Thursday, December 08, 2011

Meeting Shams

Yesterday, I took a break from work meetings to lunch with Shams. We did NOT plan to coordinate, but we did. Note that she made her coat, cowl and pants. The only thing I made in the picture is my sweater.

We didn't natter on as much about sewing as I expected. We were both taking a quick break from work and the conversation flowed between Berkeley (which both of us attended), working in tech, raising our daughters and fitting exceptional figures.

What is an exceptional figure? Chances are very good that you have one.

Suppose something is engineered to work for 90% of circumstances, from between the 5th and 95th percentile in some metric. That seems reasonable and your product will work for 90% of the market, right?

Not so fast. Think multi-dimensionally.
(0.9)6 = 0.53
In six independent dimensions, nearly half of the potential market will fall outside your engineering specs in at least one dimension.

Ready-to-wear (RTW) clothing manufacturers can't fit everyone. They have to make decisions about who their market is. Consumers have to take RTW items to tailors. Even people who can't sew can become virtual dressmakers by hiring custom clothiers. (I haven't sewn for others for money since my undergrad days, but I do swap favors with friends. Eric's wife gets clothes and I get a place to stay when in their town.)

Look back at the picture at the top of this post. Who is easier to fit?

That's a trick question. Shams' hips are an inch smaller than mine. We are both 5'5" tall, but our torso to leg proportions vary. She has to add inches to bust darts and I have to take them out.

In college, I had a 14" drop between my hip and waist measurements, 39" to 25" . In mid-life, that has decreased to 9-10"; my hips are still 39" but my waist is ~29-30". I can sometimes find RTW pants that fit, but it is still not easy. It was nearly impossible 20 years ago.

We both agreed that we are not fitting experts. But we are experts in fitting our own unique bodies. And we like to think that we fit our own unique personalities, too. ;-)

We had such a good time in our short meeting, I invited Shams to visit me in LA. She's never shopped the LA garment district. That needs to be rectified.

Shams posted her account of our meeting. Go there to see another photo.


  1. Added fun -- your blogposts, including matching pictures, ended up side-by-side on my reader (the antecedent of "your" being you and Shams).

    Sounds like a fun meet up!

  2. LOL! Cool! It was fun to meet with you!

  3. Oh, I love seeing and hearing about virtual sewing friend meet ups. Sounds like a fun time.

  4. Sounds like a great time with Shams. Your sweater is absolutely gorgeous! I'm a knitter, so I understand the skill involved. Do you still have the leftover yarn? I envision gauntlets to wear with the sweater. But then, I'm in New England, not LA, so maybe they'd never be worn.

  5. @Dixie
    I do have 7 oz or ~550 yds of the alpaca leftover. I also have ~650 yds of Habu linen paper in a similar color. I imagine a cowl neck pullover with fuzzy alpaca and semi-sheer paper stripes.

  6. I think I am the size 12 fit model, and for that, I am grateful. Everything was fine buying clothes off the rack...until pants started being sold much longer (why? Why? Why?). I did not get shorter, but I know the pants are longer. And why are regular length pants too long on someone who is 5'8" (though I do have a slightly long torso and a long neck so maybe my lags are just for a 5'6" person).

  7. What a fun visit! I like your idea that you're not a fitting expert, but an expert on fitting yourself. I'm not there, but working on it--and definitely only for myself, I have no idea how to fit anyone else.

  8. You look gorgeous in it! Really excellent knitting!


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