Friday, March 29, 2013

We are not fruit

This week's inspirational blogpost read comes from StephC at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World: Not Buying It: Styles for Body Shapes.  Steph writes persuasively about the ridiculous tyranny of style guides which categorise us accord to certain body shapes, and hector us on appropriate choices of clothing.  I agree with everything she says, and rather than precis it here, I recommend you click through and read it for yourself.

Soon after, sitting on the side of the local swimming pool eating supermarket sushi while the kids had their swimming lessons and before I went back to work for a marathon series of evening meetings, I read in our regional newspaper just the kind of style guide Steph wrote about.  Apparently the article is the beginning of a series about to run in the Christchurch Press.  I quote:

"We welcome readers' input on their body shape problems and fashion solutions."

There is no other permissible language than that of problems?  Acceptance not allowed?

Reading StephC's post gave me a stronger sense of self as I read the article in the Press and as I dressed the next day.  Enjoying what I wear is something much bigger and better than following the dictates of tired formulae designed to create the most willowy possible silhouette.  I wore the red corduroy skirt which I made last year and my most comfortable boots which stop at (gasp) the widest part of my calves, and even when I caught sight of myself in the door reflection, I felt good with the reinforcement that liking my red skirt was far more important than the possibility that it was 'boxy' on me.

Plus the other thing about all that nonsense advice (and Steph deals comprehensivly with the differences available to sewists in comparison with the narrow band of clothing which will fit me and many others in ready-to-wear clothing) is that somewhere, almost always, there is the mention of high heels being flattering to ones legs.  Cos' obviously it is a wise solution to wear heels all the time and wreck ones back?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The learning dress

I'm calling this dress my learning dress.  It's certainly a lot more wearable than some of my previous 'learning dresses'.  I've gone back and narrowed the sleeves, taken the hemline up by 8cm and lifted the underarm seam a little as I narrowed the sleeves.  I also shortened the midriff band some more.  Unfortunately I sewed the back on to the front when I reattached the midriff band, so I've lost my loved chevron matching stripes effect in the front.  I'm not up for redoing that, as I narrowed the length of my stitches for a stronger seam, and it would take ages to unpick.

The original version (bottom left photo) came up reasonably well, but I felt very dowdy in it.  Hardly the result I was hoping for.  Next time I make this dress, I will probably cut the sleeves to the elbow rather than 3/4 sleeves.  I may try the separate sleeve piece pattern which is available on the Cake Patterns website.  There is a bit of excess fabric between the bust and shoulder and I can't see how I would eliminate that in this pattern and still fit through the bust.  I probably need to go to a pattern with gathered shoulders to avoid this, but I'm not really looking for more patterns at the moment, just more successful clothes with the patterns I do have.
 My number one photographer is at cub camp, so I enlisted number 2 child, who declared it was only possible to take a photo with the bars in it. 
 With much prompting, she managed this one which only has the edge of the bunk in it.

Number 2 photographer instructed me on how to curtsey. 

On the left is the original version.  On the right is a similarly unflattering photograph of the remodelled version.  It was after this photo that I had the idea of gettting Brighid up on the bunk so the camera isn't angled upwards.  Vanity and the fat woman.  Usual story.
I had read on the StephC's website about using fusible webbing tape, so today I decided to try it.  My local yarn and haberdashery shop had something called rescue tape which was double sided and I so I tried it out.  I stuck it against the hem and then turned it up and then I could sew it in place.  It was a little sticky sewing it where I hadn't covered it perfectly, but overall it seemed to work and was nice and fast compared to trying to measure and pin the hem of a half circle skirt.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blueberry kefir smoothie

It's a kitchen post!  Not had one of those in a long time...

Blueberry kefir smoothie
Whizz together:
milk kefir 
blueberries (mine are from frozen)
chia seeds


I'm drinking it every night.

I'm still reading about copper, and haemochromatosis, and zinc absorption and how it all fits together.  So much to learn, but it's worth it.  Every time I've had a major illness, it's turned out to be linked to immune function, and I've learnt a lot as I regain control over my life and health.  Copper is my current biggest learning curve.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cirque du Soleil

Earlier this evening we all went to the latest Cirque de Soleil film.  It was pretty spectacular.  Then we had fish and chips on the beach beside the Point Elizabeth walkway.  I didn't take the camera, but that was pretty spectacular as well.  Most of the rest of the day was about autumn planning, with wood stacking, clearing tree pruning debris, and of course one thousand and eight loads of washing.

No sewing this weekend, but I did receive my Pavlova skirt and top pattern on Friday.  I have some alterations to make to my stripey Tiramisu dress this week, and then I can start the new sewalong.  I hope I like the circle skirt, because I have no less than four lots of fabric which I could make it in.  The fabric above is lovely and drapey (and prone to fraying).  I need to do some thinking about where I place the pattern pieces.  I guess it is designed more for clothing which falls straight down.  It would make a sumptuous summer dressing gown, but I'm not sure that I'd get enough wear out of such an item.

Thanks to the lovely Gilly, I am fermenting milk kefir again, after a gap of a few years.  I've been making smoothies with blueberries and chocolate and kefir each night.  Health kick meets night treat...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tiramisu III

Tiramisu the Third.  The print is good - I had feared it would be overwhelmingly, screamingly bright in effect.  After the second Tira dress, where I made a size 40 all over, with an FBA and 3/4 length cut-on sleeves, this one has narrowed sleeves, a wider cross-over section, a smidge more length below the bust and a shortened midriff.  I think it is pretty good, though I do have the bug of still considering how it could be better.  It is flattering - there's quite a heft of tummy that isn't particularly obvious.  I will pin the crossover section so it stops a bit higher.  I'm now going to go back to my stripey tiramisu and narrow the sleeves, narrow the midriff and probably take the waist in through the sides a smidge.  I'm finding noticeable differences in how flattering it is depending on loose or more fitted fabric.  Because of the cut-on sleeves, I'm reluctant to cut too high under the arm, so a bit of extra looseness around the underarms is just how it has to be.

The under-bust fit is the one I'm interested in the most.  My first Tiramisu dress, the midriff was half-way up to my bust point until I resewed the underbust seam with the narrowest seam I could get away with.  The second one, the midriff was in a better place, but a bit loose and I thought I needed to get the seam lower again for #3.  I did lengthen the fabric on the bodice a little, and what I have learnt with #3 is that, on a big busted-narrow shouldered, short waisted, narrow rib caged, big tummied girl like me, when the seam comes down, the bust uses up more room and the bodice is pulled slightly open in the centre.  If the midriff seam is not to be pulled up, then the midriff itself needs to be very firm-fitting, and this in turn will require more room in the bust.  It's a dress, not a swimming outfit!  Turns out that the midriff band sitting partly against the rib cage and partly against the underside of the bust is the better place after all.  I don't have the resources to try and photgraph all of this right now, but I hope it makes a little sense to anyone with a particular interest in fitting large busts on small frames.

I think a Tiramisu 3/4 sleeve dress in navy jersey would be nice, though I'll need to get the fit right first time round with jersey.  When I used it last year to make the Simplicity 1945 crossover top, it was close to impossible to unpick any mistakes.

But anyways, it's time for a break from Tiramisu dresses.  Cake Patterns' second pattern release is on its way to me as I type.  It's a circle skirt and a wrap top (more wrapping?  Yes, more wrapping) called Pavlova.  Here is a beautiful rendition, made and modelled by StephC, Mrs Cake Patterns Herself.
I adore the emerald green fabric.  I've got some black merino for the wrap top.  For the bottom, because I loved it in the shop, despite the impracticality of a pale-base skirt, I have a very soft, flowing, cream fabric with layers of flowers on it.  Blogger (or my computer) is misbehaving, so I can't paste the photo.  Then I have black and white polka dot fabric as a possible for a second skirt.  I only get little bits of sewing each night, and then not every night of the week.  But it really helps me step away from the demands of my day job and of the juggling act of simultaneously working for money and raising children.  It seemed like forever, and was in fact three years, before I started to make things which I kept wearing out of the house, but now the effort seems worthwhile, especially with the Tira dress, my first pattern to run to three successful makes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I've been haunted by the power of a beautiful funeral speech all weekend.  Of the joy which one woman remembered and shared as she farewelled her husband in the coffin.  Of her strength and the way she spoke to him in her speech.  I stare at my husband and two beautiful children, and this morning, after only going to the supermarket, I wanted to come home quickly and tell them all I love them.

My daughter and I went to Art in the Park, where she made lots of fabulous paintings.  I took my son to the BMX track, where he had lots of fun and I tried to capture it with the camera.  This afternoon I took them to the Gypsy Fair, where we all had more fun and caught up with more friends.  When I had to slip away and get some paid work done earlier this evening, Favourite Handyman sorted the kitchen out, cooked dinner, fed the children and ran the bath.  I'm so lucky and so grateful.