#KnitPetiteProject: Sharing the survey results!

Our last post where we shared the shops we like to buy clothes in.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

SURVEYChecking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October’s focus for the #KPP is shopping for petites. What to buy? Where to buy it? How and when to modify your current off-the-rack clothes?

I’ll keep the survey up, but as of this date we don’t have any responses.

#KnitPetiteProject: Sharing the survey results!

#KnitPetiteProject: Where do you love to buy clothes? Why is that a good shop for you?

Our last post where we examined the elements and principles of art and how they can inform us about fashion styling and shopping advice.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

SURVEYChecking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October’s focus for the #KPP is shopping for petites. What to buy? Where to buy it? How and when to modify your current off-the-rack clothes?

This post is an ongoing list: we’ll keep adding to it as a central resource for petite folks to access in order to find information on shops that carry clothes that fit some petite people.

Question

Please let the #KnitPetiteProject know of any shops with clothing for petite people!

#KnitPetiteProject: Where do you love to buy clothes? Why is that a good shop for you?

#KnitPetiteProject: Aesthetics + taking control of fashion shopping “advice”

Our last post where we examined what we should look for in off-the-rack clothes.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

SURVEYChecking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October’s focus for the #KPP is shopping for petites. What to buy? Where to buy it? How and when to modify your current off-the-rack clothes?

Today we’re looking at a practical tool to help you navigate the myriad fashion styling advice you may encounter: the elements and principles of design.

Once you determine what you want to achieve with your fashion+styling, you can better sort through advice. And to be honest, my hope is that after this post, YOU will be the source of your own best advice!

The structure upon which I’d like to hang this post is the body-neutral territory of art aesthetics, achieved through the elements and principles of art.

Keeping it Neutral: Art

For this post, I want to introduce you to a few concepts within art and design that you can apply to (and likely find reflected in) lots of fashion styling advice. My interest in using this is that it provides a neutral ground on which to build your awareness of visual perception, as well as some oft-cited “objective truths”, and an understanding of your subjective taste and opinion.

 

Using this neutral territory will, I hope, help you to divorce entrenched ideas of what you’re supposed to want and get at the root of what your real, true, joyful goals are. Perhaps you agree with cultural standards and want that look. Perhaps you disagree and instead draw joy from clothing items and celebrating body shape that flies in the very face of what you’re supposed to want.

What this post will do is arm you with knowledge to better understand some aesthetic information that’s at the root of much conventional advice to petite folks.

I’d suggest you be critical of any advice and see if it is helpful or harmful to you. In regards to my ability to speak about art: it’s my career. I’m an arts educator in a museum, with a degree in Art History and over 10 years of experience teaching people about viewing, assessing, critiquing, and ultimately judging artwork.

In an attempt to be as transparent as possible, I have to reiterate that my values include self-expression, self-determination, body-positivity, and dressing for your joy instead of an oppressive cultural ideal which you may feel, be, or wish to be outside of.

One other point: I’m going to use the word “art” here to refer to visual art (as that’s my area of specialty), but of course there are many artforms!

Elements and Principles: The Basics of Art + the critical process

You might remember this from elementary school: the elements and principles of art (E+P). I’m going to give you the basics drawn from the provincial elementary curriculum of Ontario [PDF] (though you can certainly find sources elsewhere that have more/different lists).

Elementsthink of these as the “ingredients” of an artwork

  • line
  • shape and form
  • space
  • colour
  • texture
  • value

Principlesthink of these as the “recipe”

  • contrast
  • repetition and rhythm
  • variety
  • emphasis
  • proportion
  • balance
  • unity and harmony
  • movement

In creating an artwork, the artist combines these E+P to create a whole that communicates to the viewer. People viewing an artwork tend to jump to immediately interpreting and judging the artwork as good or bad; this process is what our brains want us to do (that is, make sense of what you’re seeing as quickly as possible). But in the process of viewing and critiquing an artwork judgement is actually the last step.

Art Criticism: Steps

  • Describe
  • Analyse
  • Interpret
  • Judge

The art critical process is mentioned here because I want to highlight in particular the first 2 steps (and let you know it’s totally common to want to jump directly to the last two!)
In order to unravel some of the reasons an artwork appears as it does to you (and thus reveal something about yourself and how you take in and understand visual information), you should describe what you see using those E+P.

Let’s do that together. Look at this artwork below.

gogh
Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh. (MoMA)

Thinking of the E+P, what do you notice? The colours? The movement? Look at the whole list of E+P and ask yourself how (if at all) those E+P appear in this painting.

Here’s an example of my quick description and analysis of balance in this painting:

Tall dark tree in foreground (colour, proportion) + bright, round, eye-catching moon (colour, contrast, shape) = creates balance on each side of the canvas; bright, warm colours stand out and you thus need less of them to get the viewer’s visual attention as, say, a darker cool colour (the greenish, brownish, blueish tree).

FYI: Next in the critical process, you’d interpret what you see (that is, what does it mean?) Let me tell you, this is what people ask me the most about artwork, and it’s our brains wanting to sort visual information as efficiently as possible. We know a human made this; but why? What does it mean? And finally in the art criticism process is judgement: is the artwork successful?

Maybe you’re familiar with this artwork, and that familiarity and the ideas, thoughts, and feelings associated with it are acting on you. Maybe you had to really work to just notice the E+P, and set aside your judgement and interpretation of the work. And that’s what I’m hoping to highlight: a recognition of the power of visual imagery, our tendency to and to sort it as quickly as possible, and how your presumptions/prejudgements affect your actual process of seeing and understanding.

You can think about this in a similar vein to fashion. You are the artist, creating an artwork. What is your end goal? How can you use the E+P to get there?

The Elements and Principles in Fashion

That list of E+P may contain words you’re familiar with in relation to fashion styling advice. Particularly for petite women, advice tends to lean heavily on creating a “flattering” proportion. But, what is flattering? Whose definition are we adhering to?

Generally, advice is making presumptions about what you want based on a bit of self-sorting (reading an article with the intended audience of petite women, “5 Styling Tips for Petite Fashionistas!”). There are plenty of problems with this; one major one I’d like to point out is that while their advice may be based on the E+P and thus have a “truth” to it, it is true within the constraints of a presumption of your desired outcome, a flattening+broadening of the many visual aspects of your appearance (eg: skin tone, body structure, age), and a moral code which may be in contrast to your own.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of advice is written from the standpoint of presuming you want to adhere to the dominant culture’s ideals of beauty. In some cases, that will align with your own goals. In others, it may not. For example, an article titled “5 Styling Tips for Petite Fashionistas!” may state that you should NEVER wear large prints. This may come from an analysis of the E+P that say a large print will unbalance your small body, and create a proportion that visually emphasizes the print/piece of clothing and makes you look smaller and an afterthought to your outfit, rather than in harmony with your outfit.

BUT

What if you love that print? What if you don’t care about looking smaller? What if you feel that this article assumes you’re a thin petite women, and you feel that doesn’t represent your own body?

Let’s take another look at the E+P:

Elements:

  • line (this can be the lines in a pattern on your clothes, the line created by where your top ends, the lines/edges of your neckline…)
  • shape and form (this can be the silhouette created with your clothes)
  • space (depth can be created or reduced in actual layering of clothes and accessories, certain shapes can create more space around your body)
  • colour (solid! print! ombre! varigated! dark! light! bright! dull!)
  • texture (both real, as in corduroy and silk, or depicted, as a furry-looking animal print)
  • value (darkness or brightness in your colours)

Principlesthink of these as the “recipe”

  • contrast (remember, you can combine the elements to create contrast ie: a white silky top and dark denim jeans use texture+colour to create contrast)
  • repetition and rhythm (prints, shapes of items of clothing and accessories)
  • variety (think of a shiny black boot with a woolly knit sweater and smooth tights – a variety of textures!)
  • emphasis (imagine a skin tight dress that’s all black except for a neon pink 3″ belt at the waist: the bright colour of the pink emphasizes wherever it’s situated)
  • proportion (in fashion this is the proportions of your own body as related to a cultural ideal so, imagine a pair of pants that go right up under your bust in relation to your torso from the top of the pants to your shoulders)
  • balance (top heavy? bottom heavy? these are common terms in relation to women’s body shapes, which can also apply to the clothing we choose to put on our body to balance/imbalance)
  • unity and harmony (perhaps the colour of your dress matches/harmonizes with the colour of your shoes)
  • movement (clothing will actually move/not move with you. Imagine a billowy maxi skirt or tight slacks)

In creating an artwork, the artist combines the E+P to create a whole. In creating your outfit, you also combine the E+P to create a whole. The question is, what’s YOUR end goal? Fashion styling advice works if you agree with its end goal.

The questions you can ask yourself:

  1. what’s my end goal?
  2. what will being me joy?
  3. what do I want to highlight?

You control The Elements and Principles

Fortunately, YOU can take control of the E+P and make them work toward your ends. You can dissect the advice that styling articles give, see their end goals and motivation, and find out for yourself if you agree or disagree.

As I think you can appreciate, it’s difficult to fit in a thorough explanation of how all the E+P work in one blog post! So instead what I’ll do is give a couple of examples I’ve seen commonly cited among styling advice for petite women.

Proportion

The most common thing that advice presumes you want to “correct” is your short (and usually they also presume narrow) stature. One of the E+P you’ll see often cited in relation to this is proportion. Advice like “wear one colour head-to-toe and it will elongate you”, or “don’t wear oversized clothes, they’ll make you look like a kid playing dress up!”. This advice is rooted in ideas about proportion.

Looking at those Elements (the “ingredients” for our artwork/outfit), you’ll see colour and shape. This idea of one colour head-to-toe elongating you is not incorrect! At least, not necessarily. Visual perception and expression is ultimately subjective: you can’t assume that everyone will have the same impression of you from your clothing! But in some cases you can make an educated guess based on what we know of how humans take in visual information.

So, do you agree? Do you want to look elongated (or at the very least, avoid wearing something that shrinks your height?) If so, then this advice might be for you, with the caveat that you should be aware of all the other E+P in conjunction with all the variables of your shapes and end goals.

Shape

There’s also the very tricky point of shape. I think we’re all very well aware of the ideal shape(s) of a woman in this culture. Perhaps even more so, we’re aware of what we should avoid AT ALL COSTS!

While this isn’t necessarily just a petite woman issue, I want to talk a bit about the shape info because it’s super common and is very much guilty of presuming you want to look thin, with big (but not TOO big) breasts and an acceptable height (which is certainly not petite, and certainly not tall either!)

There’s plenty of sources out there I could point to, but let’s look at this one from earlier this year. They list the trends petite women should avoid and give NO information as to why they’re giving that advice. One of my favourites is #4, where is simply says “Shirtdresses. Comfortable? Yes. Flattering? Not so much.” Where is this coming from!? I must say I totally disagree. I see no notes about shape, balance, proportion, nothing.

Another funny slide is #6, where it warns petite women away from boxy tops. This is an excellent example of how subjective styling advice and preferences are. I’ve seen plenty of petite women who were thin and petite women who were heavier with oversized tops and I those folks looked chic! And while this advice does NOT explain itself, I’m going to assume they’re giving it in regards to ideas around shape (boxy = unfeminine), proportion (boxy = oversized = “overwhelms” a small figure), balance (top heavy = not balanced, women should be equally balanced into a figure that adheres to the cultural standard of beauty).

And because I think picking apart this article is just too easy, this one is the last: slide #10 warns petite women away from bermuda shorts because the length is awkward. As we all know from the #KnitPetiteProject, a woman can be shorter than 5’4″ but also be short waisted and have long legs. Take all advice with your critical thinking cap on!

 

Why those conventional advice folks say what they do and why you should listen to them

This advice can work if you agree with the end goal and are critical of your application of it because they’re basing their advice on the assumed value and current cultural definition of female beauty as well as a generally accepted understanding of the way the E+P of art exert influence on our visual perception of the world.

So, what I propose is this: I think a lot of this advice is written backwards. I think it’s feeding us, as petite women, what the cultural value of our shapes are and what we should be. Instead of a headline like “5 styling tips for petite fashionistas!” it should be “5 styling tips to draw attention to your face!” or, “5 styling tips to look broader!”.

Some Light Reading

I want to leave you with a bit of positivity with this list of Body Positive Bloggers. Fashion isn’t evil, and we aren’t terrible for drawing power, strength, pleasure, and personal expression from it. What I would love for us all is to define our own end goals and construct a body-positive path toward achieving them.

Want to talk fashion and the E+P? I’d love to! Come on over to the Ravelry Group here.

Question

What’s your favourite fashion styling tip for YOU?

Resources
  • Ontario Curriculum: Grades 1 – 8 The Arts [PDF]. 2009. Accessed October 14, 2017.Save
#KnitPetiteProject: Aesthetics + taking control of fashion shopping “advice”

#KnitPetiteProject: What should we look for in off-the-rack clothes?

Our last post where we went through our closets and found hidden gems.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

SURVEYChecking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October’s focus for the #KPP is shopping for petites. What to buy? Where to buy it? How and when to modify your current off-the-rack clothes?

Today, we’re talking about what to look for in new clothes.

By now in the #KPP, you’ve constructed a clear idea of what you want from your clothing, and gotten an idea of how to achieve that through modifying for your own body and shape.

I thought it was important for us all to get to this point before jumping into a discussion of shopping and fashion advice, because these advice sources can wield great influence on us and make us feel we should want certain things, and we should avoid others.

Of course, if your goals, aesthetics, and interests line up with that advice, then proceed! If, on the other hand, they do not, I encourage you to ignore that advice and forge ahead with whatever works for you. I want us all to be able to sort through what IS and IS NOT for us; what is HELPFUL and what is HARMFUL.

That’s the focus of the next two weeks.

Here, we’ll talk about some language, some fashion bloggers, and body positivity.

One of the most powerful feelings I’ve felt recently is the confidence of altering items in my own closet; just because I bought it in a store doesn’t mean it’s perfect and untouchable.

What to look for

  1. Quality: as makers, we have an understanding of clothing quality. Make sure you’re getting the expected value for the dollar amount you’re spending.
  2. Fit: as a #KPP person, you’ll be familiar with the issues surrounding picking a size in shops, more familiar with your own shapes and sizes, and be armed with an idea of how and what to modify.
  3. Styling: this is a biggie, and one that I’d like to focus on for the rest of this post, and the next couple of weeks.

Styling Advice: Be Critical of What you Read

One of the major reasons I started the #KPP was the plethora of advice out there regarding the “dos and don’ts” of dressing for petites. I want to encourage us all to put on our critical-thinking caps and keep in mind that behind advice articles are authors, and those authors will have a bias and/or assumed end-goals that can conflict with our own and even cause us to feel inadequate, wrong, and ashamed of our bodies.

Remember: wear what you want and what makes YOU feel fantastic, no matter what the “advice” says.

me
Common petite styling advice says to wear prints in relation to your size (ie: don’t wear large prints). Here I am in a large print. Styling advice can be broken!

Case in point: this article tells us as petite women not to wear flat shoes because “they will not give you the additional height you need” (emphasis added by me).  This article is assuming I, as the petite reader, “needs” additional height. I “need” to feel that I look taller than I am. You also find a lot of language like this in articles written for larger women; in many cases (that I’ve read), these articles amount to nothing more than fat-shaming. Pay attention to the words the article uses. Do you “need” that? Really? What are they assuming you want?

Compare this to the following point in the same article that says I, as a petite woman, shouldn’t wear anything cropped  because “it will shorten your torso”. This piece of advice feels less egregious, since it’s not telling what I NEED, though it is still assuming my end goal is to avoid appearing the height that I am. On the flip side, they are at least being clear about what affect they think wearing something cropped will have.

You’ll also encounter advice from experts that is directly contradictory to other experts. For example, this article’s expert suggests petite folks should indeed wear cropped items, and high-waisted pants (something that’ll visually cut your torso into different proportions).

For me the fact remains: I love wearing crop tops, like the way I look and feel when I wear them, and I don’t think they make me look shorter, squat or in a proportion that’s displeasing. Your ideas and preference may vary! I mention this to illustrate how being armed with a thorough sense of what YOU want and an eye to critically dissecting advice means you can sort through what IS and what IS NOT for you.

Aesthetics

I’m going to very quickly touch on aesthetics here, as we’re traipsing toward that territory and I think it’s a good line to draw when thinking critically about these types of advice articles that can ultimately be body shaming and harmful to our sense of worth.

I’d like to go further in depth about aesthetics next week, using art and symbols as a sort of neutral territory, but for now keep in mind that some of these pieces of advice are such because they assume your aesthetic end-goal is the same as theirs. This business about “don’t wear crop tops because they make you look shorter” may indeed have merit in an aesthetic basis. I may very well appear shorter if I wore something like that because of the proportion that cropped line would visually “cut” my body in to.

The questions we have to poke at are do I care if it makes me look shorter, do I agree that it makes me look shorter, and what are the other factors happening in my own personal array of shapes and sizes that affect this advice?

For example: I happen to like the aesthetic of crop tops for myself because, even though I’m short, having that visual line run across the smallest part of my torso gives me a curvy shape that I’m quite happy with. And to be frank, this aligns culturally with the preference for women to have this sort of shape. Aesthetics and personal taste. It’s up to you.

me
Me, breaking some petite styling advice

Look at this photo: what do YOU think? And of course remember, I don’t care what you think, nor should you care what I think. Dress for your own joy, not someone else’s oppressive thoughts about what you should want. Be critical of that “need” language that pops up so much in this sort of advice. It’s insidious, so easy to read, take in, and have pick away at your sense of self.

First decide what YOU want your goal to be. If you agree that you want to look taller, then this is the advice for you. But if you don’t agree, don’t let it make you feel you have to want to be taller –  you NEED to be taller.

Getting into the Advice Articles

In a rare instance of a petite styling tips article that I think is pretty open and pretty much free of body shaming language and assumptions is this one from Buzzfeed. I appreciate how it takes a practical approach to some of these tips (ie: layers can cover some ill fit, don’t be afraid to take scissors to unwanted details), and I really appreciate that some of that “general rule” advice they give is actually explained. For example, “Cuffed sleeves (and a quick tuck) can break things up and emphasize shape” tells you why it’s making that suggestion, and the functional outcome of it. Same with this line, which I think you can imagine my crop-top-loving little heart fully agrees with: “Pair a fitted crop top with high-waisted skirts or shorts, says Gordon. This can help balance both halves without sacrificing shape.”

One of the consultants for that Buzzfeed article is Kelly of Alterations Needed. Her website is easy to navigate and thorough, but as with anything

Jean Wang of Extra Petite has a useful alterations section, where she outlines the way she alters off-the-rack clothes for her own petite body.

Sarah from Curvily is a petite plus fashion blogger who shares her OOTD and has a handy shopping guide that includes discussion on trends and fit with topics like “best plus size rompers of 2017” (find a great interview with Sarah here on the Curvy Fashionista)

This article includes shopping tips for petites from popular petite fashion bloggers, including some of the women we’ve mentioned above:

Kelly: Find a tailor in your area who understands your petite needs. It’ll make shopping easier when you know your tailor can work a few miracles for your figure!

Jean: Don’t limit yourself to solely the petite department. Train your eye to look for petite-friendly signs—I’ve found lots of gems in regular sizing. For instance, go for items that appear to be three-quarter length on models as these often fit well on a smaller frame.

Nadia:  before any shopping trip. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to go up a size and have a seamstress tailor the item to your body. That’s what I often do.

Find a list of other petite fashion bloggers here on Buzzfeed.

Jessica Torres has a fantastic post recently here on her blog where she wore “what she wasn’t supposed to” for her body type and felt fantastic in the outfit.

Question

Do you follow any fashion bloggers?

Resources

 

#KnitPetiteProject: What should we look for in off-the-rack clothes?

#KnitPetiteProject: Hidden gems in our closet + making them work for our petite body now

Our last post where we looked at our future pattern plans.
The #KnitPetiteProject plan.

All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

SURVEYChecking in with how you think the #KnitPetiteProject is going! Are we addressing your questions?

October’s focus for the #KPP is shopping for petites.

What to buy? Where to buy it? How and when to modify your current off-the-rack clothes?

Today, we’re starting with a good look-through our closets. What treasure (or, potential treasure) do we have right under our nose?

First off, let’s define “off-the-rack”:

off-the-rack
mass-produced clothing; purchased in a store; clothing not tailor made for a particular individual

So, for many folks, that’s the majority of their closet. For us crafty folks, we’re in a better position to alter that percentage and make our own items from scratch.

I’ve often been inspired by those individuals who do the whole “throw out all my closet” thing and produce their entire wardrobe by hand. Working with a clean slate must be so motivating!

And while I love that idea, there’s still the impulse in me to work with what I already have.

Working with your Closet: Sorting it out

I recently did a whole re-assessment of my wardrobe, using the following steps:

  1. take it all out
  2. try it all on
  3. sort it all out

This task was, admittedly, a few days in the making. I tackled them by type: tops, dresses+skirts, pants, and other.

For step 1. take it all out, there’s a few points of value: seeing it all at once, and making (re)discoveries. This sometimes intimidating pile leads to the practical end of literally cleaning out the space (are there any dreaded clothes moths or carpet beetles lurking in the closet?), as well as de-emphasizing any incorrectly remembered value in the clothes. That is, you might be reluctant to chuck that white blouse because you’ve forgotten that you have about five of them.

It was step 2. try it all on that ate up the most time. There’s a couple reasons I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you have to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you. For one thing, I recognize that there can be sentiment associated with stuff, and I don’t denigrate that at all (sorry, I’m no Marie Kondo-ite).

There’s also the very valuable point that we are makers and that some ill-fitting clothes may only need a bit of studied assessment and tweaking to become well-fitting clothes.

And finally, my favourite, step 3. sort it all out. I created five piles: keep, modify, store, pillage, donate.

  • Keep: stuff that fit well, I want to wear, and/or is important to me
  • Modify: stuff that didn’t fit well, but that I want to wear and feel I can fix
  • Store: stuff that straight up doesn’t fit, I can’t/won’t modify, but I don’t want to part with
  • Pillage: stuff that I’m happy to cut up and use in other ways (eg: cut off buttons and zippers)
  • Donate: stuff that I don’t care about, doesn’t fit (and I don’t want to fix), or is a multiple of something I have plenty of

My donate pile was very small, and it felt good to throw all those far-too-small-pants into the “store” pile. I know they’re around if I want them, but I don’t have to look at them all the time now!

Something pretty important that came to light in this closet assessment was a particular jacket.

This jacket is going to be a guinea pig for me this month; it got sorted into the modify pile. It’s ill-fitting, but a very well-made article of clothing that is also pretty sentimental.

It’s one of my grandfather’s winter coats. It’s a wonderfully fuzzy corduroy with suede sections on the yoke, a sheepskin collar, and lovely quilted satin-y lining. And, while my grandfather wasn’t a very large man, he was still a man, and this jacket is certainly NOT shaped for my petite female frame. But man, I’d LOVE to make this jacket fit me!

This is the journey I’ll be sharing with you this month: Can I modify this men’s coat to fit my petite female frame? It’s a big challenge, but one I think will be a great example of what petite folks may have to consider when modifying clothing for their body.

Working with your Closet: The Modify Pile

Follow Along with My Modification Plans

My modify pile has plenty of items: skirts, dresses, tops, even bras. But for now, I’d like to share with you my plans for modifying my grandfather’s coat.

From this year of #KPP, I’ve learned a few things about fitting, my own shape, my own taste, and my own abilities:

  • Amy Herzog’s CustomFit and other valuable resources helped me focus on proper measurements
  • Pati Palmer and Marta Alto’s Body Graph in Fit for Real People helped me get a more objective understanding of my shape and proportions as compared to some off-the-rack clothing
  • Some of the many essays and research from experts have opened up the world of sizing to me and shown that 1) NO ONE will have perfect fit off-the-rack, and 2) petite really do have particular concerns that are not being addressed in clothing, including knitting design

With this encouragement and list of tools, I know that:

I have narrow shoulders: this men’s jacket is going to need some serious re-structuring around that part of my body! Across the back, across each shoulder, narrowing the sleeve opening, and readjusting the sleeve cap/width incredibly!

I have a slightly short waist: because this is cut straight for a man’s body, I’ll have to add in some waist shaping. That said, the extra length may work to my advantage, as I’d like something about mid-thigh anyhow.

I have proportionally shorter arms: and by shorter, I mean shorter than a man! As you can see, the length of these sleeves need some attention.

But those are just items I’d determined I’ll need for my own modifications.

Things you should consider when sorting your modify pile

As I mentioned above, one of the most powerful tools I used this year for learning about shape, fit, my own taste, and gaining an objective point of view is the Body Graph from Fit for Real People.

This graph really helped bring my attention to the parts of my body that were different (and HOW they were different) from the sizing used in home sewing patterns.

Even if you don’t sew, this activity can show you in a very concrete way what your shape is, and the real distinctions and uniquenesses you have in relation to an established point of comparison.

Your personal plethora of shapes will be different from any other individual; that said, us petite folks sometimes share areas of fit concern. So, when you’re sorting items into YOUR “modify” pile, consider these common petite fit areas of concern and their possible alterations:

  • Shoulder Width: do the shoulder seams droop down beyond the prominent bone on your shoulder?
  • Armhole Depth: are sleeve caps too deep? This is particularly clear in a sleeveless top – can you see your bra band?
  • Sleeve Length: are the lengths ending in a spot you’re happy with? Are there any details (eg: elbow patches) are are not in the place you think they should be?
  • Neckline Depth: is the lowest point on the neckline showing more chest than you’d like?
  • Neckline Width: do your bra straps keep showing? Particularly in the recently trendy off-the-shoulder style: does your top almost fall off because that neckline is so wide?
  • Back Waist Length: are any belt loops/fancy waist details falling too far down on your body?
From the Modify Pile to the Keep Pile

Those pieces in the modify pile will get there is you both want them to fit differently, and are willing (or interested in learning how) to modify them

There’s loads of guidelines for altering clothing for different fit concerns. With what you’ve learned this year in the #KPP, you likely already have an idea as to what you’d like to alter, and perhaps an idea as to how.

A few places to learn the nitty-gritty next steps of altering include:

  • sewing company websites: they can sometimes have free resources and fit guides (eg: Simplicity sewing pattern quick fit guide)
  • crafting community/learning websites like Craftsy: these can have message boards where folks ask other particular questions, but also can include a regular schedule of helpful blog posts (Petite Sewing: Achieving a Perfect Fit, Finding the Perfect Patterns and Styles) and classes (Tailoring Ready-to-Wear, pretty much any class from Petite Plus sewing designer Kathleen Cheetham)
  • petite fashion bloggers: after initially dismissing this group of folks (believing they’d just have aesthetic advice and personal opinions), I found that I was wrong. Petite fashion bloggers sometimes share tips about altering items at home (for those who don’t sew much or even at all!), when/if to take items to professional tailors, and have the added bonus of lists of manufacturer reviews, shopping tips, and inspiration (if you happen to find someone who meshes with your own style!)
    Check out these lists on Stylecaster, Buzzfeed, and Not Dressed as a Lamb.

We’ll be looking a bit further at some of these fashion bloggers in the coming weeks when we examine what to look for in off-the-rack clothes.

Question

Have you ever considered starting your wardrobe from scratch? Share your thoughts by hitting reply to this post!

Resources
#KnitPetiteProject: Hidden gems in our closet + making them work for our petite body now

#KnitPetiteProject: SURVEY: Are we addressing your concerns?

The #KnitPetiteProject plan.
All other #KnitPetiteProject posts.

The #KnitPetiteProject now has a Ravelry group. Join us!

Hi everyone!

Quickly popping on here to let you know we have a mini survey up this month to make sure the #KnitPetiteProject is on track. You can reply to the survey below.

We’ll be going over the answers at the end of the month.

Thanks!

#KnitPetiteProject: SURVEY: Are we addressing your concerns?