Wednesday, May 05, 2010

May in the New Arctic

I don’t know about no global warming – it’s flippin’ freezing around here! There was actual frost on the garage roofs this morning. Yikes! We should have been done with any chance of frost weeks ago. My poor broccoli is turning purple. So are the marigolds in the greenhouse. Sob. Everything else seems to be doing ok, though they aren’t growing very fast. Happily I still have all the truly warm-weather stuff either in the basement or not even planted yet. (Beans, anyone?)

On another subject entirely, I need to spend some quality time and clean up my study and studio spaces. I seem to have been dumping things higgledy-piggledy and not putting them away properly. It’s a Fibre Art Nightmare! And it still smells like a sheep barn too. All this because, besides wanting to see calm out of the chaos, I really want to sew something with my newly refurbished sewing machine. I need some new (or at least refashioned) clothes. Badly. Yes, I know I’ve been talking about this for ages and…um…not doing anything about it. Apart from knitting and crocheting. My excuse is those latter are portable projects.

I so have problems with “fashion”! (Yeah, here she goes again!) Most modern clothing is designed for a tall, slim, young woman. That is the Polar Opposite of me. I am none-of-the-above. The only other option is the “plus-size” which I also am not. So instead I usually dress in stretchy casual sportswear from shops like Marks Work Wearhouse and Zellers. Bleh. The other problem I have is with the current styles which, just when they are getting closer to something I might actually find attractive, change. Because heaven forefend we should stop buying clothes. Fashion is a moving target. All in the name of profit. I welcome any and all resistance efforts, people.

My personal protest over this state of affairs is to wear 10-year-old sweatpants and vintage t-shirts. However, I would like occasionally to look a little more Me and a little less big-box retail. I have the skills I need. I even have most of the stuff in the stash. I just need to take the time to actually do it! I need inspiration. And to clean off the cutting table so I can get to work.

In my hunt for clothing inspiration, I’ve been looking at Anthropologie which, although not always appropriate for me, has some really great imaginative pieces. Like this one:


Wanna see the back too?


I’m picturing it with different fabrics from my stash. And maybe a higher front neck and a little less of a racerback. (Though that actually makes me look as if I have shoulders! Novel.) The trick with the longer tunics that are popular right now is not to make them too voluminous or it looks like a pregnancy top. I don’t care how thin you are underneath! And since I already have a belly but am much too mature to be pregnant, we don’t need to go there. This style flattens through the tummy but has some fullness to accommodate the hips and give some curves. That front panel is not flat but has subtle shaping and is eased into the neckline. As for the sides, that plaid fabric makes it more obvious where the shaping is hiding. Helpful for knockoffs, what?

BurdaStyle is one good online resource for sewers (sewists?) and I’ve been a member for a few years. It’s mostly too hip for me, but it’s fun to see what younger folks are doing with clothes they actually wear. There are downloadable copyright-free patterns and sewing information and tutorials. This is not to be confused with the pattern company Burda who besides regular paper patterns, also publish Burda Style magazine, formerly called Burda, World of Fashion. (Are you following this?) All the Burdas have a refreshing European vibe which I kind of enjoy. At least some of the time.

I actually have quite a few of the Burda WOF/Style magazines which come with a pattern insert. However it is a lot of work to get a usable pattern. You have to trace off your size and often extend lengths to get each piece. The tradeoff is that you get dozens of patterns for the same cost as a single paper pattern. Depends I guess on how badly you want to wear it, right? (Compare with drafting your own pattern from scratch. I rest my case.) Also the sewing instructions are rudimentary at best (no assembly diagrams) and some of the garments are quite complex – at least compared to most of the offerings from the popular pattern companies these days. I recommend getting some good sewing experience under your belt before tackling the hard stuff. Also get a good basic sewing book or several. They will stand you in good stead forever. And perhaps suggest alternate ways to assemble your garments. Nobody said you had to follow the instructions exactly as long as you get the desired results! The emphasis is on “desired” results. May I add, make and use a muslin? That’s something I often skip – to my regret. At least use cheap fabric the first time, just in case. You can’t frog it like a sweater.

I think what you really need, besides knowing how to sew, is a set of basic patterns that actually fit your body. In technical terms, a sloper is a body-hugging basic: bodice, sleeve, skirt, or pant. Then you take that and add your desired ease (wearing and fashion) and style lines to get your pattern. I prefer to have more regular-fitting basic clothing patterns (t-shirt, blouse, jacket etc.) and go from there. It’s easy to reshape a neckline, add more or less ease, lengthen or shorten sleeves and hemlines etc. The most difficult fitting areas for most people are the shoulder/sleeve cap and pants waist/hip/crotch, though some women might also have to adjust for a fuller bust. If you get those areas right, the rest usually follows relatively easily. We are all such different shapes – even if we have the same basic measurements!

I have lots more on this subject, but I’m running out of time for babbling at the moment. More anon. It’s sunny out and warming up finally. Though rain is possible by this afternoon. Again.


Anonymous said...

wow - you had a lot to say and I agree with you on well - everything! Nice pattern too - I would change the back as well. straps coming straight down to a mid-high back for a summer top.

Louisa said...

Just wait! I'm not done with this subject yet. LOL! BTW, I kind of like the back mostly the way it is. Except probably less cut out on the shoulder sides. Of course I'm old enough both to remember when bra straps weren't supposed to show and also to really need to wear one!

Happy you commented, Evelyn!

Anonymous said...

I just started sewing again after many years.... 3 darling grandaughters will do that to you! At Christmas I mad them matching jumpers and realized that was the trick to improving my skills: make several of the same thing. The first was a little rough, the second was much improved and by the time I started the third I knew all the little tricks to make the pattern work beautifully. THEN I started learning all over again with the vest pattern for the only grandson ..... if I had 2 more, I'd have mastered that pattern too!

Barbara M.

Heather said...

Great advice for sewers, or those that aspire to be. I just acquired a pink cotton batiste shirt (with pin tucks for shaping)from the free store that I feel great in - I want to copy it and make a couple more for summer. The thin cotton manages to drape just right so I don't look pregnant, even though it is one of those high waisted numbers.

I love that Anthropologie top you're thinking of knocking off. Hope you post a picture when you're done.