Alterations

Personal Projects Update

Okay, so a while back I posted a list of personal sewing projects that I wanted to complete… someday. And then, a slightly more recent while back, I posted an update. And now, here is an update to the update! So, here is the list, less the things that were completed as of the last update:

  • Jacket to wear over (completed!) corset – I have blueish purple silk dupioni for this, and superb inspiration for the style. UPDATE: Not even remotely started. Continue to think about it from time to time, mainly when I open the fabric cabinet and drool over dupioni.
  • Alterations to a dress I made a few years ago but now hate, to turn it into a simple skirt (with pockets!) to complete the above ensemble. UPDATE: I have actually spent about five minutes thinking about this one – does that count? Pretty much decided not to ever do this. Would rather start from scratch and make a new skirt because I just know so much more about all relevant sewing techniques now. However, may still do this only because I will never find this fabric again and I love it.
  • Corset for Julia that she has been begging me to make for the last two years. UPDATE: Uh uh. Not done. Reasonably certain I have not even thought about it since I posted the last update… sorry love!

20140401-091636.jpg

  • New pajama pants. Mine all have holes. (Lots of them, in unfortunate places.) I have awesome Flinstones-esque dark teal with black tiger stripe fabric. They will be so much fun to wear. UPDATE: Not at all done. But the growing number and size of holes in my pajama pants has moved this to the top of the priority list. DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE! Aren’t they amazing/terrible?? I love them. I have a whole coordinating pajama outfit now.
  • The aforementioned Great T-Shirt Project of 2010. You guys, in 2010 we bought 30 pounds of jersey so that we could both expand our sad, sad collection of ill-fitting t-shirts. (I have a long torso, so basically every t-shirt ever manufactured shows an inch or two of stomach, which I’d prefer stayed out of sight and warm.) UPDATE: Let’s jut admit there is no way this will happen before 2013 2014.
  • I have silky, stretchy, clingy, shiny teal fabric for a drape-y dress shirt. UPDATE: I still have it! It’s still folded neatly among all the other pretty things in our fabric stash… untouched.
  • I am determined to never purchase jeans again and start making my own, because there are no pants in the universe that fit me properly. (And the ones I have are dangerously close to being to worn to wear in public.) UPDATE: I still believe this firmly. It may even happen soon-ish. SO DONE! And working on a second pair! And on patterns, generally, so custom jeans can be offered to YOU! Pictures will be forthcoming when I write a whole post about them!
  • On that note, I need some dressier-than-jeans but not as fancy as wedding attire to wear to my clients’ rehearsals. As well as some more wedding attire to wear to their weddings. I know I’m getting sick of my same two outfits, and if you started looking at photos of me on fancy occasions, you’d be sick of them too. UPDATE: Zero progress. I have bought some fabrics and imagined some ideas.
  • I also have two pairs of corduroy pants in progress that need finishing. UPDATE: These remain untouched, but now that I have a functional jeans pattern, there is a decent chance of the pair I didn’t start cutting yet getting made soon.
  • And cranberry corduroy for a winter skirt. UPDATE: I thought about it last week because fall is here and this would be a great time to wear it. You know, if it had been designed/sewn already. I did this a while ago! Maybe a year? And I have been wearing it all the time. I will probably make another one or two in different fabrics.
  • Make my own swimsuit for the summer! (Long torso is a big problem in this department as well.) UPDATE: Maybe next this year.

And there you have it. I have crossed one personal project off the list since May, and that pretty much only happened because I had a really good deadline.

 

Pet Peeves: Why is Plus-Sized Clothing so Damn Ugly?

A while back, some lovely people helped us open up our shop, and we offered some perks in return. One of them was a chance to tell us about their pet peeve related to mass-produced clothing. Today’s pet peeve comes from Deb.

The Pet Peeve

Deb asks a question I know many of us have pondered: Why is plus-sized clothing so damn ugly?

Need I explain? I think we’ve all seen so-called “clothing” that bears more resemblance to a tent or a blanket fort than something anyone would want to wear.

Why It Exists

If you ask me (and I suppose, you did), the answer is nothing more than laziness on the part of designers and manufacturers. In order for a garment to “fit”, according to the industry, it needs to be large enough to not be too tight in any one spot on the body. A small-sized lady doesn’t have a lot of fat, so when smaller sizes are designed, they are basically accommodating average-sized bones and not much else. A larger lady, on the other hand, has non-bony curves! Some of us have most of it in our boobs; some around our bellies; some on our hips and in our thighs… which makes it harder work for those clothing creators. Because if it’s the right shape for someone with a well-endowed bosom and an average waist, it will be way too big around the bustline of another lady of the same “size” (we should talk about arbitrary sizing bullshit another day) who happens to carry most of her weight below the belt. So to make sure it “fits” everyone in a particular “size” (if only you all could see how I am rolling my eyes as I type this), they design it to be big enough to not be tight in any area of a person wearing the size, no matter how their fat is distributed. And so, we have baggy, tent-like, “fits” everyone but flatters no one plus-size fashion.

What Can You Do About It?

Much like our previous conundrum, other than create a riot of some kind demanding change from the apparel industry, I’m not sure what we can do to get this problem to stop existing. I would personally like to see clothing designers (for all sizes!) start designing for SHAPES instead of sizes. For example, you wouldn’t be a size 18; you’d be a size 18: pear or apple or triangle or hourglass or whatever. And within each size, they’d have the pattern for different shapes. That would be super awesome. (To do this at Crafty Broads one day would make me unbelievably happy.)

For now, though, you can look critically at the things you try on, and evaluate whether the style is more or less flattering on you before you buy it because it “fits”. You can also have just about any garment tailored to fit you better (don’t forget to budget for this when shopping) or you can learn to alter things on your own. 

Questions? Rants? Speak up in the comments!

Pet Peeves: That Gap in the Back of Your Waistband

A long, LONG time ago… (we all know by now that I am terrible at keeping up with writing things on this here blog, don’t we?) some fabulous people contributed their hard-earned funds to help us open up our shop, and we offered some perks in return. One of them was a chance to tell us about their pet peeve related to mass-produced clothing. So today, we’re hearing from Trisha (who is shaving her head for St. Baldrick’s this year, go give some money to fund cancer research if you can!)

The Pet Peeve

So here is what Trisha wants to know: What is up with the gap in the back of all the waistbands?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s a good chance everyone reading this knows exactly what Trisha is talking about. I know I do. In case you don’t, here’s what happens: You go shopping for some pants. Or a skirt, it happens there too. You try on a pair. It seems like it would fit your waist perfectly, if only you could get it over your hips… which is not ever gonna happen. So you pick the next size larger. Sweet! It fits your hips perfectly! But now that you’ve got them zipped up, there is a huge gap at the center back. But you buy them anyway, because what choice do you have? And you wear them, and right after you pull them out of the dryer they are fabulous for about 5 minutes and then you find yourself with a terrible case of plumber’s crack. What’s worse is that you may even find you can successfully take them on and off without unzipping or even unbuttoning. This does not bode well for keeping your ass covered.

Why It Exists

The reason for this gap, along with numerous other fit issues, is the way mass-produced garments are designed. For each design, they have what is called a fit model. This is a person who’s job it is to have the garment tested on them. They do this in just one size (6, generally, I believe) and of course the keyword is model – which means they are likely to be tall and skinny and generally not too curvy. And that is the key problem for this issue. A not-so-curvy person doesn’t have a big difference in her waist vs. hip measurements; but most of us have a sizable increase from waist to hip. So when they take that fairly un-curvy pattern and then make it into other sizes (called “grading”), it doesn’t get curvier… it just gets proportionally wider. This is a mistake, if you ask me. (And everyone else who isn’t shaped like a tree trunk.)

What Can You Do About It?

WELL. Somehow we should all band together and demand that designers and clothing manufacturers start considering the bodies of actual people when they come up with these things. But given the likelihood of that happening, let’s talk practical solutions:

  1. Have them altered. Honestly, this is kind of your only option. You can learn how to do it yourself (it’s pretty easy) or you can have it done professionally. It should take someone who knows what they’re doing about an hour, and shouldn’t be terribly expensive. Ask your local tailor and then factor in the cost when you’re picking out your next pair.
  2. Custom jeans! Made from scratch to your measurements. Obviously, this is a more costly option… but it may be worth it, especially if your jeans get a lot of wear. Most mass-produced versions have stretch in them, even if they aren’t marketed that way, and the elastic wears out really fast, much faster than strong, sturdy denim. Perhaps you’ve noticed how they seem to get holes much faster than they did 15 years ago, before stretch denim existed? With a custom pair, you can request non-stretch denim, reinforcement in the areas that you personally wear through the fastest, and as a bonus, they will also be hemmed the right length.

Questions? Rants? Speak up in the comments!

The Chopping Block: Joanne’s Wedding Dress Transformation, with Custom Wedding Veil and Silk Tie for the Groom

Joanne came to us with a lovely full-length-with-train lace gown that she’d found at the Brides Against Breast Cancer sale. She definitely needed a hem, as well as to have it taken in a bit, and she thought, perhaps, the style wasn’t quite… her.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

As we were talking, we found out that she didn’t want the train at all, and that she was thinking about maybe shortening the dress. She also didn’t love the generic straps that came on the dress. We thought turning it into a little knee-length number would look fantastic on her. And we also suggested using some of the lace we cut off the bottom to make some nicer straps that would look a little more cohesive with the style of the dress.

The Dress, after all our changes.

The Dress, after all our changes.

And then we talked some more and Joanne showed us the fantastic red shoes she was planning to wear with it. And we suggested that maybe a red silk dupioni sash would look nice.

Fabulous Red Shoes!

Fabulous Red Shoes!

And after that was all done, Joanne was kinda wanting a veil. And since we had that whole lace train we’d mercilessly chopped off… we did that too.

Joanne's dress and veil in action

Joanne’s dress and veil in action.

And then Joanne asked if we could make a tie for her husband-to-be in the same red silk as her sash. Which we did.

The tie!

The tie!

Turns out, silk ties are really, really nice. So nice, in fact, that we kinda wanted to make ties for ourselves, but we’re not really tie-wearing kind of girls… anyway. This was a really fun bundle of projects to work on, as well as a great example of the drastic changes you can make to a dress with a little creative thought.

All photos were taken by Matthew Kuehl Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Where The Hell Have We Been?

Who knew that October was going to be a crazy busy chaotic month of madness? We sure didn’t. Julia was without a show to do, and our calendar held one wedding dress and one mother-of-the-bride dress (same wedding!) and I had two day-of-coordination gigs (one in Michigan, one in Chicago), plus my usual 45-hour/week nannying job. This seemed completely reasonable when I looked at the calendar in September.

It still seemed possible when we added two wedding dress alterations. And two more day-of-coordination spots in November (which yes, require work in October, because it’s really far more than just a day-of service.) October was even achievable when we booked two more alterations for bridesmaids. And when we added a corset (which is really cool – it’s for a man to do an impression of Cher, and the design is based on her costume from the Turn Back Time video – can’t wait to tell you about it… someday) that we donated as an auction prize to About Face Theatre’s annual fundraiser. As well as when Julia got a show, because that was just four nights a week, leaving her daytimes free.

But then, a fantastic and terrible thing happened. Julia got offered a job stage managing a month-long run of Route 66’s A Twist of Water. In New York City. Starting October 28th. With rehearsals the week prior in Chicago. And then? Then doable, booming-business awesomeness started to look a little bit impossible.

And I honestly don’t think I’m lying if I tell you that we will probably spend MORE time with each other while she’s in NYC than in the entire month of October, because I am going to visit, and I’m not going to work at all for five whole days while I’m there. For real, I am turning the auto-responder on my email and everything.

So, if you’ve missed this blog having any actual posts, or you’re still bummed that I cancelled my birthday party to sew things (true story), or you haven’t seen me around the twitters lately… I hope you understand that it’s just been impossible to do anything but work for the last month and a half. The next few weeks aren’t looking good either, but I tell you what – I am free on Thanksgiving (Day only, I have a wedding the day after), so if you are interested in hanging with a sleep-deprived crazy person who has no intention of getting out of her pajamas all day, you know where to find me.

Personal Projects Update

Okay, so a while back I posted a list of personal sewing projects that I wanted to complete… someday. Since I can’t think of anything better to blog about today – I got some good ideas from my twitter pals, which I promise I’ll use, but they are more effort than I have willpower for at present – I thought I’d update you. Maybe I’ll try to do this monthly, so that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of any of these things actually getting done.

So, here is the list:

  • Corset for me (to hopefully finish in the next two weeks so I can wear it to Kinzie‘s wedding!) – I have an Asian-style embroidered brocade kind of fabric for this, and it’s beautiful. Also I’m hoping to recreate/modify a Victorian-style corset with this project. UPDATE: DONE! And I even finished in time to wear it at the wedding. Because I stayed up all night finishing it in my hotel room. Haha. Here’s what it looks like:

Dancing at Kinzie & Donnie’s Wedding!
Photo by Wasabi Photography – http://wasabiphotography.com/

  • Jacket to wear over said corset in case it is cold – I have blueish purple silk dupioni for this, and superb inspiration for the style. UPDATE: Totally not done. But here’s the inspiration photo for the style I plan to try:

I love the big buttons and pleat-like details.
Anthropologie jacket; Photo and styling via Already Pretty – http://www.alreadypretty.com


  • Alterations to a dress I made a few years ago but now hate, to turn it into a simple skirt (with pockets!) to complete the above ensemble. UPDATE: I have actually spent about five minutes thinking about this one – does that count? (Especially if those thoughts make me wonder if it’s actually even possible to make this particular transformation)
  • Corset for Julia that she has been begging me to make for the last two years. UPDATE: Not even started, but Julia did find some gorgeous fabric yesterday:
  • New pajama pants. Mine all have holes. (Lots of them, in unfortunate places.) I have awesome Flinstones-esque dark teal with black tiger stripe fabric. They will be so much fun to wear. UPDATE: Not at all done. But the growing number and size of holes in my pajama pants has moved this to the top of the priority list.
  • The aforementioned Great T-Shirt Project of 2010. You guys, in 2010 we bought 30 pounds of jersey so that we could both expand our sad, sad collection of ill-fitting t-shirts. (I have a long torso, so basically every t-shirt ever manufactured shows an inch or two of stomach, which I’d prefer stayed out of sight and warm.) UPDATE: Let’s jut admit there is no way this will happen before 2013.
  • I have silky, stretchy, clingy, shiny teal fabric for a drape-y dress shirt. UPDATE: I still have it! It’s still folded neatly among all the other pretty things in our fabric stash…
  • I am determined to never purchase jeans again and start making my own, because there are no pants in the universe that fit me properly. (And the ones I have are dangerously close to being to worn to wear in public.) UPDATE: I still believe this firmly. It may even happen soon-ish.
  • On that note, I need some dressier-than-jeans but not as fancy as wedding attire to wear to my clients’ rehearsals. As well as some more wedding attire to wear to their weddings. I know I’m getting sick of my same two outfits, and if you started looking at photos of me on fancy occasions, you’d be sick of them too. UPDATE: Zero progress.
  • I also have two pairs of corduroy pants in progress that need finishing. UPDATE: Haven’t touched them.
  • And cranberry corduroy for a winter skirt. UPDATE: I thought about it last week because fall is here and this would be a great time to wear it. You know, if it had been designed/sewn already.
  • Make my own swimsuit for the summer! (Long torso is a big problem in this department as well.) UPDATE: I bought a new swimsuit. I like it, but not as much as the fantasy ones I’ve designed for myself in my head. Maybe next year.

And there you have it. I have crossed one personal project off the list since May, and that pretty much only happened because I had a really good deadline.

Let’s Get Personal.

Fellow small business owners and other busy people – how do you make time for your own projects in the deluge of Things That Must Get Done? I desperately want (need?) to sew some things for myself, but I can’t seem to find the hours in the day to get it done. The Great T-Shirt Project of 2010 has still barely been started. And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s 2012 now. Oops.

Because I think it might help to put these projects out into the ether, here is my current list of personal projects:

  • Corset for me (to hopefully finish in the next two weeks so I can wear it to Kinzie‘s wedding!) – I have an Asian-style embroidered brocade kind of fabric for this, and it’s beautiful. Also I’m hoping to recreate/modify a Victorian-style corset with this project.
  • Jacket to wear over said corset in case it is cold – I have blueish purple silk dupioni for this, and superb inspiration for the style.
  • Alterations to a dress I made a few years ago but now hate, to turn it into a simple skirt (with pockets!) to complete the above ensemble.
  • Corset for Julia that she has been begging me to make for the last two years.
  • New pajama pants. Mine all have holes. (Lots of them, in unfortunate places.) I have awesome Flinstones-esque dark teal with black tiger stripe fabric. They will be so much fun to wear.
  • The aforementioned Great T-Shirt Project of 2010. You guys, in 2010 we bought 30 pounds of jersey so that we could both expand our sad, sad collection of ill-fitting t-shirts. (I have a long torso, so basically every t-shirt ever manufactured shows an inch or two of stomach, which I’d prefer stayed out of sight and warm.)
  • I have silky, stretchy, clingy, shiny teal fabric for a drape-y dress shirt.
  • I am determined to never purchase jeans again and start making my own, because there are no pants in the universe that fit me properly. (And the ones I have are dangerously close to being to worn to wear in public.)
  • On that note, I need some dressier-than-jeans but not as fancy as wedding attire to wear to my clients’ rehearsals. As well as some more wedding attire to wear to their weddings. I know I’m getting sick of my same two outfits, and if you started looking at photos of me on fancy occasions, you’d be sick of them too.
  • I also have two pairs of corduroy pants in progress that need finishing.
  • And cranberry corduroy for a winter skirt.
  • Make my own swimsuit for the summer! (Long torso is a big problem in this department as well.)

I think that’s it. So please, give me your advice on balancing day jobs, working for yourself, doing your own projects, and relaxing (ha!) without accumulating sleep debt. And maybe, once in a while, ask if I’m getting any of this stuff done.

How to Buy the Right Size

We all know it is practically impossible to buy anything that fits you perfectly off the rack. That’s why we make custom clothes, but that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is how to pick the size that’s best for your body.

Before we start, let’s talk about size. Size is just a number – an extremely arbitrary, and given the variance between brands, practically meaningless number. You know what would be great? If women’s clothes were labeled with the actual size they are. You know, like ALL men’s clothing is. (Anyone want to take up this feminist/sexist issue with me? Because I am game.)

Rule # 1 – If it’s too tight, it does NOT fit. Even if it’s just a little bit too tight, and you’re sure you’ll lose 10 pounds (see rule # 2) before you have to wear it, go up a size. Your seamstress will thank you and you will be happy with less expensive alterations, because it is far easier to take something in than to let it out. And a lot of garments simply don’t have any extra fabric to let out, because of the way they are mass-produced. And if you do lose those 10 pounds? You will be thrilled to need it taken in AGAIN.

Rule # 2 – Buy for the size you are RIGHT NOW. Not the size you hope you’ll be two months from now when you wear it, and not the size you wore five years ago that you are desperately clinging to. You are what you are – accept it, love it, change it if you feel compelled to do so, but DO NOT SHOP FOR IT until it is your current reality. You’ll just be wasting money, and you all know how much I hate wasting money. (Don’t you? If not, I can totally write a post about that.)

Rule # 3 – Style matters. If you’re debating between sizes, consider what the garment is designed to show off. If it’s your hips, pick the one that fits your hips the best, and get the rest altered; if it’s the bust, make sure you’ve got enough coverage and nothing’s popping out where it shouldn’t be. In other words, look critically (at how the garment FITS YOU – NOT at how you fit the garment.)

That’s it, those are my rules. And remember – no matter what size is on the label, when you wear something that fits you properly, you look way better than when you wear something too tight OR too loose.

Make it Work!

Yeah, I stole that line from Tim Gunn. But it totally applies! Today, we are discussing alterations, and alterations are all about making it work.

There are really two kinds of alterations. The first are probably what you’re thinking of right now – a dress that’s a little too big in the bust or a little too small in the waist; a hem that needs shortening; the addition of a bustle to a wedding dress. And of course we do those.

Working out the proper drape of a bustle.

What you may not think about are the less typical things that can fall under the category of alterations. This could be changing the neckline on an otherwise-perfect dress, a somewhat moderate alteration, or something more dramatic, like taking a formal floor-length dress with a train, and turning it into a sassy little knee-length number. We’ve done a few of these recently, and frankly, we love them! (And we promise to post with pictures about them soon.)

So, whatever you have in mind for your garment, from a tiny tuck here or there, to a complete reworking of the whole thing, we can do it for you.

This is the fifth post in our series, All About Crafty Broads. We would love to answer your questions in the final post – please submit them here. Next up, we’re talking about Alterations. Miss a previous post? Find it here:

1. What Does a Wedding Planner Do, Anyway?
2. Uh, What Does DOC Stand For?
3. The B Word
4. Handmade Help

All About Crafty Broads

With the new year in full swing, and perhaps some new readers along with it, we thought we’d introduce some new things to the blog. Starting this week, we’ll have a series of posts explaining the details of our services, at the end of which we’d like to open it up to any questions you might have. So – bring on the questions! Anything you want to know about us, wedding planning and coordination, custom clothing, alterations, general craftiness, or us personally – GO!