A Little Green Man and Dress Pinks

I’ve been cutting this Lorax stencil for the past four weeks.  Hands down, it is the most time-consuming stencil I’ve ever cut.  See the red lines?  Mr. Lorax didn’t have a late night out, that’s where I patched the stencil because I slipped with the razor blade a couple of weeks ago.  Fingers crossed it works!

Mr. Lorax will be lime green on deep royal blue.  Like the “Choo Choo Choose You” shirt, I’m creating a lighter design on a darker background.  It’s a much longer process than a dark color on a light background because it requires many coats of paint.  This is the first.

And the second.  This may take quite a few coats.  I let it dry for an hour or two between layers, and make sure each layer is quite thin for the best coverage.  The Lorax will probably be my last stencil for a while, the set of shirts for my husband was kind of like one big project and once this guy and the pinstripe tee are finished (maybe tomorrow afternoon!) I can stop thinking about it and focus on other projects.

While I’m sharing WIPs, check out my dress pinks, picked up today at The Fabric Store:

I bought enough of the paler pink for a short modish dress.  In the store, the color looked much paler.

This pink looked almost white in the store.  I thought I could use it instead of white.  Not that I can’t find white, I just thought it would look cool.  Once I got home, I saw I should have bought a dress length of the palest pink rather than the medium pink I took home.  Lesson: make sure to look at fabrics in natural light when matching colors!

Sigh.  That’s why I haven’t attempted this dress- I knew color matching would make me want to tear my eyes out.  At least I like the “wrong” pink I bought and it’s a versatile fabric.  And goodness, sateen isn’t hideously expensive so later this week I’ll trudge back to the shop and buy a length of the perfect-pink-that-is-actually-nowhere-close-to-white and smile about it because it will match Megan’s dress rather well.

Can you tell I’m not working on much of my own stuff at the moment? It’s kind of bits and pieces because I’m working on patterns and other goodies…

Thanks for all the input on my jeans, by the way!  I’ll be sure to document how I do the double yoke so I can post it.

Silk Organza- Underlining and Hubris

Getting a little creative with the camera...

The sewing binge stay-cation got off to a mixed start.  I’m working with a lightweight charcoal tropical wool for a suit.  I started with a Burda pencil skirt to learn how this wool behaves. Later, I’ll move on to the jacket.

The wool is whisper-light, so I thought to underline with silk organza.  Basically, underlining/backing is an extra layer of fabric basted to the fashion fabric for body and stability.  Threads has a great basic primer on the technique.

Like a good sewist, I read Sherry’s guide to underlining with silk organza and poked through my tailoring, sewing and couture books before I settled to business.  I knew I needed to cut the silk a little wider than the pattern pieces, to allow the wool to stretch.  As I laid the pieces on the fabric, I had a brilliant thought- Cut the underlining on the bias!

Of course!  It would allow plenty of stretch across my backside in the fitted pencil skirt!  This is what happens when you’re a “jump in and try new things” type of person.  New Rule: Only try 1 new thing at a time!

Yes, it stretches at the sides, but it pulls up the bottom.  It’s kind of a cool effect, and I might be tempted to “just go with it” except this is the bottom half of my suit!  I want it to look tasteful and crisp, not “interesting.”

Speaking of tasteful, I think this looks like Spanx.  I used the same pattern before, on a medium weight linen.  While the linen skirt is figure-hugging, it’s not quite this revealing.  Perhaps the difference is in the fabrics?  Linen relaxes, wool and organza less so?

The silk pulls A LOT. Too much. No Bueno.

At any rate, I’m not too upset.  I’ll recut the skirt section, and underline it the right way.  I want to lengthen it, and I’ll probably play with the seam allowances, too.  If you have experience working with light wools and have any wisdom to share, I’d really appreciate it.

Edge taped, grograin ribbon, double layer of silk organza.

I am quite pleased with the waist facing.  That’s a grosgrain waist stay, and some fusible bias to crisp the top edge of the skirt.  I raised the original waistline and shaped it, because I need waist definition.

I can’t always account for the ways fabrics behave but I did learn how to better handle the wool/organza combination.   I keep thinking about Fearful/ Fearless Sewists.  Maybe the difference comes down to whether or how well a person can learn from their mistakes? I think that’s a key “bridging the gap” sewing skill.

None of the books said it (maybe they didn’t think they had to) but for the record- Don’t underline a close-fitted wool pencil skirt with silk organza cut on the bias.


Houndstooth, Micro Houndstooth

Here’s the 50’s housewife shirt I’m working on.  It’s a part of my Summer wardrobe.

I used the pattern as a “blueprint” to alter my basic block.  Fingers crossed it fits properly.  I like shoulder pleats but have struggled to create them well on self-drafted garments in the past.

I think this shirt needs sleeves to be work appropriate, something about a sleeveless shirt is so casual.  I made a double layer yoke, and decided to use the back neck facing included in the pattern- cut from a contrasting fabric from the same range.  I might go ahead and embroider my initials or a small motif on the facing before I stitch it down.

Tulip sleeves struck me as just the thing, I didn’t want plain sleeves but also didn’t feel like messing around with experimental sleeve drafting.  I like tulip sleeves, but have yet to use them on a garment in my “regular rotation.”

I cut them out tonight, they’ll go on soon.  Front over back or back over front?

I liked the red and pink micro-houndstooth so much, I decided to get some pink and cream.  It reads as a solid unless you’re quite close to the fabric.

Unfortunately, the blue seersucker in my original wardrobe plan didn’t wash well.  It came out of the wash the texture of toilet paper (admittedly, the nice kind of toilet paper) and nothing I try will revive the texture.  Not steam, not cold water, or hot, or a dryer on high, or a clothesline.  Ideas?  At any rate, I don’t want to use the fabric as-is, so I’ll sub in the pink.

Finished Object: Twisty Pinny

(Worn with White Blouse I)

I finished my 1950’s-Inspired Jumper in corduroy.  Several Antipodeans (and a few Brits) told me that to them, “jumper” means a sweater/sweatshirt garment.  I use American words without blushing.  After I moved all the way out here and had his child, I told my husband I already changed enough; I wasn’t changing my speech, too.  This was after someone tried to “correct” my vowels.  However, in a bow to the Other English Language, I’ll call this a Pinny (I can’t go as far as Pinafore).

Here she is, of cranberry corduroy.  I’ve worn her three times already, such a comfortable and versatile garment.  However- as some (I think Lauren) pointed out, Rigiliene boning tends to bend with body heat.  But- it’s a sew-through boning, very cheap and readily available so I stitched it directly into the side seams and down the CF.  I suppose it doesn’t matter that the boning conforms to my body so closely, though it does cause problems at the CF waist.

I serged the raw edges of the CF, inserted boning, then a hook and eye tape.  Check out my fingers.  The ring finger marks where the boning bends for my waist.  The middle finger marks the waistline seam.  Should I lower my front waistline on my block pattern?  What does it mean that my front waist is so low?  I might rip the whole CF out and use a zipper, but I really like the hooks and eyes.

Back notch.  I like the back gores, I can see now why I should go to the trouble of drafting my own skirts.  When I stand normally, this falls in gorgeous little ripples.  I like wearing fitted clothing because it offers a hint as to when I should cut down on the fatty foods and red wine- I know those wrinkles don’t exist on my block pattern when I’m at my comfortable weight.  I have been drinking too much lately, but realized I had to cut it out when my clothes began wrinkling in odd places.

Despite the flaws in design, I like it.  Another wearable experiment/work in progress.  All photos were taken after classes at work last night, by my lovely fellow teacher K.  Thanks, K.

I wore this last Friday for MMJ, I’ll blog the scarflet soon.  This pinny looks great with pale blue shirts and pink ones, too.

Once I applied the facings, I needed to stitch the side seams.  One side came out beautifully flat, the other twisted.  I rolled my eyes at my own carelessness, tried her on, and decided I like the twisty side better.  So I twisted the other side, too.

Boning in the side seam.  I like wearing boned clothes, I’m beginning to think boning is a curvy girl’s best friend.  I’m itching to make myself a girdle- custom fitted, not like the elastine long-line bras I wear with certain dresses, more like cotton corselettes for daily wear.  I figure I can accustom myself to wearing one during the cold weather, then it might be easier to wear it in summer.  Maybe.   I don’t want to smoosh my figure or mold it, more like stabilize my curves and help with posture, and help my clothes maintain the intended shape. I’ll use spring steel stays which won’t bend, I have a bundle of them buried deep in my sewing room.

Any daily girdle wearers want to share their experiences?

Corset makers want to give me some tips?  I want to do something like an underbust drill corset, I’m not too worried about the pattern or sourcing fabrics, but I haven’t made a corset in 7 or 8 years so I might need refreshing….

Check out the drafting notes here.

Things I’d Do For Love

When my husband asked me for a boy version of my WW2 Jacket, I immediately said “Of course, no problem, anything you want.”  That’s a way I show love.  Through hard work and bluster.  I’m not always good at the affection stuff, but I’ll work my ass off to show I care when given the chance.

Well.  Turns out drafting a block for his body was a little trickier than anticipated, because Maria Martin’s template is calibrated to accommodate female geometry (boobs).  For added fun, I decided to put his block together the morning before he left to go on a ten-day ecological field excursion up north.

On the whole, I considered it good enough to work with for a semi-fitted casual jacket.  My hurried sewing caused the funny business at the front sleeve.  The drafter worked perfectly on his hard to fit back.  I used a well-loved shirt pattern to get an idea for the front.  It’s enough to work with, though the lack of a front dart does bother me slightly.

Then I thought I’d tweak the front pieces a little, make a new sleeve and get started.

Not so fast….

I took the “muslin” apart, traced the edges, and squared off the bottom edge at the length we decided on.  Then I marked things like the waistline, etc.

Here’s the back, with the exterior and lining seamlines sketched out.  The back was easy.  I traced off each pre-marked section, added pleats where desired, and drew in the seamlines.

I pinned the new back pattern pieces and compared them to each other and to the “block.”  No problems.

Lila was unusually tolerant of my drafting activities, content to scribble on a copy of the pattern pieces I printed so I could write notes and keep track of the 47-odd pieces that make up the jacket.

The sleeve was similarly straight-forward.  I threw my own sleeve pattern on top to get an idea of dart placement.  I know this isn’t the best way to make it, but I think it should work fine.

The front gave me a little grief.  His chest is flatter than mine, with a less defined waist and taller shoulders.  Men have such simpler geometry.  I wasn’t sure if I marked the front lapel nicely, but the more I played with the CF, the overlap, the roll line and the lapel, the more confident I felt.  My “muslin” had no waist seam, and I very nearly made it straight.  Then I remembered the Parthenon- it appears to have straight lines though it’s made of curves.  So I curved the front waistline much like this diagram:

Then I lost the plot while trying to create a new collar.  I knew my collar won’t work on his jacket for two reasons- 1) Bigger neckline and 2) The lapels are proportionately larger on his jacket than mine.  Just a bit, but they are and if I just lengthened the original collar piece, it would look goofy.

Dear me.  I’ll sleep on it, often problems resolve themselves while I sleep.  Sometimes that’s from my own brain, and often it’s because a pattern junkie has read my post and replied to it while I’m snoozing.  Let me know if you can see what I’m doing wrong.  I dug around and found plenty of confusing websites devoted to collar drafting, and followed my Harriet Pepin.  I used the collar page.

I’ll use the same pocket and flap pieces from my jacket pattern, but that’s it.  I ended up re-drawing everything else.

I used Sherry’s instructions for prepping the shell, the facings and lining.  Her instructions for the pattern are amazing, I figure doing them twice in succession will help cement it in my mind.  I’d like to have the exterior, the lining, and the pockets assembled by the time he gets home.  I dare not go further.  Placement for the breast pockets will be a shot in the dark at best without him, and the body may need tweaking.

Now I beg for your expert opinions.  I like the camo lining; it’s not really on display in the finished jacket.  I think husband found it a little flashy and kitsch and longingly asked if I could use a plain.  I could, and use the camo for piping and pocket lining.  Of course it’s kitsch.  I don’t dispute that.  It’s also kind of funny, but it’s his jacket after all.  Should I use a plain lining?

Do you like the buttons?  They’re brass, shanked, and pretty cool.  The only slight problem is they’re 3/4″ and I preferred 1″.  Beggars can’t be choosers, but do you think that’s too small?  What if I used another button or two on the front closure?

I promise no more jacket posts for a few days at least.

Finally, what ridiculously nutty things have you done to impress a boy you like?

It’s Not Me- It’s You: Breaking Up


Lydia and I haven’t spoken for nearly a week.  She kept her silence, but every time I passed her on my way to the sewing machine there she was in all her Lilac glory.  I couldn’t ignore her forever.

I kept putting off the “where are we going?” talk.  How could I tell this beautiful piece of dressmaking that I couldn’t see a future together?  What’s wrong with me?  What will Lauren think- she set us up together in the first place?

Finally, I knew I had to face my failure.  I poured myself a glass of wine, and then another.  She saw me and knew what was coming.   I put on a little Bunny Berigan from her era to set the mood.

“Lydia-” I began, but she cut me off.  She was always so assertive.

“I know what you’re going to say.  I’m not stupid.  You haven’t touched me for a week.”

“I’ve been busy, you know that.  I was sick, too.”

“Not too sick to cover that fluffy piece of corduroy with buttonholes and pocket flaps.”

I winced.  She’d noticed.

“Look Lydia, we knew what this was going into it.  An experiment.  We’ve had some great times together, but this isn’t working out.  I love so many things about you- your cut, your vibrance, your texture, your unexpected details.  But I’d be lying if I said I thought this was more than a fling.”

She said nothing.

“I tried to make it work, you know I did,” I insisted.

“Remember the alterations?

“Of course.  You were the first pattern I altered using my block.  I’ll never forget that.”

“Look at me.”  Up to this point, my eyes stayed fixed on the floor below her or on the wine in my glass.  “Look at me,” she insisted.

My eyes slid upward and filled with her brilliant lilac perfection.  For a moment, the whole world seemed dual shades of purple, the colors of the silk and cotton.  I caught my breath.

“Try me on.  One last time.  You owe me that.”  I couldn’t refuse and slipped her over my head, once more marveling at the way her tone compliments my own tones, how the asymmetrical cut of her bodice hovers smoothly over my flesh, and how the sleeves draw attention down from my bust.  I wavered.

“There’s so much good here.  We can’t just throw that away.” She crooned.  Just then, my eye caught the dreadful sleeve heads.

“Lydia, I can’t get past the sleeve heads.  They’re just not right.”

She switched and became spiteful.  “That’s hardly my fault, you’re the one who can’t set in a sleeve smoothly.”  At that, I reefed her off.

“I told you at the time, that’s never happened before.  I’m under a lot of stress.  I was tired.  How could you hold that against me?”

“Isn’t that what everyone says?”

“Listen, Lydia, I smoothly set in sleeves on a hemp jacket once.  Hemp.

“You’re so cruel to compare me to your other projects.  I won’t listen.”

“You will listen,” I said, needled by her remarks on my set-in sleeves.  “It’s not me, it’s you- your fabric.  That’s not my fault.  You’re the one who won’t give.  You’re the one who won’t ease.  You’re the one who wrinkles the second I touch you.  I should have known you were more suited to a breezy sundress or a straight-tailored shirt.  I’m the one who tried to make you into something you aren’t, but  I can’t keep pouring myself into you with so little return.  We rushed into this and I made a mistake.  Your fabric isn’t right for the pattern.”

Lydia sat silently for some time as I realized that in the heat of the moment, I hit the nail on the head.

“Could you try to salvage the skirt?” she asked at some length.  “Think of the front kick pleat- it’s so unique.  I know you want to watch it dance while you walk.”

“You’re right, I do.  I might finish the skirt.  I’m sorry Lydia, you’re headed for the ragbag.  You and I and the pattern don’t work together.”

She sagged silently; she knew it was over.  I tried to make the skirt work and realized I cut the right front yoke in the size 12, though the rest was a size 16.  I slapped in the bound buttonholes with all the finesse of a myopic baboon.

I plan to put the skirt together anyway and see what happens.  At any rate, it’s about $15 worth of fabric, which is next to nothing in Aussie dollars.  Now that I finally decided to give up and analyzed why it didn’t work out, I feel light.  I feel free.  I feel ready to start over.

Meanwhile, I still want this dress.  I know the pattern and construction inside out now, and I want a dress to show for it.  After some cruising around Fashion Fabrics Club, I noticed a few lightweight wools which might fit the dress better.  I don’t blame the pattern or my sewing skills, I think I was trying to make a silk purse from a hog’s ear and this time it didn’t work.

One of these might work better.  A completely smooth, plain fabric wouldn’t be right, I’d be back in Deco Star Trek territory.  With a subtle pattern in a color which flatters me, this will be a very smart work dress.  Especially if I steal Patty’s insanely gorgeous tailored buttons.  It could become something Miss Lemon would envy.

( Miss Lemon, from an era when women could be fashionable without compromising dignity.)

I’d love fabric input.  My husband overheard some of my conversation with Lydia and said I should just go ahead and buy the right fabric for the dress.  It’s always nice to be encouraged to do something like that.

Edited to add:  I shopped, slept on it, and then this morning bought this gray tropical weight wool:

It’s so scary to buy fabric online, but I think this will do.  Black silk accents and stitching?  I think so.

Moderne: We have sleeves!

I’m making this dress- Wearing History’s Moderne, View 1.  This style is not for the faint of heart, nor is the construction.  No one ever accused me of shrinking violet syndrome, so here we are.  I finished the sleeves today and attached them.

At this point, I said sayonara to the archaic 1930’s instructions which tell you to make four more bound buttonholes, join the sleeve seam, then attach the facing and topstitch in the round.  I preferred to do it flat, even if that means that the sleeve/facing seam at the wrist won’t be enclosed.  Somehow I’ll get over it.  I also chose to make “hand worked” style machine buttonholes as I have no interest in tiny bound buttonholes.  Yes, it would be a pretty couture touch in a plainly visible area but if I got caught up in making buttonholes I wouldn’t finish the dress til sometime around Independence Day.

I am the type of sewist who likes to sit in front of my machine and sew.  That’s why I put in so much prep work on big projects.  I honestly can’t figure out how it happened, but the front of my sleeve head had WAY too much ease.  I played and trimmed and steamed and somehow managed to set the sleeves.  I haven’t had this much trouble with sleeves in a long time, I can’t blame the pattern because I re-drew the sleeve heads myself.  I’m not thrilled with the result, but I can live with it.

Speaking of fiddling while sewing, I had to re-cut the collar a few times to get the right length.  I like the copious top-stitching which makes it stand up stiffly.  Between finishing the collar and attaching the sleeves, I tried it on and worried I made a huge mistake- I looked like the commander of the Art Deco spacecraft from the future.

I’m less worried now, though I can tell I made a poor fabric choice.  This is a tailored dress.  I like tailored dresses, but they require a fabric which eases well.  I dyed this cotton pique and the silk accents using a larger than usual dose of sodium carbonate as a fixer.  I suspect the sodium carbonate somehow stiffened the fabrics, though I washed them normally after dyeing.  This pique has the texture of a paper napkin and will not ease.  I plan to soak the whole thing in some kind of fabric conditioner or a sodium bicarbonate solution after construction, in the hopes it will soften the fibres again.  I would never have bought the pique were it this stiff in the shop.

I’m really, really excited about the sleeves- they’re completely unexpected.  I want to make this dress in the future using a lightweight wool or a silk, something smooth and buttery that responds to steam.

I had thought to use a CF zipper.  No matter how I approach the problem, I can’t figure out how to make it work.  I’d use a separating zip, but the side front skirt yoke would have to be attached to the waist seam, rendering my efforts laughable.  I ripped out the side seam almost to the armscythe and it’s easier to wriggle into now despite the long tight sleeves.

The skirt and lining may weigh down the bodice sufficiently so it hangs the way I wish it would.  I plan to flatline the skirt pieces with dark blue cotton voile.  Fingers crossed!

I’m working on the skirt draft to go with the Demilitarized jacket, I dug deep into Golden Section principles and I’m really excited to show you what I came up with.

Moderne Update: Bodice

This is notes to self, I can’t write much or I’ll lose sewing time…

Binder Foot and black cotton bias tape to bind the edges of the front facing.  It takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth learning.

I like to use a decorative stitch to attach the binding because it’s tough and pretty.

3.0 stitch length, 5.5 needle position, 50 wt silk-finish mercerized cotton topstitching thread.

The bound buttonholes took most of last week.

I remembered bound buttonholes take time- much more time than machine worked buttonholes.  I know they’re “purer” in a way, and as much as I like them I think I’ll still file them under “sometimes” techniques.

That said, I’m enjoying the color effect they create.  I think I may stitch an invisible zip down the front to join the skirt yoke to allow for ease of dressing. 

Addendum- I thought about it and I’ll have to use a separating zip down the CF.  If I can find a separating dress zip, that’s the way I’ll go. 

Tulip Sleeves on Tulips Tutorial

Birdmommy guessed correctly- tulip print fabric inspired me to make tulip sleeves.  I don’t usually lavish much attention to details on Lila’s clothing, but it’s fun and only a little more effort than regular sleeves.

Heather left a great comment in the Riddle Me This post:

“Okay, I keep thinking about this riddle, and it’s distracting me from my thesis. (Actually, I’ll look for any excuse to distract me from the thesis, so it’s really not your fault :D)

I’m starting to think it’s not a specific technique so much as a method. I learned recently on a documentary on shoe making that ‘bespoke’ means custom made or made to an individuals measurements. Wikipedia tells me that the word is derived from the verb to bespeak, to “speak for something”, in the specialized meaning “to give order for it to be made”. They go on to talk about how bespoke in fashion is when a garment is made from scratch or from a block pattern to an individual’s specific measurements, and that some set the standards for bespoke as work that is entirely done by hand.

So my guess for the answer is that little Lila asked for spring flowers (tulips in particular?), and you filled that order in true bespoke manner by self-drafting a tulip-themed top, and possibly doing all the work by hand, hand-stitching possibly included. Maybe this is why the ‘prize’ for the winner is a seam-ripper?

I considered making up something that rhymes, but my brain is far to stretched out to do it. :)

Whether I’m right or not, this was a fun riddle to think about! Now I’m off to work on my own riddle, aka M.Sc. thesis.

Yours was much more entertaining.”

She’s right, except I didn’t hand-stitch.  It is bespoke in the tradition of customization and whimsy.     I wish I could sincerely apologize for distracting your from your thesis, Heather.  It’s a shame we don’t use “bespeak” as a verb anymore.

I started with the regular sleeve from the Oliver + S Hopscotch Top.  I’ve made it several times this summer, so thought I’d play with the design.

With the green marker, I squared off the underarm seam.

I drew a straight line from the center of the sleeve head to the hem.  I drew a horizontal line about 1/3 of the way down the underarm seam, but that’s not a rocket science line placement.  Anywhere on the underarm seam will do.

I drew a gently curving line from just below the front notch, through the intersection of my two lines, flattening out to join the back underarm seam.

I drew another curved line from just below the back notches to the front underarm seam.

I used a new scrap of polytrace and traced one half of the sleeve.

Then I moved the polytrace along and matched up the underarm seam, which became seamless, and traced the other half of the sleeve.

Finished pattern piece, with hem allowance sketched in.

To insert the sleeve, first make the hem.  Then wrap the sleeve, matching up the notches on the sleeve head.  Baste.  Then insert the sleeve as for a set-in sleeve.

The matched-up seams was some lucky accident.  I also made a big inverted box pleat in the CF rather than gathering.

Finally, I finished the front of Moderne’s bodice.  I want to knock out the bodice construction tomorrow, perhaps get the sleeves made this week.

Thoughts on the S-Shape (With Burda Skirt)

I like deadlines.  They make me feel alive- tracing, cutting, ripping, stitching, pressing in a mad frenzy.   Manic energy fuels much of my creativity.

I made Burda 04-2010-125 this morning, sans bow.  She went together like a pleasant waking dream- the opiate of skirt sewing.  Linen-cotton blend fabric printed with European/American animals by a Japanese designer, sewn by an American in Australia from a German pattern.  Ah globalization, so seldom do I notice thee.

Fresh off the machine.  Meh.  The pattern at the side seams was never fated to match, I refuse to make myself nuts about it.  I *should* use a larger size for the back and a smaller for the front to balance the seam line properly.  First problem: just a little frumpy, despite the squirrels and pleated frill.

My first foray into the vintage sewing blogosphere began with a desperate google search: “How to fit a pencil skirt like Joan Holloway.”  I made several pencil skirts from patterns of the era, with frump-tastic results.

It’s fine, but rather straight.  Finding little information on the subject, and with other pressing projects, I forgot about it until today.  I found a delicious page describing a “wiggle” skirt in great detail and the penny dropped.  “…the width of the hem of the dress is narrower than the hips.”

Of course.  How silly of me.

I tweaked in the side seams above the frill, et viola.  Spankability.  Did girls like Joan buy or make their skirts, then tweak in the side seams below the hip?  None of my “wiggle” skirt patterns have this shaping built in to the pattern.

Check out her sexy little pot:

Soft, not fat, and so pretty.

While pondering why I still felt “meh” after the tweaking, I realized the skirt wants a waistband.  The clean edge at my waist cuts me in half and draws an unflattering line where I should have no line.  “Hourglass” figures are often defined as having a set bust to waist to hip ratio, often determined as 10″ difference between waist and the apexes.

I have the measurements, but I’m not shaped like that.

The shape is often held up as some sort of ideal.  I’m not sure why, because it’s hard to dress an hourglass.  Tops don’t fit without alteration, and watch the ribcage area or you add several pounds of extra weight (see the blouse above).  Don’t get me started about below the waist- “sway back” puddling and wrinkles, bunching fabric, it’s a nightmare.   While working with jacket patterns, I noticed that the 4044 jacket (which fits my lower back well) CB seam was excessively curved outward below the waist, with nearly straight side seams.

 Classic “Gibson Girl” Type S-Shape

Oh, I thought, that’s an S-shape.  The S-shape is a variation of the hourglass, meaning most of the excess baggage carries directly at the front and at the back with straight(ish) sides.  I’ve been sewing my own clothes, fitting them, and making style decisions for years and never realized that about my body.  Understanding this helps with alterations, and with working on proportion.  No wonder nipping in the side seams at the waist never worked for me.  Sheesh.  Now I know to nip in below the bust and above the backside.  

Before I take proper pictures, I’ll rip out the top seam and attach a pretty shaped waistband.  (Probably rip off the lace, too, but I need to figure out some trim to break up the print.)  That’ll fix her.  I’m sewing like a mad thing this week, I don’t want to spend time taking photos until I finish everything.

Thoughts?  How should I break up that print?  How did I sew so long without realizing those simple things?