Saturday, September 26, 2015

my fall 2015 capsule wardrobe: part 3 - pattern overload

Just in case you missed the first couple of posts about my 2015 capsule wardrobe, here they are:
Part 1 - Choosing Colors

Now on to part three - patterns.  In case you haven't noticed (and you live under a rock or something) there are quite a few sewing patterns available ;)  Choosing a single pattern is no easy matter.  Big 4 or Indy?  Printed or PDF?  Answering those two questions will help you narrow down the choices a bit, but what if you really don't care, like me?  Where to start?


First, building on the post from yesterday, I'm going to figure out what features I need to look for in a pattern.  I'll focus on my individual attributes and what styles accent, flatter and/or de-emphasize.  I realize that not everyone will agree with the points I make here, but I've been looking in the mirror to dress myself for many years, and these are the things that I feel look best on me and that I am most comfortable wearing. 
  • Large bust - I know some people consider this to be an attribute, but as I mentioned yesterday, I have mixed feelings.  Regardless of whether I like having a large bust or not, there are definitely necklines which flatter more than others.  For example, a narrow v-neck widens the shoulders while minimizing the bust and is my go-to neckline.  Or, on the rare occasion I choose to flaunt what I've got, a wide scoop neck with interesting details (but not a lot of volume) is quite flattering.  I tend to stay away from necklines with ruffles since they make me look top heavy, as do bodices that end just below the bust line.
  • Rectangle shape - I like to wear fitted tops such as a wrap ballet sweater that end at the waist (and by waist I mean just above my belly button) with a more flowing top underneath.  The fitted top emphasizes the narrowest part of my waist, and the flowing top adds a little volume below to give the illusion of a greater curve between waist and hip.  Although too much volume is unappealing since it just makes me look wide overall.  I also like tailored styles since they don't add any volume to the middle.
  • Fat arms - I could probably phrase that in a more politically correct way such as generous biceps, but this is my blog, and there is just no getting around it, I have fat arms ;)  I avoid sleeves that end at the fullest part of my arm and at the same level as my bust because that just make the widest part of me even wider.  I think a fuller sleeve, either elbow or 3/4 length and gathered at the bottom, looks best on me.  Although I don't personally like a gathered sleeve head (commonly called princess sleeves) since it looks like it belongs on a little girl, the extra shoulder width helps de-emphasize my fat arms and make my round shoulders appear more square, so I do begrudgingly wear them ;)
  • Flat butt (relatively speaking) - This isn't necessarily obvious when you look at me, but I generally want to avoid an a-line skirt since it makes me look even wider and flatter than I actually am.  I also like fairly big pockets on the back of my pants that sit a bit low which helps break up my wide, flat expanse of butt.
  • Thick waist (i.e. love handles) - This is similar to the rectangle shape, but it's more specific to making sure I don't get weird bumps and rolls from my clothes.  Clingy things tend to make me look lumpy, but quite often fabric choice can fix this problem.  Also, wide waistbands on pants and skirts help keep everything where it should be.
  • Short torso - Generally this requires pattern modifications, especially in the back.  Sometimes I can get away without changing the front because my large bust balances out my short torso.  I can't emphasize the importance of vertical lines nearly enough, which coincidentally also balance out the fact that I am kind of short as well.  A simple, waist length blazer with narrow lapels is a great way to add vertical lines.  As is a fitted shirt and/or skirt with vertical seaming details.  I try to avoid things that are high waisted since the waist tends to start directly below my bust making me look even shorter through my top half.
  • Overweight - I know this isn't necessarily an attribute, but it does factor in to pattern selection since not all patterns are available in my size.  And let's be honest here, some things (actually most things!) just look better on thinner people.  My weight doesn't normally stop me from purchasing a pattern, but I do try to take it into consideration when choosing which pattern to buy.

Building that list makes me feel rather unappealing.  I mean, who doesn't love being a rectangle with fat arms and a flat butt?  Luckily, I've been blessed with an abundance of confidence and my shape doesn't really bug me, but still!   There are also other aspects of my shape that I could worry about (such as my narrow back) but these are the most obvious, and I can only do so much with clothes.  If I really want to change how I look, I have a feeling a treadmill and some running shoes will have to be involved ;)

Once I determine which pattern attributes I'm aiming for (v-neck, etc.) I just have to start looking.  But where?  First, I love to go to this post on Free Notion to remind myself which Indy patterns designer design for someone like me and which ones I should avoid entirely.  For example, as much as I love the aesthetic of Named Patterns, a pattern drafted for someone who is 5'8" with a B cup requires way too many modifications even before I start sewing.  In addition to this list of Indy designers, there are the Big 4 (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick & McCall's), the magazine format patterns (Burda, Ottobre, Knipmode and a bunch of European and Japanese magazines that aren't really available in the US), and a whole host of Indy designers (Sewaholic, Tilly and the Buttons, etc.) that are not included in the list.  I wish I had a better method of helping you search for a particular pattern, but as far as I know there isn't a comprehensive resource for sewing patterns.  And I'm pretty sure if there was, I would know about it!

Next I just start looking around, rather aimlessly at first.  I read blogs to see what patterns other people use, I read forums such as Pattern Review, Curvy Sewing Collection and GOMI (not for the faint of heart blogger.)  There are also many Facebook groups that are focused either on general sewing or specific types of patterns.  I'm not listing all the Facebook groups, but a simple search should turn up many of them.

Once I end up on a pattern designer's website, I start looking at the details of each pattern, while trying to ignore how it looks on the model and imagine how it might fit me.  I'm not opposed to making rather major modifications to a pattern to achieve a certain look, but I don't enjoy having to modify the fit so much that I have to significantly redraw every single seam.  For example, I expect to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) and a full bicep adjustment to most patterns, which is fine.  But if I also have to adjust for a narrow back, narrow shoulders, a flat butt, and the fact that I'm short, there's a good chance I'm going to get really frustrated with the pattern and never buy from the designer again.  Which is why I look for reviews from other bloggers whenever I can before I buy a pattern.

Now that I've gone over how I choose a pattern, here's a few that I can't wait to try out.  The list of patterns I want to sew is quite possibly endless, but I'll start slowly for now and then do a post with more patterns once I tackle a few of these :)
  • Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans - I've seen a ton of reviews, most of which are glowing.  I don't like skinny jeans, but I'll just modify them to be a boot cut leg.
  • StyleArc Claudia Pants - I like a good straight leg tailored pant.  And a little bit of stretch doesn't hurt either!  I will wear these solely with longer shirts/tunics due to the lack of back pockets and other details that help visually reduce the width my midsection.
  • Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers - I love menswear trousers, and this pattern is designed for a pear shape so it should work for me 
  • SBCC Gibson Blouse - SBCC Patterns are unique in that they are designed for petites.  I'm actually taller than what they design for, but that shouldn't matter for this blouse since I'm short waisted anyway.  At most, I might need to add a little length to the bottom hem.  The only thing that bothers me about the pattern is the lack of reviews.
  • BurdaStyle Wrap Blouse - Wrap styles are almost universally flattering.  I plan to omit the bow and construct the bottom band from a stretchy fabric, most likely french terry.
  • Deer and Doe Airelle - I already made one here, but I would like to make another one from this unicorn fabric (affiliate link) that I already bought ;)
  • Jalie Shawl Collar Hoodie - I also need comfy clothes for those cold Michigan winter days where I have no plans to leave the house.  This pattern should be perfect!
  • PaperCut Coppelia - I don't own a ballet style wrap top, which I need to remedy since it's one of my favorite styles.
  • Grainline Studio Morris Blazer - I've had my eye on this pattern for quite a while and have liked almost every version I've seen.
  • Waffle Patterns Marmalade Jacket - I'm actually not familiar with this designer, and there are almost no reviews, but I adore the look of the jacket, so I'm going to try it anyway.
  • Deer and Doe Sureau Dress - I honestly can't remember the last time I wore a dress, but it would be nice to own one that fits so I would have the option to wear it if I wanted.  However, this is pretty low on my list of things to sew simply because I don't find dresses as practical as other pieces.

That's about it for patterns, at least for now, but I still have plans to go over fabric choices and show you my cute little Sudoku for my capsule wardrobe some time next week!  But first, tomorrow I'll be here with my contribution to the Momiform Makeover series hosted by Lauren Dahl from Baste + Gather.  I'll be sharing a few pieces I've sewn so far for fall, two of which are made from the patterns listed above.

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