Tag Archives: plus size
10 Aug

I bought a blouse pattern recently from Hot Patterns.  I’d heard great things about their patterns, and decided that I would try the Classix Nouveau Peasant Blouse.  It looked like a simple, straightforward kind of blouse.  Most importantly, it looked like one that I could get on and off easily without help.

Now sewing may seem like an odd choice for someone who is disabled enough that I choose clothing for its easy on/off abilities.  The reality is that I have lost almost everything that I dearly love in terms of hobbies due to the same disability.  Everything is now the abridged version, if I can do it at all.  None of it can be done without someone helping me through some of the process.  For an independent person, that’s nearly torture.

I waited over four years before even trying to sew.  I was terrified it was going to be another thing that I could not do, and not trying meant I didn’t have to face another barrier that was not going to vanish.  Finally though, I gathered up my nerve and tried.

I can sew, but I have some serious limits that mean that everything takes a lot more time than recommended, and is far slower than my previous abilities would have allowed me to complete things.  A two hour project now typically takes at least two days.  There is no such thing as quick and easy anymore.

I discovered that regular scissors were hopeless.  Too much reaching, too much hand movement, and it resulted in too much pain and frustration.  Special scissors, approved for arthritis patients, made things easier.  Electric shears, which I had used before, require too much arm movement and work more quickly than I dare go with an arm that sometimes has its own agenda, unrelated to the rest of me.  Greg is also willing to help me with anything I am trying to do.  It’s likely much easier to help rather than deal with me during a total melt down.

I have a fantastic sewing machine that nearly sews things for you.  It has little vibration and rarely misbehaves. So with that running, I can get to work.  For 5-10 minutes, or about enough time to do one seam.  Then, it’s break time.  It’s aggravating to someone who likes to just finish something now, but I’ve had time to adjust.  I only get mildly annoyed at this continual interruption that being me mean I have to have.  The payoff of facing that mild annoyance is the ability to create something without excessive pain resulting.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I can rarely have independently anymore.

So, without focusing on the restrictions that my disabilities have foisted upon me, I can now tell you about the pattern I am attempting to sew.

I’ve learned a lot.  First of all, if you want to use Hot Patterns patterns, you had best have internet access or else enough experience that you really don’t need written directions.  They have great tutorials on YouTube and they are also on their website, but the directions aren’t written for someone who prefers to see it written down in black and white.  Okay, I’ll suffer through trying to watch a video and then translate it to what I’m doing on the table and sewing machine.  I am not sure I like that though—it’s a pain to have to go back to the tutorial and then try to find the spot, say for the neck, and replay that portion.  I also am one of those people that do not do well with being told how to do something, but rather I prefer to read how to do something.  I was told long ago that it is a learning style, and I need to see it clearly rather than hear it.  Until now, that had never been a problem with learning how to put a particular pattern together.

The other thing I learned about Hot Pattern is that I should watch the tutorial for a pattern before I buy it.  The blouse I bought is put together differently than I am accustomed to, and it hasn’t been easy.  That may not be their fault, but rather the old rut thing—doing something differently is probably good for me, but like many other people, I sometimes get into ruts of wanting to do it exactly the same.  Nothing about this pattern has been the same.

Including the measurements.

The pattern is multi-sized, and I took my measurements (with help even) and then re-took my measurements, just to be sure.  As I checked my size, I told myself it was high time to get a bit more serious about weight loss than I have been, as the size I was going to require was two sizes larger than my usual off-the-rack size.  That’s not uncommon with patterns—they don’t use the same sizing as clothing manufacturers do.  I think it’s part of a global conspiracy to further erode the confidence of women and ensure they remain ambiguous about their personal body image.

But body image aside, I laid out the pattern pieces, cut out the cloth, and proceeded to start putting this blouse together out of some cheap fabric I had bought out of a clearance bin.  It’s not pretty fabric—it’s a rather bleah medium brown with small white dots.  It certainly isn’t a slimming or fun print, but it didn’t require pattern matching or fussing a I was cutting it out.  I felt like I was sewing a tent together.  Not only was the construction method different than the patterns I’d sewn in the past, but it seemed huge.

I felt like I was literally making a tent.

Finally, I reached a point where I could try on the garment, though it was far from finished.  Greg laughed.

It was quite obvious that I had been sewing a personal tent.  The garment was big enough that Greg and I could both wear it.  At the same time.

There is a reason Hot Patterns advocates making a “muslin” (test garment out of cheap fabric with a similar hand to the planned garment).  Maybe it is because their sizing chart isn’t very accurate?

So, I was now faced with a choice.  I could rip out the seams, cut the pattern pieces down two sizes, and resew it.

That’s a lot of work.  I also can’t really see the thread I sewed with (dark brown) to make ripping it out very easy.  Greg does a lot of stuff for me, but did I really want to ask him to rip out all of those seams?  I thought about the problem for a bit.  Then, I thought about the oversized “blouse” in a cotton fabric.

It would make a great over-blouse to wear in cooler weather.  It’s practically a painter’s smock in its original design, with a simple shape, raglan sleeves, and an open v-neck.  Add a couple of spacious patch pockets, and I’ve got a great top to wear while doing things and wanting an additional layer, plus it’s already sized to wear over clothing.

Am I just rationalizing my laziness?

Maybe.

So I’ll make it two sizes smaller in more cheap fabric.  That’s okay.  It seems likely that it will be easier to sew after the first one.  I also know that making these test garments is good practice anyhow.  Nothing is more disappointing than using expensive fabric only to have it be ill fitting or make an error in construction.  Not all fabrics are forgiving of having seams ripped out either.

I’ll finish the garment—it has three steps left now before I’ll be snipping off the last stray thread tails and deeming it done.  Unless I add the pockets, which will be relatively easy to do.  I think I will add them—and sizing one just to fit my Kindle.

I’ll call it my indoor jacket for when I want an additional layer, but not an actual coat.  It will go great over a t-shirt, as well as being something easy to pop on to go to the mailbox or make a store run too.  Yep, definitely a case of rationalizing going on here!

 

Notice: Don’t forget–this blog is being moved to www.exogenynetwork.com very soon.  During August, posts are being made in both locations.

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Sew aggravating! Plus size patterns and new book

3 Aug

I recently got the sewing machine out and faced the music about whether or not I was still capable of sewing and enjoying it after becoming disabled.  I have a large collection of sewing patterns, but I bought a simple, easy-to-sew pattern to use for my initial foray into sewing again.

I was ecstatic to discover that yes, I could.  I couldn’t sew very long, and cutting the fabric is a huge challenge that has resulted in Greg being recruited…but I can do it.  I was off and running again, with something that I could do and enjoy.  I refreshed basic sewing skills through making my granddaughter and grand (or is that a great?) niece some skirts that were ideal for twirling in.  The pattern I used just asked to have the techniques upscaled  a bit from beginner to more finished, as well as for a bit of embellishment.

My creative juices were flowing again, only this time, it’s a calorie free pleasure!

That has me working on the next non-fiction book.  I’m going to do a book of projects, including sewing patterns and instructions, for dogs & their doggy people.  It’s a sort of super-sized pattern, I suppose, although it’s also about teaching people to make customized projects that actually fit their dog, rather than being merely a duplication of off-the-rack projects that may or may not work for their beloved companions.

So, while I’m working on that project, I decided my next project for myself would be some clothing.  I wanted a new sewing pattern or two as well.

Now that sounds easy enough, right? After all, women’s clothing sewing patterns are available with hundreds of variations.

Wrong.

With disability, I’ve gained a lot of weight.  Far too much, to be honest.  That has resulted in my clothes size going up.  A lot more than I’m comfortable admitting.  I need  plus size sewing patterns now.

Then, I made a horrible discovery.

Major pattern manufacturing companies don’t have much in terms of options for plus size sewing patterns.  To make it worse, they also don’t have much in anything I could wear.

Let’s amend that.  They had very little, if anything, I would wear.  They had even less in things I wanted to make at this point.  There was a handful of sewing patterns for plus sizes.  There were more options for maternity clothing than plus sizes in their sewing patterns.

As I recall, when I was pregnant, I spent a very brief time in maternity clothes compared to how long I’ll be in plus size clothing.  I’m not alone in that either–just walk through any mall or big box discount store (you all know which one I’m talking about here) and you’ll see plenty of plus size men and women, and you’ll see some that dwarf even plus sizes.  A lot of them surely sew? Or want custom clothing?

Apparently they either make their own or make do with off-the-rack clothing.  Maybe that explains some of the “fashion” we see on the plus size crowd.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m no fashion plate myself.  I pay very little attention to the latest fashions, actually.

What I want is along the lines of classic, with a focus on easy to sew, easy to get on, and easy to get off again.  Oh, and comfortable to wear.  Right now, I wanted a simple tiered skirt pattern and a pattern for a pull on tunic with a collar and options for either short or long sleeves.  On the sleeve thing, I could adapt a long sleeved pattern to a short sleeved one, even if it didn’t include that as an option.  I wanted the patterns to be designed with sufficient ease to make them out of lightweight and medium weight cotton or cotton blends as well–while summers are boiling hot in Mississippi, winters can be chilly too.  Sounds simple enough to buy a sewing pattern like that, right?

Wrong again.

I came up with exactly zero for the tiered skirt or the tunic in sewing patterns.  On the tunic blouse front, there were some pretty awful designs, usually with ruffles, some odd asymmetrical design, or horrible extended collars that had dangling bits to tie (and get caught in things when I’m doing stuff around the house.)  Even a full skirted, easy-to-wear dress wasn’t an option, as the offerings leaned towards knit fabrics (too hot for summer) zippers in the back (impossible for me to put on without help) boat necks, ruffles, more asymmetrical designed skirts, and overall just too fussy for my more tailored preferences.

Searching the independent pattern companies was my next option.  With higher overhead per pattern, their patterns are slightly more expensive, but my experience has indicated that they usually have far better directions as well as come in a bigger variety of sizes on one pattern.  This is fantastic if you tend to need one size on top and another on the bottom, or are sewing for more than one person.

Plus size patterns had slightly better options here, but once again, I was out of luck on the tiered skirt and the pull on tunic.  If you know of a small pattern company that has more classic and plainer designs, comment and tell me!

We can insert a long suffering sigh here.

So, years ago, I had made a pair of pants using a pattern from Suitability.  This company caters to the equestrian crowd.  The pants pattern, long discontinued, was for a zippered pair of unisex pants with cuffed ankles, waistband, was lightly gathered at the waist (maybe just in front?) and was the absolutely most comfortable pants I have ever owned besides my karate pants.   No matter what you were doing, they never restricted your movement.   They looked great too.  Unfortunately, the pattern was lost in moves, and I never could get another one.  (if anybody has that pattern…I think its name stared with a b?  You’d be my friend for LIFE if I could get it again!)  I even wrote to Suitability and plead my case to them, hoping they had a forgotten pattern package lingering somewhere…but no such luck.

I did find a pattern that looks like it might be a great one for me.  This time, instead of Suitability, it’s with Hot Patterns.  Hot Patterns also had a free downloadable pattern for what they called a waist coat and we’d call a long vest.  I may make that too!  They call them cargo pants, and they come in a multi-size pattern with both long pants and capri pants.  Instead of a cuffed bottom, they have a drawstring bottom.  I think I may just have to order that pattern…

So, without a pattern that I can purchase for the desired pieces I want to make, I may have to either design my own or modify some existing pattern into something I’m willing to sew and wear.  Not easy, but not impossible, even though I’m far from what I’d consider an expert seamstress.  I’m just long on sheer guts and creativity, I suppose?  I also know what I can and can’t do easily in terms of sewing, so I’m not going to jump off into the world of sewing a fitted fully-lined blazer just yet.  I have had a number of years in hiatus from sewing anything at all.

With regards to my upcoming book with projects for the dog lovers and their four legged companions, there is a list of projects already appearing, but I am still thinking about what people would want to make.  Everyone loves the quick & easy projects to use up scraps, recycled clothing, and cute projects, but what kinds of things should I include?  What do other dog lovers want for projects?

Personally, I think that sewing a dog bed is very expensive compared to ones that are purchased–I’m not inclined to regard that as a good project.  Most people don’t have the heavy duty machines necessary to sew actual collars and harnesses out of poly or nylon webbing either.  (I don’t!)  Are people more inclined to make things for their own dog or for gifts for their doggy friends and their companions?  Should I include items for the people that love their dogs as well as the dogs themselves?

So many (or should I say sew many?) choices to make!

What do you think I should include?  Comment and tell me!

Don’t forget–this blog is being moved to a new location.  Go check it out at www.exogenynetwork.com and click on Gia Scott Blog.