Monday, June 13, 2016

garment sewing and body image

I've made a good start on sewing an updated wardrobe.  I've got 3 bottoms and two tops done.  I'm not amazed at the wonderfulness of any of it (well the pants above are pretty close to wonderful) but I am pleased with the fit of it so far.  Fit is where my biggest sewing issues have always been, at least when sewing for myself.

Unlike quilting and tinkering with vintage machines, I realize that there is a certain obligation to show the finished projects on a body.  A dressform can work, but I don't have one of those.  So I coerced my daughter to take some photos of me in the clothes in the back yard.  She has never liked taking photos of me (perhaps because of my wails with results) and I've never liked the shots any of my kids have taken of me.  They always somehow caught me looking like Ma.  When  I saw these, I was totally shocked at my size.  I have been cognizant of going up up and up in clothing sizes the past 5 years.  I just don't look in full length or rear view mirrors much and this reality was shocking.  I don't know what I'll do about it. It seems reasonable to try to exercise much more, eat better and less, and in the meantime it is obvious to me I need to get some body smoothing undergarments.  I'm kind of clueless about what styles might be flattering at this stage, when my always kind of straight and blocky shape is now bumpy-mountainous in my mind's eye.  During my early adulthood, I always thought I was fat, even with jutting pelvic bones and running 10-12 miles in the Carolina foothills.  Now I've been puffing around thinking I was slightly padded but not really, while cutting out size 24 pants and 26 tops.  250lbs.  I might be fat.  ANYWAY-

These shorts were my first project of the year, with my freaking out about not using my pants sloper for the crotch length.  There's some slight puckering in there, but not bad at all once I got the waistband on.  The pattern is a Vintage Simplicity 8526 that I had cut out but never sewn and I used for all three bottoms.

The fabric was some cheap twill that had been in my stash forever, a remnant from somewhere for cheap.  It wrinkles very easily and will not wear well.  I was very happy that once they were all together the shorts did not look as awful as I first anticipated.  Not only would I be ok going out in public with them, but they are some of the most comfortable sleep shorts I've ever had.  I've got some more planned with just that in mind.  Night shift moms are accustomed to having to rouse from bed to get into the car and going somewhere from time to time, this is much better than just jumping back into the crumpled scrubs.

The red stretch denim and the flowered jersey were both from Girl Charlee.  They took about 9 or 10 days to arrive from California after ordering online, seems like a long time to wait.  I'd express ship if I ever needed something from them urgently.  I was very pleased with the quality of both, price was fair but not cheap.  The lace segment was only a little bit of a pretty lace end of bolt I bought in NYC at Spandex World.  The top was my second blanc t from blank slate patterns. The pattern is generously offered for free if you join the facebook group or buy any other pattern.  I must have been cutting on serious sleep deprivation, because I cut out the front with no regard for the cut on fold line.  This effectively gave the top a good 3 extra inches in front, right through the neckline.  After I figured out why the neck was so huge and the top was so darn wide, I had to recut to fix, and there was not enough fabric to do an entire new front piece.  I was force to design a little blocking. It made it a little more on the dressy side.  Maybe I'll need that sometime.  Not in love with  it, but wearable.

And man, that shot makes me want a gastric sleeve and some running shoes AND spanks.  Maybe that's really not me???  Maybe that's really Stephie's eyes?  Maybe a better undergarment, and maybe not making the other error I'm getting ready to discuss would help this view.

The detail shot reveals adequate sewing skills, seams look good enough, top stitching not too shabby especially since I didn't use a twin needle.  If you look at that pocket curve though, it may look a bit short- because my waistband was about 3 inches shorter than the waist of this sucker and I didn't want to have to rip out said topstitching. I used the serger and I am feeling just a little apprehensive about taking off a full 5/8" seam allowance on a machine that won't give it all back if I have to rip it out. Instead of fixing it, I just folded the top over for the casing and said, forget about it!  Now I've barely got room to squeeze my hands in those openings, and I suspect that swayback effect may have been influenced by the waistband disappearing.  I may or may go back, rip out all the damn topstitching, and try to fix it now.  I would have to darn the buttonholes closed, but I could probably do that fairly inconspicuously and they would be covered by the drawstrings hanging down from the new waistband.  In any case, lesson REVIEWED here (no promises on lessons learned) is seamlines matter.

So, here is my favorite.  These trousers!  Very reminiscent of scrubs, my most favorite clothes in the world, but better!  The fabric was purchased at Mood in NYC, can you believe a linen/spandex blend????  It is quite stretchy with incredibly drape, but still retaining that fabulous summer nubby vibe of linen.  The waistband was for some reason a couple inches short again, but I took in 1/4" on each front/back inseam (1/4" x 4 = 1" reduction) and was able to ease the rest. I added 1 1/2" to the leg length and barely had enough for a 1/2" hem!  Next time give more for my 5'11" self. They are very high-waisted compared to what I normally wear, but very very comfy.

OK, this is definitely one of those "Ma" photos I was talking about.  The photographer is my 24 year old daughter who can smile into her phone lens on her work break at the chicken processing plant and look like a supermodel in love, but can't get a better shot of me than this???  I put on makeup and did my hair for these, never mind shooting up on me like you are 4 and I'm getting ready to aim a shoe at you!! How did she use the sun so effectively to make the highlights disappear and leave the flat looking lowlights like that?? Well, ha, she made my double chin disappear for a minute, so that's what she gets.  See what I mean about that drape in the linen though? The top was my first blanc t, the fabric from Joanne's (on sale now $8.49 ).  Nicole Miller is the "featured" designer for the store, and I have to admit, I love darn near every one of those fabrics in that collection.  It's not a great photo, but those are ostrich feathers and the color is fabulous, it's light and stretchy and comfortable.

Ahhhhhhhh, Moma loves ya babies.  If this darn laptop had photoshop installed, I'd show all of you how I look! In my mind.

A photo of me in 1982, when I ran PT in the German Alps with the US Army and still "knew I was fat". That bump is a gallon of some kind of liquor.


  1. Love all of the garments you made, especially your comfy trousers!

  2. Thank you Tomasa. It took a long time to sew for myself again, but I hope I keep on with it.

  3. Pants look great, very hard to fit. I remember how I felt "fat" once upon a time, and now wish I had been kinder to myself. Trying to accept my older body even as I work with weights to fill loose skin with muscles.