Friday, April 12, 2013

Painting & Grubby, Smaller Sizes, Fancy & Rarely Worn

Last week, I started a new bible study. Because my eReader isn't working, I bought a real book from a real bookstore - LOL - go figure. I was running my hand along the shelf glancing at titles when I got this me, me, me feeling about a particular book, like it was trying to vibrate its way into my hands. Such a strange feeling. I bought it to see what the fuss was all about. Feeling like I might be totally crazy, I asked God to point out why this book and here's the section that came up right away.

If most people don't do what you do, and you're passionately pursuing Jesus with your life, then it's probably not just a human plan. The heart beat of God is probably somewhere within it. We need you, just you, to fulfill that purpose, complete that project, bring that gift to the world in a way no one else can. - page 18, You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

Just the day before, when I'd hugged my son goodbye on his way to work, I'd wondered what do my children think about what I do. Do they think their Mom "just" sews all day or do they see something more. Do I think I "just" sew all day or do I see something more? As one friend lectured, there is no "just" about it. This is what I am meant to be doing at this time in my life and as strange as it feels without its job description and accompanying paycheque, it also feels like the right thing right now. That is until I'm not making the progress I think I should be making.

Yesterday, I just hated not being able to post pictures of a beautiful blouse. I wanted so badly to have discovered the answer and to share it with you... and I may have the answer now... and if I do I will share... but that's not the point. I didn't have the answer yesterday and I didn't have any beautiful blouse pictures and I was grumpy when I hit post. Later in my study time, there was this...

When parts of my heart or life don't measure up to my expectations, I tend to hide them. But what if someone would be blessed by what I have to share and they miss out because I hide it. - page 49

It has always been important to me to be real and honest and to not make myself out to be something more or less than I am. Most of the time, I believe that sharing the ebb and flow of my sewing life is encouraging to others whose sewing life also ebbs and flows but sometimes I wonder if I'm actually being more discouraging than encouraging which is why I so appreciated Ripple Dandelion's comment - You are so honest with yourself and with us, and I really admire that. I also admire how you can realize when it's time to step back and give yourself a break with a fun knit top.


Cleaning my closet was a fabulous idea. I tried on every garment and got rid of any that didn't fit well or were no longer in good condition. I knew if I kept them, I'd keep wearing them because my wardrobe is so small it's ridiculous... even to me... a minimalist. Other than the Painting & Grubby, the Small Sizes, and the Fancy & Rarely Worn boxes, I have a total of...

... forty-six garments which means that short of outerwear, underwear, and sleepwear, this image above shows every piece I own. There are 9 skirts, 9 sweaters, 2 dresses, 2 pairs of stretch pants that a rarely worn and never in public, 2 pairs of linen pants that bag out too quickly to wear out in public so I've been contemplating cutting them up into something else, 3 pairs of fun fabric pants, the lone pair of jeans that made the cut, and 18 tops of which half I would have preferred to give away but it seemed like I should wait a bit longer. Of these...

... 25 of the garments are predominately black or grey, 35 were sewn by me, and eleven were bought. Most of the clothes I gave away were purchased. Most of the clothes I kept were sewn by me. After trying them on and realizing how much better the me-made clothing fit, I realized that yes, I do know how to sew and YES, I definitely need more clothes.

Since jeans are way down on my sew list, I went shopping for a couple new pairs. A few years ago, I bought a swim suit in ten minutes. It was a fluke but shopping for bathing suits is typically painful. Shopping for jeans is far worse in my opinion. I spent three hours, went to six dress stores, and came home with two possibilities to ponder. They may be going back.

Two of the stores had no jeans. Two had only capri length jeans. One had only unflattering styles. All thought I should be happy sausaged into tight jeans from waist to ankle because that's what's in style irregardless of the fact that said style does me no favours. One said that mine was the most popular size and they sold out of it right away but they had these snakeskin printed ones if I'd like. Uh... snakeskin is not at all like dark denim. I am sure that if I'd had a pre-fitted pattern I could have sewn a well fitting pair of jeans in three hours. Hopefully they get to the top of the sew list faster than I think they will.

While cleaning, I thought about the grey blouse. What I didn't like about it was the way the back settled over my hips. It bunched and didn't appear to have enough ease. See the chalk line on my jeans above. There's one in the same place on the opposite side. If I measure chalk line to chalk line around the back that measurement is 5" bigger than chalk line to chalk line around the front. If I take and double my front measurement, that's the hip size I need for the front piece and if I take and double my back measurement, that's the hip size I need for the back piece. These are not anywhere near the same size. I need to ALWAYS keep this in mind and to not think that because the total measurement of the hip is big enough, that it's big enough for me.

Knowing where I needed the extra fabric led me to think about what alteration would I make to the blouse pattern to get the fit and shape in the back. Once I test the idea, I'll provide illustrations but basically it appears that I would trace the pattern in the size for my front hip width and then on the back pattern piece cut straight up from the hem to the hip and then over to a pivot point at the waist without cutting above the waist because I don't want to make it any larger. Then I'd spread the tissue to allow for another 5" at hip level. Since the ease is already built into the pattern, this will create the width I need plus the ease. It should work because that's exactly what Lynda Maynard demonstrated in the Craftsy course with one of the models but...

... LOL... I could just skip all that and sew McCall's 6603. I bought this pattern to make a quick, throw it on to get the mail, spring and fall jacket since I don't actually own a sweatshirt. I bet that's not a surprise. The shapes are...

... very geometric, quick and easy. It's actually a great pattern for someone learning to sew or using a fabric with a print they don't want to break up.

Butterick 5615 is another possibility. It has the seam at the waist that allows me to have a more closely fitted garment that will fit well ...

... over my hips too. Well... actually... be truthful and all... every pattern can fit well over my hips I just have to work harder with some than others. You can see in the technical drawing that this is a peplum. I'll sew it eventually but right now I'm sewing...

... Vogue 8691 by Katherine Tilton. It's not the top I showed yesterday. I didn't have that pattern in my size. I've ordered it and in the mean time, this was a good choice. It has eight seams including one at center front and one at center back. That provides plenty of room for adjusting fit which...

... ironically, I haven't needed. As described above, I cut the front one size and the back below the waist a larger size, stitched it together, and other than taking in the side seam at the underarm point, it fits beautifully.

The fabric is a very stable knit in a black and white print with a subtle burnout factor. I had half a meter of a black ruffled fabric with white edging and plan to use that along the hemline. I'm not sure what I'll do with the neckline yet. I want to get the sleeves and hem done before I decide.

One of the things I learned (learned again) from my muslin journey is how important it is to cut the right size even if you don't like that number... which is a nice way of saying I went up a size... and it's made altering and fitting patterns significantly easier.

Another thing I learned (relearned) is to pay attention to ease. This V8691 garment is intended to have plenty of ease through the hips and be more fitted through the bust. Even though the size for my bust has sufficient width to go around my hips, if I sew that size the finished garment won't have the same look as a garment drafted for my hip size. Not only do I need to make the right alterations in the right order in the right place, I need to make sure I have the right size with the right amount of ease in the right place.

Being bottom heavy, my figure crosses over sizes significantly. Yesterday, I went through my pattern drawer and ordered some favourites in larger sizes because it's much easier, less time consuming, and less frustrating to have the size I need and to trace it than it is to try to grade everything up. With the BMV sales, it's also affordable. There weren't too many so I ordered blouses and dresses this sale and will decide on the designer patterns next sale. My pant and skirt collection is already the correct size.

SO... today I'll work on this black and white knit top and tomorrow I may actually try another version of the blouse.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that I can actually sew ! ! ! ! and that my me-made clothing fits much better than RTW


  1. Do I "just" sew every day? Interesting thought.

    My husband commented to that effect recently or rather that I sew. every. single. day and that's all I do. I commented that I take care of what has to be done in the am, the house is (reasonably) clean and it keeps me busy, is something I enjoy, makes me think, etc. What would he rather I do? Sit around on the computer or worse yet "just" sit around. I got no reply and think I made my point. Besides I'd go nuts "just" sitting around!

    You say your wardrobe is lacking but by count it doesn't seem to be missing anything crucial other than maybe some more bottoms. Maybe your just tired of what's there. What do you feel is missing?

    Your point about using the right size so that you have the right ease intended for the pattern brought to mind a recent blog by N. Zieman about how to determine the ease intended by the designer. Here's a link. I found it quite interesting and I think you will too.

    1. Thanks for the link. The line - In other designs, pattern ease gives the style. - is what I was trying to say as well. Without it, the garment we're sewing doesn't look like the garment we wanted to sew.

      I often talk about the entertainment cost of sewing. Since I buy most of my fabric on sale, I'll use $5.00 a meter as the base line. If I'm making a t-shirt, I'll buy 1.5 meters of $7.50 of fabric. If it takes me three hours to sew the t-shirt start to finish, that's an entertainment cost of $2.50 per hour and it's quite often much less. That's way less than dinner or a movie or almost anything and it - as you said - keeps my mind active and interested and functioning and intrigued. This is good. Like you, all the other stuff is done and now I sew.

      By count, the wardrobe is not lacking. It may not be boring but I'm bored with it because a lot of the pieces have been around a while. IMO, it needs more variety, more color, and more creative and personalized pieces - all of which I'm working toward. I normally have a small wardrobe but I did purge on the heavy side this time because of fit or fabric fatigue. Those pieces were just done and I hoped eliminating them would give me a push.

      I just have the hem on this latest top to do and it's finished and looks fabulous so I can either have 19 tops or rotate one out and with two new pairs of jeans that'll help. V8691 is a very flattering style on me. I'll have three versions.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.