Saturday, June 14, 2014

Destashing for a Good Cause

This is a short post today about de-stashing for a good cause. We are getting ready to sell our house and we are going through all of the stuff we have accumulated in 10 years. I had to come face-to face with how much fabric I had accumulated over the years.  It was borderline "looks-like-a-hoarder-lives-here" territory. I got a lot of it I got when I was still learning what fabrics work best for the things I like to sew.  It was a great deal or really pretty, but some of it, although it is great fabric, will never really work for me.

I was thinking about donating it all to Goodwill with some furniture and clothing we are getting rid of, but I was worried about it just being thrown away.  I recently saw a report that mentioned a shocking number of items donated to thrift stores are thrown away.  It isn't that the thrift store is being wasteful, it is that a lot of people donate junk.  They just don't have the resources to clean or repair things to get it to a sellable state.
My Donation - 12 bags worth
I didn't want the fabric to land in the junk yard because the fine people at Goodwill might not sew or recognize it as anything but trash.  I searched the internet and stumbled across fantastic charity called Stitches of Love.  They are currently working on a Back to School clothing drive for children.  They also have other charities they sew for, so they don't waste any fabric.  I emailed them, and the coordinator, Juereta, responded right away.  She even drove to my house to take the fabric! She was so lovely!

When we are done moving, I am going to contact Juereta again to volunteer some time.  I'm glad I found them! If you are in the Phoenix area and looking to de-stash or volunteer, check them out! I am sure other cities have similar organizations, as well. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Plus Size Labels

Lately I have been thinking a lot about body image.  It is a struggle when you are into sewing and fashion and you are over a size 6.  And for the record, I am well over a size 6.  I usually cut a size 12-14 for the top of dresses, and if it is fitted, I cut a 16-18 for the bottom - a full two sizes bigger for the hips.  I am classified as plus size.  For me, this has been a tough term to own.

Some of the issue is the models.  They look like this:
(I want to take them home and feed them, the poor, hungry things.)
And I look like this even when some good lighting and clever angles are employed. 
Which, when you spend too much time comparing yourself to, can set you down the path to some unnecessary and unproductive self-loathing.  (This dress is Burda 7053, which I haven't blogged about yet.)

 To make things more difficult, it seems like you have two choices - hate your own body and constantly be on a diet with the goal of being unhealthily thin and then hating yourself more when you always come up short, or in a state where you say "I'm ok.", which is totally frowned on.  You can't embrace your size if you aren't a size 0.  You can't win.

I do plenty of this to myself, but outside forces don't make it easier.  These are all things that were said to me or about me in the past:
  • That is a great outfit for a larger woman.  Read:  It is really the best you can do given that you are dealing with all that fat.  I mean, a thin woman would do something else better, but this hides you pretty well.
  • You have such a pretty face.  Read: the rest of you is kind of a wreck, but if I just look at your face, I can see something ok.
  • She is nice, but the thing is, she has a big butt. I overheard this one when I was 17.  For the record, I was 20 pounds thinner than I am now.  A guy I went on a couple dates with but we decided we were just friends  was talking to the guy I thought I was flirting successfully with.  The second guy did an about-face after that conversation I overheard them having.  I was hurt at the time.   I found out 15 years later that the second guy is gay and likely looking for an excuse, but I didn't know that at the time.
  • Since you've had kids, this kind of jeans will work for you.  This one was from an employee at a clothes store when I was  getting help picking out jeans to try on.  For the record - I have never had children and didn't mention anything about it during our 15-second interaction when I asked for help.  But apparently, my hips tell a story of multiple births.
I am hardly alone in my struggles.  A lot of women struggle with the same kinds of issues. But I now officially am going to own the label "Plus Size".  And I am also going to still exercise and eat clean and know that it doesn't mean that I hate who I am.  Spending any amount of time hating our own bodies is destructive and I am not going to do it.  I recognize that I may have to remind myself of this again. 

I'll close with a shout-out to someone who I think is doing it right.  It's Carolyn from the blog Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. In a world of very young, adorable and popular size 2 sewing bloggers, Carolyn is a plus-sized grandmother.  She has posted about the unkind comments people have made about her size and it is so nice to see her get so much support from her readers.  Plus, I love seeing her projects, reading about her obsession with Olivia Pope's wardrobe on Scandal, her positive outlook on life and her addiction to buying fabric that I totally relate to.  She doesn't define herself by her size and neither should the rest of us.  If you don't read her blog already, check it out. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Upcycle: A retro dress from a thrift store curtain - V8789

This dress was a curtain in a former life.  Now it is Vogue 8789.
Lately,  I've been reading blog posts about upcycling and refashioning.  These are creative people who take a horrible dresses and make something great.  A great example is Nout from Sandpaper Kisses.  She says she doesn't sew, but I don't think the evidence supports her claim.  This is her amazing dress transformation.
Picture from
She is completely adorable and this dress is so cute!  (Check out her blog) It made me want to run out and do the same thing.

So I went to the thrift store and tried to find something to remake.  I had a hard time. Don't get me wrong, I found lots of horrible clothes, but I must lack the ability to see the diamond in the rough.  I found myself in the curtain section and saw a panel with pretty stripes for only $3.99.  I bought it and made a dress. Which I am not sure even counts towards my refashion goal since essentially all I did was buy fabric and make clothes, which is exactly what I usually do and didn't require any great vision.  I'm baby stepping into this whole refashion thing.

I sewed view A of Vogue 8789 with one modification.
Gathered skirts never look good on me. Ever.  They just end up looking bulky and hide my waist.  Since my hips are wide and my booty expansive, that ends up being all you can see.  No bueno.

Instead, I used the Dirndl skirt pattern from Burda (the same one I used for the Bombshell dress) and I can't seem to find it on the Burda site any more or I would include a link.  However, it is a 3/4 skirt that is not gathered or pleated at all.

Using the limited amount of fabric (one curtain panel) and matching the stripes was a challenge.
 Here is the back of the dress.
For the belt, I covered a bit of elastic with fabric and used eyehooks for closures.  The dress is fully lined in a white cotton fabric because the curtain material is quite thin and made of polyester and the cotton is nice next to my skin.  The zipper is an invisible zipper with the lining hand-sewn onto it on the inside.

Final Details:
Dress Fabric: 3.99
Cotton Muslin Lining: 12.00
Zipper: $3.00
Elastic from another project -0-
Eyehooks from another project -0-
Total: About $19.00 USD
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