I’ve been interested in body type analysis recently because of my fitting drama with the M6696 shirtdress.
You can’t talk about fitting without talking about unique features of your body — short waistedness, sloping shoulders, swayback, etc. Body type analysis lets you identify unique figure features and sew clothes that better fit everything you’ve got going on between your chin and ankles.
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My body type analysis process
My first body type analysis step was to ask my husband to take pictures of me in my underwear. No, really.
I wore panties and my everyday bra, a molded cup bra from Victoria’s Secret. I wanted examine my figure as it appears under my clothes.
After I had some my pics, I traced my body in Photoshop. Then I used Singer’s “The Perfect Fit” sewing reference book to analyze my figure.
First impressions of my figure
I added glasses, you guys, so you’d know it was me. LOL!
Right off the back, I noticed that my left shoulder is slightly lower than my right shoulder. I also see my left hip as a wee bit lower than the right. I also think I could have some proportion distortion because:
1.) My photographer is significantly taller than I am (6-feet-2 vs. 5-feet-4 3/4).
2.) My Photoshop skills are developing, so some of the curves may be slightly off.
Those two factors aside, this body outline looks accurate.
But let’s get more detailed!
My length proportions
“The Perfect Fit” divides the body into quarters, represented here by blue lines. For the average figure,
- The arm crease is the bottom of quarter 1.
- The hips are the middle of the body.
- The knees are the bottom of quarter 3.
- The waist is halfway between the arm crease and the hips.
I marked my figure features with black lines. Starting at the top:
- My arm crease is lower than average.
- My waistline is (mostly) average.
- My hips are lower than average.
- My knees are average.
Since, like, forever, I’ve believed myself to be long waisted. But that’s not accurate — I’m long hipped!
And when I flip back to the original photo of me in my unmentionables, my arm crease is higher (Photoshop fail), making my upper body much closer to average proportions.
Another major takeaway from inspecting my length proportions is that my legs are short.
The Singer book calls out four shape types:
- shoulders and hips equally wide; narrow waist
- hips wider than shoulders
- shoulders, waist, and hips equally wide
- shoulders wider than hips
I’m confident I fall into the first camp, shoulders and hips equally wide with a narrow waist.
My body contours
“The Perfect Fit” also analyzes body curves. Here’s what I concluded:
Shoulder contours: I have average shoulders, not sloping (drop more than 2 inches from the base of the neck) nor square (drop less than 2 inches).
Arm contours: I have average arms. The other options are full or thin.
Waist contours: I have an average waist. The other options are thick (less than 9.5 inches smaller than hips) or small (more than 10 inches smaller).
Hip contours: I have average hips, even if I’m long hipped. The other options are full (more than 10 inches larger than waist) or small (less than 9.5 inches larger than waist).
Thigh contours: To my eye, I have full thighs, even though my thighs do not touch when my feet are together. Yes, it’s possible to have full thighs AND thigh gap! The other options are average thighs (mine a bit too rounded to be average) and thin thighs.
Bust profile: This is a tricky one for me. I wear a 32C, but I don’t think I look that busty. The options are average (B cup), full (C cup and larger), or small (smaller than B). I’m going with average. Oh, the perils of the small band + big(ger) cup.
Abdomen profile: I’m going with average. I don’t have much of a belly (full abdomen) or “flat abdominal contours [that] look straight below waist or hollow” (flat abdomen).
Seat profile: I’m leaning toward swayback seat. The curve of my lower back is slightly more pronounced than the curve of the average seat. I’m definitely not a full or flat seat.
DIY body type analysis
Performing a body type analysis can be a low-tech operation — even free from a computer.
One way is to create a life-sized outline of your body. Tape some big paper to the wall and get a friend to trace you while you’re wearing form-fitting clothing. Fold the paper in quarters and step back to see what you’ve got going on.
Another analysis option is to photograph yourself (again in form-fitting clothing), and get a print made of your pic. I suggest getting a 5-by-7-inch print or larger to make it easier to see details of the shape of your figure. You can draw on the print, or you can trace your body and draw your quarter marks on the copy.
It’s often easier to have a fresh perspective on your body when you see it in a photo (or outline). The image is static and spare, unlike when you stand in front of a mirror in shifting light and turn, twist, and bend your body.
Final thoughts on figure analysis
Now that I’ve traced my figure, I have a digital croqui of body! I’m excited to play “paper dolls” and test drive some technical drawings of sewing patterns on my figure.
Because of my figure analysis, I learned that I’m long hipped — and not long waisted. I need to research fitting and fashion advice for long-hipped figures. Any suggestions for me?
This post also is a good place for me to talk about body image, seeing as how I’ve literally been drawing on my body to study its proportions. It’s been an eye-opening process.
I have body hangups, like every person. It’s hard not to be overly critical of your body when, especially as women, you’re bombarded daily with unrealistic and homogeneous images of beauty.
I remind myself that my body is a beautiful and strong home for my soul. It lets me taste delicious food, helps me carry and bear children, and allows me to run half-marathons — among a gazillion other things. I am grateful for my health and fitness, and I actively work on both of them.
Be kind to your body during your own body type analysis. Want to hear something interesting? I took these photos in the evening — after I’d eaten dinner and after I’d worked out. I guarantee you that my analysis, especially my side silhouette, would look different if I’d been photographed first thing in the morning. Your body changes hour by hour! Cut it slack and love it up by sewing AH-MAZ-ING garments for those powerful shoulders, huggable waist, and shakeable hips. 😘💃👏♥
OK, sewing party people, I need to hear your voice: Tell me how you’ve analyzed your figure! What are your favorite resources for body type analysis? Sound off on this and all related topics in comments! Thanks!
P.S. Here’s last week’s post, in case you missed it: Cali Faye Valley blouse pattern hack: A mini muumuu with no regrets.