Thursday, May 06, 2010

Five Years! (& Counting)


Happy Blogiversary to Damselfly!! Yes, Dear Readers, it’s been 5 whole years since I started this little adventure. This is Post #1005. Who’d a-thunk it? Obviously I have a few things I want to say, huh? I’d like to thank Blogger for their hosting. Though their post editor is not as good as it could be – which is why I’ve been using Windows Live Writer for the last year or so. I am quite liking my new template though. And thank you, Dear Readers. At least I’m not babbling into the ether all alone.

So, back to the sewing/clothing/designing issue from yesterday. How do you know what suits you? Not just your body shape, but your personality and also possibly your lifestyle? I mean, when you sew your garments it’s not like you can try them on before committing to them like you can with ready-to-wear. You need to develop an eye for what you like, what works on your body, and what integrates well with your existing wardrobe and your job and other activities. I think the biggest issue is to be truly honest with yourself. Honest about your shape, height, age, career (or lack of one in my case), and taste.

For instance, if you’re 5’3.5” (and shrinking!), distinctly pear-shaped, older and fairly active like me, that will lead you in certain directions as far as which garments are worth your time and effort to create. I don’t need fancy clothes such as business suits or party dresses. And I’m not chic and elegant. I walk lots in all weathers, do crafts, gardening and housework. I need practical. I’m down-to-earth and a little funky/craftsy. All this dictates what I can and will wear.

So one way to see what looks good on you is to go into favourite clothing stores and just try things on. Better if you can photograph yourself in the mirror to record your impressions for later! However, that won’t really work for me since so many commercial garments don’t fit me properly anyhow. I tend to work from past experience instead. Such as: I know that wrap tops, and “bubble” shapes do not flatter, bunch up and are uncomfortable on me. I have big problems with skirts hanging wrong. (Jumpers are better but they seem to be out at the moment.) Necklines that are too low or too wide are not good. Ease has to be just right. Too loose makes me swim and overwhelms my small frame. But too tight isn’t good either because there are increasing lumps and bumps that don’t want to be emphasized. Garment lengths are the opposite extreme: either near the waist or below the hip, not at the hip. Sort of like Goldilocks trying to find “just right”, huh?

Another method of finding flattering shapes is to use croquis (pronounced “crow-key” and a single one is a croqui, pronounced the same way). These are sketches of your garments as they look on a body and they fall into two types: fashion croquis and flat croquis. The first type is to provide a context and a mood (aka artsy) and the second is to show the garment’s lines and details (aka practical). Personally, I think the first type can go to whatever hell Barbie dolls should be confined to! They are not at all realistic. The second type is what I always look for on the pattern envelope, in Burda Style magazine and anyplace else I can find them. They are like knitting schematics in a way but with more detail and without the actual measurements. You can see where the seams are and the proportions and shapes without all the foofaraw of “fashion photography” or actual fabrics getting in the way. And you can draw your own! Like the paper dolls I drew incessantly when I was a kid.

But you’re going to say you can’t draw. I’m very out of practise at that myself. However, there are ways around this. Firstly there are basic croquis that you can trace over and add your own details. There’s one here (if you save it as a .jpg, you’ll have to open in a graphic editor and eliminate the ad) plus an article by the same author here and BurdaStyle’s own croquis with a tutorial here. Threads magazine has a whole family of realistically-sized croquis you can download in PDF here. This should be enough to get you started. And even if you don’t sew but knit and/or crochet, croquis could be very useful for you too. Especially if you are interested in designing and perhaps one day getting patterns published. There’s an article on Connie Chang Chinchio in the KnitScene mag that I talked about the other day and her croquis are shown in one of the photos.

Another even better way to make more personally functional croquis is to have someone photograph you in your foundation garments in several different positions against a blank wall. You can print out and trace over your very own shape! I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time but somehow never get around to it. Just like I also really need a dressmaker’s manikin. I have the materials to make one. Just need to find that old Round Tuit. Anybody seen where it’s been hiding?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! :) I love your blogging. Kind of inspiring and warm and fuzzy all rolled up together.

Mary said...


Suzanne said...

Joyeux Anniversaire Louisa!!!
thank you for all the good posts. And now you managed to bring me back to my sewing machine.
BTW, did you buy all the sock yarn @ Dressew???went the other day and there was none left...Baaaad girl

Cynthia said...

Happy anniversary! And some interesting questions in your posts. I am edging towards sewing for myself but have a tough time knowing what will suit me. I am an odd shape so commercial clothes don't fit well, but that makes it hard to choose patterns as well.