Can Create an Optical Illusion
By Sarah J. Doyle
Too frequently, even the most accomplished sewer finds the
results of her efforts simply hanging in the closet or being worn
In most cases, such discouraging experiences cannot be blamed on
the actual sewing, but rather on the optical illusion that was created because
of the pattern design that was used, or the fabric chosen for the garment.
Keep in mind that every pattern design looks becoming on the
models used on the pattern envelope; however, if you're like me, we all have
lumps and bumps and problem areas that those models don't reveal. The planning
stage of every garment should be done with the realization that garments nearly
always create SOME kind of an optical illusion. The trick is to make sure the
illusion will be flattering and not disappointing! Following are some examples
of optical illusions that can occur with various types of sewing patterns and
A "narrowing" effect occurs with princess or A-lines making one
appear to be slimmer. Sleeveless, short or cap sleeves or tight sleeves call
attention to, and display, the arms. If you have heavy upper arms or are self
conscious about extra thin arms, find patterns that won't draw immediate
attention to the arms.
Solid colors, vertical lines and narrow V-lines will heighten a
body. Contrasting colors in tops and skirts as well as big bold prints, will
Raglan and dolman sleeves will narrow the shoulders, while wide
collars and padded shoulders give the illusion of wider shoulders.
A fabric that clings to the body can give a skeletal impression
on too-thin body parts. However, around bulges, the clinging fabric can create
cruel, framing shadows. A more loosely woven fabric will be kinder to the thin
or thick areas.
Mandarin, turtleneck or scarf-tied collars, chokers and fussy
necklines can shorten an already short neck, but be beneficial to a long one.
A jabot, splashy or bold prints, round and low necklines, or
long ties on a scarf make busts look larger. Hips will seem to increase in girth
with tight or full skirts and with trimmed skirts. The A-lines or princess style
skirts will create a more slimming appearance.
Figures appear rounder and fuller in double breasted jackets and
blouses, in large prints and plaids and full skirts.
Waists seem to expand with wide or conspicuous belts or buckles
or with bulky or stiff fabrics. Dresses with several rows of elastic sewn at the
waistline will appear to thicken the waist and shorten your height, while
semi-fitted dresses with v-line designs and A-line skirt will give a thinner and
It takes a cool head to pass up a gorgeous fabric or attractive
pattern, by allowing past experiences to come to mind and to realize that
similar choices had proven disappointing. At the same time, remember which
garments have been a joy to wear and have gotten countless compliments. Not all
fabrics and patterns are suited to every body type, therefore it is up to each
one of us to determine what will work for our particular body type. With the
wide variety of fabrics and patterns available, there will be a very large
selection to choose from, even though we are making a conscious decision to
eliminate those few that really won't work for us.