In Progress: Croquis of Me!

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In and among some other sewing I have been doing (some paid work for other people), I have been dabbling with making croquis of myself. I have been thinking about it for a while (ever since some blogger wrote a series of posts on making croquis from photographs), but when Steph mentioned the Golden Ratio in a post on pant length last month, I decided the time had come.

That last sentence probably doesn't make any sense. Here's my idea: if I can have croquis of my own body and its proportions then I can experiment with clothing designs and try to establish garment proportions that will "work" on my body. I always try to pay attention to comments on proportion made by other short sewing bloggers. There's Summerset and Juebejue and Sharon and Yoshimi (at least, I think Yoshimi is short - she is often wearing platformed heels...) and Elaine - to name a few. I am not always able to translate their comments into reality on myself. My hope is that the croquis will help.

I can't find the series of posts some lovely sewing blogger made on fashioning croquis. (If you know who it was, please let me know!) Here are two ways I was able to find that describe making croquis of yourself. Both methods have you begin with taking photographs of yourself in snug-fitting clothing or just underwear. I do not own Photoshop, so I went with the print out the picture and then trace the outline routine. The first time I tried to do this, I had a lot of difficulty figuring out where my waist, bust, etc. were located. Sounds pretty silly, but looking at me straight on, I have a rectangular shape. (I also wore a shirt that was a smidge too big and had too many wrinkles.)

I thought about this a bit then changed clothes, got out my huge roll of elastic ($2.99 for the whole thing and I think it will degrade before I use it all), cut off a few lengths, and tied them on my body at my bust, waist, hips, and each knee.

Then I had David take photos from other angles. I rotated the elastic so that the ties would not show.

And then, due to the lateness of the hour, I got a little silly.

I printed the photos with my housemate's laser printer and traced them in pencil with my daughter's tracing paper. Now I need to go over the lines with a fine black pen and make some photocopies. I could even put together my own journal like this one you can buy from Hokey Croquis!

Parting Shot: Leaning Tower of Sarah?
David was checking the pictures as he took them, and asked me if I was standing up straight. I was. I asked him why and he said that it looked like my torso was out of line with my legs. Now, I have known since high school that one of my hips is significantly curvier than the other, but this was new. To illustrate it further, we fashioned a plumb line out of one of the pieces of elastic and David's house keys. Check this out, the line goes from my nose to the middle of my chin, between my breasts, right over my belly button and then along the side of my right leg!

I don't know what I will do with this particular information, except maybe take it with me to a chiropractor or massage therapist and see if they can even me out!

Drop-Waist Wool Jumper for Lucy

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My middle child, my daughter, Lucy, has very distinct ideas about her clothes. She likes things to be girly and sparkly and spinny - for dress up and Halloween. But for everyday wear, especially in the winter, she gravitates toward dark coloured clothing with classic - even uniform-like style.

One of her favorite outfits last year was a long navy blue skirt and matching waist-length jacket made from something very similar to sweatshirt fleece. Another favorite item was a navy blue cotton twill jumper with princess seams, a dropped waist, and a pleated skirt. (Both items were thrifted, not made by me.) As with most of the rest of her clothes, the jumper is getting to be too short just as it is finally fitting in width.

I happened to pick up a remnant of wool plaid thinking I could make a skirt out of it, when Lucy saw it and asked for a winter dress. This particular wool is quite fuzzy and itchy, so I thought a lined jumper would be a good use for the fabric, since she would be wearing a shirt and tights under it anyway.

I searched high and low for a pattern for the dress before I finally found Simplicity 2574. Have you looked through pattern options for little girls lately? It's like driving through the subdivision I grew up in... every fourth dress looks remarkably the same. You have the shapeless shifts*, the yoke (square or round) with gathered and shapeless shift, or the plain bodice with dirndl skirt. Just try to find a dress with long sleeves, by the way. There are only a couple out there. Most of them seem to be designed for kids with a bit more weight on their frames. Even the independents! Lucy would look absolutely swallowed up in either of these.

Anyway, all of this pattern searching lead me to purchase the patterns which were in Lucy's size, but more like her style. In addition to 2574, I also purchased Simplicity 5540, 2675, and 2825 (as well as Burda 9614 for my son, but don't tell him there are girls on the cover - the same pattern for bigger kids is illustrated with boys). I also really wanted to find a legging pattern, but Fabricana was out of the particular pattern I liked.

So, back to the jumper. I made a quick muslin and determined that the size 4 would fit both Lucy and Clara around, but Lucy needed the skirt to be a size 6 in length. So, with that knowledge, I went straight to the fashion fabric. Somehow when I washed and dried the wool fabric (I am not going to make a dress for a child that needs to be drycleaned) the grain got distorted, so I had to spend a little time working with the iron and a fair amount of steam to true up the grain. I then placed my pieces. I managed to match the plaids pretty well except for one side seam (the front is a bit off-grain on that side somehow).

I did think to cut the skirt so that the center of the front and the back was in the same place as the center front/back of the bodice. As luck would have it, this plaid is even, so I cut the yoke on the bias. I cut pockets on the bias, too, but then I realized that they wouldn't fit on the dress with the band at the drop waist. That band was necessary to visually break up the plaid, so I used a bit of black no-wale corduroy. Similarly, I put a bit of black piping between the bias-cut yoke and the rest of the bodice.

This pattern does not come with instructions for lining. Why, I don't know. Many of the illustrations have a definite winter feel. The yoke is lined (instead of many little facings), so without thinking too clearly, I used a thick hot pink satin that I pulled from a remnant bin some years ago. I forgot that this fabric frays when you look at it the wrong way.

(The photo is a bit blurry, but you can see where the pink satin is fraying a bit between my hand stitches.)

I should have run a thin line of fray check along all of the cut edges as soon as I cut out the pieces. This came back to haunt me later. Anyway, because I used hot pink for under the yoke, and because I didn't remember to make the hot pink piece a tad smaller than the plaid, you can see just a bit of pink at the armhole in the finished garment. To make this error look intentional, I added a small bias strip of the satin to the edge of the band at the dropped waist.

To the lining. Oh, did I mess this up right and left! I used some black Bemberg rayon that I had in the stash from a 50% off sale back in the summer. I chose to underline the skirt portion and to attach the bodice lining in a more traditional way. Except that I didn't really think through those steps very well before plowing ahead with dress construction. Much of the lining is hand-stitched to the dress. It seems to be holding up, though, so I guess it's all right in the end (and now I know so I can do it by machine when I make Clara's dress).

I moved the pleats so that it would fit the plaid nicely and I decided to help myself out a bit and edgestitched both the inner and the outer pleated edges. I am really glad I did this, because every time the dress comes out of the wash (cold water - hang to dry), the pleats need to be ironed again. The edgestitching makes quicker work of the ironing.

The zipper instructions call for a lapped zipper - which is currently my favorite method of zipper installation - particularly when there are any horizontal seams to pull the zipper through. In this instance I sewed part of the zipper in by machine, but used hand stitching to sew the visible side. Looks pretty nice!

* I do realize that this dress is essentially a shapeless shift with a skirt attached to the bottom. Next time I'll take the sides in a bit.

Fleece Top for Me!


So, the last time I posted about Jalie 2682 I said I wanted to give the pattern away. I think I still do.

It's a fine pattern, but I think the collar/shoulder area doesn't sit right on my body and due to the funky nature of the pattern pieces, I'm not sure how I would adjust this.

But! The fleece top is warm and cozy without being bulky. The collar does come up onto the back of my neck to help keep me warm, and the front makes a nice narrow V to keep me from looking like a sausage. The other bonus is that the front bodice/collar piece is folded over on itself, so it is extra warm. I wonder if I would like a more traditional shawl-collared top for a fleece top. Hmmm.

Anyway, I am fairly certain that I only bought the amount of fleece suggested by the pattern, but I ended up with enough leftover to make a nightgown for Clara. So I did.

And now I have a fleece top to replace the old old old one I had in a similar colour! Hooray!