Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 2, 2021

Getting That Perfect Fit

“You have to understand your body and tailor clothes to your needs;
it’s all about the fit.”

                                                    –Carmen Dell’Orefice

Finding clothes that fit can be a real challenge! That’s one of the reasons I learned to sew and have spent my entire adult life making alterations to many of the clothes I buy. My formal education for garment making was a basic how to read and sew a garment from a pattern unit in my high school home economics class so over the years it’s been a LONG road of trial and error experiences as I tried to figure out what I needed to do to get clothes to fit whether off the rack or sewing a commercial pattern. Over the years I’ve been able to get dresses and tops to fit better but pants have been a challenge!

When I joined the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild I met members who had degrees in fashion design and worked as tailors or in theater with costume construction. What a treasure trove of knowledge and experience! One such member was Michelle Moenssen Cherry. Michelle apprenticed with European-trained tailors and has been a custom dressmaker and tailor for over 30 years running several businesses in the greater Detroit area and Ann Arbor. I took 2 classes from Michelle in 2011 – one to create a sloper dress (a generic pattern based on your measurements) and one for pants. We took detailed body measurements and had discussions of what changes needed to be done to adapt patterns for specific bodies. I had so many ‘Oh…..so that’s why….’ moments! This new understanding has helped me when buying pants off the rack but I have been hesitant to take on adapting a pattern to sew a pair.

In 2018, Michelle moved to New York City to take the position of Head Tailor and Director of Custom Clothing at Martin Greenfield Clothiers, where fitting and measuring famous actors and politicians was a normal, everyday part of her job. She has now relocated to back to Michigan and when AAFG brought her in to give her ‘Perfect Pant’ workshop this fall I signed up immediately! 

There were 8 of us in the workshop meeting on 2 consecutive Saturdays. We were all vaccinated and had plenty of space to work with windows open for great air circulation for Covid precautions.

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Day 1
We used Vogue pattern 7881 as our base

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and with variety of body types and issues there was a wide range of techniques discussed.

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We got our measurements taken as Michelle met with each of us to walk us initial changes each would need to make to our patterns and we cut out our test muslin to sew together over the intervening week.

Day 2
With our test muslin pants made Michelle fitted each of us and helped us make further changes to our pattern and demonstrated sewing a fly zipper.

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With the workshop completed I bought dark brown denim fabric to make a ‘real’ pair of pants and practiced a few times sewing a fly zipper before I moved on to making my pants.

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For the next pair I want to add pockets and still need to tweak the pattern as the fit at the back of the leg is a bit baggie but all in all… this pair came out pretty darn good!!


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