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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Measure of a Man

Taking the measure of a man has long intrigued society. 

"The measure of a man is what he does with power." Plato

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Ann Landers

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King

Today I took the measure of a man - 53 of them to be precise. From marking key torso locations to rechecking the calculations, it took the better part of an hour. During that time, I was given the opportunity to take, as well, the philosophical measure of the man, my son. I'm proud to say, he's no whiner or complainer. Not once did he indicate he was uncomfortable, bored or self-conscious and I know he was all three. How could he not be? 

This bodes well for the project. A patient, pleasant client  is so much easier to work with. Especially if it's your son.

Back to the numerical measurements, which is what this blog post is really about....

The Practical Guide to Patternmaking: Menswear by Lori A. Knowles asks for 53 measurements. Ugh. So many. 

My kinder side thinks the system is very thorough. The grumpier side wonders how many of them are going to be a waste of time. In her fabulously detailed size charts, Lori Knowles lists a mere 27 measurement. When I'm drafting the patterns, I'm going to put a dot beside every new measurement I use and see if all 53 I took are used by the end of the book. 

Finding the physical landmarks on the body is a challenge, and it's nerve-wracking to know the success of the pattern draft depends upon getting them right. Where the heck is the shoulder point? Lucky is the person with bony shoulders and a clearly visible bump. What about the side seam? God didn't sew us up, so there isn't one; the poor person measuring has to take their best guess. Same with the waist; some people may have a definitive indent but lots don't (me included!). Chest, knee, ankle, elbow - those I had better luck with.

I marked my son's skin and clothes with washable markers, elastic, and chalk-o-liner, and looped a chain around his neck. By the end of the session, he looked like a toddler who'd gotten into the craft drawer and played with all the supplies. Sorry, no photos - you'll have to use your imagination.

Originally I'd planned to take both the imperial and metric measurements to keep my options open. Last night I decided to work primarily with Lori Knowles' book so I dispensed with the metric measurements. If they prove necessary, I'll torture my son with another measuring session some other time.

Tomorrow I'll inch (bad pun!) my way into the torso pattern draft.

                     - Lady T

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