Loungewear, Dita and Me

So I got Dita Von Teese’ book, Your Beauty Mark in January. It was much more for inspiration than a manual I can use in my day-to-day life, but I loved that she’s just so put together all the time. I mean, who does that these days? As I mentioned in earlier posts, I decided to dress up more when I go out, but I didn’t really think about changing my home wardrobe which is equally important.

Now I don’t get paid to look good or maybe I’d be more ambitious about making the changes, but I decided that I would at least take baby steps in the right direction. I’m usually wearing capris or yoga pants and t-shirts or when I’m home. And while none of it is ratty looking (thanks to Marie Kondo, I tossed out all that stuff last year), it’s still not – I don’t know – dignified. Although it’s much more dignified than my tiger striped catsuit (complete with tail) that I used to wear. Don’t ask.

Coletterie’s recent Seamwork issue is about loungewear too so I know I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Maybe it’s a move away from that dreadful “ath-leisure” trend that the fashion magazines have been pushing for the past few years. I don’t know. I just know I feel better when I’m in clothes I love and I want to feel that way whether I’m home or out.

After going through my closet, I decided I definitely need to make some comfortable clothes that were not athletic/exercise related. But before we look at the practical choices, let’s look at the stunning –  but impractical – Simplicity 8013. This pattern made me SWOON.


It’s a complete fabric hog (5-5/8″ or 7-5/8 yards, depending on the fabric width), but it looks like it would be so worth the effort. I can picture myself in a challis or chiffon version twirling around my newly cleaned apartment while arranging flowers or something. This is not a post-cleaning outfit. And it’s definitely NOT a cooking outfit; nothing good can come from standing near fire with this much fabric.

Now for the staples. I decided maxi dresses are the way to go.  I’m going to make a couple of knit maxi dresses like McCalls 6559 (just the plain tank version) and see how they work for me:


No comment on the styling or fabric choices; I have no idea why the Big 4 make their pattern pictures so unappealing.

I also like the snug t-shirt/maxi skirt combo so I’ll be working on a few skirts too. Finally, I have a capri pant pattern that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Fitting pants is my achilles heel so I rarely make them, but I really like Simplicity 1373:


Again, a bad picture, but the pants have a back zipper and I think they’d look fabulous in stretch denim or something similar.

Anyway, the idea is to keep it simple and make some pieces that (a) I can sew quickly; and (b) make me feel slightly more dressed up than usual. After all, you should put it least as much effort to look good for yourself as you would for other people right?


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Underwire Woes

When we last saw my bra muslin, I had it in a good place – or so I thought. I played with the cups to get them to fit a bit better but I had a recurring problem: the underwire was poking me in the area right between the side of my breast and my armpit. Plus it was higher than the actual cup. I tried to ignore it, but I knew in the pit of my stomach that I’d have to find different underwires to make this bra work.

Now to backtrack a bit, I’ve been putting this bra project off for well over a year. But once I got started, I really thought I had everything I needed to turn my fabric and findings into a gloriously beautiful, well fitting bra. So instead of continuing down the wrong road (which I do often: see Miette fiasco), I printed out the underwire guide from my bra-making class to confirm my suspicions. When I checked my underwires against it, they were much too long: size WL-40(!), when I needed a 32 or 34.  In my defense, I bought those underwires on Etsy some time ago and I never questioned if they would fit. Honestly, I never thought much about underwires and I definitely didn’t know that they came in so many different shapes.

Next I read this article on Emerald Erin (her blog is a a must-read for any bra fanatic) and learned so much more about choosing underwires that are not only the right length, but also relate to the actual shape of my breasts.

Regardless, I couldn’t use the yellow tipped ones for my bra. I thought about cutting them and resealing the edge, but it seemed like too much work for too little payoff.  So off to Etsy I went – again –  to order more underwires. Common bra-making wisdom is that you order the size you think you want, one size up and one size down. I was unwilling to buy 3 sets so I bought 32C (WL 32) (which I think will fit) and 32D (WL 34) just in case I’m wrong. But because the bra-making gods seem to have turned against me, the 32C are out of stock (I should be getting them soon though.)

Anyway, here’s a comparison pic of my two underwires. (The one with the yellow tip is the original underwire and the blue tipped wire is the new one).


I put the new wire on my sheet and it’s a perfect 34 (it’s not exactly on the top of the 34 line because it has a little bit of tension so it holds the cups in shape.)


So I’m onto the next muslin while I wait for the 32s.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on color/pattern combinations for my future bra projects. I haven’t found the suggested cup fabrics (duoplex/supplex) locally so I bought 40 denier nylon fabric online as an alternative. I’m not crazy about it because it’s shiny – I mean Vegas shiny – so I’m probably going to put a layer of lace (or another less gaudy fabric) on top of it. I might also use it to make some cute high waisted panties. IDK. Everytime I take it out of the bag it hurts my eyes, so it’s difficult to make long term plans with it.

I’m also on the hunt for some nice lace to make a pretty black bra with matching French Knickers from this Vera Venus pattern. My stretch goal is to make this Cut Out & Keep garter belt pattern for those days when I’m feeling saucy.

Overall, I’m still excited about making my first bra and if my next muslin fits with the new underwires, it’ll finally be a reality.


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My Favorite Tools: Rulers Edition

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A few days ago, a beginning seamstress asked me about what she needs to get started. She also expressed that she was reluctant to start sewing because she’s intimidated by math. I had to think about that for a second because I never associated math with sewing. Drafting, yes, but not sewing.  What she meant was she wasn’t sure how to measure patterns, yardage, etc. We got into a conversation about measuring tools and I told her how many rulers and ruler variations I own. But I also emphasized that beginners do not need to invest heavily to get started. A basic c-thru ruler and a french curve will take you far.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t need all of these rulers (and to be honest, I actually have more than the ones pictured, but they’re stashed everywhere and it was too much work to look for them – don’t judge me.). My accidental collection started when I attended FIT. I t seemed like every class required a different type of ruler. Being a financially-challenged student at the time, I was not happy to have to keep spending money, but now unless something breaks or gets lost, I’ll never have to buy another ruler in this lifetime.


I think the first one I bought was one of these:


This is my workhorse (which I accidentally stained with my Sharpie). I have 3 now, but I’ve owned probably 10-15 of these because I keep breaking, bending or losing them. I reach for this ruler every.single.time I need to measure something. Not to make the others jealous, but it really is my favorite.

I also drilled holes in it so I can use it as a compass. When I need to draw a circle or semi circle, I put a thumbtack in the center hole, measure out the radius and use a mechanical pencil in the corresponding hole. It’s like magic.


This is my very, very, very old yardstick. She’s cracked and battle scarred, but I’ll never get rid of her. I mainly use it for measuring lengths of fabric and also skirt lengths since it doesn’t curl up like my measuring tape.


These are both hip curves, but until recently I used the Fashion Ruler more because it has a more extreme curve which I thought I needed. But the other day I started using the metal one and realized that the curve actually creates a better curve for me so it may have dethroned my Fashion Ruler.

I still use the roundish top of the Fashion Ruler for drawing armholes and necklines though.IMG_2276

I bought this Omnigrip ruler during my brief flirtation with quilting. I rarely use it now, but I plan to do some quilting this year so perhaps it’ll make a comeback.


My L-square is great for pattern drafting. It’s long enough to that you don’t have to keep moving it, but short enough that you’re not stabbing yourself with its unnaturally sharp edges. One side has inches and the other side has fractions of a yard, inches, centimeters, and millimeters if you’re into that type of thing.


I also use this T-square for pattern drafting so I can start with a perfect 90 degree angle.


The blue part is really helpful when I need to measure out a specific distance from the selvedge but I can’t reach across the fabric. It hugs the edge of my sewing table so I know the ruler is completely perpendicular to the fabric without having to make constant adjustments or straining my eyes as sometimes happens with see-through rulers.


I had this Ezy-Hem for YEARS before I used it, but now I can’t imagine hemming a skirt without it. It has several hem depths marked so keeping your hem consistent is pretty simple.


I love circle skirts, but hemming them was always torture for me because I sew my hems by hand. If the finished hems were uneven (which happened more times than I like to admit), I picked them out and did them again. I’m pretty sure that if you inspect some of my skirts, you’ll find tear stains.

Anyway, since I’ve been using this tool, my hems have improved considerably. I just run a basting stitch close to the raw edge then I use my Ezy-Hem to turn the hem over and press it to make sure I got the correct depth. After that I gather the stitches and give it another press and steam to minimize any fullness.

It also has a straight side that I use on my other hems and sleeves. One caveat: it get’s hot when you press the hem on it, but that’s why oven mitts were invented.


This is my baby (shhhh, don’t tell the others). I found this vintage ruler on eBay and I had to have it. I still keep it in it’s original plastic sleeve and rarely use it. I kinda feel bad that it doesn’t see more action but I’m terrified that I’ll drop it.




She has all kinds of nifty features like slots to mark buttonholes and some nicely placed curves.


She even came with a little booklet.


I truly love vintage tools because they remind me of all the seamstresses that went before me. Sometimes I wonder about the hands they’ve passed through and what type of garments they were used on before they got to me; it makes me proud that I get to carry on the tradition.

Finally here’s an interesting tidbit I just read: did you know that the tip of a standard measuring tape is exactly 5/8″ wide? And that just happens to be the width of the seam allowance on Big 4 patterns? I was way too happy to learn that. I seriously need to get out more.


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Sewing While I Adjust To Weight Loss

In my last post, I wrote about the extensive alterations I had to do on a new dress I was making. I’ve been sewing for years, so it truly shocked me that my measurements were completely off and the resulting dress was so much larger than I thought it would be. I believe all of this was because of my issue with phantom weight.

I call it phantom weight because even though it no longer exists, sometimes I still have trouble seeing myself without it. It’s a very strange experience. For example, last summer I saw my image on a security camera and I literally had to wave my arm to convince myself that it was actually me.

Now, I know that your happiness doesn’t depend on your size. And I know – at least intellectually – that you should accept yourself at any weight. I’d like to say I was just as happy and confident when I was heavier, but that would be a lie. I wasn’t completely unhappy, but I had a lot of anxiety around my body and missed quite a few social engagements because I couldn’t find anything that I felt good in.

I never stopped to think about how much my weight loss would affect my sewing. For years, I’ve been adding to my “Sewing List” board on Pinterest, but recently I realized that I spent much of my sewing life wanting to make clothes that would not suit my body. Like many others in our media saturated society, I was seduced by images of women who weren’t built like me. As the years went by, I sewed for myself less and less because I couldn’t comfortably wear the types of clothes I wanted. Instead of trying to find things that did suit me, I gave up and rarely put any effort into making myself look nice. Worse, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care and that wanting to look good was somehow superficial. In my heart though, I knew how important it was to me and it made me sad to know how much I’d let myself down by not adorning my body. On the few occasions I braved the stores to go shopping, I was in hell. Anyone who’s been to the “plus size” (I hate that term btw) section knows what I’m talking about.

So, one of the intentions I set for this year is to be more polished and that includes making clothes while I’m continue to get to my goal weight. In the past, I thought that if I made clothes for my larger size, I might not be as motivated to lose weight. I now know that’s completely illogical and I could’ve been well-dressed all along. Live and learn I guess.

All these thoughts came to the surface as I stood in front of the mirror in my baggy dress wondering why it’s so hard for my mind to accept that my body is different now. I’m glad I had this experience because it brought some of my blind spots to my attention and that’s always a good thing. While my mind is catching up, I’ll be making new things I can wear right now – but first, I’m going to take a brand new set of measurements.


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