Welcome back, we are sharing more shapes, more patterns, and an awesome giveaway for you today!!!!
Today we are looking at some pretties, pretty dresses that will make you feel pretty!
After you have read all the awesome stories and great tips for dressing 'UP' your shape, make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post. You can win the Jocole Crossover Dress, the Little Moo Maya Clutch, and a store credit to BWD Fabrics to buy up to 2 yards of fabric. That is everything you need to get your self care sewing on, and to have the perfect outfit for your next date night or fun day out!
Dressing for your shape can be really tricky. I am a pear shape, and an extreme pear shape at that. I have a very narrow upper body and small waist, and then we get to my big child bearing hips. Even my Dr.’s have told me that, so I know without a doubt it is true.
I always struggled to find pants that fit my hips, but then they would be huge in the waist. Wearing a belt helps, but then there is so much extra fabric bunched up at the waist. I still struggle to find good jeans that aren’t mom jeans, and that aren’t so low cut I’m worried about turning into a plumber everytime I bend over.
I recently made a shirt and pants from the same designer, and my measurements went from an XS, to a S, to a L, and then to an XL. It can be trying to try to grade things out so much or frustrating to have a garment be both tight and loose at the same time. I’m happy I can sew though, because I can make stuff that actually fits me and my odd body shape.
One of my favorite things to make is dresses. I dress up for church every week, and I love feeling cute and feminine. Skirts are also awesome at helping me hide my larger hips, if I get the right style. There are so many patterns out there that can be made casual or more dressy, and a lot of it depends on the fabric you use and the accessories you add to it.
I have found that dresses that have some kind of waistband or allow me to add a belt right at my natural waistline help immensely.
This Carollton Avenue Dress by Seamingly Smitten is one of my favorite dresses I have made. It is a partial circle skirt, so it hugs my waistline and doesn’t add any extra bulk there, but then flares out hiding my larger hips. The secret to making this look amazing though, is a small underskirt that I sewed a ruffle of netting on along the bottom. This gives it that extra little poof at the bottom. I tried it first without the underskirt and felt like it was extremely unflattering. Since I also have a smaller chest and petite upper body, I look for things that can add volume or attention up top to draw the eye up. On this dress I added ruffles at the neckline. Before I added those I felt like I was just wearing a tablecloth with the lace overlay. The ruffles fancied it up a bit and gave it that extra umph I was looking for. It turned it into a fancy party dress, vs just a casual every day dress. I also added the belt to draw a bit more attention to my waist line. Once I paired it with a bold set of heels and some fake pearls, I was ready for a night on the town! I always get a ton of compliments anytime I wear this dress. And the good news is, looking at it, you would have no idea my hips are more than 15” larger than my waist!
That is the whole goal to dressing your shape; learning how to accentuate your positives and de-emphasize your negatives.
Another one of my favorites is the Sis Boom Jenny dress I made. I used a contrasting fabric for the waistband which draws attention to my smaller waist. I first made this as a maxi dress, but it was way too much fabric for my bottom half, which only emphasised the part I wanted to hide and just made me look frumpy. I decided to cut it off and make it hit just below my knees. This was so much better, however I still felt like it emphasized my lower half more than I wanted. To help draw attention away from my hips, I added a short sleeve cardigan I made by simply cutting a t-shirt I had down the front middle. The sleeves have a bit of a puff sleeve, which adds volume up top and helps to balance out the bottom half. I paired it with a bold, chunky necklace which draws the attention up near my face.
A few other tips I’ve learned is for me, since I am tall, I need things to be long and lean on me. Long cardigans, tunics, etc. I usually have to add length to my shirts because normal shirts usually hit me at my high hip, which is just before the largest part of my body- my low hip. All that does is cuts me off and draws a line emphasising the largest part of my body. By making my shirts a bit longer and ending right below the largest part of me, it hides the larger part and then all you see below the line is my body getting smaller. It gives the illusion of smaller legs. I also mentioned having puff sleeves earlier, and anything that adds more volume up top is great. Cowl necks, ruched sleeves, puff sleeves, ruffles, etc on the upper half are the perfect thing to use to help balance the body out. Small shoulder pads are great too to give your shoulders extra volume or width. Just remember more volume or detail up top, and less on the bottom. Don’t forget to emphasize your smaller waistline, and you are golden!
When talking about dressing for your shape, sometimes figuring out what shape you actually are can be tricky. I have elements of several shapes and found it hard to fit into just one shape. I tried some online body calculators and one of them even can back with “hmmm…”, which as you can imagine was particularly useful!! I have elements of three body shapes - if you measure my shoulders and hips, they proportionately measure the same, and I have a definite waist, which puts me in the hourglass category, despite the fact that I am not overly curvy. However, I have a tiny rib cage and slim off very quickly once you get under my shoulders. I don’t have a big bust and my hips (measured at the widest part of my lower body) measure wider than my bust, which puts me in the pear category. But I have skinny long legs and long arms, which tend to be associated more with a rectangle shape. So even though we are talking about dressing for your shape, this is not an episode of What not to Wear, and while you may find reading all the do’s and don’ts associated with a particular body shape, if you are a bit of a mixed bag like myself, you may need to combine elements of a few different shapes to find out what works best for you.
I’ve sewn a dress for my look - its the Love Notions Willow Wrap dress. I purchased it when it was first released because I knew it would suit not just my body shape, but loads of body shapes. There are plenty of options and it is a really fast sew if you are familiar with knits and knit sewing techniques. The instructions are great and I highly recommend it. I’ve used Art Gallery knit for this dress from the April Rhodes Wanderer line. This knit was always going to be a dress for me - the colors in it are awesome and I love patterned fabrics with color, especially as we head into winter where everything seems to be black, black and more black.
If you want to sew this dress, or any dress for yourself, there are a few important things I think you need to consider.
Seam lines - it is essential that seam lines fall in exactly the right place on your body. In dresses, by far the most important is the waist seam. You want this to hit you at exactly the smallest part of your torso. To find this requires you to take a good hard look at your body in the mirror - and yes, you will need to strip off down to your underwear to get a good look at your body properly. Try not to be overly critical of yourself doing this - the aim is not to find faults with your body, it is to find your waist!!. The waist for most people is generally right at the bottom of your rib cage just underneath the bottom of your last rib. This is exactly where the waist seam line needs to fall. Get it too low by even a cm, and you will find when you attach a skirt that suddenly your tummy is more noticeable, as is the weight at the back at the top of your hips. But if you get it right - oh its awesome! Skirts suddenly fall nicely over the lumps and bumps instead of clinging and grabbing to them. You will need to alter pattern length to ensure you get the waist right at this point.
Shoulder/bust ratio - if you are one of these women who always looks frumpy around the bust in store bought clothes, try hitching them up a little at the shoulder - if it suddenly looks better than your shoulder to bust ratio is probably smaller than average giving you petite body measurements, and you will need to alter patterns accordingly. If you start googling adjustments, you will find plenty of tutorials out there full of useful information on how to alter this to fit you.
Hip measurement - this needs to be taken at the widest part of your body. For me, that is more like a bum measurement, as my widest part is right at the bottom of my pelvis, where my leg bones insert into the pelvic bones. This is really important to get right if you are making a dress with a fitted skirt. It can be a depressing measurement, but remember, this is all about making clothes to fit you, not about beating yourself up.
Make a muslin first so that you can alter things that need altering. Write this on your pattern pieces so you know where to alter next time. I have sewn for myself enough now that I pretty much have a list of adjustments that I know I need to make to almost any dress pattern to get a better fit. It takes time, but is well worth it. I get a little frustrated seeing people blame designers in various pattern groups because they’ve made something and it looks bad on them - when most of the time it is because they haven’t taken the time to fit a pattern to their body properly.
The other thing to consider is color. As a redhead, I was told growing up that browns, oranges, olives suit me best. But do you know what - this is only partially true.. Brown looks terrible on me, a brighter green looks way better than and olive green, and orange is fine if it doesn't get too brown. Electric blue is by far the best color on me, and purple is by far the worst. I love wearing color, it is so much more beautiful than boring black black black.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on quite a bit for my blog post, but I am hoping that more women will take up the challenge and sew for themselves, especially if you can’t ever find anything in the shops that you like, or that fit well, like me. I feel far more beautiful in clothes that fit me that ones that I am awkwardly pulling down or hitching up because they are store bought and the proportions are not right for me. I hope by the end of the week you will feel inspired to give sewing for yourself a go!
Thanks for reading along,
Here goes nothing...I'm a hypocrite. That's all there is to it, really. I am great at playing cheerleader and encouraging women to sew for themselves, but I rarely sew for myself, and when I do you never see pictures here. This whole month the women of Pattern Revolution have been inspiring us with their brave and candid posts for the Beautiful Campaign. I knew before the month was out that I would have to step up. Robin Hill here. Stepping out. Yikes. This is scary.
I'm going to wear a mask. It will make it easier. No, really. I am.
If you're wondering about the real reason for the Cheshire Cat face paint, it was for a Mad Hatter costume tea party hosted by Les Elephants High Society of Do-Gooders and Tea Drinkers. For some reason, it was easier for me to ease into the idea of a blog post featuring ME knowing I would be in costume. So, today we're talking about dressing for your shape. I am an apple shape. That basically means I carry the majority of my weight around my middle...and there's a lot there, which is why I rarely sew for or photograph myself.
So, if you're an apple like me, you'll want to distract people away from your midsection and draw attention to other features. I decided on the Jocole Crossover Dress (50% off today 5/27/15!). I made in knits I got from BWD Fabrics, a new- to- me fabric shop I was giving a try. I wasn't disappointed- price, shipping, and quality were all good. I had originally chosen this print for my dress, but chickened out and went with the safe solid purple because I didn't want my dress to really scream HEY LOOK AT ME!!! Plus, I figured if I am spending the time sewing for me, I should make something I would want to wear again, so I reserved the bright stripes just for my accessories.
The Jocole Crossover is pretty ideal for an apple shape. First, it's made from knit, so it's pretty forgiving. It's got a great V neckline that draws attention away from your waist (or lack thereof) and accentuates the bust. It has an empire bodice and aline skirt, both good features for apple shapes. You might notice my skirt doesn't look very aline though; that's because I modified it to make it more full. This was a mistake. I was all worried about the original skirt being too clingy, but my mod actually ended up accentuating the midsection more with the gathers. Boo. It's Jocole. Trust the pattern. Lesson learned.
One thing I learned through this is that dressing for your shape is not necessarily just about the clothes you put on your body. Accessories count in a big way too! I used my stripe knit for the projects I wanted to really pop. I stitched some of the stripe knit to felt to make my cat ear headband using this free tutorial. I made these free fingerless gloves because you can't go to a real tea party without gloves! I chose the Maya Clutch from Little Moo as another small and functional statement piece, great pattern by the way. I chose it because another sewing blogger recently teased me (ever so sweetly) about never having made pintucks before, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out a new skill. They are easy, look so sweet, and add interest and texture, so if you've never tried them before....do it! I chose yellow buttons and a yellow necklace as eye catchers-- just like those crazy big yellow Cheshire Cat eyes. And it's a tea party, I could not resist adding in a little bit of lace.
I've also got to show off these shoes. Hot, right? Goodwill, $3, and they go a long way as a statement piece. When my husband saw them on...let's just say he was distracted. (Or maybe it was shock? I dont' know. I usually only wear Rainbow flip flops, so it was probably shock that was causing him to drool out the side of his mouth.)
Finally, the accessory that was the most fun...hair extensions. I kind of want to wear these every day.
I actually really enjoyed this assignment (thanks Suzanne for pushing me over the ledge). I typically don't put a lot of thought into what I wear. I don't look at myself in the mirror. I don't know my measurements. At my age, I should know what I like stylistically and what looks good on my frame, but it's really a mystery to me and I'm just starting to uncover the clues. I hope I can start making clothing choices on a daily basis that accentuate my better features. I don't want continue to make clothing choices based on the thought "well, this wont draw attention to me." I've got to thank my team at PR and a few other sewing friends for always being a source of encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom. Since I thrive on challenge and need people to continually push me out of my comfort zone, leave me a comment and tell me what I should sew next.
Enter to win a pattern from Jocole, Little Moo, and fabric from BWD Fabrics!