Sewing for me

Around 2010, I tried to sew clothes for myself. I’d been sewing for K for a while and was feeling pretty confident and not a little cocky. Today, I thought I’d show you some of the things I made back then…and you can laugh with me! I’m still trying to figure out how to set up my tripod and take pictures of myself with a remote, so for this round, I won’t be modeling the clothes.

Here’s the first dress I attempted. It’s a Built By Wendy pattern, and I have several of her books. Looking at it now, I’m pretty embarrassed about how badly it’s sewn. As you can see, I created my own short-sleeve version of the dress. The zipper is askew, the neckline a mess, and it looks like a potato sack on me (the sizing turned out much more generous than expected), but I was so proud of it when I completed that last stitch! I still think it’s a cute dress with a lot of potential if styled right. It’s made out of a great brown linen fabric.

This tank is definitely adorable. But I’m not a floral person, not really, and I found that though the fit is OK, I hardly ever wore it because I felt weird in it. It was a lesson in choosing fabrics that fit my style.

It took some effort, but I was able to look beyond the fabric choice on the pattern envelope, and I’m glad I got this pattern. This knit top was mildly successful and as someone obsessed with stripes, I feel it is very me, but again, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The seams have fallen apart many, many times. I’m still learning how to sew knits, but boy, I really didn’t know how to sew them back then.

This dress was a labor of love and hate – it took me an inordinately long time and I made every possible mistake. I was immensely relieved when I finally finished it and gazed at the retro, swingy dress for a long, long time with admiration. The fabric is gorgeous – some gauzy cotton lawn I picked up years ago. It’s floral but it’s subtle with a more modern flair, I think. You probably can’t see from the image, but the pockets are on backwards!! I couldn’t even be bothered to fix it because I realized, when would I possibly wear a low-cut flouncy dress? I wore it once for a date night, but ended up clutching at my chest the whole time to prevent flashing the entire restaurant. Another lesson in selecting patterns that are appropriate for my lifestyle.

I quickly realized that most commercial patterns don’t fit me (I have a feeling they don’t fit most people?) and my brain had trouble wrapping around the concept of adjusting fit. I’m pretty short (5’4″), and seem to be curvy and flat in all the wrong places, and have what some may call stunted legs. I sewed a few other garments for myself — none of which fit well — but I settled back into sewing for K because it was so much easier.

But this year, I am going to conquer my fears of sewing for myself. The thing is, I have a lot of patterns. You’ve probably surmised that I have a ridiculous collection of Japanese kids pattern books, and yes, it’s true. I have hoarding instincts for all things that relate to making (craft books and supplies, cook books, fabric etc. etc.). 2013 is the year I bust my stash and actually use the myriad of books and patterns and how-to-tutorials I seem to keep accumulating. Hooray for using what you have!

6 thoughts on “Sewing for me

  1. How funny – last night in bed, while re-reading my much beloved pattern books, I said to my husband, “I really think I need to start using the patterns I currently have before buying more”, and wondering if I could even challenge myself to use a certain number before allowing myself to buy more.
    And here you are with the same thoughts! I’m sure we are not the only ones:) For me right now, it’s a little bit about simplifying life and bringing in less “stuff” to our home. Great intentions; harder to follow through when I see the perfect fabric!
    I had so much fun reading this post! I’ll have to take your word for how badly sewn the garments are, because from where I”m sitting, there are pretty cute! The top one is my favorite, probably b/c it’s linen and looks comfy to wear. Will you repurpose it for K or try to restyle it for yourself?
    Sorry for the mammoth post – just enjoyed this post so much:)

    1. Haha! We’re on the same wavelength! You know, I think I’m going to keep the linen dress as-is to remind me how far I’ve come when I finally develop some adult garment making skills – I’m a little sentimental like that.

  2. I can relate to your sewing woes. I find it is most rewarding to sew for kids as well. I have sewn most of these patterns and had similar issues – different fabrics – but always fit troubles! If I may suggest the Wiksten Tank or Tova Top I think you’ll find you get some use from them. I love the Tova in cotton gauze, it makes it nicely clingy and not as blousey. Stick to skirts if you have to use simplicity and go down a size. Liesl Gibson’s pattern line for Simplicity is a big improvement over their other stuff but the sizes are still larger than true to fit. Of course there are collette patterns too. Depends if you like the style but they are well written and professionally constructed. Cal Patch has a great book for drafting patterns to fit your body precisely.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Laura! Glad to know it’s not just me. I’ve heard great things about the Wiksten tank but this is the first I’ve heard of the Tova. I’ll need to check that out for sure!

  3. So exciting! I know what you mean, it’s sooo much easier (and more likely to result in a successful garment) to sew for the little ones. At this point, C has more than enough clothes and i am ever in need of more. 🙂 I second the recommendation for the tova, it’s a great pattern. I have and want to sew made by Rae’s washi dress, too, I’ve heard great things about it. Sewaholic patterns are great, though they are designed for pear-shaped bodies (and I’ve got one of those), and Colette patterns are lovely, though I’ve heard they are sized for a C cup. Also check out the Megan Nielsen patterns… she’s in Australia now but you can purchase from retailers in the US. Have you tried any of the patterns in the Japanese books?

    1. So many great options, thanks Robin! I do have a few Colette Patterns as well as the book, but I seem to recall that the blouse I tried to make ended up being too short on me, which makes me think that not only do I have stunted legs but an alien-like elongated torso?

      I have yet to try any of the Japanese patterns, but they’re definitely on my list!

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