Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Distracted by Sewing!

While I have been painting, I have been trying to think of what I will be doing with all my fabric, when I return to it. My pal Mary has been a big inspiration towards a solution because she did a dye/shibori workshop at Arrowmont last month and had oodles of beautiful things to share. I have a lot of pretty-pretties too. But how to use them? Clothing! I love the stuff I see from Marketplace of India, so comfy, practical and features great fabrics. Why not make something from my stash that takes advantage of what I already have?
These are just two of the ideas I have been trying to make from patterns that have fallen short of being just right.
 First I thought I would try this top, which I have made before, back in the early 2000's.  I think it was a knit I used, and it just didn't feel right in woven cotton. Binding in the armpits. Not free and comfy like the tunic or pullover top above. Back to the drawing board.


I looked at this pattern and thought it was perfect but it called for shoulder pads which is a clue that the shoulders would be too billowy and it didn't include sleeves, so I decided against it. The I looked at this little pattern I found at Goodwill for $.69. It has the drop shoulder, but no shoulder pads, and it has sleeves, and two lengths and pockets. Hmmm. I wanted a button down front, which is easy to do, and while it looks like there is a piece across the midriff, it is just a shaped belt that is tacked on, not part of the dress at all.

 I drafted a pattern and gave it a button front with a rounded neckline and cut it out of some Brandon Mably fabric that I had prewashed and it is now ready to assemble. Fingers crossed.
If this is the right fit, and shape, I will then start designing a garment with multiple fabrics. Stay tuned.


  1. I wish you the best of luck in your clothing adventure, Melody. I used to make much of my wardrobe, but after purchasing pattern, material etc, and having a OK-to-wear-but-not-exactly-right result, I realized that if I had tried on the same garment ready-made at a store, I would not have purchased it...so why would I purchase it AND spend time making it? You will do better, I'm sure.

  2. Karen in Iowa2:34 PM

    I, too, have been thinking along the same lines--lots of shibori-dyed fabrics and wouldn't it be fun to wear them? My problem would be trying to fit them as I am much smaller than I used to be but probably proportioned a bit differently. I have found some small pattern companies but the patterns are pricey. So, the pondering goes on. My new idea is to dye some things from Dharma so I wouldn't have to sew. Not that I mind sewing, I'd just rather be making pillows, wall pieces and quilts. I have no doubt that you will come up with something very stunning quite soon!

  3. There seems to be nothing you can't do!

  4. I wonder whether it might be worth sending your measurements away to one of those companies that draft a pattern especially for you? I haven't done that myself though... I lay my favourite garments on top of thin interfacing and cut carefully around them and use that as a pattern.

  5. Anonymous7:00 PM

    It may be a pattern issue, rather than a sew-ist or body issue!

    When I was in high school/college, I could usually sew up a pattern straight from the envelope and have a reasonable fit. By my thirties, I didn't fit patterns out of the envelope, and I still don't...sigh. And I don't fit in most ready-to-wear tops either (and therefore dresses, jackets, etc...), although I can usually find at least some pants that fit, and the occasional skirt (but I want my pockets, dag-gone-it!). Patterns are, mostly, drafted for a young, slender figure with about a b-cup sized bust - not many to be found drafted for the bigger or more mature figure...some of the independent pattern companies have patterns for other body types. Part of the "trick" is finding which patterns are closer to your body type, and then finding your typical adjustments.

    With a few adjustments, my home-sewn tops fit better than RTW even if they aren't perfect! I usually choose my size from my high bust measurement (to have neck/shoulders closer to the correct size for me), and then do a full-bust-adjustment (high bust 38", full 42" - if I used the size for 42" neck and shoulders are over-large, and I've found FBA is an easier adjustment for me...). Depending on the pattern and the results of the full-bust adjustment, I then may need to also adjust some for my front waist (as I carry extra weight in front) and hips. Also, I often need to adjust sleeves for bigger than pattern biceps and forearms.

    Today I'm wearing a top from one of last year's Ottobre Women magazine patterns - a twist front knit tunic - which fit without an FBA (Usually I need one, this has enough ease built in to work without it, yay!) plus widening sleeves at bicep level (and cutting for a short sleeve length). I've also had luck with Jalie patterns (but still need my "usual" adjustments), some of Simplicity's with bust-cup-sizing, and a sprinkling of other independents (some are available as pdf downloads).

    So, don't give up yet! Do check measurements - yours compared to the pattern's body measurements, AND compared to the finished garment measurements...but it's also worth taking the time to measure the pattern pieces at key points (subtract seam allowances!) before any cutting - sometimes the finished measurements don't match the pattern. And think about your preferred amount of ease in clothing. You can also compare to clothing which fits reasonably well.

    --Jean Marie

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