Friday, May 28, 2010

"Like ANTS Crawling on Your SKIN": Clothing Pet Peeves

I just finished my trouser class with Kenneth King this week, and he told numerous funny stories about the instructor who taught him his pattern drafting method. One of my favorites was his teacher telling her students they wouldn't be able to look at everyday clothing anymore without a critical eye because all the fit issues and construction gaffs would be "like ANTS crawling on your SKIN!" Kenneth parlayed this in a French accent along with a wonderful ant-crawling hand gesture.

I truly hate to be judgmental of what others are wearing because it really just breeds more negative thoughts. And I certainly have my days when I'm not feeling or looking my best. But seriously, what else am I going to do on my commute other than nit-pick everyone's outfits? And there are so many ill-fitting and poorly chosen clothes everywhere! It makes sense that as we become more proficient fitters and sewers, we'll become more observant of the garments all around us. (Unfortunately, we might also become more annoying, petty people in the process!)

Just yesterday morning, on the subway into work, I saw: 1) a woman wearing a button-down that was so small it was gaping apart about an inch between the buttons, 2) a lady shuffling along in a dumpy blazer about three sizes too big, and 3) a girl in a black sequined miniskirt paired with a sheer blouse and cruddy flip flops - before nine in the morning! (Hmm, perhaps that was her outfit from the night before?)

Of all these things, I think the button-down was most like ANTS crawling on my SKIN. Don't we all know how uncomfortable it is to wear something that's gaping apart at the buttons? And for busty women, it's near impossible to find a good fit in a button-down. I think it's good to take these critical thoughts and turn them into a positive: how can these observations help me improve the fit and construction of the garments I sew? Note to self: Button down blouses need ease! A muslin is a good idea. And probably an FBA if you're over a B cup.

Okay, how about you? What fit and construction issues are like ANTS crawling on your SKIN? How do your pet peeves make you a better fitter and seamstress?

[Image above from Forbes]

99 comments:

  1. Yes yes yes! I have been thinking about this a lot recently, and I also find myself walking along the street and thinking 'that person's jacket is too big', 'oh, and so is that person's' etc etc. I think that it's just unavoidable in RTW to have a good fit if you have a cup size larger than the 'average' (whatever that is!) - if you have a large bust and go by your full bust, the shoulders are too big, but if you get the size that fits your shoulders, you have button gape. Ever since I found out about FBAs, 'ants on your skin' is the right term - I just can't avoid noticing it! My other pet peeve is a baggy seat in trousers or skirts (though to some extent the trousers are a fashion thing) - I have this urge to go and pinch out the excess fabric, but I think that kind of thing can get you arrested..

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  2. Since I learned how to draft patterns, I spend my entire time in the outside world, looking at the cut of people's clothes and trying to make mental notes of this detail or that - and even those that look horrid. Yesterday I even managed to sneak a photo of a skirt I liked with my phone! the girl was so far down the street that I can't get any detail, but I was shocked at myself - I could get beaten up or arrested or anything!!!! When I get to a convenient place (normally), I quickly scribble down any ideas I've gleaned - seam shapes, dart positions, interesting shapes etc.,

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  3. Ever since I got properly fitted for a bra, I have been shamelessly mentally noting how poorly fitting most other women's bras are. Shortly after that, on the subway, I saw a young woman in a white knit top wearing a black bra underneath whose cups runneth over. Way over. And the poorly supported women at the gym make me cringe in sympathetic pain.

    Otherwise, my biggest "oh dear" is when I see someone whose suit jacket hangs off the shoulders so the full-busted woman wearing has some prayer of buttoning it in front.

    And jeans that look like they were painted on. How does anyone wear those in the summer? Denim is not comfortable in very warm weather.

    I try not to stare, but I do notice and shake my head. And I notice poorly fitting clothes on men, too.

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  4. The thing that really kills me is when someone wears pants that are very obviously too small. When you have a humongous muffin top, your stomach rolls over your button in the front and your crack is peaking out, I mean seriously, buy some new pants and don't be in denial of what size you wear people!!!

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  5. Most of my pet peeves are fitting issues having to do with the fact that clothing manufacturers for the UK lean way too heavily on knits and lycra because it's cheaper and easier to use stretch to make garments "fit" than to tailor them. So a lot of women seem to have no concept of what makes good fit, resulting in a lot of the embarrassing sausage-in-a-casing effect. Skin-tight fit does almost nobody any favors. Especially in garments that aren't supposed to LOOK stretchy, like button-down shirts.

    I guess those RTW issues go hand in hand with the "poor concept of your own body shape and size" problem. My bf reads my blog and the people who comment on it, and has remarked on how astonishingly in touch with their body sizes, proportions and fitting issues sewing bloggers seem to be.

    This isn't as true for a lot of women, possibly because of body angst -- the most toned, nubile woman I know STILL struggles with poor fit because she can't stand to read the numbers on a tape measure.

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  6. You know the lines of stay stitching manufacturers put at the bottom of a pleated skirt to keep the pleats sharp during shipping/selling the garment?

    Well, occasionally, you'll see someone walking around on the street with those stitches still in. I wonder whether I should say something...

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  7. Susannah - I completely agree re stretch fabric; it's ubiquitous and isn't always flattering! I was actually reading your blog today - and I thought your quote about how when you wear something that fits 'people admire it without knowing why', was a very good point. It's not until I started taking sewing and fit seriously that I started understanding why it's so hard to buy flattering clothing off the shelf, and now my standards for RTW are impossibly high (such that I probably will rarely buy RTW again!)

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  8. Bad cheap fabric...especially with childish prints. Cheap synthetics are the worst. I live in Colombia, a place where if it isn't skin tight it's considered too large. So everywhere I turn I see spandex shirts with sparkles, and low cut, and off the shoulder, and mid riff.....seriously.
    So my second pet peeve is every trend in one outfit.

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  9. I have to agree with Susannah. Most women I know won't even let a tape measure near them in the fear that they might know their real measurements, even when they don't know what the average measurements for women are. I once offered to quickly make up a dress for a friend of mine similar to one that she had seen on someone on the street that day and she almost broke out in tears when I brought out the tape measure. I was flabbergasted that she thought I could make a dress that was flattering on her without taking all of her measurements!

    I think that is causes a lot of fit issues in the clothes that people wear. If you can't face the numbers then you can't get an accurate fit. As seamstresses we spend a lot of time working the fit issues out of our garments. I suppose when you put the time and effort into making something you think that you might as well spend the extra time to get it to fit perfectly. On the other end of the scale are a lot of women I know who won't even go into a change room to test a garment's fit before they by it.

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  10. My pet peeve is a swayback problem, I think, because it's so common and I actually know how to fix that one.

    Restless Robot, it's also impossible to get a good fit if you are underendowed, like me. Hence why I sew. :D

    Sophie
    filasewphie.blogspot.com

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  11. I am an extremely beginner seamstress, and I've already started to notice that no one is wearing clothing that fits them and it all looks super-uncomfortable. Of course, I discovered this about my own wardrobe at the same time - which means that about half my shirts are now sitting in the Goodwill pile! Tragedy! And I really don't sew fast enough to replace them at any speed!

    My biggest pet peeve is how ill fit causes people poor body image (I personally always figured the problem was that I needed to lose weight or something, when the problem was my high bust point making things pull weirdly) and my second biggest pet peeve is how even "nice" clothing is made of tissue-thin rayon-spandex blend. I support women's right to girdle, but I think a lot of the market for Spanx was created by the unnecessary use of rayon-spandex blend.

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  12. Even before I started sewing I couldn't stop myself noticing things like this. Gaping blouses also upset me, mostly because it's something I suffer from myself, being a bit booby. I've just stopped wearing anything that buttons at the front, because I'm not accomplished enough to make my own. My biggest pet peeve however, is trousers that are too short.

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  13. @SophieMiriam - of course you're right - I didn't mean to exclude small bust fit issues too - the shoulder/bust fitting conundrum is difficult to resolve for anyone who deviates from the standard, which I would guess includes most people!

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  14. People who don't hem their pants and just let them drag on the floor. Your dry cleaner will hem them for you. Spend a few bucks, will you? They look nasty and pick up every speck of dirt from the ground. And while your at it buy a pair that fits and won't give you a camel toe.

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  15. It might have as well have been me modeling the button-front shirt used in your post, because my desire for clothes that actually fit inspired my return to sewing.
    My bite-my-tongue moments come when I see similarly endowed women in too-large black clothing. Ladies: those clothes are making you look bigger!

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  16. I agree with Susannah too. People who think just because an item will physically stretch round them it fits! Someone at work wears a sort of sheath dress that covers her from neck to knee but you can see literally every ripple, bulge and dimple through it it's so tight - even her belly button! Not a pretty sight.

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  17. I'm not a seamstress but I'm with you on the gaping buttons. It happens to me ALL the time. =\

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  18. I don't get the skin-tight thing; if clothes are too tight, they actually make my waist and back hurt, maybe from self-conscious moves, I don't know. Not to mention they can be too hot, itchy, etc. I don't sew fast enough to replace everything, but my ill-fit is from buying larger, not smaller, to accomodate larger shoulders/back and rounded tummy. But the pet peeve is pants cut too low in the back, showing yourself, sorry, but that is so unattractive, especially if you are heavier.

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  19. I can't help but notice poor construction everywhere since I started sewing again. A few weeks ago, I tried on some pants that obviously had incorrect construction of the groin area. I see this a lot, especially in more high end brands.
    A lot of younger men also seem to have no idea how a suit is supposed to fit. This comes to show when you look at the jacket; the fabric is all stretched out across the back and some even look like they're a grown person wearing a child's jacket, you know, with the shoulders all squeezed and raised.
    Susannah nailed it with the "sausage-in-a-casing"-description. A lot of especially younger women wear low-waist jeans and long stretchy t-shirts to cover their bellies, but due to the fit of the jeans (or lack thereof) and the top having a lot of stretch (and therefore often being bought several sizes too small), healthy women end up looking like they have massive fat deposits in the belly area, because the pants create a muffin top and the t-shirt just emphasizes it with the fit being too tight. I know if I wear that, I look a good 20 pounds heavier than I am. To me, it seems like people think that as long as they can squeeze into something, then it must be their size and I think the fashion world's constant glorification of the ultra-skinny look is the cause of people focusing on the size tag rather than the actual fit of a garment.

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  20. I work at a campus university and keep seeing leggings worn with nothing covering the girls' bums. Only really lean / toned people can carry off that look but everyone seems to be going for it. But the real problem is the cheap and nasty stretch fabrics used for these leggings, coupled with the fact that some girls are choosing sizes which are clearly too small for them. Result is totally see-through leggings - really, really not a good look but no one seems to care.

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  21. I recently attended an employment open house at a medical practice, and I was shocked at what people were wearing to what was essentially the first phase of a job interview. One woman was wearing a very wrinkled white button up blouse...with a bright royal blue bra underneath. Ask me how I know what her bra looked like. Another was wearing black trousers and a colored knit long sleeve shirt (very H&M trendy, not interview attire) with WHITE 4inch stilletos. And there was one man who was wearing pants that he had to leave unbuttoned because they did not fit over his gut. I was in shock that people actually showed up for an employment screening dressed that way.

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  22. I think my main fitting pet peeve is when people walk around on the hems of their pants. Getting pants hemmed is the simplest/cheapest alteration and will drastically save the life of the pants. Not to mention make the wearer look better, too.

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  23. I have a lot of clothing pet peeves and most of them I am totally guilty of wearing myself! I have an extremely difficult body to fit(really tall so everything is too short;sleeves, pant length, midriff, and I have a really large chest; 3D, and very small rib cage) and because of my total lack of summer wardrobe planning I am sitting here in what has to be my greatest clothing pet peeve at the moment, an empire waste line that hits mid-bust. This look makes anyone look 10 times bigger than they are because it offers no waist definition at all. The fabric just hangs off of the largest part of the chest. I went RTW shopping yesterday in utter desperation and came home, once again(surprise surprise)empty handed. It reminded me that I need to have a sewing plan and really work at beefing up my staple wardrobe.

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  24. I hate the overtight lycra because it makes everyone look fat unless you are the size of my five year old daughter. Over the past few years it has seemed as if fashion design has purposely put forth styles that do not flatter the natural bust, hips, bellies and thighs.

    I don't like too short pants hems but nowadays I am more likely to see hems dragging the ground. Since I figure the woman cannot sew herself I have some forgiveness for this.

    I also deplore baggy shoulders and shapeless side seams on plus size women, myself included. I don't blame the women for this, they can't help it because many manufacturers offer poorly executed plus size designs. And at certain income ranges that is all that is available to them. When I see this I want to grab the women and tell her, "Yes, you can buy a t-shirt for ten dollars, but if you make your own it will actually fit you and look good and you will feel better about yourself when you see how sleek you really can look!"

    I agree with other commenters that a lot of women's body image issues can be traced to poorly fitting garments because a good bra and a well-fitting garment that skims your body without bags or creases makes any size body look better and pleasing to the eye.

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  25. Hi Gertie, I am a home sewer from Singapore. Love your blog and this post just hit the right note for me to leave a comment. :) I guess besides having the right fit, its about acceptance of your body type. I am not someone with skinny legs, so I will not try to squeeze into tapered skinny jeans just to look hop (glad boy friend jeans are here). I have a colleague who dresses in sleeveless sheath dresses - 2 sizes too small, even the zips were screaming for release... that's what i call "denial".

    Cheers
    Brenda

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  26. This is where I know I need to expand my knowledge base. I can make clothes for myself, and sometimes they are flattering and sometimes they are not. I need to learn how to fit a garment better but I think I'm stuck for the moment until I get a body double. Trying to fit things inside out in my bathroom mirror just isn't working!

    Yet another reason I love your blog! I learn so much from you!

    ~Kelli @ Smidgens

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  27. To me there is nothing more tragic than a larger busted woman with a seam that SHOULD go under her bust cutting straight across it or bust darts that are so high on her they go across her chest from her armpit. It's really just painful to see such bad fit. I just want to run up to her and say, "it's not you! It's mass produced clothing that's failed you!"

    I love sewing but since I've learned about good fit half my clothes have gone on eBay or to Goodwill and I can't look at people without evaluating the fit of their clothes. I can't go shopping without flipping the dress skirt up and scowling because there's no lining. On the bright side when I see a fashion magazine I'm not distracted by the skeleton-like model and her photoshopped hair; instead I'm focusing on how unflattering the design of the dress often is and how the stylist should have altered it because doesn't fit the model correctly either.

    Take a look at our mother's and grandmother's generation, so many of those ladies look elegant simply because their clothes fit properly. Hmm, maybe that's why I'm so wild about retro . . .

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  28. My biggest pet peeve is definitely the inappropriate use of stretch fabrics, as I like to call it. Far too many women are prancing around with stretchy shirts so snug that not only can you see they're belly button indentation, but that the shirt keeps riding up on them. You definitely are wearing the wrong size if you have to keep pulling down your shirt. Although, worse than that are the women that do NOT pull it down & let the muffin top hang all out there. That is not a cute look...ever.

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  29. Purplesews said: "My biggest pet peeve is how ill fit causes people poor body image"

    *mount soapbox*

    Yes!! Yes!! yes!! I can't believe how much time I've spent telling people that when clothes look bad on them it's not their fault, it's a problem with the clothes. It amazes me that we will blame our body for not fitting into clothes rather than blame clothes for not fitting our bodies. Which one is more changeable?

    Clothes can be badly designed and poorly fitted. People cannot.

    *step down from soapbox*

    That being said, I maintain a certain degree of sympathy when it comes to poorly fitting clothes. In the past, financial and time constraints have caused me to buy what I can when I can to cover my body and sometimes the fit isn't perfect.

    Heck, my fitting when I sew still needs work, especially my FBAs - and I need them.

    Love your blog btw :)

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  30. I'm with all the others who mentioned the 'fit issue', I get the idea most women under about 40 (and I'm 29, so that means: anyone of about my own age) seem to agree that the smallest thing they squeeze in, is their size. Tragic on any shape.
    On an unrelated issue, maybe more important to us, those who sew: the importance of a good fit at the shoulder. Whatever your bust- or bodysize, shoulder width can vary wildly. I think the importance of a good fit at the shoulder is vastly underrated. Pattern companies never mention it on sizing charts and most seamstresses follow their lead, worrying only about bust and waist sizes. Just bear in mind: almost all tops and dresses essentially hang from your shoulders. A really good fit starts there.

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  31. Ariel, its like you read my mind!!! That is my worst pet peeve!!! The seam going over the bust and not under it! I also hate gaping buttons on a shirt and destroyed hems on jeans. Honestly, it doesn't cost a lot, just get them hemmed!!!

    The shirt button issue can be a problem for me as I'm extra busty so I'm careful with it and don't buy shirts if they don't shut. What that means is that I end up with shirts made out of stretch fabrics that show every lump, bump and wrinkle. Not a good look and makes me feel fatter than ever. I haven't bought a new shirt in a very long time!

    Something that I have had done recently is a colour and style consult. I did it so that I could make better clothing style choices and start feeling better about myself in what I wear. I also wanted to learn how to chose colours that would suit me for my future sewing projects.

    I am happy to say that I now know what styles to stay away from and what colours make me look my best. I can also happily say that I will NEVER buy another shirt again because they don't suit my body shape. No more gaping buttons for me!!!! YAY!

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  32. Something that I've begun to notice as I have sewn more (and more complex things) is how shoddy my hemming and zipper insertion skills were just months ago. I still wear the clothes I created before this summer, but thank heavens that my zippers are out of my sight and that I'm usually too busy to check out my hem. Another fitting issue that really peeves me is when people stuff themselves into jeans that are at least two full sizes too small. I have nothing against anyone of any body type wearing jeans (skinny or otherwise) but sheesh, ladies, go up that size (or two) - you'll look better, feel more comfortable, and no one's the wiser about your size.

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  33. I have had the opposite happen. A well meaning non sewing coworker told me my tailored pants and blouses are too loose and "not sexy enough." Based on what she wears, I guess she feels a "muffin top" and "camel toe" make for a good fit as well as a work appropriate clothing choice.

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  34. I feel sorry for these people who can't sew. Some of them KNOW their clothing doesn't fit, but they can't figure out how to alter them (because they don't know how to sew) or the clothing is too cheap to take to a tailor..

    I'm aggravated by poorly fitting blouses, too small for a curvy woman, so the neckline is pulled down, so she wears a camisole (an nice fix) or has gaping buttons (very tragic that you can't buy clothing that fits!). I've noticed so many drag lines on the back of shirts, that I want to draft my own block for these poor people! I think that people who have to wear poorly fitting clothing, because they can't locate well-made, well-fitting clothing in decent fabrics are the TRUE VICTIMS OF FASHION!!! AARRGH!

    I'm sorry for yelling, but this aspect of the clothing industry is makes me angry. I can't change the industry, so I sew for myself. And I look with sympathy at the people who haven't found a solution that works.

    Rose in SV

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  35. I have been sewing all my clothes for about a year now because of fit issues. With a 34 DD chest, it was actually impossible for me to wear a shirt that buttons up the front until I started sewing for myself. Major gaposis all the time.

    Now that I've learned the FBA, I can sew something that actually fits me in the shoulders AND across the girls.

    It's also been a god send for the empire waist stuff, which in RTW always seems to have the seam cut right across the middle of my boobs instead of sitting underneath them.

    The only thing I haven't totally mastered yet is pants but I prefer skirts and dresses anyhow...

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  36. Well, now that you ask......I am driven slightly mad by empire waisted blouses where the seams crosses mid-bust instead of UNDER the bust.

    I'm a long time seamstress who has recently found your blog. Lovely!

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  37. I hate to see garments with tags and prices still attached. Zippers down, hems undone and dirty and shirts without all the buttons

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  38. YES! The empire line across the breasts! I was totally thinking about that this morning.

    So many good points about the way fit and body image tie in together. I think I feel another post coming on!

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  39. My absolute worst pet-peeve that over shadows all others (and seems to be an especially wide-spread affliction in my city) are too-short pants!!! What are people thinking??? I used to be irrationally reluctant to wash my pants before hemming them... that, needless to say, lead to a closet full of pants that I never wore because after a few washes they were too short. So now I'm very picky about pre-washing and re-pre-washing before I hem. Even then I hem a tad too long because pants tend to keep shortening. In my office building there are so many people (men and women) I desperately want to take aside and have a serious talking-to about pant length. I shouldn't be able to see your socks under your dress pants!

    I also agree with someone who mentioned ill-fitting bras. I think a lot of women have a mental block about being bigger than a certain size and won't even try things on. I'm like that about pants. I also got fitted properly for bras a while ago and was shocked and appalled to discover that I am a 32DD and not a 32C. It's almost impossible to find my size except in the ugliest styles. It also makes the blouse-gapping problem unavoidable. I don't wear blouses anymore for that reason.

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  40. I feel for buxom women. I work with a woman who is in desperate need of architectural bras. Seriously. She's lost quite a bit of weight lately but none of it off her chest, which was large for her even when she was bigger. Her blouses are too big but there's nothing to be done about it short of her making everything she ever wears.

    I'm tired of not being able to find anything, anywhere, that is made for pear-shaped women. Even the full-skirt thing a couple of years ago failed me: They all had waist yokes that didn't fit the [much more drastic] curve between my waist and my hips/backside. Seriously, if you can't get a peasant skirt that fits you, there is no hope.

    I haven't bought new clothes in ages now. I don't have that much time to sew, but I'd rather have less to wear than more that didn't fit.

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  41. Ditto for me regarding having a large bust and then getting things to fit at the shoulder. That IS the reason I started to sew. Another problem, not really fitting related, is that older women (50+) sometimes where clothing that is too young for them. We go on wearing what we are familiar with instead of branching out and taking a critical look at our form and what type of clothing enhances it (e.g. hems too short). Sewing articles, pattern reviews and blogs have really helped me here.

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  42. Interestingly enough, I was in a clothing store the other day, trying a few items on and thought, "Gosh, these have such poor fit." I found a fitting problem with every single thing I tried. It's interesting how your view of fit really changes after you fit and sew clothing for yourself. A serious pet peeve: I'm such a snob about bagginess in clothing. Far too often I see a pencil skirt that actually makes a woman look fat because it's far too big. Bagginess in the crotch and derrierre of trousers is another indecent offender and a relatively easy fix once you know how. Oh the madness of it all! Great post!

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  43. RTW Pet Peeve: when someone does not snip the threads tacking coat vents closed. In fact, I even once saw it on a very narrow pencil skirt! I can't imagine how the girl could walk. Is it sheer inattention to detail? Or do they actually think that the carefully constructed vent is supposed to then be tacked closed with a couple large and visible stitches?!

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  44. Ants crawling on your skin?? What a weird coincidence! I came into work today to find tiny ants crawling all over my desk and ON ME, TOO! haha!

    I see that empire line across the bust thing all the time. I've seen that on models in catalogs, even. What gives? So many of my pet peeves have already been aired: too-long pants, sausage-casing clothes, muffin-top syndrome. One pet peeve of mine is when someone who is quite overweight tucks in her shirt. Jeez, man! I, too, feel sorry for people who can't sew. I can't imagine not being able to do so.

    I have broad shoulders, a broad back and a small bust. This is, needless to say, a big pain when it comes time to fit. I wish pattern companies would indicate where on the pattern the natural shoulder joint should be.

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  45. So many of the pet peeves discussed here I hadn't even thought about! I have so much to learn! Ironically, many people brought up the empire waist, I'm currently piecing together an empire waisted sun dress and had to add a band to the bust area to avoid that seam issue!

    ~Kelli @ Smidgens

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  46. Poor construction drives me crazy! Even though I'm a slow seamstress, I'm loathe to buy anything that has sloppy construction because I know I can do better!

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  47. People not removing the stay-stitching on pleats, slits and vents bothers me to tears as well. I sometimes consider whether or not I should carry a small pair of scissors and sneak up on them and cut those threads, but I would probably get arrested. I honestly think some people do not know that you are supposed to remove that stay-stitching as a lot of things like that are not a given for people who do not sew themselves.

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  48. I don't like gaping buttonholes either, but I have the same problem. I usually safety pin the gap, but I need to overcome my fear of button-up shirts and make one that fits.

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  49. Although it is not a sewing related problem, it drives me bonkers to see a woman try to walk in shoes that she just can not walk comfortably in. No matter how good the rest of the outfit looks or how cute the shoes are when sitting down, if the heels are too high or the shoes are so uncomfortable that it makes the wearer hobble, they should not be worn. It just ruins the whole outfit.

    That said, I have a high level of paranoia about my own clothing. My office is near the garment district - so there is a large concentration of skilled sewists in the area - and lots of great outfits and garments to observe on the street. It definitely makes me more aware of what I am wearing when I am tempted to be snarky about others!

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  50. Well, extra-tight jersey tops that show exactly how many extra muffins you've had are unpleasant.
    On the button-ups: you don't have to have a large bust, a huge rib-cage will do just fine. I have a underbust measurement of about 90cm and only a B cup. Finding a proper bra isn't exactly a fun pastime:D Button-ups that look half-decent are also a problem.

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  51. The things I always notice are :
    - clothes that are too tight overall (especially jean - being plagued by muffin tops myself, I pity fellow sufferers more than I blame them. Muffin tops can be sneaky and only appear during the day, darn!)
    - pants too short. Honestly, it really makes my eyes bleed. How many charming women did I met that had an outfit completely thrown out of balance by 1" too short pants ?

    Now, I also try to watch for wrinkles in order to practice my fitting skills, but I know that RTW can't fit everyone so I don't blame anyone for lack of bust ease or anything similar. Sometimes you just don't have much choice.

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  52. One peeve that has affected me personally is the apparent inability of anyone to make a women's pant suit that has a decent fitting crotch area! Why is this so hard for you, suit makers? Have you never actually fitted one of your suits to a live female human? And while we're on the topic, is it really that hard to put pockets in women's clothing? C'mon now.

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  53. Some of my pet peeves are about a nice look that is ruined by a detail -a girl looking lovely in a pretty dress but her ratty bra straps are showing, light trousers you can see the wearer's neon skivvies through, pin stripe pants that are much too tight and the stripes become warped, a nice outfit with falling apart flip flops or gross sneakers, etc.

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  54. A pet peeve of mine on RTW clothing is torquing - you know, when the seams of your knit top start working their way around your body? Or shoddy sewing, like when the bust gathers are off centre, making me look lopsided. Everyone is so right though, about how trying to buy well-fitting clothing can get you down. Either your body image and confidence suffer because you're not a perfect 6/10/14, or you're unimpressed with the quality of clothing in your price range. I know I can get well-tailored, better fitting clothes if I'm willing to pay more for them, which is frustrating. Is it so hard to have the seams line up on a $20 top?
    And that's why we sew! I'll never fit a dress straight off the rack (small chest, wide hips) and I'll never be impressed with the quality of sewing & fabric in my price range...but if I sew for myself I can get a much better fit in way nicer fabrics. If you don't sew, you just walk around thinking something's wrong with your body or that you need more money to afford nicer clothes.
    Great post!!

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  55. I have to agree with several of the posts: MUFFIN TOP or worse (I'm not sure if I can say this) let's just say "C-TOE" bleck.

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  56. ohh sometimes I walk along avoiding looking at anyone because their outfits are so DEPRESSING. Badly fitting bras (or none) and low slug jeans on men are pet peeves that has me averting my penetrating glare.
    Have you seen young guys having to run for the bus while holding their jeans up otherwise they would either fall down or they couldn't lift their leg in them? I struggle not to laugh :-)

    And like Rachel - that stay stiching thing - (also on the back of jackets) I have actually told a couple of people and they have been pleased to know it (thank heavens)

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  57. I can't blame people for being victims of bad clothing construction and sizing by the fashion industry; it isn't their fault. I think RTW must be made to fit dress forms and not actual women because it generally fits everyone badly in one way or another. I take a size 2 in RTW if I require something that isn't so large it'll fall off and I still get to fight with the gaping buttondown shirt, giant shoulders vs. shoulders that fit when nothing else does, muffin top, baggy behind and other highlights of bad fitting. It's ridiculous.

    It's no wonder I have so many vintage dresses and sewing patterns.

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  58. When I sit in church I notice all the men that are wearing shirts that are too narrow in the shoulders and they're pulling their pleats open.

    Ditto for the pants-falling-off, never attractive.

    I'm going to venture into children's clothing and say I hate it when little girls are dressed to, ahem, mature for their age.

    What else? Hate the empire seam across the girls, gaping buttons, shirts that show off bra-band-floobie.

    One reason I'm starting to draft patterns for myself more is I'm a 34F and RTW AND commercial patterns don't fit.

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  59. Butt cracks on anybody at any age. NOT sexy, people!

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  60. I have to confess, I really honestly tell total strangers to cut the tacks on their pleats. I try to be nice about it, like: "I'm sorry to bother you, but that is such a beautiful suit/skirt/jacket/coat! By the way, this little thread right here? If you snip it off it will hang so much more nicely. They should have done it for you at the store." Once on the bus I went so far as to pull out my sewing kit scissors and cut the string on a woman's jacket (with her permission, of course). I am not proud of this bizarre and impudent behavior.

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  61. I love shirtdresses, but with my boobs (32F) they always gape. I can usually solve this by sewing in some invisible snaps in between the buttons. I once bought a button-down shirt that had invisible snaps and it was such a dream! My favourite shirtdress is actually one that has snaps instead of buttons, and it has so many that there's no gaping at all. Cute and fits great!

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  62. I have to say, skirts that sit on that "shelf" that is neither hip nor bottom bother me. The side effect of this is that the rear hem appears a lot shorter than the front and everthing is off balance.
    It seems to happen mostly on with full skirts in light fabrics.
    Also, big heavy buttons on nice lightweight cardigans. There's a pun about "such a drag" in there somewhere. I have started changing out buttons on purchased garments if they just don't look right.

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  63. I was a teenager in the late 70s when I first started taking sewing seriously. Clothing was more expensive than it is now, and I wanted a wardrobe that fit well and didn't look cheap. For a while plaid a-line skirts you wore with a blazer were in and it set my teeth on edge to see mismatched plaids. It still bothers me to see plaids and stripes that are unmatched at major seams.

    Another pet peeve of mine is seeing overweight women with their shirts/t-shirts tucked into their high-waisted pants, especially when the waist is elasticized. I want to pull their shirts out and say "There, that's better!'

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  64. I just learned there is a word for what I hate most about knitwear! Torquing! Thanks Tasia!

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  65. It's not exactly a fitting issue, rather than poor management of a fitting issue, but I can't STAND it when people whose trousers or jeans are too long 'hem' them just at the back with some safety pins! It looks SOOOOOOOOO rubbish, like they've been in a school play and had to wear someone elses costume at the last minute for the performance!

    Oh, and when you see someone (usually a larger lady) who is wearing an ill-fitting bra and the back strap has risen way too high at the back. It just looks so uncomfortable. Get. Yourself. Fitted.

    Thanks for the opoortunity to off-load Gertie!

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  66. i don't really have any specialist knowledge when it comes to garment sewing (yet!) but i am a trained maternity bra fitter. what i notice mostly is when people have the band too loose (which is most people) and it rides up at the back - it should go straight across. i hate to think of the unnecessary strain it puts on their shoulders. and on a side note - if i can see the band their top is probably too tight!

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  67. heh, zoe, just read your comment, snap :)

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  68. haha... this post cracks me up! The more I learned about fit (and continue to), the more attuned I am to noticing how other people's garments fit. While I hate the thought of being "that snarky seamstress", I find in some ways observing others has been a good learning tool that I can then apply to my own sewing!

    I'm going to chime in with the other commenters who have already mentioned the improperly high empire line--it irks me to no end! Especially since it means that manufacturers aren't making clothes to fit over gals with larger busts (and even I have tried on tops that have that problem--and I'm pretty small compared to most ladies!). Augh!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  69. I agree with all the above posts.

    My pet peeve is white knickers under white or light coloured trousers. It just looks really cheap. Flesh coloured please.

    Fantastic blog

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  70. Sorry for a "me too" comment, but I can't help myself. The too tight clothes thing bugs me. GO UP A SIZE PEOPLE! There's no shame in it and you'll look a zillion times better. We do ourselves a real disservice when we refuse to acknowledge that we've gained/lost weight and adjust our clothing accordingly.

    And could we please stop with the dark bras under light colored shirts? Please?

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  71. Mismatched geometric patterns such as stripes, plaids and checks. Ugh! Also, prints running crooked to the lines of the garment due to the item being poorly cut out.

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  72. Huh, I thought I'd read all comments, but there are too many...

    I'm with Lauriana somewhere in there - yes, the shoulder width is important - I saw this when I made a custom pattern for my sister. (I'm still so happy for her - now that she has two custom-fit blouses from me and wears sarees and so on, she looks really good in her clothes.) Her shoulders are wider than usual for her size, and so are her arms - and they're also shorter than usual, plus she's full busted. Naturally, most ready-made clothing doesn't look quite right on her, it either makes her look "squished", or she has to resolve to wearing baggy things. While when she's wearing clothes made to fit her, she glows in it.

    So I guess my pet peeve is badly fitting clothes in general...

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  73. Honestly - enough vanity sizing, it's just a number and one company's medium is one company's petite anyway. If people are looking at your tags, swat 'em! When clothes fit you look better - that's pretty much my major pet peeve, because there's no accounting for personal taste - I've just gotta let that one go. Even in high end RTW you expect to have some tailoring performed.

    And if you don't sew, you may get garments that are sewn farmed out by one company, to another, to another who'll do it cheaper in fabrics that weren't shown in the sample line because of cost issues.

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  74. I'm guilty of critiquing ladies on the commute too.

    But to save myself from becoming overly negative I also try to mentally identify something good about every person I run through my fit-meter.

    All that negative thinking creates an atmosphere where you're likely to turn it on yourself at the drop of a hat!

    So even if it doesn't fit or isn't flattering I look for carefully executed make-up, attractive color combination, great hair.

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  75. Great post! I've only started to sew, and I have a lot yet to learn when it comes to accurate sizing (I think I'm still afraid of the tape measure :D). But I think a few, well-fitted, tailored clothes are a whole lot better than a wardrobe brimming with cheap, ill-fitting RTW knits.

    I've developed quite an aversion to ill-fitting clothes (on myself), I look forward to sewing more for myself.

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  76. If you have a bit of gape at front of a shirt as you mention, it can be fixed as long as it's made from a stretch fabric (and isn't WAY too small). Sew it up where it gapes! You'll no longer be able to unbutton it, but you should still be able to put it on over your head. Try to sew along a line of topstitching or dipstitch along a seam so it looks the same.

    I've worked as a tailoress in a clothing alterations business for the past 8 years and i'm always finding fault with the fit of peoples clothes, i just can't help it!!!!

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  77. I've actually noticed this one lately so much I was hoping one of the blogs I read would give me an opportunity to complain about it in the comments. Pencil skirts that are too tight in the hips and have those bad horizontal drag lines across the front.

    I have not seen ONE well fitting pencil since I started focusing on this issue, not even on women I would consider "average" or even "thin". I suppose people are buying pencil skirts to fit their waists and then settling for a slightly tight fit in the hips instead of getting the right fit in the hips and going to a tailor to have the waist taken in. It drives me NUTS.

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  78. My problems when trying on commercially made clothes now that I sew (or at least read about sewing and fit) are:
    1. Jackets - they have to fit perfectly, which can be tough to find
    2. Mismatched prints (if I'm going to mismatch a print, I'll do it myself, not spend money on it. Plaids and stripes are the worst)
    3. Uneven hems/strap widths etc. This is usually a problem with cheap fashion.

    And yes, I do also study seaming and ask to see construction details on people's clothes when I'm curious about how something was put together.

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  79. While we're talking about the tailors tacks that keep pleats closed - my pet hate is the labels on jacket or coat sleeves advertising that they are cashmere or... whatever. Unpick it!!

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  80. Today I am wearing pants that are cut like men's pants, with no room for my generous lady behind. So the seam arks back, and the pockets poof out. I am fairly sure that no one but me thinks that this is anything more than a style choice. I know they are a BAD FIT. But I'm only just dipping my toe into sewing, and they are the only work appropriate pants I have, and it's COLD. So weird pocket pants and a long sweater to cover them it is!

    Hopefully it will be an incentive to get my blocks done up...

    And yes, as a busty, broad shouldered girl, the gaping buttons is definitely like ants on skin. Huge blazers and unfortunate blouses might be style choices that I don't agree with, but gaping buttons? The bane of my existence. I have to keep telling myself that I am not ready to sew tailored shirts because I really need to learn - I just can't put up with the gape any more!

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  81. I can't bear seeing even skinny girls wearing their skirts so tight that it wriggles across the hips. I also warn all women against VPL - visible panty line and worse - VGS - visible gstring.

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  82. I went for years not knowing that the stitching across pockets or pleats was meant to be cut out. I was disappointed that my pockets didn't work, and confused that anyone would make clothes that way. It never crossed my mind that the way I purchased something wasn't the way it was meant to be.

    I only found out by accident when I caught coat threads on something and they ripped out. Suddenly I had a working pocket instead of a pointless flap. It was mindblowing.

    - Jenny

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  83. I totally agree with all of you that have said gaping blouses, muffin tops, and empire waists that go across the bust but here's another one for you - why do plus size manufacturers think that plus sized women have monster arms!?! So many of my shirts and shirt patterns have sleeves that go past my knuckles! It's annoying to wear and it's annoying to see because I feel the other girls pain; I can fix mine, they can't :-(
    I also think kids should learn about little tailoring fixes in school - vent tacks, hems and invisible snaps should be the first lesson.

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  84. My current peeve - as I've just fully grasped the importance of them myself - is floppy shoulders.

    I'd often heard that "small-framed" women should make sure that tops were fitted enough in the shoulders, but since I'm big all over, I never thought that advice applied to me. I only knew that some shirts made me look unintentionally masculine but couldn't figure out why. The idea of any clothes being "too big" never occurred to me - especially when they still pulled tight across my bust.

    Recently I volunteered at an event where all staff had to wear a uniform t-shirt. I put on the men's XL as usual, self-consciously aware all day that it made me look refrigerator-shaped. Then I took the shirt home and tried an experiment. I removed the collar (because crew necks feel strangly on me) and gathered up the shoulder seams so that the sleeves hit at my actual shoulder point.

    It was a revelation. My form had gone from "lumbering behemoth" to "large-framed woman whose clothes fit". I doubt most people even consciously noticed the alteration, except maybe the wider neckline. But I'm sure a difference registered subconsciously in the perceived shape of my body.

    Just a few days ago during my commute, I glanced at a person across from me and my brain concluded "man". Only after several minutes when I looked at the face did I realize it was a woman, and that she actually had an average womanly figure. But she was wearing a men's sweater with those wide floppy drop shoulders, and that was enough for my subconscious to make the mistake. Considering the rest of her attire I doubt she was intentionally making a "butch" fashion statement - she was just as unaware as I'd been.

    Interestingly I know a couple of women who do rock a very stylized butch look on purpose - and they obviously know the importance of tailoring to fit their figures. They always look charmingly androgynous and never like they're "in costume" or wearing clothes that were meant for someone else.

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  85. Oh, so those threads on my jacket were meant to be cut out...well, now I know! I was wondering about that, but I wasn't sure. I have been avoiding wearing this jacket 'cause of how oddly it fits, well, now I know why!...thanks y'all for pointing it out! Hahaha...

    I also have problems wearing button down blouses (though I love them) 'cause of the gaping holes; but I use small safety pins in between, making sure they don't show, and it seems to work.

    Because I am just learning how to sew, there is just no way for me to make my own wardrobe or make adjustments to store-bought clothing (yet!)

    Love your blog, Gertie...first time commenter, but I have been following your blog for quite some time :)

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  86. I work at caring for the elderly, and what I absolutely hate is an ill fitting skirt. A lot of these poor women use a walker and have a bent over posture which means their skirts are longer in front than in the back. It is not their fault, but it makes them look like batty old people, when a proper fitting skirt would make them look more dignified. A lot of these people have the money for alterations, but don't know how their clothes fit.
    Also, the widowers hump, it makes their shirts and blouses fit really odd.

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  87. I just reread my comment and saw how it sounded. Posted it about ten minutes ago. I don't know just how to express myself without sounding ageist or something. I am talking about a group of well functioning old ladies, who have plenty of money, and generally good taste. But age does do things to us, and a lot of the elderly ladies get a hunched over posture, loose a lot of weigh, get a dowagers humpt. I am not saying that the ill fitting clothes are their fault. What I am trying to say, that there really is not a lot of clothes made to fit these fitting challenges. Still these fitting issues gives me the heebe-jeebies.
    English is not my first language, so forgive me if it does not come over right.
    Tania

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  88. not going to add to the pet peeves, most of mine have already been mentioned. But I do want to give a tip for those who suffer from blouse gaposis from buttons placed in the wrong place - a hook and thread loop added to the blouse level with the fullest part of the bust works better than safety pins. It doesn't help if the blouse is 2 sizes too small, but it does wonders for shirts that are a *tiny bit* snug, when the buttons aren't lined up with your bust point.

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  89. I cant stand that nothing fits me at the waist. now i am a pretty small girl, with a short back length and no boobs... meaning only knits (talking store bought) will show off the small curves i do have. the bodice of childrens' clothes usually fit pretty good, especially in jackets but the arms are too short! cant they make petite sizes that aren't also PLUS? maybe i should just move to Asia where i will be a large :)

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  90. hate to point out the speck in another's eye here, but - i believe it is 'nit-picking', from the tedious chore of picking lice egg sacs ('nits') from a person's head hair.

    and in this post, wouldn't you know it! ; ) steph

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  91. I love this topic, especially the gaping buttons. I always have difficulty finding button up shirts that fit properly because of my bust. (I'm a 36 C/D)

    My waist is smaller and before I learned about darts or alterations, I had read somewhere that often actresses are sewn into their costumes for the best fit. So I decided that I would sew the buttons closed by stitching an invisible hand stitch on the inside of the garment, essentially creating a pullover shirt with the button-up look.

    Although I am better at altering now, I still sometimes use this trick for when I just need a quick fix for a new shirt.

    I'm telling you, MAGIC.

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  92. Want to Sew for MyselfJune 9, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    I've had Kenneth King as a teacher (funny guy). Since starting to learn to sew for myself, I have become obsessed with how badly clothes fit, including my own. In fact I no longer knew what good fit was. I had to look it up.

    It does drive me crazy, esp. when I realize that if the waist of dress hit where it should I'd look 10 pounds thinner.

    Hope to be sewing and rectifying the problem relatively soon.

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  93. Yes Yes Yes.
    Haven't read all the other comments so this may be a repeat.
    Only today, I saw a man who had not clipped the packing stitches holding the double vent to the sides of his suit jacket. He was too far away for me to be able to catch him and quietly suggest he get hold of a pair of scissors quickly.

    Yeah, I don't like badly fitting clothes on myself and others, but the problem is finding clothes that fit and at a reasonable price. WHo is standard anymore? Women suffer compared to men, as our suits cost more and aren't as well made.
    Plus, the raunch culture thing seems to have encouraged a lot of women to show bust and butt in a way that is not becoming, and not pleasant to see, for me at least.

    Always enjoy these posts, Gertie. Wish I could do a class with Kenneth King, and be taught to drape. Jealous :0(

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  94. A lot of people just don't know any better. And even if they do they may not have the means to deal with the fit issues. Making fun of them, which i'm not sure was your intention, isn't going to change anyting. Until people quit buying these ill fitting garments, they will contiinue to be produced and sold. About the time they decided the way to make a dress fit was to sew ties in the side and have you tie it in to the proper fit was when I quit buying clothes. Not everyone has a sewing machine or knows how to use one. Then if they master that there's fighting with the ill fitting patterns that are in current production. Home Ec needs to get back into schools. wendy

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  95. one of my peeves is a bit more conceptual, in that a lot of people (women and men) think that the single or double D's are the epitome of large busts. let me tell you, there are more letters in the alphabet after D. i am a 32J, so imagine my dilemma in bra searching and bust fitting. i think a lot of women don't realize that bra sizing has a much larger range than 32-38 A-DD. this "cup complex" tells me that we are either listening to retailers telling us that DD is the biggest, or that we are squeezing into too small of cups (and probably too large of band size.)

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  96. This blog and subsequent comments have really spoken to me. I think that when I quit sewing, I really developed an even worse body image. Sometimes I think I quit sewing when I gained so much weight (a rough patch several years ago and I have been fighting the weight ever since). But I'm so looking forward to sewing again and having some clothes that fit and feel good (mostly because I made them!).

    On another note, I do enjoy reading your blog!

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  97. Mismatched geometric patterns such as stripes, plaids and checks. Ugh! Also, prints running crooked to the lines of the garment due to the item being poorly cut out.Online Crolom

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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