The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Where Oh Where Is Your Waist?

Yes, I know this is a burning question in your mind, but seriously, this is one of those sneaky things that you don’t think about but you should.  Here’s why:  if you do not know where your true waist is, you could have massive problems when you start doing some of the more modern patterns.  Let me explain why.

Today’s Fashion
Fashion is moving away from the hipster (thank heavens) and torn, ill-fitting, cheap clothing (thank heavens again)!  But where is it moving toward?  It’s moving toward a more interesting femininity – a feminity that is, at first glance, in your face, but when you look at it seriously, you see that this is a much more confident and secure femininity than before.  The feminity of the 1950s was cloaked in a very restrictive and socially regulated style.  There were definite rules to follow, and not following them almost made you an outcast.  The return of feminity in the 1980s was a more in-your-face, Katie-bar-the-door type feminity in which women had undergone a revolution and although the feminine silhouette was back, it was back with an authority that the boss was in town and going to whip things in shape.  Today, the feminity that has returned is back with all the ruffles and frills of the 1950s, but with a much more confident and therefore maybe humorous or quirky flare to it.  For example, a frilly dress with combat boots;  or a fuller cocktail dress with sneakers.  It has the garment of the 1950s with the accessories of whatever suits you.

So this is just the sort of mix-up fashion that I’m talking about – high heels with sweats-looking type outfit.  On the right is the curvaceous silhouette with sneakers.  These sorts of combinations would never be seen before.  What’s new here is feminine confidence, that you can wear a girlie-girl dress with comfy shoes, or dress-up shoes with comfy sweats.  This is more of a coming-of-age feminity that has a new flare to the girlie-girl look.

Now, this look isn’t for everyone.  At the same time, I saw friends wear shoulder pads, who in the 1970s said they would never, ever dawn shoulder pads if they were paid a million bucks, but come the 1980s and they were wearing them with the best of them.  This is all about what our eye is trained to see.  If we see how designers can make a shoulder pad look really smashing,

So now that we have this return of a more confident feminism.  This is described beautifully by Florence Müller interview on Dressed podcast from February 12, 2019:

She’s (Maria Grazia Chiuri the current creative director at Maison Dior) showing today you can have this [strong] feminist statement, but also you can be very feminie.

This is the direction that fashion is taking and although it seems entirely strange and very awkward right now, believe me, it’s a very strong trend to watch.  This is the trend that will take us out of Grunge!


So Where’s Your Waist?
But that means that if we are moving out of Grunge and the hipster silhouette, we are moving into a more waist-accentuated silhouette and that means that we have to get reacquainted with where our waist is.  Now, this is going to sound strange but stick with me here for a moment.

So here’s a great graphic of a woman’s bone structure.  Notice that the hips on the side protrude out so much that you can feel them on the outside of your body.  Also, notice where the ribs are and in particular the lowest rib.  The place in between is an indent.  Now, I know some of you don’t have a big huge indent there, but there is one there.  This is your true waist.  This is where the pattern marks your waist.  So if you pick up a pattern and it has your waist at this point, you know it’s true to your body.  If, however, you are thinking that your hipster jeans are at your waist which is about where your belly-button is, that is not your waist.  So if you pick up the pattern and it shows your true waist on the red line, but you think the orange line is your waist, then you’re going to do an alteration, only the problem is that the pattern is designed to fit on your true waist while you’re fitting it on the hipster line which is not your true waist.

The problems can then compound….

  • the area right above your waist becomes too small and rides up
  • the area around your hipster waist is too long and doesn’t fit correctly
  • the waist is basically too long on the pattern, but thinking that your waist hits your belly button doesn’t solve the problem.

The problem is that we have been taught since 1995 that our waist is on our belly button.  It’s not.

And now that fashion is moving away from the hipster to the raised waist, even when we raise the waist, it doesn’t come close to fitting on our true waist.  This becomes almost an unsolvable problem because we have all the buckles and ill-fitting wrinkles abounding around the true waist area, and there’s no way to really fit them because the pattern has been altered to fit an area that is really not the true waist.

Now, this is so helpful to know when we are fitting a sloper or pattern to realize that our waist is between our lowest rip and the highest part of our side hip bone because then we can really fit the pattern.  If after fitting the pattern you want to make your waist lower, that’s fine, but at least you know how to alter your pattern correctly.

The New Silhouette
with the advent of this newer silhouette that features the waist, this knowledge becomes essential for getting a good fit.  Whether it’s a classic hourglass line (yes, I know we all don’t have this hourglass, but that’s OK, cause we can still have an hour-glass-esque shape without having a svelte waist).  


To a much more modern silhouette now featuring more of an indent at the waist rather than the hip accentuation of the 2000s and 2010s…


To this great look by John Galliano showing the complete look of the clunky shoe with the frilly feminine silhouette.  

So here’s some great advice that will help you when you’re doing alteration, and do yourself a favor and don’t give yourself extra neuroses when you don’t even need one.  Find your true waist – between your lowest rib and your highest side hip bone, and mark it so that you will know where it is.  Today’s silhouette actually has the waist a little higher than that and this line makes a most flattering silhouette.  And it’s new, fresh and not orbiting Mars – not so far out there that you can’t put your feet on the ground and be practical, professional and polished!






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