the Sewing Bug

starting a new project: sewing a dress. There’s a sewing bug going around. It’s buzzing on Ravelry. It’s busy on the BBC in the competition The Sewing Bee. And face it, modern women have been stung by it for years now.

pic by Bartek Ambrozik

It is so very satisfactory to make something with your own hands, using your wit. Loving materials and skills. If you can make it fit your own body than you’re feeling like a hero! Taking victory over all the clothes in stores that only flatter store models, not real people. Blowing a raspberry to all advertisements and childhood insecurities they sparked. This is real people, people!

Anyway, for me it’s a distraction from having to lay down more than usual and wanting a puzzle to solve. I’ve got enzyme pathways to study, knitting to do. And I like to sew a dress. Now I need a place to gather some info since I’m scribbling away on snippets and keep losing them. Also: my cat eats snippets for fun.

So I need a safe place. A place my fogged up brain can find again. This is it. Here we go:

Patterns purchased: Butterick 6582 and Butterick 5603:

pics by Butterick

now don’t get distracted by the colour, the models or their bridal tendencies. The trick to patterns is to look for the lines they are sewn with. The long lines. The short lines. Where and how they decrease fabric to suggest a waist or hip. How the neckline falls. Where the lines are to make the flat fabric round a curve.

Me, I am a short, curvy person. Fairly petite were it not for a set of big boobs and broad shoulders to support them. I have no waist, no hips, no buttocks. I would look ridiculous in any poofy ball gown you can imagine. Or in ruffles. Or in Grease-type Rock and Roll skirts.

pic by Sarah Lewis

I will look good in slender long lines that elongate me. I’m “a goblet”. I need ‘prinsess lines’. They run from the top into the skirt. A V-shaped neck will elongate. A skirt that flares below (like a mermaids tail) looks fab on me.

So I did not purchase the patterns for the dresses above. I purchased the line in their patterns:

pattern and pics by Butterick.com

Now you see the lines: long ones. No poofy skirts. No ruffles. Each dress has three variants.

My size: a mystery.

Size converters on the internet throw me off because in the Netherlands I’m a 36, a Small (providing I get a bit of extra room for ‘the ladies’). The converter says that a (German) 36 is a US 8, Medium. A US Small is a German 34 which is way too small for me. Than there’s vanity sizing where clothes companies suddenly called an M an S or the other way around. Has to do with making the customer feel they are smaller than they are? Or guilting them into buying more? I don’t know, I’m a hermit in a sheep’s fleece.

pic by Markus Biehal

Size is all about the frame. Your garment has to fit the back of your shoulders and the waist should be about the height of your waist. But you can amend the position of the waist easily (I think). You cannot amend shoulder width easily. Your shoulders is where the garment hangs from, get that size right.

So: I based my ‘size’ for sewing patterns on my frame and plan to adjust the rest. I measured my upperbust and I think for Butterick I’m a 16 with hips going to 14.

(Converter says a US16 is an Xtra Large and a German 44. They are mad. I’d swim in a 44!) Yay, Butterick and Vogue don’t do vanity sizing, they are consistent in their measurements. I’m a 16 in sewing patterns and an 8 when buying of the rack. Mystery solved.

my measurements:

upperbust: 92 cm/ 36″

bust: 97 cm/ 38″

waist: 76 cm/30″

hip: 96 cm/ nearly 38″

neck to waist: 40 cm/ 15,75″

bra: 70FF (don’t get me started on bra size converters!)

at 1.61cm/ 5′ 4″ I’m a Miss Petite to Vogue and Butterick patterns. Waist to hip is standard 18 cm/ 7″ in their patterns.

pic by Ariel da Silva Parreira

Things I do not know yet:

Lining. It is important. I believe this is a separate dress you make from the same pattern. You ‘hang’ it in the dress and you attach it to it. It is there to give the outer dress some stability and prevent seeing through and make the outer dress swirl around your body and not cling to it. I think.

O no! I have to learn about ease all over again! knitting stretches and I’ve got a basic of understanding knitting ease now. But sewing!

And seams! There will be seams!

and fabric…. which has bias. And grain. I can’t have grain, I don’t like gluten.

so much more to learn.

A few things to remember:

– make a dummy dress first. This is called a twirl or a voile I believe. Or a toile?

– my sewing machine is a vintage foot treadle. It goes to and fro. No fancy stitches. No fraying fabric. Just keep it simple.

– there’s a lot of hand sewing involved in sewing a garment. That machine is a workhorse. The fine print is done by hand.

– this is a multiple day project (think weeks). Make sure to put your stuff away in an orderly fashion (with notes would be splendid) so you know where to pick it up again. No need to invent the wheel every time you get out the project. A box of its own would be perfect.

– I plan to perfect one pattern, fit it perfectly to my body measurements. Than use that for future dresses.

It will be fun. And for once I showed up on time to participate in a trend!

pic by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Now for fun: go google some pictures of the patterns (try one and try two, not sure these links work), it’s amazing what different dresses these patterns yield. Dresses on real people! I’m already learning so much! Burdastyle.com and PatternReview.com and many more sewing platforms have a lot to offer. So many women generously share their knowledge and experience. I love it and feel part of it, while reposing and reclusing.

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btw, I have started a new blog to keep track of this sewing project. Have a look over at BumbleSews.wordpress.com. The first post is a virtual copy of this one so there won’t be much interesting to see in April 2013.

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