Tag Archives: body image

Sunday sewing

Sunday afternoons, from about the middle of the Food Programme to the end of the Classic Serial, seem to have become my sewing times; T is generally watching rugby and I retreat upstairs to my craft room.

This afternoon I made a first muslin of the bodice of the Colette Pastille dress.

Pastille muslin 1

I cut a size 10 at the top of the bodice, based on my 38″ high bust measurement, and a size 14 at the waist (because my waist and hip measurements mean I definitely need the size 14 skirt), and then attempted a 1″ full bust adjustment.

Pastille muslin 2

It’s definitely an improvement on my Sorbetto attempts; the bust darts turned out pretty well (I ignored the original placing and redrew them level with the apex of my bust, following this tutorial) but I didn’t take account of the fact that this put the bust darts more or less level with the points of the waist darts, which I should have shortened. Having tried the muslin on, I think I should probably have actually cut a size 8 with a bigger bust adjustment, as I clearly didn’t add enough length in the centre front, and I think I also need to shorten the back so the back waist seam sits above the point where my bum begins. Also, next time I’m going to sew up the back (where the zip should go) and leave one of the side seams open as that will make it much easier to pin myself into it!

It’s definitely getting there, though it’s hard work and I’ve still got a long way to go. Of course, part of the problem is that until I started thinking about how to make things fit properly and took lots of measurements I was convinced I was top-heavy with narrowish hips and not much in the way of curves apart from my chest, whereas in fact my waist and hips are a good two sizes bigger than my top half would be with the ‘standard’ B/C cup and the only reason I have to buy tops the same size as skirts (or even slightly bigger) is because I’m so very definitely not a standard B/C cup. And of course, fitting issues aren’t exactly helped by the fact that I’m a completely different shape to my mental image of myself!

Summer breeze

I wasn’t going to post an outfit photo today, because my outfit was very similar to others I’ve worn recently (there’s not much you can do with a dress in warm weather, after all). But I really liked this photo. One of my hopes when I started taking daily photos was that it would improve my self-image, and I certainly can’t imagine seeing a photo of myself a year ago and thinking, as I thought of this one, ‘That’s a nice picture’.

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Necklace – Fair Trade shop
Dress – Monsoon
Vest – Gap
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker

Shaping up

I’ve been working from home today, so no outfit photos. I was thinking about getting the sewing machine out after I finished working and using what would normally be my commuting time to get on with my Market Top, but somehow after a day’s work that didn’t seem quite so appealling, so I think it can wait until the weekend. I haven’t been completely idle, though; instead, I did this:

Measuring up

I’m determined to learn to make cardigans that actually fit me, and while I love the look of the Soay pattern I know that without some bust shaping it probably won’t look very good on me. So I printed off the pattern (which has the great bonus of a really detailed set of measurements) and the measuring guide from Little Red in the City, grabbed my tape measure, tied bits of yarn round me at strategic points and started measuring.

The results were really quite interesting. I have always thought of myself as having a fairly straight-up-and-down body, with narrowish hips and not much in the way of a waist, and a large bust, so that overall I’m fairly top-heavy and look a bit like a stick figure with boobs. It turns out that this is not actually the case. Yes, I have a large bust (it would have been difficult to be wrong about that!) and the narrowest part of my torso is my underbust (which I also knew), but it turns out that I do have a waist (about two inches higher than I thought it was) which may not be particularly slim but is still 11 inches smaller than the fullest point of my hips, and just under 10 inches smaller than my high hip measurement. Oh, and my hip measurement is actually five inches larger than my full bust measurement. So, not all that top-heavy after all, then!

Anyway, after allowing for a bit of negative ease at the bust and a bit of positive ease at the waist it turns out that the 40.5″ bust size of Soay will be a reasonable fit, though I might need to move the waist up a little and I’ll definitely want to add bust darts to stop the front pulling up, which really wouldn’t be good with a cropped, fitted shape like this. I’m going to use some bright pink organic cotton DK I got on sale in John Lewis last time I was in Norwich, and I really hope it works out as I think if it does it will be a gorgeous little cardi.

I’ll be interested to see how the Market Top turns out; again, my measurements more or less corresponded to a single size on the pattern and when I pinned the front and back together after sewing the bust darts it didn’t look too bad on (though I’ll baste the side seams and try it properly at the weekend), but I suspect I really need to learn to do a full bust adjustment on patterns in future. At least I think I can understand how that works now!

Ease-y does it

I finally cast off the collar of my Featherweight Cardigan last night, and as I’m working from home today I had time to weave in the ends, soak it and lie it flat to block before starting work.

Featherweight blocking

Unfortunately, I think that the result of almost five months of knitting (admittedly a bit on-and-off) and two skeins of gorgeous Posh Yarn Diana merino/silk laceweight is going to be a cardigan I don’t wear very much, because it’s just too big.

This is entirely my own fault, and is down to a combination of poor body image and simple failure to think. The pattern (or the version I started knitting from – it has been updated and more sizes added) is sized S, M, L, XL and XXL, with finished bust measurements of 36 (40, 43, 47, 50)”. My full bust measurement is 42″, in between the M and L sizes, and I decided to knit the L with a finished bust measurement of 43″ (having measured the cardigan while laying it out to block, it’s come out at almost exactly that).

Why did I choose the L? Well, partly because at a UK size 14-16 I’m an L in so many shops it seemed inconceivable that I could be a medium. And partly because of the little voice at the back of my head which makes me take size 18 clothes into fitting rooms ‘because those will be sure to fit’ (funnily enough, they don’t) and stops me trying on things in a 14 even though half my wardrobe is size 14 clothes, and which told me it was much better to make a cardigan that would be slightly bigger than my actual bust measurement than risk having one which was a bit tight.

Of course, what I forgot is that a lightweight cardigan knitted at a loose gauge in a fine yarn is going to be very stretchy and that the nice fitted look I admired in pictures of other people’s finished projects on Ravelry was almost certainly the result of their cardigans being knitted with negative ease – in other words, slightly smaller than their actual measurements. And that the cardigan is designed to be worn open, so the finished measurements given aren’t actually for the full body circumference – looking at the schematic on the pattern it’s obvious that the fronts don’t meet in the middle, so the back must be wider than the combined width of the fronts. And I also forgot to allow for the fact that my 42″ bust measurement is courtesy of my FF cup size, which means that (a) my back measurement is considerably less than half my full bust measurement (about 19″ out of the 42″) and (b) given that most patterns are designed for a B-cup or thereabouts, my measurements everywhere else aren’t going to match the measurements for my full bust size.

All of which means I should have knitted the M instead of the L, and that as it is I have a cardigan with a back measurement five inches larger than my actual back measurement and sleeves which are much bigger than my upper arms. The pattern doesn’t have any waist shaping; looking at photos it’s clear that the drapy fabric is supposed to follow the wearer’s curves without the need for shaping, but I suspect that because the cardigan is so much too big it’s just going to look boxy on me.

Anyway, it’s blocking now, and you never know, that may work miracles, but if not I think this cardigan may well be looking for a new home.

Imperfections

Last time I wore this dress, I decided it was a bit too short to wear for work with tights, so today I decided to wear it over leggings instead.

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Scarf – blog giveaway
Dress – Fat Face
Leggings – M&S
Shoes – Jones Bootmaker

I loved this outfit. Soft and comfortable and stretchy, I think a jersey dress and leggings has got to be the closest thing there is to wearing pyjamas while still looking smart enough for work, while the full skirt and the little scarf made me feel a bit 1950s-glamorous as well.

I couldn’t help thinking, though, of a post I’d read on another style blog recently where the blogger said she would never wear a jersey dress without ‘shapewear’ underneath. Now, I feel a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, I don’t think anyone’s clothing choices are anyone’s business but their own, and if people want to wear magic underwear* or burqas or six-inch platform boots then I completely support their right to do so, but I still can’t help thinking that there’s something wrong with a society where a slim, fit twentysomething self-identified feminist feels so self-conscious about her body that she has to resort to heavy-duty elastic and lycra to cover up perceived ‘imperfections’**.

Cat wrote a fantastic post the other day debunking the whole ‘real women hve curves’ thing. I completely agree. Real women come in all shapes and sizes; some have curves, some have angles, some go pretty much straight up and down. Some have big breasts/thighs/bums/stomachs, some have small. But I’d warrant that there’s one thing every woman has: flaws. Lumps, bumps, cellulite, hair, moles, dry skin, spots, grey hairs, scars, birthmarks, whatever. I don’t believe even supermodels actually look like the airbrushed Barbie-doll images peddled by the media. And I can’t help feeling that the more women buy in to an industry which dangles the carrot of achieving that ‘perfection’, the more we’re in thrall to that industry and enabling a society where we’re even supposed to worry about how attractive our armpits are.

Anyway, I’m probably ten years older than the other blogger; I’m certainly considerably less thin and less fit than she is, and I’m jolly well going to carry on wearing jersey dresses without any kind of shapewear and think I look good in them, too.

*Every time I see ‘Magic Knickers’ in the shops I think that genuinely magic underwear would do something a damn sight more interesting than just make the wearer look a bit thinner. Conveying the power of flight, perhaps, or simply the ability to transfigure small items of office stationery into sushi/chocolate as required…

**While I wouldn’t personally ever choose to wear the things, I have been convinced by the arguments of friends who choose to wear shapewear as a stand-in for vintage corsetry and structured undergarments with vintage dresses, and I can also understand why people might choose to wear it for special occasions. But not for everyday wear under modern chain-store clothes.