Friday, May 31, 2013

Not One Stitch

Along with the knitting, I had several errands planned for yesterday and a coffee date in the evening. It seemed wise to do the errands first only I never got to the knitting. Not one stitch. How is it that the item top of the list can so frequently be the thing that we don't ever get to. For many women, that item is often self care.

Self care is a soapbox topic for me. When some women find out how much I sew, or see my studio, I invariably hear some version of you're so lucky, I could never do that or have that or spend as much time on things for myself because I'm so busy being super Mom or Wife or Worker or religious. I'm not sure if it's a comment intended to make me feel worse or them feel better. Either way, it doesn't work for me.

How can we teach our children (at any age) the importance of finding and developing their own interests and of not simply existing in a life of busy and work and doing for others if we don't role model that ourselves? How can we believe that God created us with unique and individual skills and abilities that we are meant to explore if we never explore them? One of is a life of energy and learning; the other is a life of frustration and depression... at least it is for me when I don't get to create.

We are - IMHO - better for pursuing our interests in a balanced and healthy way. Learning how to say no is important to having space to say yes. It's interesting to me that this theme of saying no, of being less busy, and of pursuing personal interests is showing up more frequently in the books I'm reading. Is there a change happening? I hope so. It is possible to be loving, caring parent/person by role modeling self care.

Oh dear... I detoured. Told you it was a soap box issue. Yesterday's errands - while not knitting - were mostly about me. Food at Costco. Books at Chapters. The public library to request an OOP book on jewelry design. A trim of the trim of my hair to shorten the front sides just a little bit more. We may be approaching perfect but who knows. My hair and I are having moments right now - LOL. And then... a visit to a gallery, conversation with two artists, and a refashioning project.  Except for no knitting, it was a near perfect day.

Every year Costco brings in a bunch of t-shirts. They were called Segments before and now they're called Kirkland Signature but I can tell by the feel that they've simply switched to owning the brand. The fabric is 100% cotton, thick, soft, and lasts forever. There are variations on the theme with crew or scoop or V-necks and long or short or 3/4 sleeves and longer or shorter hemlines. This year's variation is a V-neck and a longer hemline which is perfect and a cap sleeve which is not. I compared the shape of the armhole and the angle of the shoulder seam to my T & T t-shirt pattern and it's a good match. The Costco t-shirt has more stretch than my T & T so it's narrower but not a lot narrower.

The Costco t-shirts retail for $8.99 which is ridiculously inexpensive and could bring up a whole conversation based on Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion except that I'll wear these for years and then I'll cut them up and make them into something else like the bleached t-shirt I showed earlier this week SO... since the sleeve is so unflattering on me... and the price is so reasonable... I bought one in my size and one in the largest size and then I took out the sleeves on my size and cut new ones from the larger t-shirt using my T & T pattern.

When comparing, remember that the black sleeve has no seam allowance showing at the underarm and only 1/4" around the cap while the turquoise sleeve has 5/8" all around. There's slightly more bicep width in my T & T because it's designed for less ease. There's also more cap height which is a frequent failing of both RTW and some patterns.

There have been several different letters to the big four pattern companies posted over the last couple weeks at Sham's, Robin's, and Barbara's blogs.  It was interesting to read what was an issue for each of these women and to compare their thoughts. It's quickly obvious that the pattern companies can not possibly hope to please all of the people all of the time and why fitting and pattern adjustment are a necessary part of sewing. I'm always intrigued by where people are willing to develop skills and where they are not. I can cook and bake and it's good and only okay. My garden is pretty but I'm in it more to decorate the front of the house than because I love gardening. I don't. I'd rather invest my time in sewing, knitting, and other creative endeavors. Each interest has a set of skills that need to be learned and perfected. It's a fact. Very few - if anyone - is going to cut on the lines and get a perfectly fitted garment.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop where the instructor compared a classic blouse pattern from seven of the top pattern companies. They were virtually identical with only small points of difference. The  Vogue pattern had the most design and fitting elements. New Look had the least. All the companies were starting with the same block and the same measurements. The variations on some things - say shoulder width - were a part of the fit and ease intended.

I'm not rushing to their defense because I too would like to see more consistency but I do think it's important to learn your own measurements, the adjustments you need consistently, and how to make those adjustments.  Even a little bit of information about pattern drafting will help to make pattern adjusting make sense. That I'll need to adjust is why I love my fitting shell and why I think it's worth the work to create. I can compare it to any pattern, adjust the pattern to my measurements and preferred ease, and it'll fit. I may not like the design or the fabric I chose but it'll fit. This is good.

Edited June 1st to add: these thoughts are a general opinion and were not aimed at Shams, Robin, or Barbara who are all fabulous sewists - just in case anyone thought I was being critical of them specifically rather than speaking generally... which is what I'd intended. I'm a huge fan of their work and have learned a lot from their blogs.


The re-dyed fabrics had mixed results. The yardage went a wonderful denim blue which I quite like. The scarf is still its original lime green which tells me that the fabric is either highly treated with something like formaldehyde or it is not in actuality 100% cotton made in China as the label claims. I have some blue iDye Poly so I may try that next and see what happens but I'm a bit worried that this is not the scarf to take to the workshop if it's going to have issues taking dye and paint. We'll see. The yardage is about to become a skirt.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the skill needed to swap sleeves


  1. Good morning :-) Lots of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head as a result of your post...!

    1. LOL - happy swirling. Feel free to share.

  2. Ah, that soap box. It's a good one. People also don't recognize their choices in being super whatever. Maybe they don't sew, but the like baking. That means that baking for a fund raiser could be seen as equal to your time in the studio.

    I do like the colour of the yardage. I also like the colour of the blue tshirt from Costco. Rather vibrant colour if the pictures are true.

    1. Such a valid point and one I've been trying to be more aware of. It really struck me the other day when I was telling a friend that I find cooking with allergies quite difficult and she said oh really, I don't find it hard in that I don't know what your problem is kind of tone of voice. We need to see both the equality and the individuality and stop trying to be in other's boxes or put them in ours. This is hard for me/easy for you. This is easy for me/hard for you. Thank God we're different.

      Can't see your monitor but it's a bright turquoise. Quite nice especially - LOL - with black.

  3. I don't know if the people that are so busy being "super whatever", know how irritating they are to the rest of us. I find that those individuals love to talk about how "super" they are, and seem to relish making the rest of us seem inferior. Balance is so important, and goes a long way in keeping life fun, healthy and well rounded! Thanks for the soapbox. ~Teri

    1. LOL - yes. It can be irritating although I wonder then who I irritate by the things that come easily to me?

      Balance is that thing we're always closer to or further from. I'm not sure we ever hit perfectly in balance or if we do, we don't stay there too long but at least we know what we're aiming for.

  4. I remember you blogging about the Costco T's before. If I could find something similar I'd do the same thing. We don't have Costco's in our area yet but there's supposed to be one going in soon.

    I don't understand when women don't/can't/won/t take time for themselves either. If you don't take time to recharge yourself pretty soon you're going to have a meltdown!

    I read a study on the differences between the Big 4 using a basic shell pattern or something as close to it as they could get. One of the points that really stuck out to me was that the Big 4 had not updated their fitting standards for over 40 years! The other point that was made was that they were still drafting for an hourglass shape and that applied to less than 10% of the population today! No wonder there are so many fitting problems.

    1. Refashioning - whether it's a simple as the t-shirts - is starting to intrigue me more and more. Last night, I was going through my wardrobe checking for what I wanted to take to Oregon and what I'd need to buy/sew/put together and I came across a skirt I bought in December and haven't worn because it goes with nothing. Trying it on this way and that, I think it could become an interesting dress. I'm going to throw it in the suitcase, take it along, and get feedback.

      It seems so obvious when we look at the concept of putting gas in our tank and yet way too many women (and not always... but predominately... women) seem to miss this point when applied to themselves.

      There are certainly issues with the pattern companies but in the end, I'm thrilled to have access. I like that the BMV club lets me buy the detail I'm interested in for less than a small fortune. And the issues have prompted me to learn more about fitting so it's not perfect but it's not horrible either. It's manageable.

  5. Hi Myrna! i find most women don't take time for themselves for a couple of reasons. They feel like everything will fall apart if they don't have their hand in for even one minute (control issues), they really feel like they're not worth it and family/friends will hate them for it, or just plain old habit. Good for you for poking us to take care of ourselves!

    I frankly agreed with shams' post wholeheartedly, having sewn Vogue patterns for 35 years now. Regarding fit, i have found that 1) it's inconsistent from pattern to pattern and 2) they use a crazy amount of ease, so that the first thing i do and tell ANYBODY is to ignore the size guidelines. Which is crazy - why have that chart if it is perfectly meaningless?

    In shams's defense, she has never claimed to have anything CLOSE to a normal/'average' figure. In fact, she has created a page with the most helpful and extensive resources for making Full Bust Adjustments (of many kinds, in many circumstances):

    which i have seen anyplace, ever. So she isn't saying 'fit me right out of the envelope' or 'i don't want to have to learn about fitting'. She's saying 'please be consistent, and bear some relation to the size charts you produce'. In other words, why should we have to recreate the wheel every. single. time.?

    I still buy Vogue patterns because i really love some of the styles and designers, but i would hesitate STRONGLY before steering a new sempstress towards the Vogues (unless i was there to hold their hand the whole way!). anyhoo, Just My Humble Opinion. Happy Weekend All! steph

    1. Yes... me on my soap box.

      I hope I didn't come across as critical. That wasn't my intent. I agree with that there needs to be consistency so that we all can determine what we individually need to alter to achieve our idea of good fit. It's so broad and no matter if they use 40 year old data or current data, the end result is not going to fit everyone so we'll all need to alter. I think the message can get lost when we start focusing on specific details instead of the overall objective.

  6. p.s. This is OT of this post, but - Myrna, i thought your post on your fave wardrobe pieces was great and inspiring and really useful! Now i wonder about 'the next step', which is: what are your favorite/workhorse *outfits*? Besides your uniform, because some of your fave pieces didn't seem to fit into your uniform - but most did, a sign of a well thought out and coherent closet - as you would say, YES YES YES!!!!

    Because i don't know about you, but i rarely run around town in just a skirt or just a tee ;)

    I also find that if i know how a 'boring' piece will allow me to create lots of outrageously wonderful *outfits* that it makes creating those 'boring' pieces a lot more rewarding. Just a thought - have a great weekend and thank you for all your wonderful, entertaining, thought-provoking posts!! steph

    1. Can you explain what you mean by some of your fave pieces didn't seem to fit into your uniform? They weren't all favourite pieces to wear. Some were pieces I really enjoyed creating but don't wear.

      Really ? ? ? You actually put on an entire outfit ? ? ? Hmm... LOL... I'm going to have to think about that. Seems less dramatic.

      I realized recently that I think in outfits. What I might be sewing is a skirt but I'm already thinking about what will I wear with in terms of a top, cardigan, necklace, shoe, and so on. That definitely doesn't come across on the blog because my photography is less than best and I'm uncomfortable having my picture taken. Something to work on.

      I'll answer more when I read what you meant above.

    2. hi Myrna! so i looked back over your post and realized what i noticed. I believe you said your uniform is cardi, tee, and pants. Now, the first point i'd like to make is that really i'm obsessed with wardrobe theory and have been for over thirty years now, so none of this is really any of my durn business and also it's basically minor points that no one who's not wardrobe-theory obsessed would ever notice or think about! So - now that you have your salt shaker well in hand - ;)

      anyways so what i noticed is that 1) you have some dresses, which is completely in line with your dress solution plan. I've gained and lost around 70-80 pounds on my 5'5" frame at times due to long term cortisone treatment, let me tell you that your dress solution will work *amazingly* well to keep you well dressed thru any fluctuations. Just a vote of confidence from one with experience!

      2) but the main thing that caught my eye and got me thinking could be an avenue for you to observe and mull over/experiment with what you like best, or how you'd like to expand, is more the specific proportions of your various uniform elements. For example, some of your tees are classically fitted with not much ease and ending at around high hip (your TNT tee), while others are more of a tunic length and flare out over the hips and down. Like your Kat Tilton 8691tunic out of black tees - man i love that one! If you're wanting to toss a cardi over that tunic, which one would work? and with which bottoms? Would that tunic work with your denim 'bell' skirt - i'm guessing the bow would get in the way, but if you left the bow off would all that volume be overwhelming to you, or is the definition around your shoulders/bust and revealing your forearms and ankles enough to balance that out?

      In other words it's more of a fine-tuning the proportions that you like in terms of volume and where the horizontals fall on your figure, which is something you've been discussing already. So, in the way i tend to think, the last pic in your post - with the black tank, fantastic necklace, awesome 8712 trousers and little heel - could be the basis for a uniform: fitted tee or tank, necklace, full 'bell' bottom, little heel. You could add a fitted cardi over this uniform without changing the overall proportions, but tossing on your Kat Wise style cardi would change things. So you might want to bring in the fullness in the bottom, or add a chunkier heel to balance things out.

      Which is all more the concern of the style blog :) but, also, could be considerations when you're mulling over what to make. I hope this isn't too OT or blabby, i've been getting over a laryngitis bug and feel a little loopy still. Anyways, i hope this makes some type of sense (!) and that you are having a great evening! steph

    3. LOL - it might not look like it but I've probably spent just as long studying wardrobe theories. I find them fascinating especially when you add in the factor of personal growth and evolution and changes in environment or circumstances.

      Good to know the dress solution works. A dress sometimes makes me feel overdressed although less so in summer.

      The tunic length is new for me. I wouldn't wear it without the waist shaping. Tunics tend to look best with skinny pants only skinny pants are not something I'll ever be wearing - too much of a lolly pop look. I like it with jeans and the bleached t-shirt version looks good with the Marcy pants in the last picture so that shape is worth exploring. Depending on the pencil skirt, the tunic can look/feel pregnant or look fabulous. With the Koos skirt or with the Marcy skirt in denim, there is too much volume on the bottom. It's a very widening look. I've tried it more than once and always change. That said, while I was waiting for my husband at the airport yesterday, I noticed how many women are wearing that jagged hem, pointed look and it's most likely I'll be moving in another direction now. I may try smoothing out the hemline because I love the shaping through the bust and waist.

      I tend to wear two fitted garments like the floral wrap top with the trumpet skirt or a fitted t-shirt with a pencil skirt or pair clothes with volume only on the top or only the bottom but not both. I'm just under 5'4" and I'm short waisted so too much volume can look all hip or fattening quite easily. I'm very particular about the length of garments individually and paired. The high hip length of my fitted t-shirts is very comfortable emotionally/physically. Much shorter or longer and it feels off.

      The last five pictures, with the exception of not tucking the t-shirt into the jeans, are typical every day looks for me, add necklace, add cardigan, as needed and flats or heels depending on where I'm going. The Kat Wise style cardi was really fun to make but isn't comfortable to wear and definitely not over volume. I'm more likely to wear the refashioned cardigan with the bust tucks over volume since it's only the back of that cardigan that drives me crazy although it looks great with a short, black and white floral pencil skirt and a black or colored t-shirt.

      One thing that fascinates me about clothing is the emotional component. That's often an ingredient you can't predetermine. For example: I like the flared skirt shape of the linen dress - it's the same shape used in the coat in today's posting - except I only like it on a dress and I strongly dislike it as an A-line skirt even in a light fabric. Every time I make an A-line skirt, I end up recycling it. You'd think it should work but it doesn't and it's not a body type/fashion personality type thing. It's emotional but - LOL - at least consistent.

      Definitely wasn't too blabby. I enjoy discussions like this and appreciate your opinion. It's very hard to find someone willing to say this works for you and this doesn't and why don't you consider this or that but how else are we going to know and learn. Thanks.

  7. Here's a sync for you - i'm listening to a podcast and the words "you need to save yourself before you can save anybody else" were said right after i posted my second comment. The host is describing a recurring dream, when he figured out what it meant - the quote i just posted - he never had the dream again.

    It's this show:

    Second Sight NYC. Plenty of spicy language and some raunchy jokes amidst the thoughtful talk about psychic topics. I had to let you know, seeing as you're having a run of syncs (a sign that you're freely connecting to your creative/right brain/unconscious). steph

    1. Two hours - I'll have to listen to that later. No time today. Thanks. It's very weird all this synchronicity. Thursday, I was journaling that I wanted to connect with more artist, went out to do errands, and ended up talking to two. Friday, I'd just started journal writing and felt strongly that I needed to go downtown to a new gallery, so I did, and ended up having a two hour on the couch conversation with that artist and another. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

    2. eep - i linked to the podcast just because, not necessarily thinking you'd be interested in listening to it! the first 10 minutes is technical difficulty, the next half hour or 40 minutes is a big fight between the host and the guest, and the last part is on dream's hosted by a couple of NYC guys who are very iconoclastic and who've had quite a few out-there paranormal, the language can get kinda raunchy, etc. Anyways if that sounds like it's up your alley, jump on in! :) but please do not feel obligated - heavens!

      I've had many periods in life where syncs came up a lot - as a rule, it means you're not letting the 'thinky talky logical' brain get in the way of what your creative non verbal unconscious psychic mind has to tell you. Interestingly enough, the more you concentrate on/think about syncs the more syncs you will have. This can be great - like your fortuitous meetings - or, IMHO, kind of ridiculous, like people who get obsessed with certain numbers.

      As you said, balance is where we try to be. Now i gotta go deal with the fridge before it takes over the neighborhood! yikes! have a great one, steph

    3. LOL - okay - thanks.

      Not obsessed with certain numbers - not even my weight or my age - VBG.

      Things have been going at the speed of a turtle going backwards around here. I have so much to do and I'm not getting very far very fast... so I'm cleaning the studio. Sort, pick-up, dust, vacuum - always brings things back in line. LOVE a shiny clean fridge.


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