Category Archives: musings

Piecing things together


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


Plotting and scheming

I’ve been trying to decide which project I want to start on next. You’d think this would be easy, since I just got a bunch of new patterns, and a bunch of new fabric from various and sundry sources.

Unfortunately, when I try and match up the two, I keep coming up with goose eggs! Does this happen to all new sewists?

I’ve got that gorgeous cherry-red silk jersey, but since I haven’t sewed with Jersey yet, or silk, I figure I need to play with something else before cutting into the most expensive thing in my stash.

Then there’s that red silk I got from the garage sale, but I can’t decide which sheath dress I want to make out of it. Sheath dresses are good for Duponi, right?

Then there’s that pretty blue and white fabric with the lilacs… I’m almost 100% positive I want to do a retro pattern with a boatneck and wide skirt (very Audrey Hepburn), but I haven’t found a pattern I like yet.

Then there’s some odds and ends and a bunch of woolen plaids… but it’s 105 here and I just can’t make myself touch those wools!

So, what’s left? Well… there is that crazy zig zag fabric I got from Fabric Mart. I *could* sew something up with that. And it *is* a slinky knit, so I could get some practice that would help me out with my silk jersey project later. Hey, I could finally make something using one of those Burda magazines I paid an arm and a leg for. I did actually get tracing fabric so I could replicate things from that crazy insert…


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Posted by on August 18, 2011 in musings, planning


Blousing around

I am so inspired by all the amazing blouse creations out there, y’all…I just don’t know where to start! I love how a little structure really flatters a wide variety of figures. I was so pleased by my polka dot top… I had no idea how nice a structured top could be!

I’m a little overwhelmed at all the options out there.  Here are a few blouses that I hope to make this year…

I am in love with this wine coloured blouse… I am on the hunt for a pattern to modify to replicate this piece.

From Vintage Vivant: Two fabrics + same pattern = vastly different looks

reVamp Vintage is such an amazing place… None of their blouses seem to come in my size though. No matter, I’m going to sort out how to make their clothes myself! Like this delicious blouse… ooh!

This darling little number was from Anthropologie, but is no longer available… and was never available in my size, anyway! I love the chevrons created by the stripes… I’m really looking forward to creating something with this method!

Isn’t this a stunning combo? I actually think my little sis would look much better in this than I would 😉

Vintage 1930s Dress and Bolero in Chevron Nautical Theme

And what about Simplicity 1555, a vintage pattern for blouses from the Vintage Pattern wiki? Oh, I’d love to make one of these… I really wonder if I could pull off one of these looks with that freebie batik in white and green…

I’m really intrigued by how this pattern goes together… the yoke detail that turns into sleeves is so interesting!

Isn’t this the sweetest blouse from Jitterbuggin? I adore it!

Check out the amazing wrap detail on this 1930s blouse from the Vintage Fashion Library shop…

Now I need to clear off my little kitchen table (which is still strewn with assorted mail and whatnot from our trip) and get stitching!

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in fashion, musings, planning


I’m back!

We had a lovely time in New Orleans! We ate some of the best food, met some of the nicest people, and generally had a great time in NOLA. It was delicious! Those NOLA girls sure do know how to dress though… makes me feel more motivated to finish some new projects!

My black and white dress got a lot of wear in New Orleans, where the cotton was a cooling comfort, but it was dressy enough that I didn’t feel out of place in any of the chi-chi places we visited. Definitely more of the peplum top + skirt + sash in my future. I think when I sew it up in the burgundy linen, I might do some contrast binding in black on the edges, and maybe even an embellishment or two… haven’t decided what yet but I’m excited to try a few things out!


I’ve got so many things I want to try — I got my very first online fabric shipment in (some luxurious scarlet silk jersey… oh my!) and it came with 5 yards of freebies. Neither of the freebie patterns is something I would have purchased on my own, but now that I’ve got them, I’m excited by the challenge of coming up with something awesome from them (since I’m sewing on a budget, and anything I get out of them makes the cost of that silk a little less dear).

Here’s the silk… yummy, n’est-ce pas?

It’s a little closer to cherry than blood red (which is what I was really looking for), but I think it will be stunning when accessorized with black. It’s also more sheer than I expected, but I think I’ll have fun figuring out a creative way to underline it without compromising the delicious drape of it.

And here’s freebie number 1:

It’s pretty wild! Did I mention I don’t really do crazy patterns? However, I do have a few ideas up my sleeve for this one. I could just make it into a skirt and keep the top very neutral, but I’m thinking I might try this technique from Threads:

Maybe overlay it with a sheer black, to tone it down a bit? Hmmm… decisions, decisions….

And freebie number 2:

This fabric feels lovely, but batiks don’t really do much for me. However, I’m kind of excited about the challenge this presents — I’m thinking of ways to make it more sophisticated… make a tailored top and pair it with a white pencil skirt and gold accessories? I’ll have to find just the right pattern… I’m going to go for 1910s/20s bohemian chic.

So much fabric and so many patterns… I’m sad that I have to go back to work tomorrow and can’t start on my projects until then. Ah well, at least I have some lovely things to look forward to!

I’ll be spending this week plotting about how to use up some of my stash 🙂

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in fashion, Frugal, musings, planning


Jersey, knits, spandex… what gives?

I’ve got several knit dresses on the planning board, and I’m really interested in getting started (even though I’m really nervous to be working without a serger!)…

McCall’s 6032 is a little sheath dress with a great detail at the empire waist. It calls for 2.5-3 yards of 60″ wide stretch knit (cotton, jersey, interlock, matte jersey), so I’m thinking one of these…

BurdaStyle’s June 2011 silk jersey halter top — I’d probably never get away with wearing this without a cardigan, and I’m skipping the pockets which are just weird…but I’d love to make it out of the silk jersey it calls for… This ruby red silk jersey would be phenomenal…

Vogue 1224’s Tracy Reese dress is supposed to be made from 2 yards of Spandex (rayon, cotton, or nylon)…I *think* spandex = base fabric + lycra… is that right? I kind of want to do the dress in an olive green or forest green — something to make my eyes look greener.

I’m hoping once I’ve done each of these, I’ll understand the tactile difference between each type of knit — I’ve got the book, Fabric Savvy, but it kind of falls short on the touchy-feely aspects… I wish they’d printed it with a swatch book in the rear appendix!

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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in musings, shopping


This can’t be a coincidence…

Not twenty-four hours after I posted that vogue knit dress pattern, wondering what the heck qualified as a two-way stretch knit, and I get an email from Fabric Mart about some 2-way stretch bamboo they’ve just gotten in stock…

Now that’s targeted marketing, kids!

This purple looks yummy… It’s a little heathered, which I quite like.



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Posted by on June 9, 2011 in musings, planning, shopping


Sewing in a Tiny House

Sewing has been a challenge in the past because I’m a tiny house gal. Don and I live in a cute little bungalow that’s 580 square feet and has just 2 rooms (not counting the bathroom or closet). So my projects need to be portable and able to be put away because we’ll need the room to move around during the week!

In some ways, I really envy you girls (and guys!) out there with whole rooms (or buildings!) devoted to sewing… for me, though, I’m really committed to (and love!) the tiny house lifestyle, so I’ve got to make the most out of my tiny space.

Let me show you around my little space…

Here’s my kitchen table, which is a workhorse… we use it for so much!


Here it is serving as a sewing machine table…


And as a sewing planning table…


Here’s my sewing “closet”…


Where I store my fabric and tools…


The table folds out…


And behind it, is a toolbox with my scissors, notions, and thread, and a bucket for my patterns…


Here’s my little sewing machine: a Bernina 707 minimatic…


We got her at an estate sale with a traveling suitcase and a bunch of feet I still don’t know how to use…for $25! She’s the best! Her name is Hildegard, or Hilde for short…

And here’s my dressform… I haven’t used it much yet, but plan to! (you know, when I start being a responsible seamstress and actually FITTING my dresses before sewing them together!)


We are remodeling (slowly) our tiny house, so this is working for now… but my dream sewing area is an old armoire that I plan to retrofit to suit my purposes. I want it to have a pull out or drop down cutting surface, drawers or cubby holes to hold my tools, bundled & labeled stashes, and a row of spindle holders along to the top inside. I’d put a cork board and/or ribbon board on the inside of the doors to pin my patterns / directions /swatches to. Then every weekend, I’d just pull out my machine (it’s tiny) and get to work. When I’m done for the weekend, I could tuck it all away again and keep the kitties out of it 😉 I’m ready!

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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in musings