Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Project - A Wedding Dress

After 6 months, I am finally able to sew again. I had to pack up my sewing room while we were fixing up our house to sell it and keep it in storage while we were selling. It actually sold to the very first person who looked at it, but until the deal is finished, you still show the house, so the process took many months.  It is exhausting to constantly be living in a showroom. I also completely underestimated how creepy it is to have strangers in your house when you are not there. I would see little stuff randomly moved around, lights left on or off, footprints in the carpet. Nothing dramatic, but still, people you don't know are touching your stuff. It has an ick factor for me.

We are now renting an apartment and are since it is no longer a showplace, I finally got my sewing machines out of storage and am focused on a new project - I am going to sew my wedding dress for our wedding in May.

I have been drooling over two different dresses.  This one, I found on the Vogue Patterns Facebook page.
I love the champagne colored ribbon.  It really makes the dress.  It looks like there is a clasp at the front, which I think is a clever plan for not having to tie the ribbon by hand.  You can sew a perfect bow and then just attach it like a belt.  I am thinking I could add a little elastic to the sides of the knot under the bow, as well.  You can find a picture of the dress on Vogue's blog, as well.
 It is so pretty.  I love the lace sleeves and the buttons in the back.  Apparently, the person who sewed it used this pattern from Vintage Vogue V1084.
 And I can't find it on a blog anywhere, but it looks like there have been some serious adjustments to the pattern.  The front neckline looks lowered, the back bow has been taken out and replaced with buttons and a slip underneath looks like it was made into a camisole and attached.

The next dress I saw online was this one from  BHLDN.  The price is listed at $1,300 (on sale!).  It is a way above my price range and that makes buying it not an option, but just look at it.
For the BHLDN dress, I think it is closer to V8766, which I have sewn twice - once in view C, (the strapless version) and once in view F, which I made from a stretch knit.  The advantage to using this pattern is that I would only have to add some narrow straps for the slip, then sew the other view in lace and combine them.
The BHDLN dress might also be close to B5748.  I have sewn view B before and was fairly happy with the results.  With this one, I'd  make some adjustments to the skirt, since a circle skirt won't work with the border on the lace.
I bought seven yards of lace with a nice border. I also bought some champagne colored charmeuse for the slip.  It is so pretty in person, but the photo doesn't do it justice.  I don't normally spend very much on fabric, but I had to make an exception for the lace.  It was almost 30.00 a yard.  It seems very reasonable for this kind of lace, but way above what I usually spend. 
My next task is to make a trial dress in some much cheaper fabric. I don't want to cut into my nice fabric right away.  I have a couple of different options that I picked up on sale.  I can't decide which pattern I will start with - maybe it will be a combination of all three.  With any luck, I could end up with a nice cocktail dress.  To be continued...

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. 
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