Are you familiar with any of these facts: The hemline of your garments is always 2" too long; the pattern waistline meets your hip bones; the sleeves and shoulders of your muslin look like they belong to a football player...
If yes, then you might be a petite lady! If you are under 5 ft 4, you are considered a size petite by the fashion industry, as well as the pattern companies industry. And believe me, it's way easier for us, seamstresses, to dress our petite bodies than the mere mortals who need to rely on stores.
But what should you look for in a sewing pattern to work in the best way with your concentrated body? The importance is not always to look taller (even if that's not a bad thing), but to find great proportions and style.
Let's review some of the basic tips you should remember if you're petite when you look for a sewing pattern and a new project.
#1: Choose the right neckline.
If you're petite, then V-necks are your best friends! It will elongate your neck in a very elegant way (U-necks are great as well).
Photo via Craftsy member RedPointTailor
#2: Find figure-flattering options.
It's best to choose patterns that won't overwhelm you, so avoid patterns that have lots of frills or layers. Instead, look for patterns with simple and interesting design lines, more on the fitted side than on the loose one. A good compromise would be a fitted bodice dress with a slightly gathered or pleated skirt, like the one below from sbcc patterns, a company that specializes in petite and curvy patterns.
Photo via sbcc patterns
#3: Discover lovely length.
You want to look for skirts and dresses that hit just above the knee to create the illusion of longer legs. But, again, it doesn't mean you can't wear a maxi skirt if you want to. In that case, just try to look for a pattern that is not too full and find a fabric that's either a solid or has a small-print pattern.
For your trousers, the best tip would be to wear heels! However, I've also found cropped trousers and high-waisted pants both look great.
Photos 1 and 2 via sbcc patterns, photo 3 via Craftsy member Fooniks
#4. Select the right colors and prints.
As for fabric, monochromatic prints and small patterns look best on petite frames. Dressing in one color (or similar shades) creates a unity, while a contrasting top and bottom cuts the body in two.
Stripes are always a debate: vertical or horizontal? It depends of the proportions, but they almost always look better if they are thin, horizontal seems to work best on tops and vertical on dresses. Or, you can explore something new and trendy while maintaing a figure-flattering silhouette — why not try a combination or chevron?
Photo via Craftsy member GoodbyValentino
#5: Accentuate the waist.
Try to follow a 1/3 - 2/3 rule: Accentuate your natural waistline, which is situated approximately at 1/3 of your body, by wearing your shirts tucked in, high-waisted trousers and skirts, tops with peplum or thin belts, short and fitted jackets...whatever suits your personal style. Doing so will create nicer proportions and make your legs appear longer.
Photos via sbcc patterns
And if you need extra help with the fitting, here is a great class on Craftsy to make sure your garments will look the best and fit you like a glove: Sew the Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard.