Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Every Time I Go Shopping

This week just keeps getting busier and I'm not complaining because I like being active, getting together with friends and family, and doing things BUT... I really need some clothes - especially tops - SO...

... yesterday I went shopping and bought four plain t-shirts, one printed t-shirt, two dressier knit tops, and a purple cardigan. At one store, I bought size small and at the other size large. Size is such a strange thing - just a number - and yet....

The plain t-shirts are 100% cotton selling for $15.00 each. A similar cotton fabric at Fabricland is $30.00 full price. Even if I bought it at 50% off, each t-shirt would cost $22.50 and although a me made t-shirt would fit better, the ones I bought were less expensive and came already sewn and fit pretty good considering. It works and that's good because I was feeling under tremendous pressure to quickly churn out at least a half dozen t-shirts and that's not how I like to sew.

I started sewing Vogue 8886. One thing I like about this pattern is the position of the princess seams. They end at the front and back neckline which means the entire armhole and shoulder is on one pattern piece. That's a lot easier if you're typically making a narrow back and a narrow chest adjustment like I am. Above is the original neckline. The shape is not as wide and deep as the diagram on the pattern envelope leads you to imagine. It's more of a ballet neckline.

The pattern piece on top in the image above is my T & T t-shirt front with a scoop neckline. This is the widest neckline I wear and as you can see, when I match the center front and shoulder points, the T & T neckline is actually wider than the Vogue neckline. If I wanted to switch to this shape, I'd trace the lines of the T & T neckline onto the Vogue pattern pieces and eliminate those parts of the original pattern.

In this image, the pattern piece on top is the McCall's 6035 collared shirt. Again, I've matched the center front and shoulder points and - as you can see - the Vogue pattern has a higher but wider neckline. If I wanted to...

... transfer the McCall's neckline to the Vogue pattern, I'd trace the lines as shown in this last image and then fill in the spaces on each pattern. The princess seam would now end at what looks to be a rather awkward point along the shoulder seam so the shape might need to be adjusted slightly either more toward the shoulder or more toward the neckline. Adding a buttoned center front to the Vogue 8886 top or dress could be an interesting variation.

Alison had asked how I would change the neckline and I replied that it was quite easy and then we realized we were talking apples and oranges in that I thought she meant before cutting out when she really meant after cutting out HOWEVER... because this neckline is quite high there are a few options that could be explored after cutting out as long as they involve lowering or widening the neckline as opposed to narrowing it. I cut the pieces out with the original neckline but not the collar and once I have them sewn together I'll decide if I want to alter it in any way.

I agreed with Lois' opinion that unless the rest of the dress was significantly different from other princess seamed dress patterns it wasn't worth altering a new pattern as opposed to using one I've already worked with. Re-using a pattern takes the learning forward and helps me to improve my skills garment to garment plus opens up creative possibilities. That's the wonder of T & T patterns.

I have - like I'm sure many of us have - a LOT of patterns, most of which have not been sewn. Many were bought as research into a technique or shape or to transfer style lines to my T & T patterns. Quite a few were bought because they had A/B, C & D cup sizing. The full bust options make everything so much easier that - if I like a pattern that comes with cup sizing - I buy it just in case.

What prompted me to look at this pattern was the princess seams and the cup sizing and then when I  looked at it closer, I liked the position of the princess seams and the complete armhole as I mentioned earlier. I also liked the size range. I have wide hips and my back hip measurement is even wider than my front hip measurement so I typically determine my size and then go up one for the back pattern piece and down one for the front. This size range on this pattern goes up to a 24 which means I can use a 20 in front and a 24 in the back and it works well. I find it interesting that I am on the edge of pattern sizing because I'm not a tiny woman but neither am I a heavy woman. I'm "average" to use a word I'd rather not apply to myself. It seems to me that a lot of woman would be smaller than the smallest size in a pattern range and a lot of women would be larger than the largest size and that's really quite frustrating when we want sewing to be fun.

On the subject of size... just yesterday I bought small garments, large garments, and cut out the largest size for my hips and the smallest size (in that envelope) for my bust. It points out how one person can be so many different sizes and how size is so irrelevant, a number, BUT... even so we have to utilize those numbers and deal with them. My choice is to sew the majority of my clothes and to dress for my figure with a well constructed garment that fits and flatters. Even so...

... size is a subject that comes up almost every day in some way. I'm mostly okay at ignoring the numbers but occasionally those critics like to point out that perhaps I'm a little too fluffy  - like when I read pattern reviews. I really Really REALLY appreciate these reviews because they make sewing a pattern so much easier when you're aware of the pitfalls in advance. I also appreciate seeing the garment on someone with my figure type only... the sizing is difficult. I will think that the woman looks like she's about my size and then I'll read the review and see that she cut out... say a fourteen... for a slim fitting dress.... only my hips are nowhere near a fourteen... and I can start to think about how "fat" I am BUT... the thing is... I could say I was a fourteen if I meant only the upper body measurement so sometimes I wonder how valid that number is and I'm grateful when people are honest because it's incredibly helpful HOWEVER...

... I've learned to read the reviews for the technical and drafting information and to (mostly) ignore those numbers because in the end a garment that fits me well, no matter the size, will be more flattering than one that is too tight or too large especially if it's also a garment with color, texture, style lines, and personality that matches mine. YES YES - the great advantage of sewing.

Every time I go shopping, I am reminded of how thankful I am to sew. If a little tweaking will improve a garment considerably, I can do that and it's a FABULOUS skill to have. Yesterday, I overheard a mother and daughter in the change room talking about how everything about that particular pair of pants was wonderful except that they were too long. Because of the extra length, they weren't going to buy them because they couldn't hem the pants themselves and they weren't willing to pay to have them hemmed. It's such a gift that we sew.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - finding some RTW clothing that will work and taking the pressure off to sew faster than I want to.


  1. The perfect size (number) is the one that fits you best :-) Good for you for buying the shirts - as you said, they are already made, and if they are good enough, then carry on doing what you love to do, which is create :-)

    1. Exactly. Interesting how it takes us (or at least me) a long time to really see that truth and then it works quite well. I'm glad I found t-shirts that work. The four even have 3/4 sleeves. All of them take the pressure off so I can really enjoy what I'm creating. This is good.

  2. Oh, I hear you. Everytime I go shopping - and I do like shopping - I am happy to know that I am not at the mercy of RTW slopers.

    1. I used to enjoy shopping when I was much younger and then I disliked it because nothing fit and then I disliked it because what I loved I couldn't afford and now I'm more of a snoop shopper looking for ideas and rarely a shopping for clothes I intend to wear person and that's a nice perspective. I'm also more realistic about why garments aren't going to fit me and why I'd prefer to sew them. All good learning and at least I can enjoy shopping on some level again.

  3. I definitely feel there are some things I'm just not going to make for myself - some because it's too much time and effort (bras, jeans), and some because I can find RTW that fit and are reasonably priced (underwear, jeans).
    That way I can focus on making what I like and/or can't find in the stores (at least not the stores I can afford!) - interesting skirts, basic pants in colours other than khaki and navy, princess seamed tops.

    1. LOL - and I enjoy the challenge of sewing bras and jeans. My bras fit like my favourite RTW - because I cloned it - but I can have more variety in color and pattern which is fun - more pretty. My jeans fit better, so do panties and again - like the bras - I can have prettier, nicer ones. I like that although it's been a while since I sewed jeans, bras, or panties. The thing I purchase more often than anything else is sweaters.

      I can't afford the clothes I'd be interested in buying and I'm not much interested in buying the clothes I can afford so unless I find a good sale, typically sewing is so much better and far more interesting as you're saying.

  4. Re: that last paragraph: I am saddened every time I overhear that kind of comment, Myrna. Hopefully it isn't too late to reverse this trend of willful ignorance toward practical skills. Sewing is just a small example, unfortunately. I don't suppose either mother or daughter uttered, "I would love to LEARN to sew..."?

    1. Yes. I wish more people would realize the value of knowing how to make a few simple alterations. I do think more women are wanting to sew again and certainly the fabric stores are busier than even five years ago but there's a way to go. The growing trend toward less is more and mend and make do could help.


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