Archive for August 2009

“The Lucky shopping manual” – advice for the pear shaped

August 27, 2009

An attractive and interesting book, but sadly the advice about what’s best for the pear shaped or small busted is the opposite of what works for me.

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Note : Butterick-McCall’s-Vogue has changed their websites. My BMV links now only get you to a page where you can search for a pattern number.
I apologise that I haven’t changed to the new individual URLs, but it would be a lot of work.

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In the section on Jackets , they suggest a classic blazer for the pear shaped. Oh dear. Have they never noticed how ridiculous someone looks when the top of their jacket is too large and floppy with nothing inside to fill it, while the hip area is bursting and straining at the buttons. Not an attractive look.

ReadyToWear jackets are not made with enough fabric in the seam allowances at the hip level. So it isn’t possible to let them out to increase the hip area by 2 or 3 sizes.

Here’s where we sewers who can make our own clothes have such strengths and advantages. Though a fitted lined jacket is definitely not a beginners’ project. It’s wondrous the way a well fitted garment makes someone look as if they have no figure flaws.

Here are some of the alternatives to blazers that I like :

Fitted above the waist and fuller below the waist, such as McCalls 5594, McCalls 5766, or McCalls 5936 :

”peplum”

or simply released pleats without a waist seam, such as Butterick 5393, or Vogue 8600 :

”releasedpleat”

or a flared or tucked style that doesn’t fit to the waist, such as McCalls 5638, or McCalls 5762 :

”nowaist”

(The smock-like version would need to be longer and without the strong horizontal trim line to look good on me.)

And for Tops to enhance a small bust, the Lucky book suggests a stretchy top with gathering at the bust. Well, what could emphasise the smallness of my bust more than wearing a stretched fabric, making it obvious there isn’t anything there to stretch it. Definitely best not.

In her Spring/ Summer Newsletter 2009, Pati Palmer talks about ‘essence of waistline’. My personal preference for disguising my small bust is to use woven fabrics for tops, with darts to give ‘essence of bosom’.

Jeans and pants : To minimise your butt, this book suggests large centred pockets on jeans. Goodness, perhaps people with large butts emblazoned with large centred pockets never appear in New York City, or these authors might change their minds.

The best advice I’ve seen on back pockets for large backs was, I think, in Burda WOF magazine. Oddly enough, it suggested what the Lucky manual says for pants : use high welt pockets just under the yoke. (Sorry I can’t find the drawing.). Not classic jeans style, but at least it doesn’t put a large square on a large round, and so draw attention to a large blodge. Well, a large square is better than a small one :D

For front pockets, they suggest curved pockets for pear shapes. Perhaps these work well for people with a silhouette which tapers out gradually from wast to widest part. But below my indented waist and high hips, this sort of curved pocket just points outwards, saying ‘look here’. I prefer slanted pockets.

Here are the alternatives, McCalls 5394, and McCalls 5239 :

”pocketslucky”

Sorry these images aren’t perfectly size matched. But I think they show how you can use curved horizontal pockets if you want more curves, and straight slanted pockets if you want less :D

I do agree that in-side-seam pockets are not good in a fitted garment over curvy hips. Particularly with my high hips, it’s almost impossible to make them lie flat without gaping. Sad, as this is the easiest type of pocket to make.

Dresses : There I was, thinking how lucky I was to be a teenager in the 50s (though only because of this feature of the clothes), when the dresses had tiny tops which emphasised my neatness above the waist, and voluminous skirts which disguised where my hips were. But these Lucky editors strongly tell everyone not to wear them. Perhaps that’s true if you’re a size 0 to start with. But I think 50s style dresses are a good idea if you’re a 14 on top and 18 below (sewing pattern sizes) and want to look size 14 overall. Though I admit you do look better with a trim waist (achieved by most people in the 50s by wearing the obligatory corset).

Here are a couple of examples, Butterick 5350, and Butterick 5320 :

”luckydress”

I’m sure I have a lot more to learn about the best styling for my shape, but these are what I’ve found flattering so far from personal experience.

This Lucky book includes much that is useful and food for thought. It gives good advice on looking trendy and stylish. There are some things that work immediately for me, plus inspiration for a lot of thought about how to take the essence of their styling suggestions and adapt them from ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in’ to ‘looking good’. But I don’t think the authors have ever actually looked at someone pear-shaped.

Patterns available August 09.

The Dreaded Black Blazer

August 12, 2009

This wardrobe plan scores the highest number of suggested things I would never wear. Fascinating. I first read this plan a year ago and it’s still seared into my memory.

The plan is on the Wardrobe Oxygen site

1. black tailored pant suit in seasonless fabric
2. black seasonless trousers

If anyone tells me to wear black or a tailored blazer, I run screaming to the hills. I look very ill and really ugly in black, did even when young. When I was a very successful professional I didn’t wear tailored or structured clothes or a notched lapel jacket. I don’t feel comfortable or myself when I put them on.

3. jeans
4. dressy jeans

Well, I love practical denim and try to find it in other colours, but indigo blue is not flattering on me.

5. black heeled boots
6. black leather pumps

High heels – thank goodness we don’t have to wear them anymore (though I’ve got a fabulous pair of navy boots I’ve never been able to part with). Pumps I do wear on formal occasions. But black ones would be very unflattering to my leg skin tone.

7. not so little black dress
I’ve never owned anything at all like a ‘little black dress’ – wow, how have I managed to get through life without going to a cocktail party. Let’s see, I look terrible in black, sheath dresses are unflattering on me and a hassle to fit, strappy dresses slide straight off my sloping shoulders. . .

8. silver hoop earrings
My skin has yellow tones so silver is not good on me. I’ve got a long neck so could wear long earrings, but I’m old enough now for my crepey neck to be a feature it’s best not to draw attention to.

9. black or grey merino V-neck sweater
12. slim v-neck sweater in signature colour

V-necks – ah well, I have a long neck and long head, so if I wear a v-neck I look like a giraffe. That is also true of a jewel neckline. Wider slightly curved necks are good on me. V-necks can look discordant on people with rounded or square jawlines.
I actually have got some non-V-neck merino sweaters in my signature colour.

10. trendy skirt
11. trendy jacket/ blazer

I do like ‘trendy jackets’ – something a bit unusual as I don’t feel or look good in the classic shapes, but no sort of jacket fits well into my current lifestyle.
And a trendy skirt ? well my knees have always been ugly (family heirloom) and my ankles now aren’t much better, so short skirts have never been good on me.

13. signature accessory
Hurrah – I’m a handbag freak. Beware having a closet full of them :D

14. sparkly evening shell or top
Ah well, I’m not really a shiny sparkly sequin sort of person. Lace and embroidery are my favourite embellishments.

15. the perfect tee – or two
Oh dear, tees. I have a small bust cup, and it’s best not to wear anything tight. I prefer to keep that fact about myself a bit disguised !

16. well fitting winter wool coat
Again, classic tailored shapes are not good on me. I have some cosy stylish padded jackets.

17. great fitting bras
Yes indeed – several thousand percent of agreement with this, even though I’ve got too small a bust to wear a bra often myself.

18. panty line free underwear
Absolutely, there should be a law about this, and about bra lines too.

19. a pashmina or wrap
I used to have fun wearing a poncho, but generally find the shape of a shawl is inconvenient and uncomfortable.

20. clutch purse
Very fashionable at the moment, but what a hassle to have to remember all the time to keep hold of it.

21. daily purse
Of course, except mine is a basket and I don’t think that is what she has in mind !

22. sexy shoes that can be worn for at least five hours
See heels above. I’ve never owned a ‘sexy’ pair of shoes, not my style. But yes, every pair of shoes I own must get through a day of being walked in without harming my feet in any way.

23. sunglasses
Yes indeed, but do take great care in choosing them. Never buy without a mirror to see yourself. A pair that complements your face shape is much more important than fashion. I have a large head and look silly in the currently fashionable small lenses.

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Of course there are many people who will love this list, find it very helpful, and want everything on it. But it doesn’t match everyone’s best colours, body shape, lifestyle, or personal style. Me, I just get to wear undies with my sunglasses and purse :D

My own wardrobe staple is a white shirt. I’ve got embarrassing numbers of them. But they get no mention on this list. I know there are people who look as bad in white as I do in black, and people who are unhappy in a shirt. How dull life would be if everyone wore a white shirt and a black suit :D

Half-size patterns

August 7, 2009

Patterns with half size pieces, not patterns for half-size people !

Do you like to make lots of samples ? They can use a great deal of fabric. I like to practice before doing something ‘for real’, but ‘wasting’ fabric worries me (even though I’ve got a huge stash :D), so I’m happier using half size patterns.

Go to the Fairchild Books site.

It isn’t necessary to be an instructor or student to register.

Go to Fashion > Fashion Design > Construction
Go to the information about Cole & Czachor ‘Sample book to accompany Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers’.

There’s a link for downloading a .pdf set of half size patterns.

They’re supposed to be used with my favourite technique book ‘Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers’ (not for beginners). (It isn’t worth buying the sample book unless it’s a course requirement.)

Those half-scale patterns are specifically for making sewing samples.

Here’s a set of helf-scale slopers from the Center for Pattern Design.
These ones are oriented to practicing pattern making. And they’re not free.

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Links available August 2009

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Personal Croquis

August 6, 2009

To make good pattern choices, it’s useful to have a drawing of our own shape.

Fashion designers often sketch over a drawing of the human body which is called a croquis. You can even get pre-printed pads of them.

I had a quick and easy way of making a personal body shape drawing, but unfortunately it was on a department store’s site and has disappeared. Presumably it didn’t increase sales. Pity.

So this is now just to show how useful they are, and for me to find out how to include links and pictures to a blog :D (Well, it’s taken a couple of days to find out how to attach images and URLs using what’s available via my elderly browser, but yippee !! it works at last.)

Anyway, back to using your personal croquis. Simply compare it with a line diagram of the pattern you’re interested in.

Here for example is me, compared with Sewing Workshop’s Deja Vu pattern. Oh dear, obviously not. Though I love the style it’s not for me.

crdejavu1

Sadly, it would make me look like a balloon ! I may make it even so. The construction looks intriguing, and it would be a cosy cuddle-up for winter. But I won’t expect it to be flattering :D

(This body shape diagram is for a short-waisted pear. It comes from the fomer Littlewood’s site information about Trinny and Susannah. Sadly the diagrams are not in their body shape book.)

And how about this Issey Miyake Vogue 1114 design, which Vogue Patterns recommend for the triangular of shape. Maybe it would look good on some of us, but I don’t think it’s worth trying for me.

”crmiyake”

While this Vogue 8509 dress pattern, with it’s vertical bodice pleats, could be something I would wear, if these days I ever did have reason to wear a dress.

”crdress”

Making this comparison has been a real ‘eye opener’. I thought I was allowing for my ‘bottom heavy’ shape in making pattern choices, but I’ve completely changed the patterns I go for since I started using this tool.

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In the recommended method for making a personal croquis, you are supposed to :
- take a photo of yourself in your undies
- trace round the outline of your photo so you have a drawing of your body silhouette.
- sketch the proposed garment over this body shape diagram, to see if it suits.

Not something I have the skills to do, But if you want to try it, here’s a note
from the Threads magazine site which gives some examples.

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P.S. There are very detailed instructions on making a croquis from photos in Gale Grigg Hazen’s book ‘Fantastic Fit for Every Body’.

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Patterns available August 09

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