When a simple, ten-minute alteration can turn a dud of a garment into a win, and make the wearer feel great, I am super happy. While visiting my sister, I worked with her to alter some items in her wardrobe so they'd highlight her beauty. The biggest problem she faces, like many small but busty women, is that any Ready To Wear (RTW) shirt which fits her bosom will bag out in other places. In my sister's case, the bagging happens in her back. So though she has a great figure, she puts on a shirt and feels sloppy and disheveled.
I love to sew for my sister. One year I made her a Teens Era ball gown (an early exercise in draping), and another year two winter hats (the Russian ice hat and the red tam). She lives far away, though, which makes garment fitting tricky... you may recall last year's project to make a block of her body so I could customize my dress form here in Portland? I got mixed results sewing from it: peplum top--good fit, bad style; pinwheel top--good fit, okay style; denim blazer--bad fit).
Recently, I visited her again, this time with a plan of attack: I brought some patterns to work with, and while I was there I pin-fitted them to her and made muslins. This was even more helpful than the block in teaching me about the challenges of her body shape... working just with muslin, I was able to replicate her body, but working with pre-made patterns I was able to see how her body most deviates from the average body that patterns are drafted for.
Moreover, while I was there, I re-visited the denim blazer, altered a few of her Ready to Wear (RTW) clothes, and made a cute nightcap for my niece. All in all, a productive visit!
So in the upcoming weeks, you can expect posts on the following (I'll add links in this post as they come live):
ALTERATION - adding back darts to a RTW sweater
A Child's Nightcap
ALTERATION - Round Neck to V neck
McCall's 4968 - Blue tunic top, muslin
Draped Pencil Skirt
Butterick 6134 - Red Raglan-sleeved Top
ALTERATION - another go at the denim blazer!
My first essay into my Elizabethan-inspired ensemble is a blackwork ruffle, mainly because a ruffle can be used anywhere, so I could make it even when I didn't have any clothing patterns. It seemed a good way to get started on the project and see how I liked blackwork.
Do you ever watch historical movies and wish we dressed like that today? Or wished, as I do, that we dressed something like that... cherry-picking the aspects we like and eschewing the cumbersome or ugly parts? Well, as the genius behind xkcd reminds us, we are grown-ups, and we can decide what that means. And for me, it means I don't have to settle for cobbling together outfits from the remnants of only the last few decades. I can make and wear whatever pleases me. There's no law on the books that says I have to look like everyone else in my decade! So I'd like to begin a sartorial art project... to look at my favorite times and places, and use them as inspiration for clothes that are thoroughly my own. I'll start with the Elizabethan era, because it's got a ton of embroidery and handwork, and lots of layers. I figure it'll be nice to wear in the winter, but I need to start in the spring if I want it to be done in time.
Besides clothing and sewing, I have many other interests which don't get highlighted on this sewing blog. But sometimes, there are intersections! For instance, I commonly read SorryWatch, a blog about the often difficult by necessary act of apologizing. Apologizing is something we all need to do sometimes, but mostly do badly; and, as a major catalyst for reconciliation and healing, it deserves attention. SorryWatch applauds good apologies and the moral courage it takes to make them, while pulling apart bad or weasly apologies and showing why they suck. But this post, about people in the Democratic Nat'l Committee apologizing (or in some cases failing to apologize) for leaked emails, caught my attention mostly because of the marvelous dress that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wears in the top photo, from a 2012 Vogue photoshoot.
And, as luck would have it, I found just such a fabric at Goodwill one day! Actually, they had a ton of it, so I bought it all! The fabric is a woven (not printed) check in dark green. Very nice drape to it, and nice hand. I want to make the long-sleeved version of the dress for winter.
A simple alteration, today. My client had a shift dress with spaghetti straps. The top of the dress had a ruffle over the bosom, which was sewn right-sides-together to the neck and arm holes, then turned right side out, thus finishing the neck and arm-holes and hiding all the raw edges under the ruffle. Simple and cute. The problem: the straps were too long for the wearer!
"Adaptive clothing" is the term for clothes which are designed for use by disabled people. The goal is to look like regular clothes, but to have adaptations that either make them easier to don, safer and more comfortable to wear in wheelchairs, or more practical for caregivers. By their nature, adaptive clothes can be unique to the individual. Recently, a friend came to me with a particular need: a man whose Parkinson's makes it difficult to get the narrow ends of his pants legs over his feet (even if you sit to do it, it still requires balance and co-ordination). She asked if I could install zippers in the bottom of the pant legs so he could unzip them, get them on, and then zip them down? I said of course!
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