Designing for Your Shape Part 1: Demystifying your Beauty and Shape

Dressing for Your Shape

Understanding your body type can make or break the outfit you are creating.  Everyone has their own unique shape and features. Learning to highlight those features which make you unique can help boost your confidence in anything you create.  

Questions to Ask Yourself

To understand your body shape better, simply look in the mirror and look at your features.  Are your shoulders broad or narrower?  Do you carry more weight in your shoulders, belly, or hips?  Are your shoulders and hips equal in size?  Which is wider: your shoulders, or your hips?

Finding these key characteristics can give you better insight to what body type you fit into.  Once you have looked to find the unique features of your figure, you can use select from the 5 basic body types to determine your body type and help you select clothes and sewing patterns that highlight your best features.

Demystifying Your Beauty… It’s important to remember that your body type does not define your beauty. Everyone has unique features that make them beautiful, and it’s important to celebrate those features. Confidence is key when it comes to fashion and wearing clothes that make you feel confident and attractive.

Understanding your body type and dressing for your shape can save you plenty of time at the stores, or in sewing a garment.


Simple considerations can improve your wardrobe and fabric decisions such as: color placement, surface design on the fabric and it’s directionality, weight of the fabric and its transparency, fabric drape, stretch percentage and so much more.  We will cover these considerations in this series.

You might like to take a look the fabric videos available on MoodFabrics website.  It’s so important when purchasing online to read all about the fabric’s Stretch, Drape, Transparency, Stretch Direction, Fabric Composition, and Weight.  All of these things are essential to know in lieu of having the fabric in your hands.

Knowing Your Shape and Honoring It

Below we have shown the same shapes but have changed the overlays to better show where the eye is being directed and manipulated.   Color, line and proportions draw your eye around the body.  Where you want the eye to land can be your choice.  Perhaps you feel your bust is your best asset, go for it!  Draw the eye there using these strategies.  Perhaps you feel your bust is not your best asset. If not, enhance or draw the eye to a feature you’d rather have accentuated.

All we ask is that honor your body in this process and love whatever shape you are.  Your body is your temple. It’s a good thing to make it look its best and feel comfortable in the process.

The 5 Shapes

There are 5 general shapes that you can find when looking at a woman’s body.  Each shape has its own unique features that set it apart from the others.  Similarly, each shape presents its own difficulties when it comes to finding garments that fit and flatter the body.  Which of the shapes below best describes your body?

The Pear Shape features a smaller upper body with a larger lower body.  Typically, this means you will have a smaller bust, smaller waist, and larger, full hips and thighs.

The Triangle Shape features more narrow shoulders and hips with bigger bust and waistlines.  Your weight is carried towards the lower middle of your body.

The Rectangle is commonly referred to as an athletic build.  The rectangle shape has little definition at the waist with the shoulders and hips being almost the same width.  It is not uncommon, though, to still find the hips and thighs to be slightly wider than the bust line.

The Hourglass the shoulders and waist are the same width, with a significantly smaller waist.

Inverted Triangle narrower shoulders than hips with larger bustline and waistline.

Directional and Proportional Considerations

When deciding on a surface pattern for your fabric selection, consider how the surface pattern (design) will layout and appear in the final outcome of your garment.  Position the fabric on the pattern pieces in a thoughtful manner as pertains to where the design will direct the eye.

Linear manipulation of the eye can be achieved in many ways.  Among those are directional, proportional and negative/positive space.

Think of line or texture within the fabric, surface pattern design (is it directional, plain, or patterned?)  Where are these designs going to hit various parts of my body?  Am I going to have a giant flower covering a large portion of the torso, if so, how will that keep the eye moving around.  Is this floral design too big or too small?

Ask yourself, can I use this fabric (on reverse side) on the edge of a seam to create (on purpose) directionality on the princess seam of jacket or dress?  Could I place a trim on the seam to move the eye around?

Will making a ruffle hem stop the eye vertically and only move horizontally?  Will it leave me looking shorter than I am?

Flamingo Skirt by Sewing Pattern Secrets
Short Flamingo Skirt by Sewing Pattern Secrets
Flamingo Skirt by Sewing Pattern Secrets

As in the examples above…  Would it be better to let that ruffle flow diagonally, such as in a flamingo skirt, on a lightweight fabric to keep the eye moving and give it a sexy appeal, rather than a plain horizontal ruffle that will stop the eye at the calf and create stop point.  That kind of ruffle would look as if you’ve just come out of an 1800’s prairie movie.

Feel free to ask yourself all kinds of questions when discovering what it is you want to make for yourself or others.

A horizontal line across the waist is what we usually see, but what if I added a visual focal point off -entered and slightly higher up?

Above:  This surface design direction points upwards toward the face and can make the bust look bigger.  This line also follows the hips lower down, which may or may not be desirable.

Above:  Surface design points down and away from the face and seems to narrow the waist and accentuate  the hips when duplicated down vertically.  It follows the natural form of the figure.

More about color and other factors to consider in our next blog….

Marjorie Vaudreuil

HI. I'M MARGIE I love creating and creations of all kinds! I love Jesus, I love my family and I love to teach! That's what makes life exciting for me and that is why I have so much to share with you. I am founder and owner of SewingPatternSecrets LLC, based in Boston, MA. I am a writer and an avid sewist with a background in fine art and design from New England School of Art and Design, Boston. Sewing Patterns Secrets was conceived with my husband (my #1 supporter), inspired partly from my grandmother, but largely inspired by my mother, who passed in 2017. She supported many decades of my artistry, including, but not limited to, sewing. Whilst my mother was indeed, an important benefactor, my husband has unfailingly supported all of my endeavours and is the Director of Sales. As the Product and Project Director, I conceptualized, developed, produced, tested, and edited all of the 125+ curated sewing patterns, instructions and ebooks, using my decades of experience. I managed a team of fashion designers to help me with the 3D software and production. I and three other master seamstresses, vector artists, graphic designers, and one amazing fashion illustrator. Production took two solid years of detail and hard work and another six months of sales funnel creation. I give thanks to: Fer, Rima, Oksana, Debbie, Kathreen, Suanne, Elizabeth, Jacki, Bronwen, Kimberly, and the many others who contributed. As such, I am gifted with the ability to share with you my expertise and everything that I have learned along the way, as relates not only sewing, but to project and product creation and all areas of design: web, graphic, fashion, pattern and product creation. This would include 10s of software, marketing and SEO tools, affiliate marketing and so much more. All you have to do is ask! In addition to writing all of the ebooks for Sewing Pattern Secrets, I am also the main writer of this blog, but looking for other (Human) sewing bloggers who would like to partner with us. We welcome guest bloggers, vloggers, influencers and also an invitation to blog for you as well. We always want your advice and we also want to hear from you regarding ideas and improvements to our blog, product, or advertising. PLEASE COMMENT. Please do write me at Blessings, Margie "Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you." 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (coming soon)

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