Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Little Education, A Bit of Organization

Yes, yes. I've been neglecting my blog for a while now. I've still be keeping plenty busy with sewing activities, just more of the non-sewing sewing ones rather than the sewing ones. It's been reading, measuring, drafting, researching, and organizing.
  • My sewing room is coming along slowly: Daniel's working on shelves, we're designing the sewing table he'll build me, and I'm sorting through all of my grandma's attachments, figuring out what they are, and making a home for everything.
  • I've been drafting out the patterns for the purses I designed. 6 down, 13 to go! (This activity also taught me that rotary cutters are extremely sharp. If you happen to brush the blade along your arm, you end up with - you guessed it - a sizable slice through your arm that stings for 2+ hours)
  • I've researched and tried out sergers and ultimately made a decision and placed my order. I have a Janome MyLock 634D in the mail, to arrive Tuesday!! :)
  • I've been doing lots of reading about alterations and fitting, and have learned some things about my body type that I wasn't aware of.
See, lots of non-sewing sewing work. In my defense on the sewing side, I now have 3 versions of the Butterick 5354 (and a fourth that went to my sister for her birthday), and I made a very pretty, mostly successful, Simplicity 3956A, which went to a friend of mine. Granted, I had no idea if that one was even remotely a success until Friday since I was making it for myself, it wouldn't zip past my bra strap, and I was left wondering what went wrong until Beth tried it on and it fit her perfectly. Yes...I've forced myself to learn a lot in the last two weeks.

Butterick 5354 with sleeves!!

The screeching halt of my production output immediately followed my mental breakdown Thursday before last. After a couple rough days at work, I decided to relax and start on my much anticipated summer dress (Simplicity 2886A), with pockets and all. I couldn't have been more excited as I cut out pattern pieces and started the assembly. It started going wrong quickly after that when I pinned (and sewed, and clipped the corners, and trimmed the seam allowance, and pulled all that through the shoulder seams) the right side of my bodice to the wrong side of the bodice lining, so I ripped it out and fixed it. Then I managed to sew the side seams together rather than the back center seam (boy, did that take me a long time to figure out what I'd done wrong and why it wouldn't just turn right-side-out), and ripped it and fixed it. But it was okay. At that point, I was beaming with pride looking at a completed portion of my adorable dress. I draped it over myself and ran to the mirror, only to find that there was no way on earth that it was EVER going to be even remotely close to fitting me. The bottom of the bodice barely even made it halfway down my bust, let alone allowing room for the gathers into the waist band. I cracked then and there, staring at the mirror, just bawling. Daniel, bless his heart, tried to comfort me and tell me I would learn how to adjust it (of course, I had no desire to hear that, I was wallowing. Sometimes he's just so silly), but it just hurt so much. So I cried it out, came to my senses and started googling about Full Bust Adjustments. The tutorials I read made sense, but I wasn't 100% sure how to apply them to my dress, so I ordered some books on alterations and fitting patterns and hunkered down to wait.

An aside: why is the bodice front shorter than the bodice back? I can't figure out how that would work for anyone...

When the books arrived, I actually decided to read them rather than just looking up the FBA and moving on. Right now I'm reading the Palmer/Pletsch Fit for Real People and have a new-found awareness of several aspects of my body. I roped Daniel into helping me create a body graph today. He was not thrilled about it to start with since my non-cookie-cutter body shape gives me some real body image issues, but I think it actually helped in the long run. Looking at the completed graph really showed me that acute scoliosis my chiropractor talks about, but looking at the real-person samples in the books made me okay with it. Who among us is perfect? I also learned that I am a rare, true petite. The vast majority of short people are just that, short. Their legs and upper bodies are not in proportion to each other, usually the legs are short and the torso is average. I'm proportionate, which is why people never know I'm short until they have something to compare me to (generally, themselves). This is my graph:

I also completed the worksheet that told me some things I didn't know. I have very defined collar bones which give the optical illusion of squarish, broad shoulders. Looking at the math, I actually have one sloping shoulder, and they're average (I have them marked as narrow on the sheet because I noticed after I originally posted this that I measured incorrectly, oops!). The worksheet also confirmed one thing I knew: I have a big head :) See for yourself:

Now, I can't speak for men, but as a woman I know how difficult it is to maintain an accurate opinion of our bodies. It's so easy to fixate on that extra inch here or there that we don't like, or that popped up out of nowhere, and dilute ourselves into believing we're fat. I think it's a good idea to get the figures straight, and see it objectively. It might not always give us the answer we want (I'm pretty sure when we make my papier mache' dress form I'll be less than thrilled seeing in 3D what I really look like), but at least we'll have an accurate body image in mind...and how often are women nicer to themselves???

I'm taking this one step at a time and will learn to adjust my patterns to accommodate my extra fluff, and you'll see plenty of fitted bodices at that point!!! (a timeline hint: I really need the dress by Labor Day weekend)