Garment Sewing

Let’s talk about garment sewing. Every once in awhile, I will decide to sew a garment, which is typically a huge mistake (See attached photos!). 

Garment sewing, especially with a commercial pattern, is a special skillset. It’s super difficult for me for several reasons. The first being that I find it incredibly triggering, since garment sewing was something that I first attempted to learn from my mother. She was extremely talented, could make really beautiful things, that actually fit her, or whoever she was sewing for, which was often me, as a child. (Which brings up a whole other mass of trauma, related, but not needing to be discussed here. it was the ’70’s, it wasn’t really her fault.) Her perfectionism, and inability to accept any result that was possibly instructional, but less-than-perfect, however, had a great effect on my feelings about my ability to sew garments and my own self worth. 

Anyway, garment sewing, especially from a commercial pattern,  requires a lot of fiddly things that I don’t like, am not good at, don’t care enough (or at all) about, and usually gives me results that make me less than happy.  I have lots of problems with it, beyond the trauma of imperfection. I’m oddly shaped, at least, from a fashion perspective. I don’t think about it much usually, because I could not care a shred about “fashion” per se.  But I’m not good at guessing what things will look like on my body, I don’t have the skill set (nor the patience) to tailor patterns to my body, I hate the fact that clothes that “look good” are so often miserably uncomfortable, and patterns aren’t made for women with boobs that are closer to their waist than to their collarbones. I have BROAD shoulders, long arms, a stomach that is the same size as my hips and chest, no butt, and clothes just don’t fit me. Once, I was super skinny for a minute, due to some medication I was on, and clothes fit, and I finally realized what it was like to have clothes that weren’t either squeezing, cutting into a tender area, or falling off all the time. But that’s over, I’m back to being the shape of a tomato.  I just realized that I’m supposed to care about what clothes look like on my body in a discussion with my 26 year old child, yesterday, if that gives an indication of how much I care about fashion…

I also suck at cutting fabric. Yep, that’s the truth. I’m left handed. I have left handed shears, and rotary cutters, and I’ve watched all the youtube videos on how to cut things well. Let me repeat. I suck at cutting fabric. 

I suck at getting the little pointy things that are supposed to line up cut correctly, let alone to actually line up when I’m trying to fit all of my ill-cut pieces together. 

I suck at “transferring” all those stupid marks that actually tell you where to put things, like pockets, and pleats and darts and whatever other fiddly things are required by said garment. 

But I want to stop buying things, as much as I can. And I want to be conscious of where the things I use (Fabric, thread etc) come from when I’m buying them. I want to use natural fibers, both because I hate that everything is made from dinosaur, and because petrochemical fabrics are too freaking hot, and I hate the way they feel against my skin.  So, sewing some of my own clothes seems to be a good choice. 

So, a few years ago, during that skinny time, I bought this pattern and fabric, and it’s been sitting in my stash ever since.  (At the same time I bought the book  Simple Modern Sewing, which now has zero patterns that will fit on my decidedly huskier body. SIGH)  I finished some scrap quilting and am waiting for a frame for my new machine to arrive, so I thought I’d chew through some stash projects. So I made this dress. It’s the Dottie Angel Frock. I really like her stuff, or I guess I should say, “Liked” since she seems to have disappeared from the internet… This pattern was made by Simplicity, from her pattern, I assume. It’s a fiddly mess and I hate it. I had to tear out the French seams 3x, and still have a bit of fuzz poking out on one seam. Everything is bound in bias tape and is super poky/itchy/touches my body in ways I don’t like. The armpits are VERY deep, even for my ham hock upper arms (which is usually a plus, since I hate clothes that squeeze my armpits, but this is excessive), and I am going to have to wear a very supportive (read, Ironclad hoist) bra to keep my boobs in the designated pleat area, instead of under it. I may just take the pleats out and either move them down, or leave them out entirely, because I don’t care if I look like someone’s grandma doing farm chores. I could BE someone’s grandma, and I’m definitely doing farm chores. 

Here’s the dress I ended up with, I have yet to hem it, and I may just take it apart and use it for quilting fabric, but maybe not…Learning experiences are good, right?

Pros: Lightweight, doesn’t pinch my armpits, has pockets, I like the fabric

Cons: doesn’t fit my boobs, armpits are down to my ribs, light colors will be ruined by farm dirt in one day, bias tape is poky. 

I have some linen that I wanted to make some of the cute Japanese patterns in Simple Modern Sewing from, but since I’ll need to drop approximately half my body weight to fit in any of those things, I guess I’ll be looking for some other easy, low fuss patterns to make from them. maybe just drawstring pajama pants forever…


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