Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Dress Solution

When I left for my daughter's house at the end of April, the weather was still blowing and cold. Snow was a very recent - as in just that week - memory. Now that I'm back home, it's hot, as if we skipped right from winter to summer and neglected spring completely. I have nothing to wear which...

Vogue 8871

... strikes me as a pattern I keep repeating as if somehow the change of the seasons catches me by surprise while I'm off exploring one fitting theory after another and I look up one day only to discover that it's now spring, or summer, or fall, or winter and yet they come one season after another, year after year, predictably.


Even so, that it's finally summer has been just as big a surprise as this lethargy I've returned with. I had plans for an entire wardrobe and motivation to get it done before my holiday and yet I'm leaving a month today and I've spent the past ten days staring at the walls, puttering with this and that, barely sewing, mostly reading. At first, I was simply tired and then it became something more and I know myself well enough to know that if I'm procrastinating, the reason will eventually appear, which is always good because right after the reason can come the solution.


A few days ago, I started re-reading Christopher Hopkins' book Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 - which is exactly what I like about this book. It's written for women my age and talks about what is - and isn't - age appropriate while noting that age appropriate is not expressing who we WERE but declaring who we've BECOME. I like that idea of being the vibrant me I am now, not a shadow of the past.


I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about... It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.
- Agatha Christie


Carolyn wrote about sewing realizations in a recent blog posting, I've Been Thinking. It's intriguing to me how a general description of most of us would sound the same - female, creative, likes to sew - while a specific description illustrates our individuality. Carolyn never sews casual wear, sews but rarely wears skirts, and is the Queen of the T & T dress. I mainly sew casual wear, sew and wear skirts more than any other garment, only sew dresses for special occasions, and my most developed T & T patterns are for t-shirts. We both dislike tops. We both love cardigans. It was these last two - and Christopher's book  - that got me thinking.


They wouldn't seem to be connected and yet who knows what draws the line between the dots of our life. There's something to be said for knowing and accepting ourselves and there's something to be said for pushing the boundaries. Thinking, studying, and reading, but most especially sewing and being creative, help me to push the boundaries which I love to do and when I can't, there's a reason.

In January, I started running and I was enjoying it only the bones in my legs were hurting, most likely from running in bare feet on a harder surface. I took a break when I went to my daughter's thinking I'd have rested enough and could start running again when I got back only I haven't been feeling well... not horrible... just not great... most likely for two reasons.

I had decided to try eating "normally" again and see if I'd outgrown my food allergies and for a while, it worked and then not. Gluten especially comes with a whole host of symptoms including weight gain so not only am I feeling off most of the time, I've been losing and gaining the same weight repetitively which is unbelievably frustrating especially when I consider the total amount. What a lovely number that would have been - VBG.

The thing is I'm not trying to lose weight. It's fine but if I do, I'd like it to stay off and not come back because it's way too hard on any kind of wardrobe plan to keep changing sizes and frustrating beyond belief to keep sewing clothes that don't fit. What I want from eating is to feel healthy, energetic, and well and what I want from exercising is to feel toned and flexible. SO... if that's not working, a change is needed.

Since I have no one to blame but myself, I'm not going to complain about either the symptoms or the weight any further other than to say I'm not happy, I don't want to sew clothes in a larger size, and I already have a minimal wardrobe with practically nothing to wear so I need a solution... quick.

Cue the dress solution.

Actually, the dress and the trampoline solution.

I originally started exercising with a trampoline after my first child and have revisited this plan off and on for years. It works great only I don't like exercise equipment sitting in the middle of the room and I rarely have storage space nearby for the trampoline when not in use. Shallow as it might seem, exercise equipment is not pretty and I don't do ugly décor BUT...

... with the studio changes, the trampoline fits perfectly into my new stash closet so I've pulled it out of storage, screwed on the legs, and yesterday I started running on it instead of the floor. The bounce adds an additional element. It's a LOT more work which should be good for gaining flexibility. I'm slotting tramp work back into the schedule where running was before and plan to get back on track with exercise and with eating, especially with avoiding gluten. On Saturday, Howard leaves for two weeks in Guatemala so I'll mainly be feeding myself which should make it easier to get a good start however...

... what to wear...

... it's only polite to put on clothes in the morning...

... which brings me back to the dress solution. A dress is simply a top with longer side seams, a bit more sewing time, slightly more fabric, and equally great results. When Carolyn talked in her posting about wearing a dress with a cardigan more often than any other combination, I realized that dresses could get me through the hot months of summer and bridge the space between the size I was and the size I'll be while I'm working on the food and exercise issue.

Both of the Vogue 8817 and Vogue 8691 t-shirts look fabulous on. They give me shape without clinging to and highlighting any issues so I'm going to lengthen them to dresses. Yesterday, my friend Patti brought over Vogue 8871 and it's equally wonderful and - more importantly - all three make me feel pretty and slim and that's highly motivating to any eat and exercise plan. Since I need all the encouragement I can get, I'll start with these three...

... and then possibly McCall's 6264, a basic sundress with shaping through the side and back seams and/or McCall's 6696, a more fitted dress but with cup sizing and easy to alter using my fitting shell. I'm debating Vogue 8665. I've liked this dress for a long time only it doesn't come with cup sizing and I don't want to spend my time making fitting shells so it depends how easy the alterations would be. I want real, wearable, flirty, flattering, fun to sew, make it through the summer, throw it on like a t-shirt, comfortable dresses with equally fun cardigans and a plan for skirts, pants, and more fitted garments in the fall. YES YES!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a plan


  1. I like your plan; it sounds doable and enjoyable.

    1. Thanks. I think it will be too... when I get started. Right now, I'm finishing a t-shirt that I'd cut out before I left for my daughter's house and thinking about different fabric combinations and possibilities.

  2. This is one of your posts that I find myself nodding along with, just like a crazy bobble head doll or something. I agree with you about: seeking a new style rather than a faded version of one's old one, dresses as a great solution for changing/uncertain body shapes, avoiding gluten if it doesn't work for you (definitely does not for me), finding exercise that works for you. All of the patterns you listed look great for your goals!

    1. Thanks for nodding along. It's nice to have company. The gluten thing especially is difficult. The only part of that I'm looking forward to is feeling significantly better.

  3. I understand the days of just not feeling right. I have osteoarthritis in my right shoulder and some days it really acts up (like the last 2 days) and I have a really hard time even getting started.

    Your idea of turning already fitted tops into dresses is something I've been doing for a couple years now. That's one of the ways I got my TNT count so high! V8691 is a perfect choice. Because it's already a bit longer the hip width is there unless you want it a little fuller. Now all you need is length.

    1. Exactly - you're not terrible but you're not good. Everything is slightly off. I hope you're feeling better soon.

      I agree that V8691 will be lovely as a dress. I'm debating knee length in a stretch lace with tights underneath... maybe... if I can manage not to feel like I'm playing dress-up. Could be fun.

  4. I'm a member of the dress and cardigan club. It is hot and humid during the summer and wearing a dress makes it more bearable. I'll be working on dresses after I finish my summer 6Pac. I use PMB so it is easy to re-draft a top into a dress and just print it out.

    1. PMB would make it really easy. I'm hoping that having the TNT already developed and just lengthening it will be just as good.


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