As with every new year, the day arrives and we celebrate the beginning of something new and exciting. Then we turn around and the first month of the new year is almost over. Maybe that’s just my experience, but I seriously never intended to start this blog and then abandon it for weeks. I have been given the gift of time, however, on Saturday mornings as my husband teaches a 2-hour drum major lesson.
I wanted to start sewing out of massive frustration on two fronts: fit and fabric. I became annoyed first by the trendy designs that looked hideous on my body, but then became disgusted by the fact that everything seemed to be made out of rayon/polyester/lycra, etc. My initial plan was to make a set of fabulous pieces out of either crepe, worsted or gabardine wools in very basic colors and styles. I think that explains why my first project was the McCalls 2401: I was so thrilled to think that that simple dress could be made with a square, V- or bateau neck, with long, mid, short or no sleeves. I learned quickly two important rules of sewing:
1. Read the instructions and the envelope – so important!
2. Figure out your size.
I cut a size 20 based on my measurements which align perfectly except for my hip (I’m surprisingly NOT hippy compared to my curvy top half.) The 20 was gargantuan. I think I had a moment where I was pretty sure that sewing was NOT for me, but then my husband, the genius, reminded me that I could combine my first love (reading) with this new hobby. This led me to the local library and included reading about 5 books and viewing a VHS by Sandra Betzina. I must be a visual learner because my 1975 Vogue Sewing mentioned this stuff, but I didn’t seem to understand it until I saw the video. This is where I learned the next two most important lessons:
3. The Big 4 (Vogue/Butterick/McCall’s/Simplicity) all run large in the chest – use the size that corresponds to your upper chest measurement (taken under your arms above your breasts).
4. Burda, New Look and Quick Sew all run true to size, so use your correct Bust and/or Hip measurement.
Needless to say, I still have a version of this pattern that I have yet to finish – partially because I lost interest in sewing black dresses, but also because I’m not sure that I can alter it properly to have a good fit, BUT I am confident that in a few months I’ll be able to tackle this with precision.
I learned a great deal from this pattern, and have notes in my sewing book to document all of my thought and agony – I learned that plaids must match in the back, the standard darts will NOT fit a D-cup, and I successfully wound a bobbin without looking at my user’s manual. But, I quickly moved on to something more fun!