All The Single Ladies

Pinning A Toile

This is me, getting my latest toile pinned onto my body. In the office toilets. At lunchtime. With the help of a long-suffering colleague. Maybe the craziest thing I’ve ever done in a workplace bathroom. I know – I’m mad, me!

My boyfriend and I parted ways a few months ago. (Hi, Ian, if you’re reading! See you for lunch tomorrow!) It’s all good, but there’s one thing I can’t quite forgive him for. I no longer have a sewing slave at home to pin me into projects!!!! Really, how rude.

I’ve thought about training my dog, Ella, to help. But ever since I found her gnawing on a pin cushion I’m reluctant to let her near small, pointy things.

There must be other single people out there who are also dressmaking. How on earth do you negotiate the complicated task of fitting something to your own body when you don’t have an extra pair of hands and you’re not trained as a contortionist? Any hints and tips? Should I borrow someone’s child? Knock on a neighbour’s door? Or do I carry on dragging hard-working colleagues away from their desks?

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93 Responses to All The Single Ladies

  1. hedgewick says:

    I made a paper tape body double per Connie Crawford’s method. I first made a duct tape one, but heard that they stretch, plus it wasn’t done as well as I would have liked. I’m happy with it. It makes things a lot easier. Before these (and sometimes, still) I rely on a camera w/ timer, tripod and showing the photos to fitting experts.

  2. Hester says:

    With difficulty! Hems are a nuisance too, it’s very hard to pin a hem straight on yourself, and I don’t have a dummy. I’m trying to get some friends interested in coming over for a stich’n’bitch (and cake) session, which would help; other than that, I get by just by trying it on, pinching and pinning as best I can, taking it off, pinning it properly, trying it on, noting where it needs to be adjusted, taking it off again… I figure I’m getting a work-out as well as a new dress.

  3. JacqC says:

    What a brilliant photo, I think your work colleague is a star! 馃檪

  4. lauriesannie says:

    Well clearly I needed help with this but it’s a one-time kind of thing. My husband helped me make a body double. We used the sort of stuff that you use to make plaster limb casts and filled it with that spray type of insulation. But there are lots of articles on the net showing how to make one from duct tape, for instance, and then stuff it with polyester wadding. I devoutly wish I could let myself spring for a custom-made form ($$$$$) but I am so happy with what I have. Been using it just today.

  5. I’m very flexible so I’m afraid I can’t help you with this… It takes some time and careful pinning but I manage to pin the back zipper opening on a bodice closed on myself, since I’m too lazy to stitch a real zipper into a muslin.

  6. Miss Lulu says:

    LOL, love the idea of training the dog, pity about the opposable thumb thing 馃檪 Why not start a sewing group? I used to live in the UK, but relocated to Austin, Texas a few years ago and there was already a group up and running (started by a local fabric shop). I’m now the organiser for the group and I (selfishly) run a once a month sewing party for the members where we can be each others fitting buddies. We do other stuff too, including going to local fashion shows and meeting up to dye fabric or learn a new technique. You may find you have more sewers in your area than you think.

  7. annabelvita says:

    My boyfriend is no good at pinning so I get my mum to do it, but I’m lucky that she lives really close! You need to find a pin swap buddy (although I think there’s nothing wrong with doing it in the office bathroom!)

    I can’t wait to hear what others suggest.

    Congratulations on an amicable breakup x

  8. missparayim says:

    Your coworker is such a good sport!!!
    I don’t even live alone, but I don’t want to conscript my husband or kids. I only recently realized I could pin the zipper on instead of pinning myself into a muslin. It was a major lightbulb moment. Once I can zip myself in and out, it’s a lot if taking it off and on as I pin and repin the places I can’t reach easily. Sometimes I mark the pin spot with a pencil.

  9. Barbarags says:

    Oh, how I wish I knew how to cope with fitting. I have a skirt hemline marker but, with narrow shoulders, hollow chest, sway back and waist smaller than the commercial pattern ratio of waist to hip, trying to make anything that remotely fits is a nightmare. I tried making a body double for a friend but that did not work out so gave up on making one for myself.
    Perhaps we should form a league of flying fitters and rush to each others rescue in times of trial.

  10. Hey, I pinned my bridesmaid’s dress toile in the toilets of Norton Caines service station (halfway between our houses) so I’m with you on the work loos and a handy colleague!

  11. C. Richelle says:

    I’d suggest investing in dress form since you sew often enough. They often go on sale and/or can get with a coupon! If that’s out of the budget, Id suggest a duct tape dummy! They’re simple to make with a few friends. Better to ask their help once, than all the time! There are lots of tutorials for this online. But I’ve found the simplest way is to don a black trash bag over your skivvies, and have a friend wrap you up in the duct tape, recreating your shape and curves as you go. then you cut one side of the creation and slither out. Stuff with newspaper, or other stuffable things. Whatever you have on hand works. Then you can hang it from a hook or clothes hanger.

  12. sew2pro says:

    Most of my loved ones would stab pins into me so as to get out of the task the next time. Having a co-worker would be so nice and civilised, I imagine.

    So sorry to hear you split up with Ian; I did wonder 馃檨

  13. Miss Celie says:

    I kind of just never try things on until I’m practically done. It’s a terrible habit :-/ Also, I once couldn’t get out of a dress because I couldn’t reach the zipper and called a neighbor for help. And, a few weeks ago, the back zipper on a pair of pants jammed. I spent damn near an hour trying to unzip myself. I left work early (I seriously needed to pee) and finally just got a seam ripper and opened up a side seam. HORRIBLE.

  14. My husband isn’t helpful at all. The best I can do is pin a hem and ask him to measure it. If I need real fitting help, I go to my mom. The problem with that is that I go to her house, she pins it and sometimes things come lose in transit or I lose interest when I get home.

  15. franceparijs says:

    You are not alone! My husband is not much help either. He’s lost when I try to explain him how to measure or to pin things… That’s a woman’s… oh, sorry, a sewist’s thing, I think. So, yes, I do have to contortionist myself 馃檨

  16. Stephanie B. says:

    I love your sense of humor! I think you need to make friends with a neighbor — any neighbor — so he/she can pin you in and out. 馃檪

  17. Grace says:

    I get my mum to do it cos i live at home atm, I am moving to East London ( from Liverpool) in next month though soI will be trying to pin myself.

    I can pin a straight hem by myself – measure/ guess them hold side seams out at armspan to see if straight, the fold in half the other way and check that! (Sorry cant think of a better way to describe)

  18. Know the feeling! I had my Mum come round and zip me into a dress to take a pic…. took the photo and then she left and I was stuck in the dress!!!! Lots of wiggling and twisting of the dress to reach the zip! whenever I try to pin myself into things I just end up pinning me – ouch ouch!!!

  19. grtescp says:

    I usually go for the contortionist approach to pinning things roughly, taking them off, tidy up pinning, retrying, etc… so I often end up sewing in underwear as I am in and out of my projects as I make them. I have a more difficult fitting job in the back of my cupboard (a Minoru disaster), and I am planning to go to a local tailors and asking for a hand (probably at a price) for that!

  20. Tilly says:

    I have the same issue. But I’ve got my sway back fitting down to a fine art, so I can do that first snd then move on to side seams. Great idea to get your colleague involved! x

  21. Mums and grandmas are always a good bet – I would be lost without my mother, hence my first go at making clothing for myself comes now I am in my thirties. Perhaps you could ask around your friends/colleagues and see if they will hire their female relatives out to you for a small fee? There must be some mothers out there who don’t get to see their own offspring that much who would jump at the chance of a cup of tea, a gossip and a chance of curtain twitching in exchange for some hemming and pinning.

  22. Tamsin says:

    Not much help with fitting I’m afraid, but one of the ladies at my pattern cutting class saidd that to hem a dark coloured dress recently, she pinned some string across a door way at the right height, dusted it with talcum powder, then stood next to it and slowly turned round in the doorway until the string & talc had left a mark on the dress. A bit strange but it worked for her!

  23. Sadie says:

    My husband is very helpful for some things (photos of me wearing finished projects and so on) but attempts at getting him to pin me into toiles have not been entirely successful!

  24. Jenny says:
    I have not used this video but I do like this company. they also have bi-weekly webcasts that might help.

  25. Helen says:

    I’m married and still have to contend with this issue because husband just does not get it! He’s really tried but just can’t do it.

    I read a good tip this week though from Sew Hopeful. She pins a standard zipper in for fitting purposes. Might be worth a try? You could even hand baste it in if you were feeling keen!?

    • gingermakes says:

      I’m married, too, but my husband hates helping me with muslins, so I just machine baste an invisible zipper into each muslin (I do one swipe with the zipper foot, then stitch next to the teeth with my invisible zip foot, but just on a long stitch length). It really doesn’t take me long, maybe 5 min? It’s more accurate than pinning and my invisible zipper technique has really gotten tidy and fast quickly! If I need help with the back, I ask him to take a cell phone pic of me and I analyze from that.

  26. A few have mentioned zip problems… in frustration I once threaded narrow ribbon through a zip tab to make a zip pull. It took a little contortion but it did work. I was able to grab the ribbon with one hand, hold the top of the zipper with the other hand and ease it down.

  27. verteadeliewp says:

    Sorry about the parting way part of your post… And yay for your nice colleague. As for the fitting alone question, well, this is timely, I asked question about this in the colette pattern flickr group yesterday! I’m working hard on a Laurel muslin (goodness, 3 pieces for the dress, it shouldn’t be that complicated, really, and yet for me it is), and I used my first muslins (3 so far, I’m afraid) to practice sewing invisible zippers that are actually, you know, invisible, but I certainly won’t do for every single muslin in the future.

    I was wondering if it would be possible to sew the back in one piece but open the front, just for the muslin, as it would be so much easier to pin. It sounds both very logical and completely silly :).

    I do have a) a husband, and b) a possible fitting buddy (aka Vanessa, met during the Great Karen Evening in San Francisco :)), but a) I’m really not sure I want to ask him to pin and unpin muslins on me several times in a week-end or evening, and b) even though my possible fitting buddy doesn’t live too far, she doesn’t live *in my studio*, so it would really require planning. I’ll probably ask her when I make a jacket, though.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    I always hand baste the zipper in. Quick and easy. Then I sew, try it on, sew, try it on, sew, try it on, etc until I’m happy with the fit. Fitting isn’t easy even when you have a fitting partner. Sigh…

  29. Jen (NY) says:

    Duct-tape dress form. Of course, you need someone to help you make the form first!

  30. Ruth says:

    I have a lady valet now, I never managed to teach my husband – when i had one – how to pin.

  31. I end up just trying on then seeing where it needs taken it, taking it off and pinning where I think it needs, and repeating until fitted! It’s a bit labour intensive (and spiky, with all those pins) but it seems to work ok!

    • Caroline C么t茅 says:

      To spare me some ouch, I sometimes use my quilting pins (closeable pins, like the old time cloth diapers pins) to pin myself in a dress…

  32. S酶lvi says:

    I am with Elizabeth over here – hand basting is my way to go!

  33. Heehee! Joidevivre and I were often found in the loos at our work doing this very thing. And others too, as word got around in five years that if anyone ended guidance on whether to save an ill fitting garment or make, they’d bring it to me. Joi and I each had pins in our top drawers. 馃檪
    A tip (love the zip idea though!) is to always make a front centre seam for access, and sew up the back one. DOesn’t make it easy to pin the back at all but it helps. And I always, always fit my toiles and then progress fittings of garment inside out, so much easier to repin seams that way. You can lways turn it to see it seamless. I see it a bit like editing with the ‘show all’ on, then turning it off to see how the edited document will look xo

  34. Trice says:

    For my sloper I had my teacher help pin me, even though I was not in her class at the time. Even had a fitting done in a restaurant.. in the side room. A dressform can be really helpful. You can get one on ebay for reasonable price and stuff it with batting. That was what my teacher was teaching earlier this semester. They took their measurements and made a cover (shell), place the cover on a smaller size dressform and then filled it with a batting. For my dressform I have purchased the fabulous fit system.
    I still would prefer a sewing/fitting buddy, someone single and loving it and not with a busy schedule.

  35. Nannykk says:

    Ok, I laughed so much at this I had the “public” gawking at me. I have 4 college-age daughters and I am making a list of what they need in their cars or handbags for emergencies. I’ll add seam ripper to it!

  36. gingermakes says:

    I love this! Your coworker is a good soul!

  37. Bwahahahaha! MrsC, look, it’s us! I’ve seen more than one startled look on other colleagues’ faces when they found me in a state of undress while MrsC fussed and mumbled and stuck pins in and created fit from formless. Hilarious and fun and I miss it immensely. My partner is useless at this sort of thing but I’m lucky that I’ve cultivated a great group of sewing friends and we help each other out as needed. And I can (and have) go to MrsC’s shop for emergency fittings and terrorise her customers instead.

    If your colleague is happy to fit you, then keep at it! You might make a lifelong friend (isn’t that right MrsC xx)

  38. Andrea says:

    I was just musing about this not two days ago. My husband could help, but he would not do it right, so I was wondering if there was a way to create a body cast in lieu of a dress form. A body cast would be 100% accurate (until I gain weight…which always happens somehow) and it can’t be that hard to make one because I remember people making face masks in high school art class. I may just have to look into this a bit more seriously because there is no way any of my co-workers would help me pin a muslin!

  39. louise says:

    I have a sewing friend who lives across the road a treasure. I have been know to run across the road in half finished garments for a fitting.

  40. Divebunny says:

    I shall have to forward this to a friend who I used to work with. We did this all the time in our works bathroom.

  41. Lyndle says:

    Maybe someone already said this – but if you leave an opening at the front (even just a deep neckline)you can pin it yourself. It doesn’t work for all patterns obviously but for a bodice shell it is ok. Just be sure to mark the joining line on both pieces (and leave an overlap at centre front so you can pin it). Or try a side seam opening (more tricky).
    The worst solo clothing experience I have had was trying on a wetsuit I bought secondhand online. I was home by myself for the night, my French tutor was coming and I was naked in a front-zipping wetsuit that I could neither quite do up nor get out of. I could get it off one shoulder, sure, but not both at once. It took 45 min, and much contorting with a coathanger, to achieve what a helpful friend could have done in seconds by yanking the centre back down for me. This will be why wetsuits normally zip at the back.

  42. Graca says:

    Wow, you actually had a boyfriend who also was a sewing slave! And an awesome co-worker like that! I’m jealous. None of my past beaus ever helped with my sewing projects. Fitting without help is tough but there are some great suggestions up there so there is no need for me to repeat them. I just want to let you know how jealous I am.

  43. Marie says:

    What an awesome work friend you have…and what a great idea! Although I live with my boyfriend, he has little to no interest in my sewing adventures and he is TERRIBLE at pinning. He just doesn’t get it. So I muddle through alone and most times end up getting nasty neck cramp in the process!

  44. redambition says:

    My other half is, how should I say this…? Not skilled in the use of pins. I have a dressmakers form for major fit, and then i hand baste a zipper in for when I want to try on a muslin – I have a few muslin zippers that get moved to new muslins once I’m done fitting a previous one. Hand basting one in only takes a few minutes.

    I find putting the zipper in makes fitting so much easier – the tension is even on the close point of the garment (useful if it’s very fitted), and you can test how easy it is to get on and off – will you need someone to help with the zipper? Is it in the right spot for your preference? Is it too short/too long and distorting the line of the garment?

  45. oonaballoona says:

    you are, as always, funny as hell.

    get a dress form, you absolutely deserve it!!!

  46. Pat says:

    Just formulating the words in my mind to put this out for the world to see is giving me a glimmer as to why neighbors avoid me. Like another person said, I use my camera with a timer. I also use quilting pins to baste areas when I’m not in the mood to be stuck with pins. I have been known to knock on neighbors doors to get help pinning something when twisting, fighting with fabric and tears just doesn’t accomplish the task.

  47. Tanya says:

    Well, as others have suggested you could make your own personal dressform, but also if l remember rightly there was a blogger based North America (just can’t remember her name or her blog) who put together a world map where you could meet other sewintists that live near you and perhaps put out a message to do an exchange on fittings, sewing advice etc. In addition if you are going to Rachels meetup this Saturday maybe you could ask amongst attendees that live near you who would be willing to do this exchange with you.

  48. Molly says:

    I’m on my own too until my youngster is old enough to learn the art of fitting! I can pin front and sides with no probs and can get some pins into my back, but often I will pinch the toile and draw on it to mark aterations or estimate the amount pinched – fingernails make a handy measuring device. I then take it off, pin it, try it on again. I try to use two mirrors as well (or I spend a lot of time twisting and turning trying not to distort seams!). It’s quite a bit of effort but usually I’m concentrating so much I dont notice and am happy with the fit I get. If I do get into difficulty, I save it til I visit my sewing buddy or mom and get them to help.

    Because I toile and fit every project, I’ve developed an instinct for my alterations – what, where and by how much – so I often draw them straight onto the toile before cutting, then I often only need to tweak. It’s similar to having a sloper for your measurements that you can overlay the pattern with to start, which is another thing to try and cut down fitting.

  49. Bec says:

    Dressmaker Dummy, best things ever!

  50. susew says:

    I’m lucky that I my mother lives nearby so on the weekends I can visit and getting fitting help. Desperately missed her fitting help when the parents went in vacation – I asked for fitting help on a sewing discussion board and on my blog with photos of me wearing my fitting muslin made from an old, and very thin bed sheet, translucent in some places!

    Can’t count the number of times I’ve found bits of overlooked, contrast colour basting thread during the first public wearing of a newly finished garment. Hopefully I’m the only one that notices!

  51. silvia says:

    I’m in the basting camp too! I use the long stitch on the machine and avoid hand basting. Then take a picture of the back/side/front and you can get a very clear idea of problem areas.

  52. Paola says:

    As a lone sewer, this is one of my major challenges. My mother lives 2 hours away, so that option is only useful when I visit her every so often. I’m currently making a Colette Truffle dress for my daughter, and the fitting process is totally different, and not nearly as fraught. I’m going to try the photo process as described above and see if this helps.

  53. I do a lot of my “draft” sewing using a long stitch length so it just pulls out easily. I am married, but hubby is away a lot and even if he was here I don’t imagine he would be much use!

  54. Erika says:

    I was single for a long time, so even though I now have a boyfriend I still do the fitting on my own =) I either sew/pin in a zip or I leave the front open (depends on how tightly fitted the garment is and if there’s any front details in the way). Then I pin roughly, and pinch where I can’t reach, take the toile off and pin properly, try the whole thing on again… There’s a lot of getting in and out of the toile =) I have been thinking about making a proper shell for my dresssummy and pad the dummy until the shell fits, but somehow it always ends up last in my sewing-line.
    Of course fitting a lot easier when I’m in the same town as my mom, but sadly that doesn’t happen so many times a year, and when it does we usually don’t spend much time sewing.

    Sad to hear about the break-up, but glad you’re still good friends!

  55. Stephanie says:

    Sorry to hear your on your own but you’ve got Ella to cheer you up a bit at least. I tried getting my husband to do some pinning but gave up after I ended up with a back closure running suddenly diagonally over my back. The front looked o.k. l’ve got no inkling how he did it. I could have called it a design element only the zipper would go further into the skirt and that would have looked odd. And I wouldn’t trust my kids too. I just heave boys and while I approve of acupuncture I don’t like it done with sewing pins.

  56. I have a hard time too! My partner is a bit hopeless with pinning (though he is improving) so I prefer to do things myself. I can’t ask my colleagues and I have no sewing friends near me. That’s my I signed up for Pilates and ballet…hoping to get more flexible to twist my arms, head and reach my back 馃槈 I recently learned I could put a zipper to the side or front when testing muslins (duhh) so it’s easier to step in and out. Maybe you could organise regular fitting sessions with sewing bloggers in London…you’re so many that you will find someone in a split second…and you won’t have to worry because you can always return the favor. Your colleague seems a really lovely person…I am sure she is dying to learn how to sew!
    If you want to come down to the Italian Lakes…I can help you with the dress! I fitted myself on it last year.

  57. I’m just starting out on my sewing-something-that-actually-fits-my-body journey, so I can’t offer too much wisdom, other than to echo those who suggest putting a zip in the muslin, which has pretty much revolutionised my fitting. I lust after a beautiful dress form, but worry I wouldn’t be able to find one to fit my particular petite configuration, so maybe I should follow all the tips here for a DIY dummy… I love the photo of you in the loo – your coworker sounds like a treasure!

  58. Really impressed that you managed to train Ian to help with fitting and sorry to hear that he’s no longer around to help. If you need help again in the future let me know, a fitting session over a glass of wine sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening.

  59. Roobeedoo says:

    Hmmm. Dogs are no good like that. Cats, on the other hand, can be very helpful at finding lost pins.
    I think you have found the answer – you have pin-proficient friends. I have a husband, but he has very little feeling in his fingers, so cannot be trusted with pins. And anyway, he’s usually asleep!
    What about your mannequin? Have you given up on her altogether?

  60. Tania says:

    What a fab work colleague! She鈥檚 a treasure 馃檪
    I鈥檓 glad you and Ian are on good terms- it鈥檚 nice to have that when you鈥檝e previously been so important in each other鈥檚 lives…
    I use safety pins for fitting- too many times I’ve stabbed and scratched myself when contorting to adjust with ordinary pins!

  61. Sally says:

    Your colleague is a complete star, I wish my bloke would take time off from youtube to give me a hand. As it is, I just have to pinch where it needs taking in, draw a bit of a scruffy line the best I can then its a case of trial and error until I get it rught. Takes alot of trying on and taking off, which is probably why I get fed up and decide it will do before its quite right.

  62. AnotherKaren says:

    Off the peg dressforms are just awful and expensive for what they are. One day I’m going to ring up Janet Moville’s School of Sewing in Ribbleton, Lancashire (no relation!) and book a ‘bosom buddy’ one-to-one day. I’ll arrive in the morning, and she and her assistant will get to work. I’ll have lunch. By the evening I’ll walk away with my own bespoke body double with a stand, materials and instructions for constructing a cover, and a lot of expert infomration on my fitting tasks.

    An off-the-peg dress form would cost half as much but wouldn’t do the job. Pinning helpers are never there when you need them. I sometimes resort to taking photos of myself front, side and rear and contemplating them before making a stab at the problem areas (usually in my underwear because it’s on-off-on-off-on-off).

    Come on students of design, technology, engineering etc – there’s a huge gap in the market for a decent product at the right price. Get on with it!

  63. Camilla says:

    Luckily I live with my sister and have taught her the art of pinning but she鈥檚 not always around. So last year I made myself a duct tape dress form on a one day course at Morley College. I really recommend making one and it鈥檚 not hard at all. All you need is a patient friend to help mummify you. Tip 鈥 go to the loo beforehand! 3 layers of tape have to be wrapped around you so it鈥檚 durable so there鈥檚 quite a bit of standing. You then stuff it afterwards with newspaper or an old duvet. I鈥檝e found mine so useful as I get a 360 degree view of how a garment will fit on my body. Plus it鈥檚 of your body. I think shop bought forms can give you a guide at best, and are so expensive. If you can train Ellla to pin you, she鈥檇 be a front runner for Britain鈥檚 Got Talent.

  64. Lisa says:

    Sounds like there is a need for sewing parties where we can all get together and help each other!!

  65. I must have missed a chapter. I thought you had a dress form? Sorry about that chapter of loss, but you seem to be coming out the other side with remarkable aplomb. I’m quite looking forward to seeing the finished product that your star of a co-worker is so busily pinning for you. 馃檪

  66. Erin Cumming says:

    Sew in your underwear and try on a lot, or, if you are like me and your sewing area is in the frigid basement, wear a “sewing suit”, ie: a tight-fitting tank and elastic waistband pants so stripping and redressing isn’t so difficult. Honestly, I don’t trust anyone else know what they are doing to fit something on me (I mostly don’t know what I’m doing). Luckily, I have recently met some sewing girls in my city, so perhaps a get together will happen??

  67. Leah says:

    I am intrigued that this is only “MAYBE the craziest thing I鈥檝e ever done in a workplace bathroom”. I think you need to give us the details and let us decide…

  68. Karen, did you see the Threads Magazine article by Kenneth D, King about custom fitting a commercial dress form – the essence of it is is you make a skin tight cover for the dressform, dressform, then another cover that’s a skin tight duplicate fitted to your figure by a friend, next you pad-out and stuff between the 2 layers of covers (which are attached with zips). When you’re done you have a removable cover fitted just to you. You could adapt your existing dressform (Zelda IIRC) to become a duplicate if your own figure. I can send you a copy of the scanned pages if you like? (P.S. I’d be very happy to help with the fitting/padding if you did decide to go ahead. Ann at Gorgeous Things blog and her friend Phyllis made one each recently which came out successfully. It’s also no dissimilar to when Gertie padded out her dressform form too.)

  69. autumnyarn says:

    Ugh! This is the most frustrating part of sewing and living alone! I deal with this problem by basting up the center back and pinning the side seam instead. I can usually contort myself to pin up the side seam. This lets me see where the fit issues are, but it definitely requires more trial and error than when you have a helper!

  70. Nicola says:

    I made 4 pairs of shorts as a bribe, to the other member of our household with hands – my teenage daughter to help. She is a fitter in training, working on her trouser block( via Steph @ 3 hours past the Edge) has really helped with her understanding.On a bodice I sew up the back and leave a side seam open. I get her to take pictures of the back. Am about to muslin a pair of trousers…which she is so going to enjoy..Hey it will be a break from GCSE revision Hems are a bit more problematical, I work on the knowledge that my bottom is more of a feature than hips and guess! I like the idea of a chalked string between a door frame. Knowing my standard fit adjustments has helped enormously – narrow shoulders, forward head, fba, move darts up 1″, enlarge waist, swayback.. now for the bottom half. It can be v frustrating and time consuming. I have learnt to giggle at the idiosyncrasies of my body.

  71. Patty says:

    oh my, then I’m not the only one in this situation… I usually bribe a friend with tea and cake…

  72. Kbenco says:

    He, he.
    I feel it is the duty of all who sew to attempt to train the members of their households to pin and fit. Training your colleagues is beyond the call of duty, but I congratulate you on your success in this area. I have been a complete failure in training my husband to carry out these tasks, despite many attempts, but my 10 year old son is a dab hand at hem pinning and it only costs chocolate – he may be useful to someone in the future. I really miss my daughter’s sewing expertise since she moved out of home. I don’t think there is any easy answer for self fitting – at some stages you just need another person.

  73. I’ve been single for almost one year. Even when I was with my BF I never asked him to help pin me up. I used to wing it myself… then cry when things didn’t fit.
    I started to pin zippers on the the garments and zip then up for fitting. Works okay so far! 馃槢

  74. Rachel says:

    It’s very complicated, isn’t it? I live alone and don’t have any friends nearby who sew, so I’m always trying to figure out how to fit myself. Hems are the worst.

    Just last night I was trying to fit the back of a dress – I’m quite certain I need a swayback adjustment, and possibly to make it smaller in the waist, but it was so hard to see! Now that I’ve fitted the bodice, I think I’m going to sew the back up and cut the front so that I can get in and out (yes, this is the toile).

  75. Rachel says:

    it’s not the first toile pinning that bathroom has seen!

  76. sallie says:

    What a dear of a coworker!! Surely this isn’t just a problem for single ladies…? My husband is useless as a sewing/fitting assistant! What we need is to get all the sewing enthusiasts into one area…. like a commune…. because THAT doesn’t sound like I’m trying to start a cult, or anything…

  77. Matte says:

    My solution to not having anyone to pin me into dresses is to tack the zip into the toile, that way I can zip it up like I would the finished dress. It’s more work, and I have to photograph the back of the dress to see how it looks, but it doesn’t require another person, and avoids those awkward ‘explaining why I’m having a dress pinned to me in a bathroom’ moments.

  78. Liz says:

    Even when I was with a boy, I mostly just pinned myself in as best as possible. It seems most of my seams close on the side, which I can easily reach and pin! As for hems, well…I’ve kind of let those go. No one’s looking, right? 馃槈

  79. surfjewels says:

    Just discovered your blog and had to laugh at this, think it’s fantastic you did this in your lunch break. I do a combination of pinning things and taking them on and off multiple times and I also relented a while back and bought a tailors mannequin which is set to my size, so that helps.


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