Piecing things together

01 Oct


I mentioned yesterday that I had started watching Project Runway this season.

Pardon me while I provide some back story through a minor segue…

For those of you who may not know me in real life, I don’t actually own a TV or spend much time watching one. I’m on my 9th year without a TV, and I can honestly say I’m a happier and healthier person because of it. I only rarely seek out video entertainment, preferring my hubby, house, and hobbies to commercial fare. I do have a weakness for PBS shows, especially now that they’re available for streaming, and I do love nonfiction that teaches me something.

The two biggest reasons we stopped watching TV were:

  1. The advertising and treatment of women on TV was messing with my self-esteem in numerous detrimental ways
  2. The food advertising was having a negative impact on our efforts to eat healthily and live healthy lives

So when I decide to watch a show, I take these two things into account — is my watching of it negatively impacting my own body-image and self-love? — and is it causing me to obsess about processed and otherwise unhealthy foods, to the detriment of my natural food eating commitment.

Now, with that in mind, Project Runway was being watched on a trial basis.

As of last week, I think the trial is over and Project Runway? You’re out.

This might have seemed obvious, but there’s some really negative body talk that goes on in the workroom. I especially disliked Oliver’s tirade (two weeks in a row!) about people who didn’t look like mannequins. Really, it just made me want to smack him. The first few weeks, I actually picked up some really great ideas and tips….but those weren’t enough to overcome the crappy body-speak. Even without Oliver on the show (maybe there is a god?) it’s just not worth it.

Today, I was reading back through some of Gertie’s old posts on her Blog for Better Sewing, and I came across this lovely interview with the blogger from Diary of a Sewing Fantatic (who I also love to read). Since I’m fairly new to the sewing game, both these posts were new to me…but after seeing Oliver screech about “plus size” “models” (he was outfitting the lead singer in a band who was a big burly guy) and about the trials and tribulations of fitting for “boobs,” Carolyn’s comments in the interview by Gertie really struck home:

Then there is that whole issue about plus size women being fashionable. How many times has a pattern been drafted only up to a size 18 (McCalls) when it is a style that clearly can be drafted for larger sizes? How often do you look at patterns either online or in the books at the store and the plus size patterns are just huge rectangles with a lot of gathering and a drapey neck? How often have you pulled out a pattern where the pattern company has enlarged the shoulders along with the bust and waistline – like plus size women are just huge, fat rectangles? What about this process makes you feel stylish and beautiful!?

I mean, really people! We have shapes! Just because we aren’t planks doesn’t mean that we aren’t attractive, and can’t be attractively attired. It is not impossible! All the plus size sewists out there are proving it every day — by making modifications to the crap that most designers put out there for us. Go team! We have the same need for respect… and the way we choose to attire ourselves is definitely a source of respect –or shame, depending on where you come from.

I started sewing clothing with an eye to 40s and 50s fashions simply because those fashions were so friendly and flattering to larger figures — all while remaining chic and tailored. I got the nicest compliment from a co-worker the other day who said that everything I wore was always so elegant. Thank you, M…that is what I strive for!

I’m tired of slouchy, saggy, droopy, polyester potato sacks that they call *clothing*. I’m tired of depending on knit clothing exclusively because clothing manufacturer’s can’t figure out how to deal with tits and ass in any other way. Sadly, the pattern world is not free from these same prejudices. Plus size seamstresses have to work harder than any other sewists just because designers can’t be bothered to do their job properly or with any effort at all to make a shape around someone who looks more like a pear/apple/hourglass than someone who’s shaped like a stick. This is one of the reasons I love Sarai’s designs over at Colette. Not only does she use a more realistic sizing chart, but she’s acknowledged that it’s easier to take something in than to let it out… she sizes everything for a D cup (which I still have to modify, being a 38 G). It’s easier to work with more fabric and then take it in. She also sizes up to an 18 (Colette size, which is different from either RTW or Big3PatternCo sizing).

I’d love to see more pattern designers step up to the plate and design tailored looks for larger sizes… tackle the challenge and make us look as awesome as we feel without resorting to lycra! There are some great opportunities for glamour and beauty on a plus size lady that are impossible with a waif. Why designers haven’t realized this yet is totally beyond me.

Enough ranting…now back to turning off the tube (or laptop in my case) and back to the sewing-board!

I’ll leave you with this awesome screen capture of Oliver trying to cope with boobs. Doesn’t he look pissed? Ha!



Posted by on October 1, 2011 in feminism, musings


2 responses to “Piecing things together

  1. Janice

    October 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Kathleen, you are soooo right. I also applaud your decision on the TV. It does so much more damage than good in so many areas, not to speak of how much time we have to sit in front of it to finish the ‘meal’ that it is dishing out; it has such a negative impact on us in our health, relationships, and just the ability to think and communicate with others. And how many things are being left undone because of this ‘Thief’! We are ‘amusing ourselves to death’…to quote someone, but I don’t know the name. I think there is a book written about that.
    Anyway, I think you are so right on the sizing of plus patterns. I am in the same situation. For whatever reason and for years, I am the size I am, and it stays there, (even when I lose weight, it always comes back and then stops at the same place) so I think it is wise to stop fighting it, but just to eat healthy, and try to find outfits that are pleasing and make a person look curvy and nice. So whatever you find in your sewing that accomplishes that, we are looking forward it hearing about it! : )

    • kathleen

      October 12, 2011 at 6:22 am

      Thanks Janice! We actually read Amusing Ourselves to Death right around the time that we stopped watching TV… it’s a quick read and a great little book!

      I’m happy to share whatever tips I come across… I’ll have another book review coming later this week on Sewing for Plus Sizes, which does a bit of styling recommendations but not as much as I’d like… I want a whole book!


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