Dress Making

Dress Making-Choosing a Pattern According to Figure and Picking Your Fabric Color

We know that no two figures are exactly the same.  One may fit the standard measurement chart perfectly whereas another may only compare in one or two areas.  A person can be flat chested and in the bust department be a size 8 but in the waist and hips fall in a size 16.  The following will help you to determine what looks best on varying figure types.

Flat Chest

Flat chested women fair better with gathered and draped styles so the bodice has added fullness that is more flattering.  Flat chested women should avoid fitted bodice or wide necklines.

Large Bust

Large busted women should avoid high necklines, heavy frills, drapes, and gathered bodices.  Full sleeves also should be avoided, as they will make a woman appear top heavy throwing off a flattering look.  Large busted women will fair better with a tailored top bodice with fitted sleeves.  Leave any trims for the skirt region, unless heavy hipped.

Short Neck

Avoid tie neck bands, high polo necks or turtlenecks, mandarin necklines and wide shoulder lines.  Plunging long necklines are far more flattering when you have a short neck as well as V-shaped neckline with narrow shoulders lines such as in tank style.

Thin Neck and Shoulders

If you have a thin neck and narrow shoulders, it is best to avoid dress patterns that sport a wide or boat style neckline.  You will be more flattered by V-shaped necklines, tie collars, or a mandarin standing collar.

Short Full Figures

Short full figured women are flattered more by dress styles that have fitted sleeves, gored skirts, and or princess lines.  Avoid wide necks, full sleeves, gathered skirts, frills, wide belts, and horizontal stripes.

Thin Tall Figures

Women of height and thin figures are flattered by gathered or draped skirts accented with wide belts and neck trim.  Avoid straight skirts, fitted bodices and princess lines.

Large Hips

Avoid fitted skirts, pockets at hips, and narrow bodices.  Look for patterns that have shaped skirts from the waist that are gathered only if the waist is small.

Thick Waist

Avoid cummerbunds, wide belts, and slim skirts.  Narrow belts, tapered lines and gored skirts, will flatter you more.

Thin or Thick Upper Arms

Both thin and thick upper arms should avoid sleeveless style dress bodice.  Instead, go with cap sleeves or ¾ length sleeves.

Fabric:  Pick Your Color

Did you know that by wearing a color that is not flattering to you could change the way your body figure presents as well as can make your skin tone look drab or become totally lost?  Choosing the right color for your dress is just as important as the style for your figure.  If the color is wrong for you, no matter how well the dress is made, the effect will be totally lost.

There are a few things one must know when choosing the right color for your garment.  The old time myths of wearing blues and greens, and reds and pinks together are no longer true.  Pretty much nowadays, anything goes, as long as it compliments you!  Mixing and matching colors that compliment you can be fun and give your creation your very own personal touch.  Year to year, what is considered “in fashion” as far as color, changes.  Do not give the color of the season as much play as what looks great on you!  Choosing the right colors can draw attention away from any figure faults you may have.  Accenting your dress with accessories in matching or contrasting colors can even bring out your design that much more.

Colors can create an optical illusion from cool dark colors making you look smaller and warm light colors making you look larger.  Subtle muted colors can be slimming and bright contrasting colors can draw attention to ones figure making it look larger.  Here are some general rules to help guide you in what will look most flattering to you.  However, they are just general rules and some exceptions can apply.


General rule for redheads is to avoid colors that match their hair color tone, color, and avoid reds, pinks, and oranges.  Choose natural colors such as grays, cream, camel, browns, black, and white for main color.  Accents or contrast trims, etc in yellows, greens and blues compliment redheads nicely.


Avoid some yellows and oranges.  Blondes look smashing in pastel blues, greens, and browns.  For dark blonde-haired people and mousy blonde haired individuals, go with rich deep colors.


Brown-haired women are probably the luckiest of all hair colors when it comes to shades of colors that look great on them.  They can easily pull off almost any bright colored fabric, browns, blacks, and whites.

Gray and White Haired People:

Pastel shades are good for both these hair shades however shallow skin needs warm colors without too much yellow to give it an appealing tone.  Pale skin needs colors strong enough to contrast with it and dark skin is much like brunettes.  Dark skinned people can pull off just about any color, although exotic colors during the day can look out of place on them.

There are three types of color schemes for clothing, monochrome, contrasting, and toning.  Always try color schemes by holding the fabric combination near your face while looking in a mirror to see if the colors suit you.  Monochrome color schemes use shades of a single color or one color with black and white.  Contrasting color schemes uses two or more different colors in varying strengths that compliment each other.  Toning color schemes uses two or more similar colors.

Dress Making: Making Patterns

Dress Making, dress Patterns
Dress Making: Making Patterns

After you have been sewing for a while, you may have collected quite a few patterns along the way.  Make sure that when you purchase a pattern to take good care of it because once you have been sewing for a while you may want to try your hand at making your own patterns.

There may be certain aspects you like from different patterns, such as the sleeves on one, a collar on another, the bodice, or the skirt on another.  By saving all your patterns, you can begin to mix and match these desired aspects to create your own original design.  You can make copies of your original patterns on pelon, fabric such as muslin, or on unprinted newspaper that you can get from any newspaper publisher in bulk.  Often times they have end rolls that they are unable to use.  These are great for copying your patterns and extending their life, cheaply.

Any sewer can benefit from using a mock up pattern known as a fitting shell, standard pattern, or toile.  A basic paper pattern is carefully adjusted to your personal measurements.  It is cut out and tacked together in a fabric such as muslin.  The mock garment is fitted carefully and accurately to your figure.  After having this mock pattern constructed all your new patterns can be compared with it before cutting and sewing to avoid mistakes.  It may take longer to check the fit of each pattern this way but it can be worthwhile especially when details really matter.  This way, you can always do a trail run on muslin before committing to the actual fabric you want your dress to be made from.

You can definitely combine two or more patterns to construct your own unique gown or dress, however it is best if they are all in the same size range unless you are very skilled in pattern adjustments.  If in doubt, do it in muslin first.

The problem with commercially made patterns is they are made for a nonspecific person, not for your unique figure.  You may have to make several pattern adjustments to make a commercial pattern fit properly.  Another way you can form your own patterns is by garments you already own that you know fit you well.  You can carefully disassemble the garment and trace it onto newsprint adding ½ inch for seam allowance.

If you do not want to disassemble a currently owned garment, another option is to hit your local thrift stores and find garments that fit you nicely, regardless of the print or color.  These will not matter.  This is a cheap way to pick up garments that can be made into patterns for a customized dress pattern.

The biggest joy in sewing your own dress is you can create who you see yourself as, your own design, through your own eyes.  You can create a tradition within your own family, or you never know, you may just design the next big fashion break.  There are no real rules as to what one perceives as fashion, so the world of design is a blank canvas just waiting for you to put your mark on.

To learn more important tips please visit Let Your Style Boost Your Confidence


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