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