Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Custom dress form - one day I will have one.

Photo courtesy of jezebel.com.
This is definitely a project for an upcoming vacation. I tried to make one via the duct tape method and it was an absolute train wreck. Within a couple of hours, my form was so saggy and smooshed that it looked more like Jabba the Hut with scoliosis than it looked like me. This seems a hell of a lot more involved, but since the form is rigid I think it'll hold up better. Man, I am so glad I went to art school.

Between this and learning to make patterns fit my non-standard body, my family is going to absolutely hate me. It's such a shame I don't have a robot assistant to do all the measuring, hemming, body casting, and other time-consuming, pain in the butt things I keep asking my loved ones to do. Hopefully once I get these things down I'll need to bug them less?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bill Cunningham - coolest guy ever.

The movie poster, for those who like pictures.
While poking through teh internets for movie recommendations I came across Bill Cunningham New York, and I'm so glad I found it. It follows Bill Cunningham as he does his thing in the fashion world, biking around the city, shooting street fashion, fashion shows, and basically being a fixture in the community. I had no idea who he was before I saw this, and now I wish I knew him because he seems like a wonderful man.

What an interesting dude. For someone so in love with fashion, he doesn't live a hugely luxurious life. He lives for his photography, and that's all that matters. He goes to these amazingly fancy shows in a button down shirt and casual blue jacket. He doesn't have a giant, tricked out studio because his medium is on the streets of the city. Through everything he does he seems so comfortable and happy. I envy him.

Seriously, look how happy he is!
What strikes me most about this film is how wonderfully unapologetic he is. I always associate that term with being a giant jerk and then screaming "come at me bro" to anyone who questions you, and I forget that it doesn't have to be that extreme. Bill Cunningham simply is who he is, and he loves what he loves, and he seems so content. Not only that, he doesn't seem to do anything for attention, or to get rich, or even to get any kind of thanks. He just shoots beautiful clothes and interesting people, and if anyone cares, well, that's fine, but it's not the point. How wonderful.

When talking about his work, he said "it's not work." Looking at his face you can totally see that. I know that they say that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. He's clearly evidence of that. What a lucky, lucky man.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Side thing

Also, when I walk down the street in dresses I've made I get attention. Like, people stopping me to say how nice I look kind of attention. This never happens in clothes I buy. I must be doing something right.

I wonder how I'd see myself if I learned this earlier in life. I'm looking back at a lot of wasted years. I mean, how long did I look at myself and see this:
It's amazing what bad things those shoulder
pieces are doing. Yikes.
When I could have been looking at the exact same person and seeing this instead:

Angles and flattering lines are amazing, eh?

I feel like such an incredible dumbass.


Some of these lines apply to me!
I'm taking a break from cutting version 2 of the Crepe dress because I've had a crazy discovery. I knew that my bust measurement was causing me to cut my patterns a few sizes too big, and anticipated having to nip this dress in at the waist, back, and shoulders like last time. However, this time I'm trying to correct the pattern so I don't have to constantly do mathematical jumping jacks every time I make something from it. Because of this I have the other sizes right in front of me, and I realized how many places I need to adjust will line up to an actual size if I just follow the line. Apparently my bust is a size eighteen, and the rest of my torso is a size ten.

TEN. Seriously.

Pictured: interesting
clothes I actually like
This is messing with me right now. My body image has always been pretty wonky, but this is really screwing with my perception that I'm wicked plus sized and barely on the edge of being able to even buy a proper pattern let alone find clothes in a retail store that will fit me. Part of the reason I never get new clothes anymore is because I can't find any that suit my personal style that come in my size. It feels horrible to have to choose between interesting clothes I actually like that won't fit and boring clothes that will more or less fit. I hate it, and I just avoid the problem by not getting clothes and feeling schlumpy all the time. Other than the occasional Stop Staring dress (which I can't afford anyway), I'm basically screwed when it comes to ready-to-wear clothes.

Pictured: boring tents that
are ordinary and unflattering
So yeah, in my mind I'm this too-big size all over. Now, well, holy crap. I checked my other measurements and it makes sense too - everything else is in the size-ten range, except for my bust and my low hips which are a solid eighteen. The reason nothing ever fits me at all, ever, isn't because I'm an eighteen or more all over, I'm actually just even more hourglass than I thought. That's why the small clothes don't fit, and why the big clothes don't fit either.

I'm not someone who deeply longs to be a tiny, flat-bottomed, basketball-boobed magazine cover lady, so this isn't about that. It's just that I can barely remember a time when I was happy with my body because I've always assumed I was too big to wear nice clothes. I always assumed that the reason nothing ever fit was because I was just too huge. I'd look in the mirror and see myself as one shape, but then I'd try things on and I'd feel bigger, and then when I'd tell clerks in stores what size I was no one would believe me because they said I didn't look that big. I felt like a crazy person because all the evidence in front of me (clothes in stores, math) said my body was impossibly wrong, but people (even my own eyes) would disagree.

Writing that makes it sound so stupid. How can my body be wrong? Still, that's how it felt.

So now that I'm learning how to make clothes that actually fit, I'm learning about how my body really is, and I'm amazed at how different it is than the supposed "evidence" I've collected has been telling me. I had no idea this would happen simply because of learning how to sew.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wardrobe Refashion - taking the 6 month pledge.

I was bopping around online and I came across this link to the Wardrobe Refashion pledge. I like this idea so much that I figured I'd give it a go. Basically, you make a pledge to take a break from buying mass-produced clothing and make your own clothes for a set number of months (or a lifetime, if you're feeling SERIOUS BUSINESS about this whole thing). You can buy handmade things if you have to, and work-related specialty clothes and underwear aren't subject to the rule. Also, you get one get out of jail free card for desperate times, like a wedding or once-in-a-lifetime sale.

It was hard to take a photo without
looking like I was adjusting my bra.
The downside is that the Wardrobe Refashion group is closed, so I can't exactly sign up and have a handy community of mysterious online people to help hold me to this. However, that's probably a good thing. I'm naturally contrary, and whenever everyone around me is telling me to do something I have a tendency to buck against it and sabotage myself so I fail spectacularly. Therefore, I'm making my own pledge:

I, Jessica Young, will not buy new clothes for the next 6 months. I will instead create, refashion, deconstruct, reconstruct, or otherwise hand-make my clothes from now until the end of my 2012 summer vacation. I am still allowed to buy shoes (duh), underthings, and specialty items that are used for a specific activity (like safety gear, uniforms, etc.), and I am allowed one "get out of jail free" card in case of emergency. I will post everything I make on my various online publishing sources so I can track my progress and share my experiences. 

Signed, Jessica Young.

I admit that this might be easier for me because I don't buy a lot of new clothes, but hey, now it feels official. I hope this will force me to blog more because I have a reason to make more clothes and accessories.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coming out of a nasty flu with a new dress.

Ignore the unfinished hem. I'm
fixing that as soon as I hit publish.
This week is February break. I had hoped to spend the whole break having fun, doing things, and generally making the most of having so much free time. However, by Friday afternoon it became apparent that I was stricken with whatever sinus-filling, nasty, gross flu that everyone else has already had, and I spent the last few days curled up on the couch being miserable. That's why it's taken me so damned long to post about my latest achievement: a new dress.

This is based off of the Crepe dress by Colette Patterns. I write "based off of" because I had to screw with this pattern a LOT to make it work for me. As usual, I'm still choosing "beginner" and "easy" patterns because I know that I have to make all kinds of wacky adjustments because I'm such a non-standard shape. The more I sew, the more I learn why this is, and I think this dress really hammered a few things home:

1. I'm high waisted, especially in the back. After hours of screwing with the dress I just couldn't get anything to sit right, and after reluctantly taking the entire waist apart and re-doing it 2" higher, every single problem was magically solved. Steve loves my booty, but man, it makes it hard to fit clothes.

2. I need a v-neck or low scoop neck or I look like I'm wearing a prairie dress. Thanks for that, giant boobs. I re-cut the neck so it had more of a plunge and it looks great. I absolutely hate the original neck in either version of the dress and I'm glad I trusted my gut.

Hershey Kisses make great pattern weights.
3. If I go by the usual "bust, waist, hip" measurements, my dresses will be enormous. Maritza told me that I'm actually at least 2 sizes smaller than most pattern measurements say that I am because of my giant rack. In this pattern, my boobs and butt call for a size 18, but my shoulders, waist, arms, and ribcage call for a 14, maybe even a 12. Once again, I made the dress in the larger size and had to take in each side about 3.5". One of these days I'll try making the smaller size and expanding the chest to see if that's a wiser course of action.

4. The skirt is deceptively large. I actually made the skirt a lot closer to a circle skirt because I figured an A-line wouldn't be roomy enough. I had to take out TONS of fabric because I was swimming in it. Apparently my math skills aren't so hot, and all those "I'm back in math class" nightmares are pretty appropriate. My bum could probably fit the original skirt shape and I'll probably try that next time.

I made this version in a stretchy bamboo denim I got at Gather Here. That store is AWESOME and I want to go back soon. I want to make another one of these in different fabric because it's a very flattering dress. Also, I'm a real stickler for doing something more than once so I can really understand the process and hammer home everything I've learned. I'm thinking maybe a dark fabric with some kind of polka dot pattern with a darker contrast trim to slim my waist.