What happened next
I tried various times to make a garment from a commercial pattern, then make adjustments to fit, but it was completely beyond me. I was waiting for an upcoming sewing class to start - I had missed out on a couple due to other things happening in my life.
So.... I decided to unpick a top and see if I could make a pattern. It kind of worked... but kind of didn't. Here is the photo of the top I made. (Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the original top - I had already cut the top up to deconstruct it for making the pattern by the time I thought of doing that.)
When I first sewed the top up, directly from the pattern (that I had made from the top), it wasn't right, it didn't fit very well, but..... I just kept making adjustment to the inside seams until it looked OK on the outside. Unfortunately, by the time I'd got the fit right, the inside looked a complete mess.
Then I was in a bit of a quandary. I quite liked the top; even though the inside looked like a dog's breakfast, it fit me and was wearable. The problem was trying to get the changes I made back onto the pattern - I couldn't see how to translate the changes I had made back to the pattern pieces. My only option was... cutting it up and trying to get those changes onto the pattern pieces.
I did .... but the next top didn't work out well at all.
So I wore this top - this top I that made from the pattern that I made from the top I had cut up, which had been made from a pattern from cutting a previous top - to a social event. I really struggled with the question of whether to wear it or not. It didn't fit right, it didn't fit as well as the first one, and I thought it looked odd. But I decided to wear it the once and then throw it away (AND to give up on that idea of making patterns from clothes!).
It was a good thing I wore the top because it led to a conversation that led to patternmaking.
A friend/acquaintance at the gathering told she liked my top (I don't actually believe her, I think she was just being nice!). So I told her the whole story of wanting to sew to make better fitting clothes, and the challenges I had encountered, including the cutting up of a top to make a pattern.
Luckily I was talking to the right person at the right time. Michelle, having her own fitting issues, also sewed and made her own clothes. (Which I did not know about her - it had never come up in our previous conversations!). She didn't use commercial patterns; she made her own. She had done a patternmaking course at a Community College** where everyone made themselves a set of customised blocks.
So she had a set of blocks and used them to make her own clothes. The skirt she was wearing that night (trendy and arty, and it fit her really well!) she had designed and made from her own block.
I was astounded, impressed, amazed, thrilled, excited... and any other number of things, all at once.
Wow! Patternmaking? It's possible to learn to make your own patterns, using a basic pattern made that fits your figure? I was over the moon.
(**The bit about a 10 week Community College course didn't register with me at the time. I only know this in hindsight. The only thing that I heard at the time was "patternmaking course.").
So the next day I searched for a patternmaking class. That's the next part of my story.