Wednesday, March 13, 2019

#BoPoSew: My Style Journey

Go to Making the Flame for more #BoPoMarch and #BoPoSew.

I used to be thin. Beginning when I was still a child people would tell me that I was "one of those people who can eat anything and never gain an ounce." And for many years I believed it. Even when I started to notice that it wasn't true I could cut back on snacks for a week and lose five pounds as easily as I had gained it. This went on for about a decade - gain five pounds, lose five pounds. Then sometime in my early to mid thirties the weight I gained stopped coming off so easily. I went from a size 8 to a size 10. Then later to a size 12 and finally ending up at my current size(s) - 14 on the top and 16 on the bottom.

Even when I was thin I had a little belly fat and when I started to gain weight that's where I gained it first and most. I can't remember exactly when I bought my former favorite big shirt pattern. I was first attracted to it because it was easy to sew and comfortable but I soon discovered its value as concealing garment. I must have made at least a dozen of them. I wore them with RTW stretch pants and baggy pull-on pants that I made. It felt safe, something I could wear without having to think about it too much. It wasn't the only thing I wore but everything else I wore also tended to be loose and shapeless.

(This is one of those big shirts. Apologies for the odd, off center crop. I was standing next to my niece and while she's beautiful and I would love to show her off too I doubt she would approve.)

My transition away from baggy clothes started with New Look 6598. I saw it and wanted it but I believed I "couldn't" wear anything that was fitted and not long enough to cover my nether regions so it took me a long time to decide to actually buy the pattern and even longer before I worked up the courage to make it. It turned out to be only semi-fitted, loose fitting but with some shape, And I was surprised and pleased that I didn't hate it at all. I didn't immediately give up big shirts but I was happy to have another option.

Later I discovered New Look 6078 and this one was another surprise. Looking at the pictures on the pattern envelope I expected another semi-fitted blouse but it turned out to be close fitting and I wasn't disappointed. It has become one of my basic, go-to patterns. There are others, both fitted and semi-fitted but I'm not here to list all my pattern discoveries today. I have recently gone back to wearing some looser fitting long shirts and tunics but these are different, not huge and completely shapeless like my old big shirt pattern.

I also transitioned from baggy pants to something closer to "skinny jeans". And I re-discovered how much I love dresses and was pleasantly surprised to find that retro style dresses - fitted bodice with a gathered or flared skirt - suit me quite well. All these are exactly the kinds of clothes that the "experts" say are totally wrong for my body type but they make me happy and I am not 100% displeased with what I see in the mirror. (maybe still 30% displeased?) And that's what's important isn't it.

We all have to deal with shaming of one kind or another. There's no getting away from it. Some of the same people who preach against body shaming will shame you for what you eat or what you wear. We are shamed for clothes that are too revealing and for clothes that are too concealing. And it gets worse as you get older. Wear something "too young" and people say you need to learn to dress properly for your age. Try to wear what "they" say is age appropriate and they say it's "dowdy".

When we were kids we were taught the mantra, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Of course we know that's not true. Words do hurt but maybe "roll with the punches" would be a more useful cliche. We get punched down but we can get back up and carry on.

We don't really have to be personally shamed to feel shamed. It's all over the Internet - people telling us what we should and should not wear based on weight and body type and some of it is even intended to be helpful. It's never going to stop. All we can do is try to ignore it and wear whatever makes us happy. If you see something you like try it and then decide.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A Fun, Colorful Shirt

I saw these two fabrics sitting next to each other at the store and they looked so good together I immediately got an idea what to do with them. I don't have a lot of time to post this so I won't gush about how much I love it or obsess over its minor flaws. Just the details. It's New Look 6078 with the sleeves, collar, and button band of Simplicity 1538 with a yoke that I added on top of it.

And the back

And a close-up of these adorable fabrics

Monday, March 4, 2019

#BoPoMarch: The Avon Lady

If you don't know what BoPoMarch is let Ebi tell you all about it. I have planned two blog posts for the event. The second one will be about me. This one is about one of the most beautiful women I have ever met.

I'll call her Ms.P. We worked at the same large facility in the early 90s but we didn't work together. It's possible our paths might never have crossed if she hadn't also been the Avon Lady. She was a large African-American woman with a medium-dark complexion. I can only guess her size - about an 18 or 20, I think. She had big hair that stood out from her head and fell to her shoulders. She wore what some would consider "too much" make up and perfume and dressed elaborately. She always wore loose, silky pantsuits with tops that fell to her knees, with long, flowing scarves and lots of big jewelry. Her nails were always artistically painted. She planned her outfits a week ahead and painted her nails to go with her outfits so one week she might wear purple all week, another week browns and golds, and another week, greens, and so on.

But her eccentric manner of dress wasn't the only thing, or even the main thing, that made Ms. P beautiful. She was also poised and graceful and one of the sweetest people I have ever known. She had a deep, gentle and cheerful voice. She always seemed genuinely delighted to see anyone who came to her office. She also had a great sense of and appreciation for romance. Of course not everyone admired her like I did but if she knew about the people laughing at her behind her back she never showed it in the least. She was confident and happy with who she was.

Never underestimate the importance of attitude as an element of beauty. Ms. P's style would not work for everyone and I doubt most women would be willing to go to that much effort every day. I know I'm not. But it's not necessary. Do your own thing. Rock your own style. Wear what makes you happy because happiness is beautiful.

One of the great things about knowing how to sew is that it enables us to dress any way we want to. Contemporary or classic, traditionally feminine or menswear inspired, make-up or no make-up, it doesn't matter. What matters is attention to detail, being well put-together and attitude. Arrogance, cynicism, rudeness, and hatefulness are ugly. Grace, kindness, cheerfulness, confidence - these are beautiful. Sometimes it's something you have to work at though, just like putting together an outfit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Colorful and Cozy

Who says winter has to be gray? I'm a huge advocate of bringing green (and other beautiful, fun colors) into the middle of winter.

This gorgeous fabric is a soft, warm, medium-heavyweight cotton flannel that I found at Wal-mart. (Yes, I know... but in this part of the country you really can't avoid Walmart and they do sometimes have some pretty decent fabric and occasionally, as in this case, way more than merely decent.) I used New Look 6963 and the sleeves from New Look 6598 because I wanted straight sleeves.

And I love it! It's too warm to wear indoors except on those really cold, overcast days when our house never really warms up very well. But I can also wear it as a lightweight jacket.

The buttons are 1 inch Dill buttons from

I am a big fan of Dill Buttons, not only for the quality and selection but also the best packaging. Easy open, no staples.

The black t-shirt (long sleeve) is from Duluth Trading Company and the jeans are made by me.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Scary Pants

Some time ago I got a wild and crazy idea. I wanted to make lounge pants (that's trousers to our friends on the other side of the big pond) out of minky! I didn't rush out. I took my time looking around. I thought maybe a paisley or an animal print, maybe a floral. Something crazy, you know? Then I saw this fabric and knew this was it. The name of the design is You Scare Me. Isn't that delightful?

I think the little creatures are supposed to be monsters but I think of them as space aliens. And no, I didn't pay any attention to the placement of the creatures. It's okay, they're just lounge pants.

The pattern? Well, I don't know because I couldn't find the pattern I started out with. It was just a starting point for several different styles of pants and I haven't used, or even seen, that original pattern in years. This time I made them a little looser, with a flat waistband (because I hate elastic waistbands for thicker fabrics) and made a pocket hidden closure. The buttons are just a pair of leftovers that I had.

And they feel so good! Too good. I'm going to be petting them all weekend. The husband hasn't seen them yet. He's going to have so much fun making fun of them but that's okay. That way we both get some happiness from them.

And yes, I will probably do this again. Maybe paisley next time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Last of 2018

Here it is - the last thing I sewed in 2018.

I bought the floral fabric about 6 or 7 years ago, I think, at the quilt shop in the little town where my mother lived. There was only a little over a yard of it left. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make of it and, feeling sentimental about it, I wanted whatever I made to be perfect. I liked what I did with McCall's 9065 last January and it seemed like the perfect solution for the problem of what to do with just a little fabric.

I found the dark green fabric to go with it at another quilt shop, one near me. Here is a close-up of the two fabrics.

And it did turn out perfect. I love it. I made two minor changes: I made it slightly longer and I added side vents. Okay, maybe those aren't really perfect.

I love these fall colors and I'm a little sad that fall is past but I'm not strictly seasonal with the colors I wear so I will wear it again before next fall.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wait! What? It's 2019?

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone. I have been sewing and I have one new thing that I want to show off but I haven't got around to photographing it yet so, first a review of 2018 sewing. I set a goal (not a resolution) to sew at least 12 things using fabric that's been in my stash for at least two years and to use at least four of my unused patterns. If I count the garment that I photographed but never blogged and the one I still need to photograph that's 11 for the fabric goal. And the pattern goal? Um... one. But I'm not really bothered that I didn't meet my goals. I don't really like sewing according to a long term plan. I like sewing whatever I'm in the mood to sew. But it did make me think about what I was sewing and using up older stash so I guess that's a good thing?

And about that stash. My mother never built up a huge stash so the idea of having a stash wasn't something I grew up with and the more fabric I acquire the more guilty I feel about it. But you know, I've been thinking. I'm lucky in that I can afford to buy lots of fabric. That will likely change sometime in the next ten years when we will have to start living on Social Security and our tiny retirement savings. Buying fabric will become a rare treat and I will be glad I built up a large stash. So I'm going to buy, buy, buy, and try not to feel guilty about it.

I am going to try to keep sewing some of the older stash and finally use some of those impulsively purchased patterns. But no set numbers this time. Just mood-based sewing.

* * * * *

I was going to post a favorites of 2018 review but looking back at what I've sewn I really can't. Everything I sewed and blogged about is a favorite. So I have decided to limit my 2018 favorites "list" to three things I sewed for other people.

First, this dress. I love these colors.

I think she liked it. She seemed happy about it when I gave it to her.

I sewed this adorable little dress back in May. (Sorry for the blurred face but you know how it is.)

She loves it and wore it a lot last summer. (I know... cowboy boots with a dress? But what can I say; we live in Oklahoma.)

And the kitten dress.

I know she has worn it at least once, probably more than that. She always seems to like what I make for her. I like it because of the kitten fabric (of course) and the pattern, and especially those awesome pockets.

Well that was three but I have one more. Call it an "honorable mention"? It's in the last post of 2018, the jacket I made for my husband and I like it because he likes it. It's not my best sewing but it feels like a big accomplishment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Still Here, Still Sewing

Oh my, it has been such a long time. For the past... something like two months, I have been working on what I started calling, "The Sewing Project From Hell." Not that it was especially difficult but things kept going wrong, entirely because I wasn't concentrating and did stupid things and that made me procrastinate. I would finish one step and then take two or three days off from sewing and then just one more little step and so on. Before that I finished a couple more of those little cotton knit cardigans and took pictures but the pictures turned out terrible and I never did get around to trying again.

Anyway, here's that project that took so long. I noticed that my husband complained a lot about the jacket he was wearing for working on the house and around the yard. The sleeves were too short, it was too warm, and so on. So I decided to make him a jacket that worked better for him. And finally, here it is.

I used an old shirt pattern and just added a lining. The outer shell is a medium-heavyweight denim. The lining is a fairly hefty flannel with satin sleeves.

I also added a couple of tabs in back that can serve as hammer loops. I sort of hate to show you this picture because my stitching is so terrible but it's functional. That's the whole point of the jacket so I'm not terribly bothered about this.

The most important thing is, he likes it and has been wearing it. I was worried about that because I have made shirts for him that he wouldn't wear and I could never figure out what was wrong with them because they were basically the same as other shirts I made that he did like. So that's another reason it was "The Sewing Project From Hell" - because the whole time I was working on it I was thinking, "Am I going to all this trouble for nothing?" But he likes it! Success!

* * * * *

Now I'm ready to make something for myself. Sort of like a reward, you know? But I decided to make some pants (trousers) and leggings for my granddaughter. I have a lot of leftover pieces of denim, twill, and cotton spandex knit that are just enough to make little person pants and it will be good to do something with those and get them out of the way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Early Fall Top

Here's the fabric...

And here's the tunic...

It's a McCall's 9065 with the same changes as this one from last year. I love it. This olive green is one of my favorite fall colors. The fabric was just two yards from the deep stash. I was originally going to make a different kind of top but I'm really loving this pattern.

Goal: Sew fabric that I have had for 2+ years at least once a month (or 12 times this year) 9/12

(Yeah, I know... not doing so good on the using new patterns goal.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Last Dress of Summer

I really hate that summer dress season is ending but here it is. Saturday is the official first day of fall so this will be the last dress I make in summer 2018.

I Frankenpatterned the heck out of this make and I absolutely freaking love it! The bodice is based on Simplicity 1803 but with no front seam and I laid pieces from Simplicity 1882 over it to get the neckline and I used the collar from that pattern and made it just a little bit wider. The skirt is a half circle. The pockets are from a very old skirt pattern. I traced and enlarged the pocket a long time ago and I haven't seen the original pattern in ages.

I love the colors in this fabric. It can work for fall too. There are several different color choices for cardigans to go with it, none of which I currently own. Yay, more shopping. The red shoes are Clark's Cloud Steppers.

I added this lovely vintagey looking button (new, not actually vintage) and darn it; it's not straight.

I love it but I think I might look for a round button to replace it.

Now take another look at that first picture. That open rectangle to my right, on the left side of the photo... that's the window of my future sewing room, looking out on our lovely front yard. (We are planning to move the old broken down glider chair to the back porch.)