Playing with Proportions

Burda Plus 01/2020 401
Left- shortened top by 2-1/2" and repositioned tie.                                                Right- Original length

One thing about blogging that I love, is photographing the clothes that I sew helps me to know how things REALLY look on my body.  Often, I'll think something looks great in the mirror, but then when I see the photos for the blog, it doesn't look nearly as great as I thought!  Sometimes it's fit, sometimes it's color, but in many cases, it's a matter of proportion.  The photo on the right is one that I took of a new top that I made.  I loved the color, got a good fit on the bust, which was exciting, but then, it just looked dowdy in the photos!   So, I thought about it, and the next morning, I got up, took 2-1/2" off the hem, took off the tie, and re-attached it so that it didn't wrap around the waist, but just tied at the front.  Then I paired it with a slightly longer skirt- and that is the photo on the left.  Isn't that an amazing difference?  I've heard that clothing looks more pleasing to the eye when it is in 1/3 proportions.  So, in the left photo, the outfit is about 1/3 on the top, and 2/3 on the bottom.  The one on the right is more 1/2 and 1/2. 

Burda Plus 01/2020 401


Here's another top that I decided to play around with the proportions on.  The photo on the right is the original.  I paired it with full length wide leg pants, and I felt that it looked like just too much fabric- both the top and the pants were full. 
Burda Plus 01/2020 404
Left- shortened top by 3-1/2"                                                                  Right- original length
 So, in addition to playing with proportions from top to bottom, there are also the loose fitting/ close fitting proportions to consider.  I decided to take up the hem  3-1/2" on the front only, and then I paired it with a more narrow legged pant- that's the photo on the left.  In both of the outfits, I think the proportion is 1/2 to 1/2, which probably isn't the most flattering.  Probably the most flattering would be the narrow shorter length pants with the longer length tunic.   I think either look is okay, but I feel a little more comfortable wearing the one on the left because I'm not drowning in fabric. And most of the time, comfort is my top priority!

In case I change my mind, I just turned up the hem 3-1/2",  rather than cutting it off for a narrower hem.  Rayon has a tendency to continually shrink in the wash, and this way, I can reverse my decision if I it shrinks considerably.

So, let me tell you details about the tops!

Burda Plus 01/2020 401

This is style #401 from the Burda Plus Spring Summer 2020 issue.  It was originally long sleeved, but I didn't have enough fabric to make the sleeves full length.  I think it would be cute sleeveless too.  It went together quite easily- it looks like a wrap, but it's a faux wrap.  The bodice overlaps, and so does the skirt part, but they are sewn together at the waist, so there is just a faux wrap beneath the waist.   I need more fullness in the bottom section- it's just not flattering on my shape as designed.  If I make it again, I will slash and spread the lower sections so that there is extra ease around the middle.

Burda Plus 01/2020 401

But, taking off just 2-1/2 inches off the bottom, and moving the belt, makes it look a whole lot better.  Plus, I really like it with this lime green linen skirt, which has been an orphan in my closet since I bought it!


Burda Plus 01/2020 404

The next top is also from this Burda Plus issue, and is style 404.  It's a basic tunic with bell sleeves and side slits.  I made mine from some rayon challis that I bought at Hancock fabrics before it closed down.  Oh, how I miss that store!  The fabric matches my chair cushions- I guess I am predictable in my fabric choices!

Burda Plus 01/2020 404

I left the back hem at the original length, so the hem has a stair step effect, just to add interest to a plain style.  This top is REALLY easy to make.  It does have a neck facing, but no other tricky parts.  You could add a lace or other decorative trim if you have a plain fabric.   I can see making it many times in my future!  I made the size 46, and I will need to do a narrow shoulder adjustment next time.   What I did for this one was I just took a single 1" tuck in the center of the shoulder seam crossing from the front to the back.  You can't see it in the photos, but it took it up just enough that the sleeve seam rests on my shoulder.

Burda Plus 01/2020 404

So, I guess what I want to tell you is if you sew something and then are not quite thrilled with it, try playing around with the proportions- maybe just a different length, or a narrowing the silhouette is all you need to turn it from frumpy to fabulous!  I do it with my thrift shop finds all of the time too.  Don't you just love the power that sewing give you?

Happy Sewing!

Ann


21 comments

  1. That is a wonderful tip! I love both tops, and I am glad your revised version suited you better.

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  2. Great post, Ann. The photos really show the differences proportion can make, and the changes you made were all for the better! The sandals you're wearing in the last photo - with the metallic ring - are very attractive. Would you mind sharing the brand, or where and when you bought them? I enjoy seeing the outfits you make and your tips and tricks!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! The sandals are Crocs that I bought a couple of years ago. I don’t know if that style is still available, but if not, they probably have something close.

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  3. This is great! I don't make many clothes from scratch but I do buy a lot of thrift store finds. Often they aren't quite the right fit. And just as often, I live with it but do a lot of tugging and pinching while I'm wearing them. I really appreciate your reminder to get sewing and make them fit correctly!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes. It’s probably true that a lot of things show up at thrift stores for the same reason! It’s hard to alter waistbands, but length and side seam changes are a breeze. I have also bought thrifted dresses and turned them into tops.

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  4. The changes you did were small but have such big impact. Thanks for the inspiration. I just love your color palette - so cool and yet so summery!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I can’t get enough of blue in the summer!

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  5. YES! The right proportions really make or break garments. Sometimes it's especially hard to know when something needs to be shortened just a bit.

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