patterns

GoalsĀ 

Yesterday I went to Joann because I needed fabric. (This is a permanent need.) They were having a 5 for $7 sale on Butterick patterns. 

Let me elucidate how extraordinary this is. Butterick patterns normally run around $19.95 each. Math math math–I got them for $1.40 each. Please take a moment to jump up and down because that is the appropriate response. 

I got one “Very Easy” pattern (sleep shorts and nightgowns), three “Easy” patterns (really cute mid-century dresses ranging from a 1940s swing dress to a 1960s Mad Men Joan-style dress), and an “Average” pattern for a sweet, modern dress with a keyhole. 

This brings me to goals. This “Average” dress pattern is my current goal. I am going to build my skills to the point where I can successfully make the Butterick 6168.  

 
Let’s. Do. This. Shit. 

May’s Project: Dresses

I thought it would take me the majority of the year to build my skills to Dressmaker Level. However, I think I found a pattern or two that I can try now (even though it’s not May yet). 

My first attempt is Butterick 4790. It’s a retro pattern from 1952! I love retro dresses, and ones from the ’50s usually have just the right shape for my curves. This dress is really neat; it goes over your head and then the back snaps at the front waist, creating a sheath and overskirt look. 

Of course, I chose bright, bold fabrics because I can’t bring myself to wear neutral colors. 
 

The feathery fabric (L) will be the back and overskirt; the floral will be the bodice and front skirt.

Yeah. I like color. 

I cut my pieces out today. There are only three pattern pieces (a total of four fabric pieces) to this dress, so they are all huge and obnoxious to cut. Tomorrow I’m going to tackle darting! Stay tuned. 

Vanity Sizing and Realism

I’m a curvy gal. My hips are 42″ and my waist is 30″–so Sir Mix-a-Lot would have a lot to say about me. Lady Bootyton, at your service. 

I own a lot of size 4 dresses from Dress Barn. They fit perfectly. I’m a big fan of The Barn, despite their weird name. Cute shit, reasonable prices, and I get to say I’m a size 4. 

That’s the problem. The fabric store had a pattern sale a few weeks ago and I got a really cute “very easy” retro pattern from 1952. I opened it up today so I could figure it out and see how much fabric I need since I have a coupon. WELL. According to the eminent minds at Butterick, I’m a size 14. Fourteen. Ten numbers bigger than my usual Barn size. I’m starting to understand that whole “Marilyn Monroe would be plus-sized now” thing, even though that’s sort of nonsense. Her waist was smaller than mine, but my hips are bigger. (That was me bragging, by the way.)

But Jeezum crow, guys, what the hell? Yes yes yes it’s just a number, but why in the fuck are these two numbers SO DIFFERENT? Oh, I know, because we (Americans/Westerners) have an obsession with thinness (or the illusion of thinness) and body control. I knew that the size 4 label at Dress Barn was vanity sizing but I was completely ignorant of just how vain their sizing is. 

Let me be clear: I’m a huge fan of my body. My curves are awesome. I’m built like a very short pinup peasant from the Old Country. Wide and short, that’s me! It’s taken me years to get comfortable with myself, and it feels wonderful. And you know what I’d love? If our culture embraced this body positivity and just put the correct damn numbers on our clothes. Or do it like the industry does for men: measurements. My husband’s jeans literally say the size of his waist on them. Why can’t we have that too? Like, oh, I wear a size 30 waist/42 hip jean. 

Basically, let’s love ourselves and be honest with ourselves. Love those inches on your hips, love the width of your ribs, love your thick thighs. (Or tiny thighs!) Don’t let yourself get bummed when you look at your pattern chart and see a double-digit number. 

Vanity sizing doesn’t accomplish anything other than very superficially making you feel better for reasons that make no sense. Our standard of beauty should not be based on a dumb clothing tag. You know what they say in Botswana as a compliment? “You’re looking very fat today!” That is lovely. 

In conclusion: you’re gorgeous and I’m a size 14. 

Curvily yours,

Amanda K. 

March’s Project: Aprons

Gainfully Something | March's Project: Aprons

Let’s do this, pattern.

When I was at the fabric store for the hundredth time a few weeks ago, they were having a sale on Butterick patterns. They were all $1.99–ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY NINE CENTS. For comparison, these patterns normally cost $10.99-$18.99. I did a dance.

I picked up this apron pattern (Butterick 5765, version A), because it was advertised as “Very Easy.” Okay, so that was a little bit of an overstatement on Butterick’s part, but whatever. I figured it out.

Oh god what is happening

Oh god what is happening

Here’s the thing about paper patterns: they are crinkly and fragile and somehow expand ten times their size when taken out of their envelope. My dog and cats found them tantalizing, so I yelled a bunch which added to my creative fervor.

The instructions are vague and simple at the same time.

The instructions are vague and simple at the same time.

The hardest part of the entire thing is figuring out how to fold your fabric and position the pattern pieces on there, and then determine how many of each piece you need. This is probably excruciatingly simple, and yet it took me a stupid amount of time to cut out my pieces. Even a pattern that is “Very Easy” assumes that you actually know what you’re doing, which is a silly assumption. Oh, Butterick, when will you learn?

Anyway, after you cut out your fabric, things get a LOT easier. Essentially, you’re making a 3D fabric puzzle that fits together perfectly.

This bodice is adorable.

This bodice is adorable.

Ta da! When I finished the bodice part of the apron, I was so proud. It went together really easily and it looked more professional than anything else I’ve made. The rest went together fairly easily, too. This is not to say it went together quickly. It was mostly tedious (“Sew Bodice [SEVEN] to Waistband [FOUR]”, etc.). However, I think a second go at this pattern would fly by.

Oh, you want to see the final product?

It's so cute! Don't mind my terrible mirror.

It’s so cute! Don’t mind my terrible mirror. Also, the center skirt panel was supposed to be the orange fabric, too, but I ran out. Improvisation!

I really liked the end result. It fits nicely, especially in the bodice. Aprons never fit my zaftig frame, but this has a Wonder Woman kind of feel in the bust. I think I could use the bodice pattern to make a cute swimsuit.

The verdict on paper patterns: this one turned out great, and it was relatively easy to follow. Granted, I read through it about five times before starting, and there were a few confusing parts. I remember looking at one step and saying out loud, “What the HELL am I supposed to do now? Razzenfrazzenrazzlefrazzle.” (I’m trying so hard not to curse on here but that’s going to change soon, I think.) Sewing is all about taking something 2D and making it 3D, and that involves a different part of my brain than I normally use. It’s like origami, and I’m bad at origami. Basically I’m telling you that if I can build my skills to this point, you probably can, too.

I’ve also made a few other exciting things this past week, and I’ll share those soon!