Friday, July 18, 2014

The Body + Anemone Skirt

I was a very early bloomer. By the time I was 14 I wore a C-cup bra, and now I'm around a 36-38 D or DD depending on the brand (yes - they all fit differently). I'm also short - at least I consider 5'5" to be short. I remember shopping for clothes as a teenager and my father having to tell me that I really needed the Medium or Large shirt. Ouch.

I also recall another family member offering to "give me" a breast reduction for graduation when I earned my Master's. This same family member also taught me to keep my upper arms covered, never wear scoop neck tops and generally dislike my body as I knew it. Double ouch.

I lingered in this dislike of my body pretty much until I started sewing. I wore black to work - like head to toe - thinking this was more flattering. I never wore colors, let alone short skirts, dresses or short sleeves. 

So what changed?

Well, when you sew you must have a critical understanding of your body. Your measurements must be accurate lest you wind up with garments that are too large or too small. You also have to develop a keen eye for your "points of interest" and your "cover 'em ups." You begin to see your body in terms of proportion and unique design. You begin to notice styles and colors that flatter. And most important you begin to notice which garments make you feel like a rock star. The numbers you've listed as your measurements don't seem to matter too much after awhile. They are simply there to help you pick your pattern size.

On the topic of measurements, mine are as follows:
High Bust: 36"
Full Bust: 42" 
Waist: 34"
Hip: 42"

Someone on Instagram posted their sizes for their upcoming que of patterns and then lamented on how she used to be skinny. I wear larger sizes than her in all of those and I feel skinny!

What on earth is going on with women today? And what have seamstresses figured out that could benefit all women? I rarely see a sewing blogger complain about her pattern size. In fact, seeing so many different sizes helps the rest of us gauge the success of a pattern on our figure. I don't see the Curvy Sewing Collective sitting around over tea complaining about their bodies. All I see are perfectly fitted garments on a variety of sizes.

If you've made it this far, I have a few tips for those of you, seamstresses or not, who might be feeling pretty down about your God-given figures:

1. YOU ARE NOT YOUR MEASUREMENTS! (Say this 10x if you need to.)
There is no need to internalize the numbers on the tape and turn them into a reason to dislike yourself. Period. Your measurements serve one purpose and that is to help you choose your pattern size.

When hubby and I visited Knoxville a few weeks ago, my mom noticed that I am wearing more scoop neck (read: low cut) tops (Nettie!) and my dad mentioned I was gussied up (Nettie + Zinnia). I don't blame them - they see me once a year so they have no idea that I dress this way everyday as an empowered woman. Either way, their reactions or comments don't have to shape how I dress myself or what I like to wear.

I strive to do this everyday - this includes some make-up, hair, my colorful outfits, and most recently, high Swedish Hasbeens. I learned quickly that black fabric is boring to sew, let alone wear everyday. So now I wear the colors that I love, whether or not some book tells me they are "my colors." 

There are many wonderful bloggers who exemplify this and make no apologies. I won't list them all, but we know who they are. Find what you love and create your personal style based on that, not what magazines or TV tell you to wear "for your body."

A few years ago a church member did the readings for our Lessons & Carols service. She had just had her third child and was proud to wear an outfit that showed off her figure. AND MORE POWER TO HER! She looked amazing and you could tell that she felt amazing too.

And finally...

This one is important. We are told somehow that women who wear make-up/red nail polish/high heels/short skirts/lower cut shirts are somehow less intelligent, competent, pious, good, etc. This is a load of crap. I had my first full-time job at 22, M.S. by 23, bought a house (by myself) and got married at 24, got a better job by 25, etc. etc. And by God, if I want to wear a poufy skirt, scoop neck bodysuit and heeled sandals, while donning red nail polish and a poof in my hair, I will. These things don't say that I don't volunteer my time, lead Bible study, sing in choir, work with children, tithe to my church, etc. Don't let anyone put you in a box based on what you wear.

Speaking of low-cut shirts and short skirts...enter Nettie + Anemone!

I bought the Anemone pattern when Eleanore released Centauree and then it sat and sat, due to some fear that it wouldn't flatter my bit of a belly. (I guess I need to read the aforementioned tome.) 

I feel like my sewing mojo (sewjo from here on out) left me a few weeks ago and that this skirt might be a good pattern to try. I had some kelly green denim from JoAnn lingering in my stash so I pulled it out. 

Turns out, this pattern is super-flattering! I am really liking high-waisted skirts right now and this one is my new favorite. I cut the size 46 and extended the center front 5/8" to give me 34 1/2" at the waist or high ribs. I chose not to line this one as it's technically a wearable muslin - I faced the waist with double-fold bias tape in lavender, and serged and turned the hem about 1".

A sewing pal on Instagram recommended staying the waist so I fused some roll interfacing all along the waistline as well as on the zipper seam allowance. I used a 22" orange zipper cut to 14" for the back. I didn't finish my seams (I honestly thought this would be tossed) and I'm sure I'll regret it.

I used Wonder Tape to secure the zipper before I sewed it and as always, I have a lovely centered zip.

And now, here is the belly in question:

I blame this on singing. At my first voice lesson my teacher told me that women tend to suck in their gut and that in order to take a full, healthy breath, I would need to let this habit go. Four years later I think I've figured it out, but this little ponch is what I tend to hide with my garments. Zinnia, Chardon, Hollyburn view C, and now Anemone all help me achieve this. This singing space is also why I add so much ease at the waist in all of my dresses, but believe me, they are super-comfortable.

I think that's enough rambling for one day.

Pattern: Deer & Doe Anemone skirt
Size: 46 + 5/8" at center front
Fabric: Kelly green denim from JoAnn 1 1/4 yard of 60"
Thread: Gutermann from JoAnn
Needle: Schmetz 90/14 Denim 
Changes: no lining, DFBT at waistline, added fusible to waistline to prevent stretching & zip seam allowance, Wonder Tape at zip

How has sewing improved your body image?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sewing Plans A/W 2014

Hubby and I returned from a 10-day trip a week ago today. We went to Lake Junaluska in NC for Music & Worship Arts Week, and to Knoxville, TN to visit family. 

If anyone tells you that visiting family = vacation, you should run far, far away from them. 

Chris and I are both only children of divorced parents, and none of the sets of parents get along, so we practically drove the entire time to see everyone. We've concluded that our vacation time in the future, which is few and far between, will be spent on taking an actual vacation.  

Moving on.

I think it's always helpful to have a sewing plan, or at least have a list in mind of future garments. I think I left my sewing mojo in NC because I haven't had much interest in sewing since we returned home a week ago. I'm hoping it will find me soon.

1. By Hand London Anna

If you haven't heard the wonderful news, Anna is now available as a PDF download.

Photo courtesy of By Hand London
Thank the heavens above because $25 for a pattern is just out of my budget. I know, I know - I love to support indie designers like the rest of you but my goodness. The PDF is right around $15 and some change and is only 24 pages which took maybe 45 minutes to tape together. My muslin looks great and I'm ready to move forward. I have this lovely white lawn with aqua stripe from Denver Fabrics that I think will make a nice Anna with a gathered skirt, probably from Emery.

(fabric photo)

2. Alder Shirt Dress
I don't yet have this pattern, but I LOVE Jen's new Alder Shirtdress. 

Photo Courtesy of Grainline Studio
Photo courtesy of Grainline Studio
I think this will be a fabulous transitional pattern seeing as how our fall and winter is really mild. AND I may already have some fabric in the stash for this.

3. Tailored Jacket

Yes, I still need to finish my tailored jacket. A project like this takes so much patience and concentration. Slowly but surely I'm getting there. 

4. Finish UFOs

My Sewaholic Gabriola needs a hem. I'm not sure how I feel about this skirt, and it only goes to prove further that Sewaholic patterns are not for my shape. The skirt makes me look like a column rather than a nice hourglass which I prefer.
Oh well, I'll still hem it and attempt to wear it. 

5. Stashbust

I've had this floral fabric at least a year and I really love it. I'm considering making another Zinnia with a white muslin underlining which I can then wear with a kelly green Nettie. Either that, or make a dress. Ugh. Can't decide. 

6. Royal Blue Coco

I really like the Coco pattern, but I'm afraid my kelly green version with the 1/2 sleeves and collar isn't flattering. I think this royal blue ponte from Girl Charlee will have 7/8 sleeves, or roughly the length of the Nettie 3/4 sleeves which is an attractive length for me.
7. Colette Moneta
I really, really, really love this dress. BUT my last version ended in disaster as I was attached the gather skirt to the bodice with the elastic on top. Suffice it to say that I had to cut the bodice shorter and rip out all of the serging on the skirt. I'm not sure it's salvagable, and it's gotten me scared to try-try again. I think I will lengthen the sleeve to more of a true 3/4 length rather than 1/2. I think a slightly longer sleeve will be a bit more flattering.

What else? I would love some more Netties, even though I currently have 6, what's a handful more?! I just love the pattern. Each one takes 30 minutes on the serger. Awesome.

I have some linen that I need to sew up as well. And my ever stagnant stash of wool, which I have little to no use for given the hot climate in which I live.

 What are your upcoming sewing plans? Are you a planner or more of a fly-by-the-seat type of seamstress?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

FINISHED: Mint Gingham Emery

There's nothing like 50+ likes on Instagram to make a relatively introverted, normal gal feel like a rock star. This dress, my mint gingham Emery (sans sleeves) garnered 53 likes when I debuted it on Sunday, June 29. Wow. 

I bought four yards of this 1" mint gingham from Denver Fabrics. It's a poly/cotton blend which usually I don't like, but I loved the color and just had to have it. I underlined the entire garment in white cotton muslin.

After my Peony bodice fitting conundrum, I took the same logic and applied it to the Emery bodice, and it worked 100%. I did a small FBA on the size in between my high bust and low bust (so size 12) and it fit beautifully. I did lower the darts a bit but otherwise no other adjustments were made. 

After taking an Instagram vote, I went with sleeveless plus bow, although I can't wear a belt. I thought about some way to make it removable but decided just to tack it down.

I left off the sleeves (more practical in the heat) and finished the neckline and armholes with gingham bias binding.

For the hem, I zig-zagged 1/2" from the edge, turned the hem 2" and stitched, then pinked just for added anti-fraying.

I'm really pleased with my first ever Hong Kong seam finish! This is the center back seam below the zipper. Those zig-zags are from attaching the underlining (I think). Really pretty!

AND it wouldn't be a handmade garment if I didn't encounter a glaring flaw in my construction! Here it is. I'm going to blame the multiple layers of fabric on this one, but in reality there was a moment where I thought to myself that I should take the time to redo my pins, but then I went ahead. Next time I'll listen.

I wore this this past Sunday as well. Despite making sure that waist had enough "singing" ease, I still felt like this was a bit snug, maybe from the underlining. I also went back after making this and removed 3/4" from the bodice length which will help with the waist ease a bit.

This is a fabulous pattern for a beginner! Even though this version doesn't have sleeves, my muslins did and I have to say they are the easiest sleeves to ease EVER. There's practically zero ease in the sleeve cap so the entire process from gathering to stitching is so easy. 

I also added some additional notches just to keep my skirt back pieces straight - not necessary but helpful. Overall, a beautifully flattering pattern and super simple to sew up!

Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery
Size: size 12 bodice/14 waist, 3/4" FBA, lowered both bodice front darts, removed 3/4" length on bodice, size 14 skirt, size 12 sleeve.
Fabric: poly/cotton 1" mint gingham + white cotton muslin for underlining
Notions: Organ 80/12 needle; Gutermann Mara 100; regular zip; Wonder Tape for zipper; fusible knit tricot for zip seam allowance.