I have been sewing and sewing my friends. Sewing my little heart out on my super secret surprise. It’s taking a surprisingly long time to finish my little surprises. There have been unanticipated hiccups, longer than anticipated processes and constant tinkerings. The old adage to test your stitches on each new fabric has proven itself over and over again.
While I am pleased to be working on my super secret surprise, I am missing my dressmaking. I am missing working on something for me to wear. After my recent realization that I am getting fat and crabby sassy, I thought I would be thankful for the break from sewing for myself and my TNT resistant body.
But I must be more “selfish” than I thought because I miss sewing something for myself. Although I love the holiday season, I almost can’t wait for it to be over so I can get back to making dresses and skirts.
Jack and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family and my best friend Cayce. Yesterday, we put up our Christmas tree. Jack was extremely helpful; I loved seeing him have a strong opinion as to where each ornament should be placed. He seemed to favor the cluster style…
My friends, I have a confession to make. I think I’ve figured out what happened to my TNT pattern, the infamous B5147. Let’s recall the travesty that was tweed, shall we?
Notice anything besides my pajamas strewn willy nilly on the floor behind me? Look closer. First there’s the embarrassment of riches in the bust region and then there’s the just plain embarrassing stomach bulge. OMG! You guessed it. Yep, you’re right.
I’m now pleasantly plump. If I had one of those turkey pop up indicators inserted into my abdomen, it would be popped. I’m done people. I’ve reached critical mass if not my personal best ahem, bottom.
How could I have not noticed the weight gain you ask? Well, yes, I have been stepping on the scale occasionally, but those extra pounds were just water weight; they didn’t represent real weight gain. C’mon! Yeah, I look in the mirror occasionally when I get ready in the morning to put on my make up or when I forget to avert my eyes when stepping into the shower nude. But, I’m here to tell you that nothing tells you the truth more than a beloved TNT pattern. Not your mom, not your best friend. And not, apparently, your own eyes.
How did I realize that my eyes were not being truthful with me? Obviously my tweed dress was the first hint (let’s ignore the scale for now, shall we?). But there were others if I’m being all honest and such, like the first date that never turned into a second date (the guy actually yawned, several times), the fact that no man under the age of 70 looks at me. You know, stuff like that.
The clincher though was when I received the proofs from our recent photo shoot. I was appalled by what I saw in those pictures and none of it had to do with the actual photography (which was amazing by the way). I had double and triple chins. I had a torso with no waist and a bulging tummy. No wonder the tweed B5147 didn’t fit. I must have gained weight in the bust area too and they must be hanging a little lower as well lately, which is why those darts looked like they were on crack.
You know how there’s an epidemic of body dysmorphia among pre-teens and teens in the U.S.? These kids think they’re fat when they are anything but. Well, there’s a little known disease of the exact opposite phenomenon, called body eumorphia. It’s a common ailment that usually afflicts only men. I’m sure you know of it: it’s when you think you’re hotter than you actually are. That’s gotta be what’s wrong with me.
Seriously though, I’ve gained some weight lately, despite the running. I guess the daily white chocolate bars and salt & vinegar chips might not be the smartest diet. And since I am only 5’4″, even a 5 lb weight gain can be dramatic on my frame.
Part of my shock is from me not going gently into that dark night which is aging. I still feel immature young. I still have high energy and joie de vivre. But my metabolism believes I am old and just need to sit on the couch crocheting granny squares or something. It doesn’t help that I don’t get a lot of sleep due to late night sewing binges.
So I have decided that, at the worst possible time of the year to do so, at the holidays, I have to go on a crash diet. No more white chocolate (except for that one bar today) and no more salt & vinegar chips. I don’t know what real people eat other than those two important food groups, but I’m sure it’s probably green and bitter. 😉 I’m just kidding, I actually love veggies. I do think the key is sleep though. I’ve heard that people who don’t sleep well or enough get fat really easily because they are substituting food for rest to get the energy to make it through each day.
The bottom line is not whether you think I’m overweight or not, but what I think. Because it’s me who has to live with myself. It’s me who has to look at myself in the mirror every morning as I get ready. It’s me that has to be happy. I’m not saying I want to look like a starving runway model. I just want to look like me again. The me that was happy with my body and didn’t think about it. The me that felt good about myself. I was never model worthy, always carrying a couple of extra pounds, but I was ok with that. Heck, I was better than ok with that, I was happy. I don’t want someone else’s ideal. I want mine. I feel encumbered by my body right now, like I’m wearing someone else’s skin and weight.
I have no idea how I’m going to do this, but something’s got to be done. I want to feel like me again. Wow, I’ve really kind of ranted when all I meant to do was be funny. I think I’ll just press publish before I lose my nerve.
Jack and I had a wonderful time at my friend Kate’s house in Long Island this weekend. Very relaxing and fun. Jack had a blast in the pool and playing with the older kids. I hope you all had a lovely weekend as well.
I have started work on my next project, which I will tell you about in a sec, but I wanted to let you know (at the risk of being TMI) that my sewing will slow down significantly over the next few months as I am dipping my toes into the dating pool again and will have less time to devote to sewing. I consider the first few months of dating like a second job in terms of the time commitment it requires. Lots of interviewing candidates before you find someone remotely interesting. Sound like fun? NOT! But I have come to the realization that a) I am ready to get back into the game again, and b) I ain’t getting any younger. Now’s the time! Carpe diem and all that. Do I sound enthused? 😉
My next project is a pleated skirt, Simplicity 2698, the shorter red print version on the left.
I have had a certain fabric burning a hole in my stash from Fabricmart and I have to use it pronto. Incidentally, Carolyn made a gorgeous jacket using this fabric. Check it out!
Orange Chrysanthemum silk twill from Fabric Mart
When I originally bought the pattern, I still was in denial about my “number”. You know what I mean… What pattern size I am. No way was I buying the pattern envelope with all the large sizes in it. Now I am older, wiser and have calmly accepted the fact that I am a larger size. Are you laughing at me yet? The largest size in this envelope is 12. I think realistically I’m inbetween a size 14 and 16. I think it’s fairly simple to grade this pattern up and asked Thea how I might do so. She wrote that I could take some inches out of the pleats or I could just add extra to the sides. I think I am just going to add to the sides as I like how big the pleats are. I just realized though that the back of the skirt is not pleated and I think I want it to be. Thoughts people? Do I want pleats in the back? If so, would I just use the front pattern piece for the front and back? Am I being stupid?
Last night I traced the pattern to make my muslin. Tonight I will cut and sew it up. Wish me luck.
By the way, here’s my sewing plan for the next couple of months:
Churn out some pleated skirts using the chrysanthemum fabric, the navy stretch cotton from my first pair of pants (capris) and the khaki cotton I bought from Metro Textiles ages ago to make more pants.
Audition/muslin several sheath dresses for my TNT project and for the family wedding in September.
Work on my fall coat for the Trench Sew Along II.
With my new “second job”, this plan seems a little ambitious, but I think it can be doable. The second job also threatens my 2010 goals, but I will try to keep my eye on the ball. Life happens I guess; you can’t plan for everything.
I am a little late in writing this post about my lesson last week, but better late than never. And a warning – this is a long post.
If you will recall I had made two muslins recently that required either a trash can or resuscitation, The grandma skirt and the knit top from hell. That post generated the most comments I have ever received for any one post. I was overwhelmed by all of the kind words and moral support you provided as well as for all of the good ideas. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for putting up with my whining about my weight and pattern sizes. I’d like to highlight some of the comments:
Faye shared: “I am in the SAME boat … I still need clothes so I sew for where I am now, and will when I do lose the weight, I’ll sew for where I am then.” I know you’re right, that I should sew for the body I have now, but I don’t want to. *stamping foot like a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum* My urge to sew is negatively correlated to how out of shape I am, unfortunately. Ugh!
Sue suggested: “… none of us are going to fit into any clothing/pattern without some tweaking.” As I shared with Karen on the phone the other night, I stupidly assumed that, after the sz 14 turned out to be too small, of course the sz 16 would be just right and would require no tweaking at all. WRONG!
Robin mentioned: “I have TNT patterns that I use over and over. When I want a new style, I work out a frankenpattern, rather than try to sew a muslin from a commercial pattern.” I haven’t been sewing (i.e., producing) long enough to have any TNT patterns yet. In fact, muslining the Simplicity skirt was my first attempt to find a TNT pencil skirt (post on TNT’s still in the works). Read on further in this post, however, for more progress on this front.
Hatty pointed out: “Oh and another thing — what’s in your construction queue — that Burda cardi/jacket thing — that’s a definite no-no unless you are feeling devastatingly attractive and tall and willowy.” OMG! You’re right! I am taking that out of the queue pronto. Thanks for saving me from some more frumpy angst!
Helen bravely brought up: “You know, underneath all the stuff about your size there is that disturbing comment about ‘not expecting to date’ for some time, which we are all politely ignoring because it is so worrying.” You are right too Helen, I should not feel that I have to be skinny to date, but while I understand that, I still can’t feel motivation to date when I don’t feel good about myself. It’s a little bit of a catch 22. But hopefully, after somehow working in working out again, I will feel better about myself and feel the urge to get out into the fray again. The problem is, though, as a single parent, it’s hard to find time to work out without having to pay a babysitter to do so. I can do it, but it’s a tricky business, can be expensive and you have to be extremely motivated work it into your schedule.
JC asked: “Did you enjoy your sew fast sew easy class? Yes, I did. I wrote a couple of posts about the projects I worked on in that class where I detail what I learned. Check them out! I highly recommend their classes. However, one of the reasons I have Thea as my teacher now is that she comes to my apartment so I don’t have to pay babysitting on top of the class fee.
Now back to my muslin disasters… I showed them to Thea and we went to work on them. For the skirt, Simplicity 2452, I just needed to nip in at the hips and down the sides of the skirt a 1/4 inch on each side seam as the waist was fine. When it was pinned to the correct size, the skirt looked exactly the way I wanted it to look: fitted but not too fitted. It was the pencil skirt I have been searching for; the grandma skirt had disappeared. Yeah! I used the french curve ruler to redraw the pattern taking it in a 1/4 inch. It was pretty easy actually. See my adjusted pattern below. So this could be my TNT pencil skirt pattern. I am going to finish up this skirt even though the more I work with the fabric, the more I dislike it and I’m going to add a lining. I want to see how it looks all finished to be sure I like this skirt pattern before I cut into any of my nice suiting fabrics. I don’t want to make any more “muslins” for this pattern if I can help it. 🙂
2452 pencil skirt hip alteration
I haven’t finished the skirt so no pictures yet. Be patient dear readers.
Next I tried on the knit top for Thea and she thought it looked just fine on me. She thought the pulling/wrinkles on the bust were part of the drape and didn’t bother her at all. She liked the top. I looked at it again with kinder eyes and just may agree. Although I am waffling on it since I still feel self conscious about my thick middle section. Thea said we could add a little more to the side seams on the front pattern piece under the arms for more room for the bust and see what happens. I think I may try that in my ugly dots knit fabric. Again, I don’t want to waste any of my nice knits on another muslin. While Thea was there, I sewed on one of the sleeves and I had my first experience of too much sleeve cap ease. New Look requires you to gather the sleeve cap before inserting the sleeve. Ridiculous! It’s a pattern for a knit fabric people! How about just drafting a knit sleeve cap that fits into the armscye? Brilliant idea. Now let’s do that from now on. I asked Thea to redraw the sleeve cap as I hadn’t a clue as to how to do that. I’ll try it out the new sleeve along with the new front pattern piece on my next iteration of this top.
6901 altered sleeve pattern piece
crappy sleeve insertion due to excess sleeve cap
lovely drape front -- best feature of the top
I thought I could salvage this top by removing the back neck facing and finishing it in another fashion, but I can’t remove the facing for the life of me. It’s on there but good. I could only get two inches unattached. I am admitting defeat with this iteration.
the gosh durned stubborn back facing
The reason why I am working so hard to make this top and skirt work is simple. TNT’s people. I need ’em. I want ’em. They’re worth the effort, the tweaking. Once I get these two patterns working for me for how I look now, (*sigh*) I can start ramping up the wardrobe factory production because I need a lot more work clothes. A lot. I am sick and tired of what’s in the rotation. I want some variety and more of it. And I want it NOW!!! And to be truthful, it isn’t hard to make these patterns work for me and my body. The changes are simple and easy, so it’s not like I am redrafting the pattern. I just became easily discouraged at first. I was focusing on the wrong thing, my body, not the fit of the pattern. Not that I shouldn’t get in shape or anything, but I can and will sew for the body I have now. It will take time and much effort to get back to where I want to be, shape-wise, and I am going to need to clothe myself in the interim. So I better get cracking!
So I am going to do a little poll with New Look 6901. I will show you a picture of me wearing the top and you let me know via the poll what you think. Deal?
Oh and I almost forgot! Thea also looked at my alhambra clover fabric that was printed off-grain. She thinks it just needs a better pressing than I gave it previously and it should be fine. Wow! I can’t tell you how relieved I was. However, I think I need a little time off from this fabric for a while before I reattempt cutting it again. We need a break from each other.
I am in muslin hell. I made muslins for Simplicity 2452 and New Look 6901 over the last two weeks. I hate them. And no I don’t have pictures. I would die of shame if you saw pictures. Not flattering is the kindest term I can come up with to describe the awfulness that is the state of these muslins.
Let’s start the discussion with Simplicity 2452. I first made this skirt in a size 14 in true muslin. Choosing the size 14 was an exercise in futility wishful thinking. I know sizes are just numbers, but folks, I really have a hard time swallowing the fact that I am a size 16. Ok, so moving on, I choked back the tears accepted my “true” size and did another test run of this skirt in size 16 with some fabric of which I am not enamored. I originally bought this stretch cotton for my Sew Fast Sew Easy class to make an elasticized waist skirt. It’s a heavier weight (read: stiff — could stand up on it’s on) with Jacquard like stripes in an irregular pattern. It’s easy to work with but the hand is not pleasant, think 70’s polyester blend. Of course it doesn’t even enter my mind at this point that the size 16 wouldn’t fit, so I didn’t baste the side seams, I just sewed them at the regular stitch length (2.5 on my machine). I hand basted the zipper in and tried it on.
All I needed to complete the picture was a cane; I looked like I was at least 20 yrs older than I am. What the?!?!??!? It fit fine at the waist, but from the hips and down past the thighs, it was poufy (for lack of a better word). Now I have to fit this size 16 to my apparently rectangular fat shape. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Have I done it yet? NO! Do I feel inclined to do it? NO! Will it be done? Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see if and when I feel less bitter about this skirt.
New Look 6901
Now for the New Look 6901 muslin… I made view A the drape neck top in the pretty purple rain dress remnant as my muslin. This time I “knew” to make the size 16. First let me say that the New Look directions are great! I understood every one of the steps. The drafting is great too. So let me tell you how I managed to screw up this simple top royally. I got all fancy and decided to use my serger for the construction (not just the seam finishing). The serger was not a good choice for attaching the back neckband facing. Ask me how I know. Then I proceeded to completely stretch the back neck out of all recognition by topstitching the facing after serging it. It looks like hell. The drape on the front, however, is beautiful. After serging the side seams closed, I tried on my top. Let me point out first though, before putting the top on, it looked ginormous in my hands. Like triple XL ginormous. I was scared it would be too big. However, I didn’t realize how scared I should have been, because it fit. For the most part. It fit in the waist and shoulders. Where it did not fit was in the bust. Now, I am not of the opinion that I am overly well endowed in that region. I would say that I am a little bigger than average. I wear a C cup. That’s it. No FFF cups here. Well that top was straining in the bust area with no less than three bust wrinkles. And the drape? The drape was draped BEHIND the bust wrinkles. BEHIND!!!! What the hell is up with that?? How is that even physically possible? I can’t wrap my head around it. And in case you’re wondering, the overall look of the top on me? Reminiscent of women who wear clothes that are too young for their age. I’m not that old people!!!!
I knew I had gained some weight the last two years, but I must be suffering from some sort of delusion major body dysmorphia where I think I’m thinner than I actually am. I have this picture in my mind of how I looked in 1997 and I’ve kind of frozen myself there in that year. OMG, that’s thirteen years ago! I thought it was only 5 yrs ago. Time just flies after you turn 30 I guess. Since I’ve had Jack, I’ve had this thought paradigm floating around my head that I can’t date right now. Who wants to date a woman with a toddler, or who hasn’t lost the baby weight or gained more weight as if she had another baby but didn’t have another? I can’t afford the babysitting costs required by having a social life. So in my mind why should I bother losing weight or getting into shape again if I have no social life anyway. What I hadn’t realized was just how much weight I have gained. It’s shocking to me. I guess these last two muslins have really made me look at myself in the mirror. You know how you can look, but not really see? That’s what I have been doing with mirrors since Jack was born, looking but not seeing. Looking enough to put my make up on in the morning or do my hair, but not seeing the additional weight in all its glory.
The funny thing is, I think back to when I was thin and dating and I distinctly remember thinking I was not thin. Not fat, but not thin either. It’s amazing how one’s perspective can be so skewed. Now I know that I was thin then. And now I see that I am not thin now. *sigh*
I have to start working out. There’s just no hiding that fact anymore. Even if dating is not in my near future, I still need to feel good about myself. *double sigh* Ok, I will stop writing TMI and get back to sewing. I am not trying to be all self pitying right now, I am just sharing my sewing journey and a major part of sewing is being realistic about your measurements and sewing for the body you have now, not what you wish you had. Am I making sense?
Not sure what I am going to work on next, but probably New Look 6807.
New Look 6807
Hope everyone else has a better sewing week than me.
My apologies for being absent the last week. I have been under the weather morale-wise. Although my ennui has nothing to do with sewing, I haven’t sewn a thing since my last lesson with Thea where we figured out what was wrong with the raglan sleeves on my trench (more on that later).
I have been knitting though. I started the commission and my son’s yearly sweater. I find knitting, especially patterns I’ve done before, very therapeutic. It builds my confidence while keeping the feelings of accomplishment going.
Hopefully I will snap out of this mental malaise soon.
Yesterday, I had the good fortune to attend a small gathering of like-minded people to share our mutual love of sewing. Carolyn hosted and she’s a great hostess (serving lasagna, garlic bread, salad, appetizers, the works!). We shared our stories, talked about the pros and cons of blogging, shopped Carolyn’s fabric closet…
We also all brought fabric to be donated to Carolyn’s local high school. I brought some boucle I bought from Fabric.com when the Vera Wang Lavender collection went on sale a while back. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be when I received it. It was too electric blue. But when Carolyn found out that I was going to donate it, she said no way and brought out some burgundy colored silk that paired with it and magically, the blue became more of a purple. Weird. So Carolyn insisted that I keep it. I think I will give Carolyn some other fabric in my stash to donate to her local high school instead. 🙂
WARNING: This post contains extremes of self-pity and no pictures.
Until today, I haven’t sewn anything in three weeks. My new job, along with ennui, lack of motivation and fear of woven garments have all combined to make my apartment the center of a sewing black hole.
When I confessed to not “feeling” Butterick 5314, I left out one big secret. One of the main reasons I didn’t want to make the sheath dress was because of my post baby body (read 5 month pregnant looking belly and 30 extra pounds) and I couldn’t see how I could squeeze all that into a sheath dress attractively (no matter how much the % of lycra in the stretch cotton). I was imagining how the dress would look on me (ridiculous was the kindest descriptor with which I could come up). To be even more baldly honest, I have been thinking about buying a corset. Not spanx, but a real corset. One with stays and ties that I could use to cinch all that belly fat in. I have been watching Mad Men and just drowning myself in the fashions of that era and noticing that you have to wear the proper undergarments to really look good in those clothes. I suspect, even if I don’t sew up a vintage pattern, I still need to wear a corset for modern sheath dress. Then I wondered why we don’t wear corsets anymore. Don’t people want to look like they have tiny waists anymore? Sucking in my stomach only decreases my “pregnancy” to about 4 months along.
Long story short, my suspicions were proven tonight. In anticipation of my lesson with Thea tomorrow, I sewed up the muslin for B5314, sz 12, tonight. I first sewed all the darts and then the side seams of the bodice and skirt. I skipped the collar and lining. I did not stitch the bodice to the skirt however.
Well… It was at least a good 2 inches too small all around for both the bodice and skirt. A corset would not have aided me as much as I needed it to do. I must admit to myself now, truly and without denial, that I have reached the tipping point with my weight. Jack will be three in June. I can no longer rest the blame on a pregnancy that is two plus years in the past. I can no longer blame single parent-ness for not being able to exercise. I must become accountable for my atrocious eating habits. Don’t get me wrong, I eat pretty healthfully (except for this week’s ice cream), it’s just the amounts that are embarrassing.
And I must admit that I have to buy this pattern in a more appropriate size for my current body’s state of affairs. I knew going into the muslin process for this dress that the pattern range I bought was too small after I checked the finished measurements. I kept hoping there was the mysterious ease of which everyone always speaks. But no ease for me. I had negative ease and then some.
So my fellow sewing friends, my name is Elizabeth and I need to lose some weight and get back into shape. Not sure how I will do it because last time I checked, I am still a single parent, making exercise difficult to do. And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have no, I mean NO, will power to speak of. When they were handing it out people, they gave me the exact opposite of will power.
I’d show you a picture of the B5314 muslin, but I might get arrested for indecency. And not the good kind of indecency.
Tomorrow I will be working on tracing and cutting out my first Burda pattern, the trench coat for the Trench Sew Along, Burda 03/09 #115. There’s still time to join the sew along if you’re interested. Let me know in the comments.
So this is why I have been absent the last few days. Jack landed in the hospital when he started to have trouble breathing on Sunday. We were at the hospital until Tuesday afternoon. He’s all better now though, so all’s well with the world. The picture above is Jack sleeping in the hospital crib with Elmo. So cute (if I do say so myself). And in case you were wondering, yes, an adult can fit in the hospital crib with a child. It’s not incredibly comfortable but doable if there is a need, i.e., child demands you to sleep with him.
I am behind now with my plans to make Butterick 5314 and my Burda trench coat. But I have a lesson tonight with Thea and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on track. I am trying not to let deadlines bring me down. The most important part is making something, not when it is completed, right?
Anyway, I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend and were able to get some sewing in.
I just joined Stitcher’s Guild today. Now, full disclosure here, I haven’t really checked it out yet, so this is not a review per se on Stitcher’s Guild. As you know I am enthusiastic user of Pattern Review. But I have noticed right away that different sewists use Pattern Review than those that use Stitcher’s Guild.
There are similarities between the two, both have boards, a beginner sewist section, contests, and a techniques section. The one thing I don’t see on Stitcher’s Guild is class offerings, but maybe I missed it my cursory glance. I will definitely take more time in the coming weeks to see what Stitcher’s Guild has to offer.
So my question of the day for you all is which do you prefer and why?
I have an update on how my first pair of pants wore on their first day of use. First, let me say that they needed to have a little more structure for the lightweight fabric from which they were made. The waistband seemed flimsy. I am not a fan of the invisible zipper in front. They wrinkled like crazy and pilled at the inner thighs. PILLED!!! What’s up with that? The fit is still fabulous for my first pair of pants though. One thing I will change next time is the length for capris; they were too short. When I sat down, they tended to hike above my knees which was weird and uncomfortable. I compared them to some RTW capris I like from Ann Taylor and they were about an inch to an inch and a half too short. Not sure how that happened. One question I have is with a stretch fabric, should you automatically draft a pattern more fitted than you would for a non-stretch woven? Let me know if you have thoughts on this. Sorry, no pictures of the pants in action.
Jack and I have been back from San Diego a few days now and are settled back into our routines. We had some tough times out there with the time change and new environment, but I think when we go back in December for Christmas, he might be a better little traveler. Here’s a picture of one of the good times…