Monday, March 25, 2013

A sewing saga

I grew up sewing; taught by Mom and later
supplemented with lessons from Girl Scout activities
and the Home Economics classes at school.
I got good enough to do this:
I made this dress on my Mom's sewing machine and I did
a blog write-up all about it here.

I sewed a little after getting married -- what I could
with a full-time job.
Eventually, I stopped sewing.
The sewing machine I had for myself (not my Mom's)
took a nose dive off the top of the car where 
it was strapped on my move from Missoula, Montana
to Los Angeles, California where we lived
right after marriage.

After moving to Texas in '93, 
I was able to cut back work to part-time.
And being here in Texas, quilting is a big deal
and one day I walked into a quilt shop and just about died.
Fabric heaven.
So I decided to pick up quilting, but doing it the old-fashioned way...
all by hand. 

By that time, I also got pregnant with my third and last child,
who happened to be a girl.
My Mom thought: "Hilary needs a machine!" and promptly
found one at a garage sale or something.
An old Singer pretty much like her old Singer,
which at the time they were sold as new, 
were top of the line!
So she got it cleaned up and brought it down to me.
I gave up sewing quilt pieces by hand
and used the machine
and sewed darling little dresses for my baby.

On a road trip to Montana when my daughter was 6 years old
my Mom took me into her BERNINA shop,
supposedly to find fabric for me to finish a quilt top
that I was going to leave with her.
I kept trying to find just the right fabric and she
kept calling me over to where she and the dealer
were running a fancy-pants sewing machine that embroidered
along with the typical sewing features.

After the fourth time I head her say:
"I wish I had a machine like that when you were Lelia's age!"
I knew I was being set up!
She looked at me and asked: "Do you want it?"
I just had to ask back: "Are you paying for it?"
since the cost of the machine was a price of a decent used car.
At least, that was what my 15-year old son told me.

Of course she paid for it as she IS the best mother in the world
and certainly wouldn't set me up for a hard fall.
So that is how I got my fancy-pants sewing machine
12 years ago.

I was able to make some really darling dresses for my daughter!
And I sewed a bit for myself.

But sewing for myself became a challenge.
I found that patterns no longer fit me.
Especially around the bust ... so I took a class
from my local BERNINA dealer on
altering patterns for "Bigger than a B" cup size.

That's when I learned all patterns are designed for women
who have b-cup sized busts. Which is what I used to have.
Way back then!

Eventually, I quit sewing for myself.
I even quit sewing for Lelia and spent my sewing
time make quilt tops.
I finished a few quilts, but not many.
But I have a LOT of tops.
Sounds like another blog post should be made
on all the UFO's in my life.

But now, for some reason ... frankly I blame
the PBS show Downton Abbey because of all the 
fabulous vintage dress ... and Project Runway ...
I find myself itching to sew for myself.

I took the opportunity of my daughter's BFF's wedding
last year to sew up something nice for me to wear.
I was cocky, figuring it's a lot like riding a bike
(and frankly, it is, I retained almost all of my skills)
and spent about $245 on silk and gorgeous buttons
along with pattern and notions
and whipped myself up a beautiful, sophisticated dress.

Now I do not have size shock in buying patterns.
I know their sizes are nothing like America's ready-to-wear.
So it didn't bother me too much that I was needing a 
size 22 to fit my bust, waist and hip measurements.
In ready-ready-to wear, I best fit a 14W.

Unfortunately, when I put the finished dressed on
and looked in the mirror, I just about screamed.
I did cry a bit.
The thing looked like a sack!
It made me look huge!
And though it fit the bust, waist and hips,
it was practically falling off my shoulders!

I was so upset and bewildered
and felt like a complete failure.
The wedding was the next day so I had to go with Plan B.
At least I got to wear the most gorgeous shoes I've
ever purchased for the wedding since Plan B
was a dress hanging in my closet that was a perfect
match for the shoes.
I need to get a photo of those shoes and post
it one of these days.
The shoes kept me from complete misery.

I was so upset about the $245 gunny sack
that I thought I should give up sewing garments.
But at the time, I was working for BERNINA
inside Hancock Fabric and knew I could figure something out.

There is software sold by BERNINA to draft your own patterns.
And there are plenty of "draft your own patterns"
books and classes out there.
And I may avail myself of those resources.

But one day I was browsing the craft section of 
my favorite bookstore and stumbled upon this:
Pattern Fitting with confidence by Nancy Zieman

Patterns are not just based on a B-cup sized bust,
but their entire structure is based on an average
bone frame (and height) of a woman who happens
to have whatever particular measurement you're using as your base.

In other words, I was buying a pattern the size to 
accommodate my DD-cup bust and ended up with 
a garment that is meant for a 6'1" woman with
the corresponding larger bone frame!
I'm only 5'6"!

o_O

So now I get to learn a whole new set of skills.
Maybe I'm a size 14 after all!!

35 comments:

Linda Pruitt said...

I read all about your wedding dress! such a good story! Also wonderful mother that you have! You are blessed! Thanks for sharing, I'm your newest follower. Found you on Inspire Me Monday linky! Have a Blessed Day!

Betty Taylor said...

What a wonderful mother! I haven't sewn for years. Maybe I should try it again.

Ginger Davis Allman (The Blue Bottle Tree) said...

Oh my gosh can I relate! I also have a large bust and was drawn to sewing because (supposedly) I could make clothes that I couldn't buy. Because nothing cute ever came in my size back in those days. But the commercial patterns NEVER fit. Ever. I did learn to do a lot of hand drafting and adjusting the patterns. Then I got started with patternmaking software. First I had PatternMaster. But it couldn't accommodate my bust. Then I bought Dress Shop. And I got a pretty good fit. But between designing something that didn't make me look like a cow and fighting the quirks of the software, it just got to be too much trouble. I can actually draft patterns now. With pencil and paper. But it's just soooo much work. And my little machine only comes out to sew nowadays for altering my kids' clothes to fit better. But every now and then I get the urge. And think about it. You're braver than me to even be considering it!

Jill said...

Thanks for sharing your story - what a journey!! What a shame about the dress you made - but at least you've learned from it and aren't going to give up! Good look with your new pattern drafting and making!

Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
Hope you have a fabulous week!
Jill @ Creating my way to Success
http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

Crochet Happy said...

Wonderful post~
I too have just picked sewing back up..well sort of. My husband bought me a basic machine and fabric to make bumper pads and crib sheets for my new grandbaby..but I haven't opened the box yet :)
Your post has given me the msg I need that it is like riding a bicycle and should pick right back up w/out a huge learning curve.

Thank YOU :D

acreativeharbor.com said...

Wonderfully informative post and don't you love what info you can find on the net and helped resolve your problem ~ Mom's are special ~ ~ Enjoy ^_^

ps. thanks for coming by and commenting .

KC @ genxfinance said...

That's a lovely dress and it's even more amazing that you were the one who made it.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

It is definitely like riding a bike. I pretty much stopped sewing for 20 years, before I took it up again. You don't forget. What a FABULOUS mum you have!

Kristin Dawn said...

Hey, new follower from the Friend Connect blog hop. Lovely dress and great story. :) Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

xo,
Kristin
aboutagirl.ca

Schulz Family said...

visiting from Domesticity. I stopped sewing for myself as it was too hard too. And too expensive. But I am so seriously into refashioning and they turn out great!! Getting more confident and doing more changes each time. I love this blog post, thanks so much

Amber Koogler said...

Thank you for stopping by and sharing with us at Give Me The Goods Link Party!!
www.dimplesandpigtales.blogspot.com

Lesa said...

As a child, I sat beneath the arm of my mom's sewing machine when I played. It was just natural that I sew, supposedly. I struggle with patterns, too, and will certainly reference the book you mentioned. The writer is pretty fabulous, isn't she! And your story should clue many of us about why our dream clothes don't exactly materialize when the machine stops. Thanks for stopping by!

Molly said...

I have absolutely not sewing talent whatsoever and I am envy those that do

Mollyxxx

dedivahdeals.com said...

Wonderful talent Missy! Blog hopping from "Katherine's Place"

Linda@With A Blast said...

You have an awesome Mom! My Granny taught me a bit about sewing and how to use the machine, but that was basically it :-) Loved reading about the sizes that can be so different and confusing. Thank you for sharing at our AL MY BLOGGY FRIENDS Link party ! Hope to see you next week again :-)

Mandi Roach said...

Hi there! I have ventured over from Thumpin’ Thursday. I'm enjoying this little peek into your world! Just lovely! XOXO, Mandi @ All My Happy Endings

HandJ Cobb said...

What a gorgeous dress (and story). I love that this dress would look just as gorgeous today.

www.domesticblisssquared.com

Sewing Mom said...

Ugh, that was always a huge frustrationg sewing clothes! I don't know much about altering patterns and I don't have the patience for it right now. I'd rather shop used clothes racks at goodwill stores. =)

However, I loved reading your story. I'd love to see your UFO's and hear more about your quilting.

Visiting from Studio JRU. Happy Easter.

Cindi Ashbeck said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I don't sew so this was something new for me. I had no idea patterns were built around the frame of a person.

You said you made quilts by hand? Do you still do this? I've always been fascinated with quilts but knowing I can't sew I'm pretty sure that would be something I couldn't do :(

I hope to get to know you better through the weeks through the "Studio JRU Sneak Peak" event. I'm new : )

Have a wonderful Easter!

A. L. Jambor said...

I used to be a quilter and a cross-stitcher. My hands just don't work that way anymore. Hopping by from Friendship Friday. New follower. Please consider following me. Free Ebook Search for Seniors

Cindy said...

wonderful memories and stories! (Coming from Studio JRU)...I have been an off again, on again sewer myself...with dreams of really delving into quilting. Maybe after sweet tweener graduates from homeschool!

Nicole @ Mendez Manor said...

I enjoyed reading and I wish I knew how to sew. I am a new follower from the blog hop. I hope you come over and check out my blog too! www.mendezmanor.com

Live*Laugh*Love said...

Hello I am your newest follower from the blog hop on your blog would love for you to follow me back. Thanks :) Feel free to Like or Follow me on my other media sites!!!

http://taracl2011.blogspot.com
http://pinterest.com/taracl85/
https://twitter.com/LiveLaughhLovee
http://www.facebook.com/pages/LiveLaughLove/123392547737823
http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/taracl

Maria S said...

New gfc follower from the aloha blog hop. I am so happy to find your blog. I have been trying to get back into sewing and your blog gives me confidence. I used to watch Nancy on t.v. they used to show her television show on a local channel she was great!

Maria
http://www.keepingitstepford.com/

Sarah Evans said...

Wow! I can't believe that patterns are that unsophisticated! No wonder your dress didn't quite work out.

You could write a whole bog series based on what you found out from your new book about patterns, I bet.

Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

RACHEL TaoOfPoop said...

You look beautiful in that photo and it is clear that you are a remarkable sewer. I am terrible at sewing, and Project Runway even makes me want to sew. I'm not surprised that you want to get going with some things for you! I hope that make lots of things for yourself! :)

Leslie McNeil said...

i sure enjoyed your story! and will look forward to seeing the remodeled garment someday?! gosh... many laterals in all of it. i have seen the demo of the bernina software for patterns... it is truly amazing. {i teach for bernina} although i do not have it. blessings... visiting from studio jru, and glad i did!!

Leslie McNeil said...

and i forgot to mention! {i'm a montana girl!} and ... a bernina babe!

Nantawan Bennett said...

Happy Easter!
visit and follow from Friday blog hop.
Would be nice if you can visit and link up at my blog.
Have a great weekend.
Nan
http://www.blogshe.net/2013/03/we-need-tutor.html

A. L. Jambor said...

Thanks for the follow, Hilary.

Missy Inspired said...

This is a great blog. I'm your latest follower. I found you from the Aloha blog hop.

Missy Inspired
http://missyinspired.blogspot.com

Katie @ Horrific Knits said...

Thanks so much for linking up with Inspired Weekends! Please stop by Horrific Knits on Friday for the next round!

Jen B said...

Wow - what a beautiful dress and great story.

I am a new GFC and Twitter follower from My Turn For Us. Glad I found your blog! :)

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

I love sewing! Thanks for sharing!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

My mother sewed clothes for me when I was little but I never learned and certainly don't have the patience for it now. I will attempt simple hand sewing but that's about the extent of it. I am always in awe of anyone who can take fabric and turn it into something beautiful, usable, wearable. I recently went to try on jeans and the tag said size 14 -- I know I'm not, I'm a size 8, but the way they make clothes these days is ridiculous and it seems most of them are aimed at teenagers who have yet to round out their figures. :) Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Tammy

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