The Selfish Seamstress has a disproportionately large waist. It’s nothing that can be corrected with crunches or dieting; I’m simply built like a cylinder. And before you make any diagnoses of body dysmorphic disorder, I’d like to point out that I’m basing this on (somewhat) empirical evidence. For example, according to the Big 4 size charts, I’m size 4 in the bust and hip, and between a 10 and 12 in the waist. Even as a scrawny, smallest-in-my-class kid in elementary school, and a 90-pound ballet dancer/cheerleader(!) in college, every time I had my measurements taken for a costume, the teacher or costumer would say, “Wait, that can’t be right,” and I would have to assure them that it was indeed, and that my waist really was that much larger than those of my dancer peers, and yes, that’s just my anatomy, and no, their expressions of shock at my huuuuge waist measurement were not doing wonders for my self-esteem. Smaller-than-average hips plus smaller-than-average bust plus larger-than-average waist is sort of the opposite of “curves.” Instead of of having “curves,” I have what could be referred to as “straights.” As one might phrase it nicely, “She’s not fat, she’s just big-waisted.”
And although I’m shaped like the world’s fastest hourglass, the only real inconvenience of this shape is the occasional need to alter patterns at the waist. Dresses, jackets, and tops are usually fine without alteration; wearing ease seems to accommodate me and my monstrous midriff just fine. But skirts and pants occasionally need a little extra room, probably because the waist of skirts or pants need to be close fitting such that they actually stay up. I’m currently making slow progress (sewing time these days is very limited) on view B of Simplicity 2451, which is going fine construction-wise but is starting give off a vague air of frump:
After holding the tissue paper pieces of the yoke up to my waist, I could see that I was going to need to add a little room just to the waist edge and that the hip would be fine. No pics from the skirt, but here’s an example of how I did this on my Vogue 1051 alice + olivia pants. I first traced the original yoke pieces onto scrap paper, made some slashes through the curved parts, and spread them at the waist edge to add about 1/4″ to each piece. If you slash each piece 4 times like I did, then you only need to spread the slashes open by 1/16″ at the waist edge. Add all these tiny slashes together and that’s an extra inch added to the total circumference of the waistband (16 slashes of 1/16″ each.) Notice that the bottom hip edge of the yoke remains the same because I didn’t need to add any extra at the hip. The purists would then trace the new shapes onto paper and work from those, but I just used the slashed pattern pieces and some scotch tape directly on my fabric.
Here you can see the difference between the original pattern pieces and the edited ones. It doesn’t look like much, but it makes a difference. You’ll also notice that a little bit of the curvature of the yoke is lost. If your waist is large-ish in proportion to your hip, this is what you want. Think about a making a cuff to go around a cylinder versus a funnel – you’d need a straight strip of paper to go around the cylinder, but a curved piece to go around a funnel. And if you’re closer to a cylinder than a funnel, then you need a straighter waistband.
Now that we’ve gone through the instructional portion of this post, I’d like to get to my real point. Much in the way that it didn’t exactly feel great when my dance teachers would stare in disbelief at the tape measure wrapped around my teenage midsection, I’m never exactly overjoyed to find that a pattern fits everywhere except for in the waist, where it is woefully small. Other deviations from the standard are addressed with names that sound somewhat flattering; you might need to alter your pattern to accommodate a “full bust” or a “swayback” or “sloping shoulders.” Or perhaps you are “petite” or “tall.” Nothing sounds good about having to alter a pattern on account of having a larger than average waist.
Obviously the Selfish Seamstress is about as perfect as one can be, physically and otherwise, so she sees no need to saddle herself with unflattering terminology. I’m therfore introducing… the FWA. Yes, I’m now going to refer to my pant and skirt edits as a “Full Waist Adjustment.” Doesn’t that sound all womanly and curvy and voluptuous? I want people to sigh with envy when they read that I had to alter a pattern by doing a 2″ FWA. People should read my blog entries, look down doubtfully at their own sad, deficient middles and wonder why they weren’t blessed by the gods with the kind of midriff endowment that the Selfish Seamstress has. Pre-teen girls should look at photos of me and wonder when their waists are going to develop. Guys should meet me at parties and then have this kind of conversation on the following day:
Guy 1: Dude, did you meet that Elaine chick last night?
Guy 2: Seriously, I know. She was like [makes crude gesture of putting his hands in the space on either side of his waist] out to here. [Two older women at the next table look over disapprovingly]
Guy 1: Daaaamn, I could not stop staring at her waist. It was driving me crazy. And she knew it too. She knew I was into it.
Guy 2: Whoa, dude, did you hit that?
Guy 1: Pfft, I WISH! Seriously, the last girl I went out with was, like, 23″ max. And that was AFTER eating. It was pathetic. Her face was okay though.
[Ugh, and for those of you who are about to comment something stupid like, “Haha, I have the exact opposite problem! Patterns are never small enough for my 22″ waist! It’s so inconvenient- I eat whatever I want, and my waist just stays tiny! Even my doctor says I have to gain weight, and I don’t even exercise!” you should know that my eyeroll switch is always triggered well before my envy switch. First, allow me to congratulate you not only on your figure but also on your complete freedom from self-awareness; second, yes, you can use this trick to make the waist of a pattern smaller- just overlap the pieces slightly at the waist edge rather than spreading them apart; and third, I think there are some other, more interesting blogs waaaayyyyy over there that you might want to check out.]