And that is exactly what it is: a sketch of clothing on a figure...With this drawing template at hand, you can easily sketch clothing on your own figure, examining the lines and visualizing the final garment more easily. "

-Sarai Mitnick, The Colette Sewing Handbook

Making my croquis has been something I've been looking for and yet I have been experiencing a small amount of anxiety about it. On the one hand, a personalized croquis is a fantastic addition to my sewing tools; however, taking a cold, hard look at my figure can be a bit daunting. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

So, here I am in croquis form! My measurements are 36-28-38, which makes me technically pear-shaped; however, I do have broad shoulders which I think balance my lower half.

From the side you can see my swayback, which isn't very noticeable when I wear full skirts or dresses with a cinched waist. It is, however, quite noticeable when I wear trousers. I also embrace Nigella Lawson's lifestyle and enjoy all foods in moderation, hence my rounded belly.

Another reason I wanted to make a croquis was to finally settle on my body shape. Before Miss Friday was born, I was a through-and-through linear: straight up and down with very little definition. After Miss Friday's birth I gained a pair of hips, for which I am quite grateful. Skirts and trousers have fit much better ever since.

The 'Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair' Outfit

Cardigan Empire, written by stylist Reachel Bagley, tackled body shape with a positive attitude and sense of whimsy. According to Reachel, there are five essential body shapes:

Now, taking a look at my croquis, I would say that I am a Pear, but due to my broad shoulders, I could also borrow from the Hourglass' closet. According to Reachel, I should be doing the following:
  • Accent my smallest assets rather than the fullest.
  • Draw the eye upwards by wearing bold colours or prints on top. Keep interesting design elements (i.e. ruffles, buttons, etc) up here.
  • Stick to solid coloured bottoms.
Borrowing looks from the Hourglass' closet, I can also:
  • Belt it! Always remember to accent my smallest asset - my waist.
  • Trousers that fall straight from the hip are best. Boot cut is also good.
  • Slim fit trousers are possible when paired with a tunic.
Spanish Harlem Tunic

I came across this brilliant set of videos by All Things Fabulous that I had to share! She discusses how to dress for your shape and I think the information she shares can easily be applied to sewing. Click on the links below to learn more:

Delicious Apple
Classic Hourglass
Lean and Linear
Proud Pear

So how does this impact my sewing? Well, for the Pastille, I will need to wear it belted in order for it to be most flattering. For this, I think I may make a contrasting belt from my Peony pattern. Both an SBA and hip pivot adjustment are necessary alterations for me.

Knit Macaron

It's a lucky thing that Sarai and Caitlin design beautiful patterns for real women. It's also lucky that they provide outstanding tutorials for altering their patterns to fit every shape and size. Another real women designer is lovely Tasia, of Sewaholic fame, who is a fellow Proud Pear!

Are you planning on sharing your croquis? I sure hope so! What shape are you? What changes will you make when sewing the Pastille to accentuate your best assets? Will you make overall changes to your sewing now that you have the tools to know what is most flattering for you?

* * * * *

Be sure to come back tomorrow when we tackle the swayback alteration!

Have a questions? Please feel free to post here, in Erin's blog, or in the sew-along Flickr group. We're here to help!


Lynne Williams said...

Nice post Sarah for an important part of the process. My students often balk at this step, but are always pleased with the successful sewing results once they have done it.

Just joined the ufo/stash butst party:)

Lavender said...

Thanks for sharing! I'll be posting my croquis & full body graph outline once it's done. It's going to be a good learning experience. Love that you like the post-baby changes in your body... as a lifelong pear, it's comforting to hear :) I've read in many places that pears are often also hour glasses. Yay! Can't wait for the sway back adjustment.

Donna said...

I've been trying to plan my sewing along my body shape lately too, but it's not always easy! I see things that I like the look of only to realize that they would look awful on me. I guess that's when I need to find the friend who it would complement and make it for him/her. :)

Oh yeah, I have a question, what's a hip pivot?

Andrea B said...

Yep I'm definitely a pear, but -like you- I also have broad shoulders. I haven't made a croquis because I feel like I already know my shape and understand what looks best on me. It's obvious on my blog; basically every garment I make cinches at the waist and has a full skirt. Sometimes I get bored with this style, but I don't feel confident in anything else!

Sarah said...

@Lynne - Thank you!

@Lavender - Thank you! Isn't it nice to know that a pear shape is the most common?

@Andrea - Good for you!

Sarah said...

@Donna - A hip pivot adjustment is where you make a cut into your pattern at the hip area and either swing (pivot) it outward or inward to accommodate your shape.

Miss Crayola Creepy said...

I'm going to make one! I want to do them all on the same kind of paper and maybe eventually spiral bind them into a book. It might be fun to look at one day and get inspiration from things I may have overlooked.

Sarah said...

@Miss Crayola - What a BRILLIANT idea, Erin!!!!

Beata said...

I made a croquis a little while ago:

And I drew on all the Colette styles from the book:

I have a similar shape to yours I think - pear but with broad shoulders!

I wish I could participate more with Sew Colette, but I'm still waiting on my book to arrive! :(

Beata said...

I want to go through my existing wardrobe now and draw all my clothes and cut them out so I can play paper dolls with myself! Haha. Would be fun to plan outfits, and see how future projects fit in my wardrobe!

Symon said...

Thank you for this! I'm having the hardest time figuring out what adjustments to make on my muslin, cause it's all wrong lol... and it sounds silly cause one should know ones own body right? Well I do but was always so confused because I never fit into any of the 'main' body shapes.... now I know I'm a strawberry, (AKA 'walking hanger' lol)... which incidentally is also Naomi Campbell's body shape apparently ;) Much nicer than feeling like a disproportionate freak who doesn't fit into anything nicely - lol :) I shall take a deep breath and tackle Ms Muslin with renewed vigor! :)

Tors said...

It's funny, I've always thought I was a straight up and down but because of your fabulous croquis I got curious and did the math and I think I'm actually more of a pear now! Encroaching middle age or the hour long daily walks I take with the wolf? It's anyone's guess how I got my hips (unfortunately not the respectable way through giving birth) but I do loves them. I am inspired to make my own croquis so I can actually see what's what, just as soon as the weather warms up enough to take off the three layers of thermal clothing I'm currently wearing ;)

Mommy en France said...

Very inspiring post. I haven't made a croquis yet and I really should.