Thursday, 18 January 2018

White Pants Confession #smyly2018

Currently on Instagram there is a tag gaining momentum amongst the sewing community: #smyly2018
Sewing makes you love yourself.
For me, this is SO true.
As a teen, growing up in Australia, there were no tall retailers and it was before online shopping.
I truly believed there was something wrong with me, with my body, because the clothes I wanted to wear and buy did not fit me properly. They did not fit at all.
I was a very chubby teen, which didn't help, but being 6 feet tall meant everything was too short.
It wasn't until I started sewing that I realized that the problem was with the clothes, not with me. But even then, I felt somehow wrong or different because I had to make so many changes to patterns.
I have a rare congenital bone defect in my lower left leg (congenital pseudarthrosis, which caused a non union in my fibula and bow & fracture in the tibia). So my left leg is 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than my right leg. My hips are uneven, which makes fitting pants really difficult. I would do my best to hide this "flaw" in the way I dress and stand. I even avoided wearing a belt because it drew focus to how uneven my hips were (which was ridiculous, sometimes you need a belt to hold your pants up!).
I would never wear light colours on my lower half because I thought it drew attention to my uneven hips and was not flattering to my pear shape.
Fast forward to a few years ago and I came across the blog Pretty Tall Style by the fabulous Tanasha. She made beautiful clothes and she was tall. Tanasha talked about the modifications she made to patterns to fit her tall frame in a straight forward and matter of fact way, because that's what you do to make a pattern fit you.
It was like a light went on for me! Of course it was normal to make adjustments. Why did I see that so clearly for someone else, but for myself I still felt a bit "not normal" about it.
Then I got on Instagram and the seeing all the adjustments and fitting issues of marvellous women of all shapes and sizes was like a shining light and Hallelujah chorus from heaven. EVERYONE has fit issues! Everyone!
I already had a good sense of style that suited me and worked for my body. Sewing made me focus further on fit and really changed my thinking from "my body isn't right for that skirt/trouser/dress" to "that clothing item isn't right for my body".
It was a small but powerful shift.
The problem was not me. The clothes were not right for me.
This shift in thinking encouraged me to challenge my thoughts about what I could & could not wear. I always loved the look of white pants on others, women of all shapes and sizes. So why did I think I couldn't wear them?
I decided to make myself a pair. To be honest, the pattern I used did not suit my body so I had 3 attempts at getting them right (with long frustrated breaks in between!) but I finally got there.
They are not perfect. With my uneven hips & leg length discrepancy getting a perfect fit is beyond my capabilities currently, but the pants are comfortable and wearable. One of my sewing goals for 2018 is to create a pants block for my body, which means drafting each side sperately to accommodate my wonky shape.
Sewing has helped me accept my body for what it is. Honestly, I'm lucky just to have my leg as most people with my condition have had the limb amputated in childhood. When I remind myself of that, a few pull lines on a pair of pants really aren't a big deal!
Happy Sewing!
Xox Allison
Left: you can see my uneven shape
Right: how I always stand to even up my hips!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

A New Era in Sewing

2018 is going to be an exciting new era in my sewing adventure and I am SO excited!

I have partnered with Husqvarna Viking® and will be creating with the amazing Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade 35® sewing machine (check it out here).  As someone who has always used a vintage sewing machine, this is a whole new and exciting world of sewing! There is so much to learn with this machine, and I've only had it for a day, but it is SO easy to use.  Seriously, the buttons just make sense!   

I could rave endlessly about the features of this machine, but you can read about them for yourself on the Husqvarna Viking website 

Image from Husqvarna Viking
We all know my sewing space isn't this cool!

Naturally, the first thing I did with the machine (after a couple of straight lines of sewing...it does the most perfect "fix" stitch at the start and end AND cuts the threads with the touch of a button!!!) was stitch out my name.  I cannot stress how easy it was to program in my name and then just press the start button!   Done!

I'm not the only one who would do this, right?!

The Designer Jade 35 also does embroidery.  I've not yet explored that feature, but if the ease of the sewing machine is anything to go by it will be a breeze to use.  My mind is racing with all the dressmaking projects I can add embroidery to...the possibilities are endless.  And clothing with embroidery is so on trend right now that I'm feeling very cool!

So stay tuned for lots of exciting new projects and sewing inspiration!

Check out Husqvarna Viking Sewing Australia's Facebook page for the announcement and a giveaway (closing early Jan 2018).

Happy Sewing!

xox Allison

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Knit Fabric Wrap Dress

I was lucky enough to be asked to be a guest blogger for Brave Fabrics.  I selected a gorgeous knit from Art Gallery Fabrics Woodland collection from Brave Fabrics awesome range to make my own take on the CharliAnne Wrap Dress by Sew To Grow
Head over to Brave Fabrics to see my guest post and you can also purchase the fabric and pattern to make your own!

First, lets talk fabric.  This fabric is amazing!! It is SO soft and stretchy with the perfect amount of thickness and drape.  It is such high quality.  It washes beautifully and was a dream to sew with.  Honestly, I'm more of a woven fabrics girl but these knits by AGF could convert me!  It didn't stretch out of shape whilst sewing like some knits do, it was even easy to hem!  I use a vintage (1976) Bernina sewing machine, so I don't have a fancy walking foot or a lot of fancy stitch options.  However I didn't need them, this fabric was a dream to sew!

The pattern I used was the CharliAnne Wrap Dress which is a new pattern by Sew To Grow.  Full disclosure: I now have 3 of these dresses and have hacked 2 tops from the pattern.  I'm a bit obsessed!  I was originally going to make a different dress, but once I got the fabric I knew it had to be a wrap dress.
The CharliAnne Wrap Dress is a pattern for woven fabric.  I cut out my usual size, however made it knee length rather than the full length.  I used the darts in the skirt and bodice front as I didn't want my dress to be too clingy.  I did omit the darts from the back bodice.  To stop the dress stretching too much, I used a woven bias to finish the edges as per the instructions in the pattern.  This worked beautifully and as you can see, it lays really nicely. 
For reference (and to make it easy for you to order your fabric & pattern from Brave Fabrics) I made a size XS and used 2.25m of fabric.  If you are making a larger size you will need 2.5 - 3m of knit fabric.  For the bias just use some of your favourite woven fabric from your stash and make it per the instructions in the pattern.
I am SO happy with this dress and in love with the fabric.  I know it will be on high rotation for all seasons!

Happy Sewing!
xox Allison