Monday, August 23, 2010

The Evolution of the Empire

First, yes, I do still knit. I just cast off a shawl this morning!

I wanted to go into some detail about the why and how of my recent sewing craze. When I first started sewing, in 2005, I had hoped at some point to be able to sew my own clothes, considering I was a hard to fit size. After my breast reduction in 2007, I was a 'normal' size for awhile, but still wanted to sew clothes. I started with some kid pajama pants and moved on to a dress for me, labelled "easy". I sewed a second version for a Christmas party even though I wasn't totally happy with the first one.

Even though I made the size for me (actually I might have made it a bit smaller cause I couldn't see how this style of dress would need something like 4" of ease). However, it just didn't have the coverage over the chest like the package showed, and it didn't lay flat on my chest.I moved onto a few other sewing projects but I was hesitant to make anything more for me, especially tops. And, I seemed to be ...ummm...growing. Recently, I felt that my skills were improving enough to try again. I decided to make a top using the same pattern. I drafted a slightly larger size, and altered the back so there wouldn't be a zipper.At first, I was happy, but really, it just didn't 'cup' me enough and didn't have the coverage. Plus, I HATE tieing things behind my neck. I gave it to my mom. As I mentioned a few posts ago, while we have the same chest size, we do not have the same bra size. It fit her fine.

I had a teen sewing book from the library and there was a cute empire waist summer top in it, with instructions how to draft your own pattern. They gave numbers for up to a C cup, but I figured I could try following the idea and upsize. I drew a sketch before I returned the book but when I went to actually try it out, I couldn't find the sketch. So I returned to my original pattern, and started a 'muslin' using an old sheet.I used the sewing techniques from the dresses I just made for the girls, but this made it hard to tell exactly how the dress was going to look until quite a bit had actually been done. I dress the pieces larger where I thought I needed it, but I wasn't sure what to do with the bottom curve. Trying it on showed that while I could get the right coverage and fit, the pieces would not be sewn straight along the original seam line. I just didn't have enough hands to hold it, pin it, mark it, etc. I knew that something was still not quite right.

I moved on to a different bodice from the same pattern set; this one is one piece, which I thought might be easier to fit. It is supposed to be much lower cut in the middle, but I wanted some modesty for this dress (family reunion). I knew, after finally finding a tutorial for a cross-over, empire waist sundress (on page 10 of the google results), that I needed more length to cover the bust and tuck underneath. However, I knew I didn't want the extra length at the side seams, so it got added to the top of the bodice. Lucy kept saying it was "too big" which she meant that it came up too high on my chest:I could see that it was pulling at the base of the V neck so I needed more width. I was pretty much happy with it though. So I got a better fabric--some blah beige quilter's cotton I had bought off Cheapcycle. It's rose blooms, actually. I didn't like how it looked in the middle (the skirt seam goes straight across, but the bodice seems to dip in), but I was pretty happy, although it was still not 'cupping' me. I wanted to be able to go braless, and not have elastic under the bust, which would gather the skirt and make it look like a maternity dress (even though I have a permanently maternity shaped body). There were some issues with the skirt. The fabric is only 44" wide!For ease of adding photos, I'm just going to start another entry for the rest of the story!

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