Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Fat Finger Crayons

Last time Jessica visited, she sewed a really cute pair of rompers for her son. This time, she worked on a bunting bag. Minus the legs and plus a zipper, it was a similar configuration and a good next step.

I love watching her sew. She has an attention to detail and an awareness of the fabric than many sewists don't have after years and years - like it's innate - plus the most graceful hand movements - perhaps from years of piano practice, perhaps innate as well.

Only she's quite picky. This should not surprise me from the girl who got upset with the fat finger crayons because she couldn't see the point clearly enough to color completely inside the lines. I thought she'd gotten over that - LOL. As she explains, she's an accountant. She likes things lined up and orderly. I thought the bunting bag was perfectly fabulous for a second project. She wants a neater edge around the neck and arms so we're adding a black binding.

Jessica brought along the clothes I sewed for her last month so we could fine tune the fit. The skirt was great although she'll need a smaller size next time. One top - Vogue 8691 - was way too short and needed more room through the bust so we ended up cutting across it and treating it like a muslin. Another - Vogue 8817 - needed the sides taken in 2" each. Next time, we'd eliminate the band across the front and we're not sure about the tunic length. I think she should try tights. She says definitely not. Skinny jeans then.

This top - Vogue 8323 - fit the best. When I drafted the pattern, I added 1/2" to the front waist at the side seam and at the princess seams for an additional 3" of ease and then took in the princess seams 1" each eliminating 4" of ease which basically means I can go back to how it was drafted with a bit more curve through the princess seams. We reshaped the neckline to be lower. I'll change that on the pattern. Next time, she'd prefer elbow length or short sleeves but she's willing to live with this length for now. The princess seam is armscye. We'd prefer shoulder so I'll adapt that for next time as well. Otherwise, it's pretty good and fits her well, especially through the back. I'll copy this armhole shape with a little more fine tuning.

She hated having these pictures taken. She's as self conscious in front of the camera as I am. We do it for the blog, to share and encourage.  LOL... well... actually... that's why I do it. She finally let me take her picture because I nagged her into it and said the blog would really like to see how the tops looked, please, please, please - VBG.

Jessica made an interesting observation. She said, I look better with more shape through the bust and some tummy showing rather than no shape and no tummy. YES YES YES - we can get so fixated on what we perceive as a flaw that we forget to show off our assets. Everything is in hiding, even the good stuff. Frankly, I think most people are encouraged to see someone looking gorgeous but not perfect - just like themselves - and are looking much higher up. They want to see our face.

Jessica has a lovely bust line, gorgeous skin, a beautiful smile, sparkling eyes, and a collection of statement necklaces that her mother would love to get her hands on - LOL - even if she isn't wearing one in this picture.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a good fitting basic to work forward from

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The What Works Observations

My daughter and grandson went to visit a friend about an hour and a half north of us yesterday so I spent some time in the studio working on the OOP Vogue 1113 Lynn Mizono jacket.

What I liked about this design was the architectural elements, especially the collar and cuffs. There's not much shape. The design is a combination of three big pieces of fabric and some facings. I chose a sweater knit to see if more drape would make it more approachable. By eliminating the seam down center back and cutting on fold, I saved half a meter of fabric which is good because I have enough left to sew a trumpet skirt that'd be gorgeous for winter.

There are stop and start stitching marks at the end of the shoulder seams to allow for the facings. Note in the diagram above how you'd need to pull the fabric to match up the notches on the underarm seam. Observe on the pattern envelope how the shoulder sits and how the sleeve hangs.

When you smooth out the shoulder seam, the underarm seam is twisted and when you smooth out the underarm seam, the shoulder is twisted. It doesn't seem like it's going to work and yet...

... on Millicent, it hangs quite well. In the image above, the shoulder and underarm seams are stitched and pressed open and the sleeve facings are stitched, trimmed, pressed, and turned. This was far enough for me to see that even though the softer fabric made a substantial difference, this is not the style for me. It's fun and it's too much fabric which is about what we all expected. 

There's enough fabric in these big pieces to cut up and sew something else however... before I do that... I thought I'd offer the partially sewn jacket, the remaining facings, and the pattern for $20.00 plus the cost of shipping. If there's any interest, I'll mail it. If not, I'll take it apart. It's cut in a size eight with a 15 3/4" center back length. My full bust is 39" and there's plenty of room.

These six patterns have been a fabulous learning experience. I've discovered that peplums are no longer for me. While they flattered the last time around - when I was younger - I think - I hope - they now make me feel like some weird combo of fat lady and little girl. So no more peplums even if they're hidden in a jacket shape like Vogue 8767 that I think I can make look good on me by using a softer, sweater-like fabric. NO - don't go there.


I've observed that skirts with any kind of volume at the hip or significant width through the waist like the Vogue 1333 skirt is way too much fabric while at the same time many of those details could look better on a dress with flow from shoulder to hem like the Vogue 1297 dress. Keep it smooth from shoulder to hip and play near the hemline.

I've reconfirmed that raglan sleeves do nothing to flatter my figure even if all the other details of the design are right. It's way too much fabric under the arm. When I get the pattern back, I'll try tracing a different arm shape onto OOP McCall's 6286 because the waist and front opening were fabulous.

I'm learning to keep in mind that large pieces of fabric are unlikely to be flattering whether they're in the lower garment or the upper garment. More seams equals more shape and closer to the body is better. The Vogue 1113 jacket does not matched that criteria. Too much fabric is still too much fabric even if it's pretty, soft, and draping.

Only a third of the six patterns worked out well. They are the two above - Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1297 dress and Marcy Tilton's OOP Vogue 8397 pants. Both are closer to the body from shoulder to hip and have smoother, lower, architectural moments. With the pants, I'm wearing Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 top which has been a highly successful for me. I've sewn numerous tops and one dress from this pattern. You can see the commonalities between it and the other two.

I have a few other projects I want to work on first and then I'm going to try choosing another six patterns based on the what works observations from these six to see if I can find that magic mix of details and shape... or at least up my odds.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two new garments I really like and a list of thoughts to consider

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Not Exactly Like RTW

Some of the techniques I use regularly, I've been using for so long that I'm not completely sure where I learned them. Some are from a singular instructor and some are a hybrid of tips learned from several instructors. The method I use for the hems on knit garments is - I think - a combination of learning from Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton.

I start by cutting - from yardage - 1" strips of fusible knit with the stretch going the long way. This allows the hem to move with the garment. The strips are fused to the hemline. I serge the edge simply to be neat. It's not a necessary step. If you don't have a serger, you can still use this technique. If you wanted to finish the edge in some way, you could zigzag over it.

The hem is stitched from the front with a twin needle and a walking foot. Because of the interfacing underneath, the surface is firmer, the threads don't dig in, and the walking foot moves the fabric along without bunching under the needle. On the front, I get a nice, even stitch... with no tunnel... using a regular machine. I've used this technique for a long time with great success. The secret is the interfacing.

When sergers came out on the market, I got one right away and LOVED it. When coverstitch machines came out, I waited a while, finally bought one, and then returned it. At some point in the future, I may get another one if I can be convinced that they are worth the space they take up but not right now. Right now, it is too much bother to pull the machine out of the cupboard for what I see as a singular function. I know others disagree with me and that's okay. For me, it's a lot easier to simply put in a double needle, re-thread the machine, and sew but I am aware that my background in textile art makes changing thread no big deal. I did it constantly.

I like the techniques that I use on knit garments. They look neat and professionally done even though they're not exactly like RTW. Years ago, I remember someone asking me if I had sewn what I was wearing because it looked better than anything they could have bought. THAT is a fabulous compliment. I hate when people say you'd never know as if I was trying to hide the fact that I sewed this garment or am ashamed that I couldn't afford RTW. Occasionally I buy RTW if it fits, if it's the right color, if I actually like it, but that's really REALLY rare. For me, it's the other way around. I feel sorry for people who can't sew.

In her column Ramblings from the Goddess of the Last Minute in the June 2006 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, Robbi Joy Eklow writes:  I have a tendency to pet people on the arm if their sweater seems nice and fuzzy, too. The only things I don't go for in a tactile way are earrings, because that would seem too intimate and often the earrings are above my reach anyway. People who make art understand the compliment. I guess that I assume if someone is adorning themselves with art, they expect you to admire it close up, or at the very least, they won't mind if you do. People who don't make art on the other hand, sometimes find my comments alarming. I must admit, I have frightened a few people - like that woman in line at the airport ticket counter who was not happy when I practically shouted across the room, "That purse is fabulous! Did you make it." I keep forgetting that some people think if it looks handmade, it looks homemade and that somehow implies they can't afford store-bought or something like that. I don't quite get it. In my world, someone who can make something of beauty is truly gifted, and we are lucky if they share it with us by parading it around.

Making something of beauty takes time. It takes developing a solid skill set and the tools to do the job - especially well functioning, quality tools. Good scissors. Smooth pins. Quality needles. A well functioning sewing machine. A serger. And so on. Building skills and buying quality tools takes time and commitment and desire BUT... if you have a plan to learn, acquire the right tools, and practice, the results will show up.  You'll get better and better.

Sewing is a life long activity. There is always something to learn, always some way in which to improve. Right now, I'm fine tuning fit, upping the quality of my fabric, and looking for opportunities to be more creative. What are you working on?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the time and ability to sew and the never ending learning curve

Monday, August 19, 2013

Not Invisible But Definitely Wearable

As I was sizing pictures for today's post, I realized that I was one date too late to wish my brother a happy birthday. I used to be SO much better with not forgetting special occasions. I remembered just about everything. Not now. While there are some things I'm happy to have forgotten, there are others I never imagined I'd forget. Does that make me write things down? Nope.

Years ago, I was asked if I'd teach a woman to sew. She had an amazing studio and a large stash and remembered that she loved to sew only she'd had a stroke and had forgotten how to do the actual steps. I was young. In my early twenties. I had no idea how to handle a situation like that nor any teaching experience and could only imagine endless frustration for both of us so I said no. I've often thought about that request and wished I'd said yes. Who knows. One day I may need someone to re-teach me.

When we're young, we can't imagine what might come our way. When we're older, we realize how blessed we are by both the things that have come and the things that haven't come our way. Many of my best learning curves happened as the result of a negative experience. Not that I welcome negative experiences now but at least I'm aware of that perspective. One particularly difficult time changed how I sew. It made me way WAY less concerned with the final product and perfection and far FAR more interested in the process and creation.

One thing I've realized is that the pattern is simply a starting point, a recipe that you can alter to your own "taste". In the picture above, the white pattern underneath is my T & T t-shirt pattern and the line drawing above is the shoulder and armhole of the Vogue 1297 dress. Fit is really important to me and I don't want to keep reinventing the wheel. When I have a shape that fits well, I want to keep using that shape.

To trace the T & T lines to the Vogue pattern, I aligned center back and slide the patterns until the shoulder points touched and then I traced the lines from the T & T onto the Vogue pattern and used them. The Vogue pattern is sleeveless and the T & T has sleeves which explains why the armhole is higher on one than the other. I wanted to add sleeves. If I wanted sleeveless, I'd have raised the armhole an inch.

As you know from Friday, I eventually replaced the sleeves but I didn't know that was going to happen at the time. All I knew is that I had a limited amount of fabric and virtually no scraps left and that one of the sleeves was incomplete. Years ago, that would have been devastating and I'd have abandoned the entire project for the lack of a few inches. Since then, I've learned how to piece together what I want.

With some piecing, you can create an invisible pattern match across the seam. I didn't have a big enough piece of an appropriate scrap to do that and since this pieced section would be at the back underarm, I did my best.

I pinned a scrap in place and then flipped it open to make sure that when it was stitched there would be sufficient fabric to cut out the remainder of the sleeve and then....

... I stitched and pressed the seam, re-pinned the sleeve pattern, and cut out the rest of the sleeve.

And it worked. Not invisible but definitely wearable. A younger me wouldn't have been willing to wear this. She'd have felt that everyone could see her "mistake" and that her garment was less than "perfect". The now me finds it fascinating to find solutions to issues and would probably point out the "learning curve" as an opportunity to teach. I made it work. I think that's worth a celebration. And then, when I could make it work better, I sewed in another sleeve and I think that's worth a celebration too.

My daughter and grandson are visiting for the week. Here the guys are teaching Daimon how to not co-operate in pictures and here...

... he's showing us how he can touch his toes. LOL - I'm not sure I can do that anymore.

And I love this picture because I'm pretty sure I know exactly what my husband is thinking. With his health, he never expected to see forty, or fifty, or grand-parenthood and he's fascinated with this little guy and that he's here to be a part of it. YEAH.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the things I've happily forgotten

Friday, August 16, 2013

2 Out Of Five = 40%

Let's clarify. Just in case. Although the last three garments haven't worked out, I'm okay. They are beautifully sewn garments and I enjoyed that process. I just didn't like how they looked on me. Good. Enough.

This set of six was an experiment and I am - as Nancy and others pointed out - trying new silhouettes and learning new things. It's fun. I can see myself picking another six patterns and trying it again which only makes sense. Those patterns are in my drawer for some reason. There's some thing about them that attracted me and is worth exploring.

The take-away on the McCall's blouse from yesterday was how beautifully it fit through the waist and hips with that angled opening at the front. As Pearl suggested, I can transfer that shaping to another style with a more traditional sleeve - when I get the pattern back - I sent it to Caroline too. She already has it but this way she can trace the alterations I made to her own copy.

The side drape on Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1297 dress is a big huge rectangle. It's the exactly identical rectangle in all sizes which seemed disproportionate to me. Someone smaller will be dwarfed and someone larger might require more drape. While I was tracing the shape, the thought occurred to me that I typically prefer patterns with many small pieces as opposed to large pieces. More seams. More opportunities to fit. More built in shape. Usually more success.

And now, I'm thinking that it depends on where the big shapes are going because this looks pretty good. The center portion is fitted - although - for full disclosure - I took an inch in on each side seam. My fabric had more stretch than recommended. Next time, I'd use Peggy Sager's trick for deciding on your size which is to wrap the fabric around you to a comfortable fit. Mark where the edges meet. Measure the distance between. And sew that size. In this case - with this fabric - I'd have gone down several sizes. With another fabric, the size I traced may have been perfect.

When I took the side seams in, I started stitching on the drape, went further into the body, up and over the underarm, and merged with the original seam part way down the sleeve nearer the hem. That was a mistake. I should have taken the sleeve out, adjusted the side, and set the sleeve back in especially as...

... I was working with extremely limited amounts of fabric and only just barely squeaked two sleeves out by piecing one - which is a discussion I'm saving until next week to tell you about - because there will be little sewing. Two of my favourite people are coming for the week and I'll be chatting with my daughter and snuggling my grandson however...

... although my daughter was willing to go to the Fabriclands near her home and try to find me more of this fabric because both of them had it last time I was there, I popped out to ours hoping to find a remnant. And I did. And right after this picture was taken, I took the sleeves out and inserted new ones with a bit more bicep width and now, I really LOVE THIS DRESS which is fitted from shoulder to hip with details mainly at the hem. Hmm... where have we heard that before?

So this ups my average. 2 out of 5 = 40%. I'm not sure the Lynn Mizono jacket is going to improve this ratio but I am going to give it a try next.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my son is resigning from his job today and looking for a starting position toward becoming a parts person in the Commercial Transport and Mining & Forestry industry. It's time and a good decision but still change. I would be grateful for any prayers that this would be a smooth and quick transition. Howard has put some feelers out and there has been both a positive response to the possibility of hiring his son and to the fact that Kyle has management training at McDonalds which is - after all these years - still a good reference.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Horse Is A Dress

The blouse is finished... sort of. It has no buttons. When I tried it on to confirm the button placement, it fit BEAUTIFULLY through the waist and hips, nicely over the bust, and horribly through the underarm and shoulders. Raglan sleeves are not for me. The collar is lovely. It is - however - too wide for me. As we determined with the skirt, I seem to both look and feel better in clothing that is closer to the body.

When I told my son that I'd sewn three garments in a row that didn't work out he said, That sucks. You've really hit rock bottom now Mom. Not only are you allergic to the fabric, you can't sew anything either. Yes... well... hmm... so this is what rock bottom looks like in a sewist's life - LOL. He then said there's no where to go but up and to get back on my "horse".

I sent a picture to Caroline and she replied with I LOVE THAT ! ! ! ! can you send it to me so it's on its way up north... to my friend... who looked better in the other two (of the three wadders) as well. This is NOT a good trend. It is not my intent to sew for Caroline. I'd prefer to sew for me. LOL - I sent the Vogue 1333 skirt too!

HOWEVER... in case you think it was all bad... I did get a few pictures of happy "events". You'll have to trust me on this. It's a bit like an infomercial. This is the edge of the sleeve cuff before hammering. It measured 3/8".

And this is the edge after hammering (with a press cloth over top). It measures 1/4". I know it looks like I'm holding it down but I'm not. I'm just trying to figure out how to hold the measurement tape and the camera and get the angle.

AND... this is the inside of the sleeve. It gives me a huge sense of satisfaction to see neat, well pressed seams. The cuff was hand stitched in place and then top stitched. I know some people would have skipped the hand stitching. I can't do that. I want the edges to line up and lay flat.

SO... of the six patterns I pulled to experiment with one was a success, three looked better on my friend, and there are two left to sew - Sandra Betzina's V1297 dress above and Lynn Mizono's OOP V1113 coat below. Lynn's coat is a long shot. I'm pushing the edges on that one. Sandra's dress has a fighting chance of looking good on me and since...

... we're going to a wedding in a few weeks and I'm not sure what I'm wearing yet and I could really use a success right now, I'll try it next. My "horse" is a dress ! ! ! I'm not sure what fabric I'll use yet. First, I'll trace the pattern and figure out how to add the sleeves from my T & T t-shirt. More later.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - I am rarely a quitter. This is good. I am grateful for perseverance - or stubbornness - whichever you prefer to call it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Have More Fun

Patti and I had our weekly get together yesterday. We met at her house and I stopped to pick up Starbucks on my way to avoid arriving empty handed. Other than the skirt discussion from Monday's posting, I had nothing to bring and - luckily - that's only the first time that's happened since we started meeting weekly last fall. Normally, I have at least one thing. Since we have a similar figure type, we both benefited from the feedback on the skirts.

When I thought about it further, I decided not to finish that M6286 blouse. I had already fused the interfacing but not cut out the collar or facings yet. It seemed silly to waste that effort and expense going forward with a garment that I already knew wasn't going to fit although - just to be sure - I did pull out my measuring tape and yes, I had lost an inch in the bust so definitely the FBA was not needed. Neither was all that hip room so I pinned and tucked and treated what I had as a muslin and then re-traced the pattern, adjusted it again, and re-cut the blouse.

Besides the fit factor, I wanted to have more fun and show off the style lines. There are eight darts, two seams between the center fronts and side fronts, and the raglan seam lines that were all calling out for top stitching plus I changed the sleeve to the 3/4 version and added the placket and cuff which also needed top stitching - with lime green - using a gorgeous King Tut 40-weight cotton thread - LOL - one of my favourite colors - and aren't these the perfect buttons to go with?

If you were to look at my sewing up close, you'd find that I'm neat and precise, that I use hand stitching when it will benefit and shortcuts where they make sense. I don't use a lot of fancy seam finishes unless I'm making an unlined jacket and they'll show. Mostly, I use a neatly serged and well pressed seam. I also avoid adding unnecessary bulk. The placket is one of those places. I cut a 1 1/8" bias strip, serged one edge, and stitched the opposite edge to the placket opening using a generous 1/4" seam.

Then I wrapped the bias strip around the seam allowance, pinned it in place, and top stitched in the ditch to secure the layers together.

This creates a neat - and as flat as possible - with one less layer because it wasn't necessary anyway - placket that I then chose to...

... top stitch in lime green. When I add the cuff, I'll use a hammer to flatten the extra bulk of the placket edge stitched to the seam allowance on the ends of the cuff. There will be eight instead of nine layers of fabric there. I learned the hammer tip from Sandra Betzina and Ron Collin's DVD on sewing jeans and use it anywhere there's bulk in a garment. It's fabulous. I keep a small, light-weight hammer in the studio just for me.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - although it's not the greatest contract, it is signed and the uncertainty and tension around Howard's work can now settle down. It took FOREVER.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Almost Like Winning The Lottery

What fun to get all that feedback yesterday on the skirts. THANK YOU so much. It's definitely given me a lot to think about. It's true that I feel much better in clothing that is closer to the body and it would seem that's because I actually look better in clothing that is closer to the body. Good to know. Must have something to do with all those curves and flowing around them instead of jumping curve to curve and creating more bulk. LOL - I think.

Some projects seem to come together quickly and others take forever. I'm working on the M6286 blouse. It has a cap sleeve with a raglan configuration, an unusual center front panel, a wide lapel collar, and a split opening at center front which really means it has a lot going on.

I had to re-cut the sleeve because I'd traced the dart at the shoulder incorrectly and didn't have enough fabric to shape it properly. After reading the reviews, I decided an FBA was really important, did one, started sewing, decided I'd done it in the wrong place, unpicked the pieces, re-drafted the FBA, re-cut and re-stitched the pieces and have now decided an FBA was most likely not even needed. This is the really slow version of slow sewing.

I asked Howard if he thought I'd lost some weight and he said a bit. Just a bit? In the last few weeks, I've lost almost ten pounds which is strange. Why so suddenly with not much effort but - that aside - it's always interesting to me how I proportion weight and how I lose and gain it. Typically my weight goes on my hips first and my bust last but comes off my bust first and my hips last however, unlike the typical ten pounds per size, I have to gain or lose twenty pounds to change sizes... except my bust... and I think that's what's happened here.

I think all of those pounds have come off my bust line. The measuring tape is telling me that a FBA was most likely not needed. I'll finish this top, see what I think, and decide if I'm sewing the pattern again. If so, I want to take a careful look at the darts in the back. They come right up to the underarm level and create a puffy back. I'd want to change that.  Unless it looks horrible on, I think I will sew it again. The pattern comes together nicely and it seems to be quite flattering.

I watched a few more episodes of the Craftsy course Fast Track Fitting and had to quit. It was starting to frustrate me especially when a key measurement like the center back length was not even taken. The how-to is very vague. The adjustment demonstrations are not based on real measurements. With some of her advice, there was a high potential for creating other issues such as with the armhole. The adjustment for the shoulder to bust point length was made not below the armhole but through the armhole which increases the length of the armhole and would then cause adjustments to the sleeve and potential disproportion between the front and back armhole. Just because you have a low bust does not mean you have a huge armhole.

Although there are plenty of "this is the best course ever" type comments, I wouldn't recommend it, especially not for a beginner who doesn't already have an understanding of pattern alteration. The reason I mention the course is that I have a lot of learning and experience with altering patterns and my success levels have been steadily increasing. I may not like a style on me but it's increasingly rare for a garment not to fit. That wasn't true at one point.

I highly recommend Lynda Maynard's book Demystifying Fit and her method of altering patterns based on a fitting shell. It is SO worth the work and has made such a positive impact on my sewing. It's not an easy book to read with its case studies but the information - pure gold - and combined with a fitting shell - almost like winning the lottery.

With the M6286 style of blouse, I wasn't sure how to use my usual altering methods because some of the reference points were substantially different. I made my best choices and now I'm making what is essentially a muslin. It may not fit me in the bust but it will fit me everywhere else and it will fit someone else. Good enough. It's been good learning to think the alterations through from a new perspective and - at the same time - reinforces how valuable all the learning I've done has been and how important my fitting shell has become to my sewing.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - feedback

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thousand Word Pictures

Before she left on Saturday afternoon, Caroline tried on my new skirt and like the jacket, it looked fabulous on her.  She went away with two realizations - that styles she'd never considered before could actually be flattering and that starting with too large a size and including far too much ease was making her rather gorgeous figure look dumpy instead of feminine. This is good.

On the other hand, it was not nearly so good for me to see how flattering the skirt was on her because face to face with the mirror, I had thought it looked fattening and after seeing it on slimmer hips, I was pretty sure it was fattening on my wider ones and then - after seeing the pictures - my conclusion was DEFINITELY fattening. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

It's not the skirt. It's the skirt on me or the way I feel in the skirt or that illusive combo of the two. You might find it lovely. The pattern is Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1333 sewn in an unknown fibre which appears to be a linen/rayon blend. To wash out the chalk lines, I threw it back in the washer and it shrunk some more. It was a shock but a happy one since it actually looked better smaller... but not better enough... I'm going to take it apart and make something else from the fabric. It's too yummy to waste.

Seeing those pictures, I wondered how other skirts that I think look great on me actually look in pictures. The skirt above looks better in the picture than the mirror. The skirt below looks better in the mirror than in the pictures. Picture talk can be slewed and it's still a most helpful tool.

Taking all these images was a real stretch for me. I'm not this comfortable in front of the camera but I wanted to know so I set up the tripod, wore the same t-shirt and shoes in each picture, and stood in roughly the same location. It's informative.

This is the linen skirt that I refashioned from a jumper that Diane had refashioned. I'd worn it all day before this pictures was taken and not only does linen stretch with wear, I've lost a few pounds. It looks big on me. As well, dark on the top and light on the bottom is definitely not my best combo. I love the skirt and it would be far more flattering in a darker color. What I see in this picture is the importance of bringing the details away from the hip line and of pegging the bottom more to give me shape like...

... Marcy's Vogue 8499 skirt. I have two versions of this skirt and wear them frequently. Next time, I might go down a size and shorten the skirt slightly however, I think this bell shape is much more flattering than the previous two. What do you think?

The next three skirts are slightly too tight. I could just barely get them on. A couple more pounds and they'll fit much better. This straight skirt is one of my favourite styles. With the narrower bottom, I think - and tell me if I'm wrong - that it shows off the curve of my hip and creates a long, lean line. Again, after seeing this image, I think it could be slightly shorter. Normally, I wear it with higher heels. The pattern is McCall's 3830, a basic pencil skirt.

This is my most favourite style - trumpet - sewn from a stretch denim. It is, as I said earlier, a bit too tight but even so, I think it's quite flattering. The pattern is Burda 8213 which I've sewn numerous times in everything from knits to casual woven fabrics to silk dupioni to lace.  Quite a few of the patterns in my stash are variations on this theme.

I don't normally wear short skirts without tights or pantyhose as my legs are not my best feature which means I wear longer skirts in summer and shorter ones in winter and that works. That said, I wasn't putting on tights so you're getting the bare leg version. This is my favourite short skirt style hemmed just above the knee which is - I think - a flattering length. Again, let me know. It's McCall's 5523. The back...

... is very fun - view D with two lower back flounces. The fabric is a stretch woven which is why it's doing such a good job of following my curves. I haven't worn the Sandra skirt in public however, I get frequent compliments when I wear any of these other skirts.

I am short waisted. Recently, I've started to think more specifically about how that impacts garment and style choices and choices like a dress versus a skirt with a top. The topic came up because of an interesting observation. The skirt above was sewn from Sham's tutorial which was based on a dress her friend had seen in a store that was similar - if not identical - to Vogue 1312. The skirt....

... looks incredibly fattening while the dress gets numerous compliments and feels fabulous on. Above is the muslin. The actual dress was sewn from a knit with less ease, a V neckline, and 3/4 sleeves but I don't have a picture of me wearing it.

Realizing that fuller skirt details seem to look better on my figure when attached to a bodice makes me wonder if the pleated overlay on the Sandra skirt would look better if it was one element of a dress and not a separate skirt or if it was over a slimmer skirt. As a dress, it would have similarities to Vogue 1297 which is on my sew list only it needs a knit fabric and I don't have a suitable cotton or linen knit in stash. It would be similar to the RTW dress below.

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about curvy figures and fussier styles with fussy meaning things like the pleats in the Vogue 1333 skirt. Of course, there are degrees of fussy. I'm experimenting with possibilities. Many styles I think are attractive are not so attractive on me and - just as before  - what I see is that my preferences come back to less fussy and more clean lines, simple shapes, texture, and streamlined details as well as softer fabrics with drape.

Perhaps I should stop experimenting - since wadder after wadder can be demoralizing BUT... probably not. Experimenting seems to be part of my sewing DNA and I like to try what tickles and see what happens. You never know.

Right now, I'm working on a McCall's 6286 blouse from a light-weight denim. It's proving a challenge as I don't normally work with raglan sleeves and this design has an unusual center front panel and doesn't contain useful information like the center back length. I have had to think through my usual adjustments in new ways and I'm not sure that the choices I made while prepping the pattern are correct... but I'm having fun anyway... and we'll see when I'm done.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - I really appreciate the private emails, encouragement, contact info, and book recommendations I've received for dealing with my allergies and chemical sensitivities. I've learned some valuable information that is, I hope, the answer. It won't be easy or quick but improved health is definitely worth working toward and I'm highly motivated.

Update - when our house guest moved in, we discussed our non-negotiable rules and that there would be no second chances and unfortunately, he is no longer living with us. We're all quite upset over his choices but not questioning the consequences. It's a tough learning curve for my soft hearted son and an eye opener into his own life on some levels.