THINK: The Power of Play!

I am touched by your stories!  Thank you all very much!

Many things came up this week to share.   We do have fitting challenges…and the answer all starts with simplicity.  I think I told you that I am not a teacher; but I forgot to tell you that this is not a draping class.  At all.  My draping technique is this:  cut out a basic pattern that resembles the vision in my head, and play with it.  It is way too simple! 

Creative Energy...

My friend, (you will meet her), reached out, last week, to say “I’m learning to dance with the elephant in the room”.  The magnitude of the “big, mama elephant”.   Ahh….with a huge breath and a prayer, my advice;  “Just keep sewing”.  Creativity ROCKS!!   It has taken me through tough stuff I never thought I would face.  Creativity heals body and soul because it’s positive energy.  Somehow, creating  really simple clothes that you can top stitch and detail like crazy  fills the day with something fabulous…and the best and worst of times. The concept is simple: one basic top, one basic dress, one basic jacket/coat, one basic skirt, and one basic pants.  From each pattern; the clothes can be slouchy, they can be easy, they can be fitted, they can be layered and they will be changed one hundred times.  Comfortable, powerful clothes.

Another story...  I am honored to meet Amanda who joined us for our contest, and unsuspectingly became an inspiration in my life.  I know you’ll love these pictures of a beautiful lady who has truly mastered the art of PLAY… Amanda has an amazing story.  She has overcome obstacles that have disrupted her life in every way.  But…through the challenges, Amanda has creatively mastered life...and PLAY!  We love you, Amanda!  Thank you for showing us “how to dance…even when the elephant is the room”.   Amanda in her dress... and  Amanda’s Story…Click here

 Amanda Neighbors, Ft. Worth, TX.

So whether or not we are dodging or dancing…

Let’s do this!

Our bodies are all so different, but the rules are all the same.  (I will keep saying this.) The different body types used in the pictures represent a target market of 24 to 35 and since I am (ahem), beyond that age group…let’s extend this to “ageless, timeless clothes”.  If the bust is lower, make sure the form is smaller and build out the bust with the Bust Pads at the lowest position. If you need to raise the shoulders in order to make the bust even lower; then bump up the shoulders with the Shoulder Pads to elongate the bust.  If your bottom got flatter; build out the thighs and the bottom on your dress form will flatten.  If your waist does not exist; create “no torso” with the Side Back Pads.  I know about these things.

Building the Bodice

Once you address the shoulder slant, the upper chest and the armhole positions, you can re-create blouses to infinity.  The most common issue I hear is creating beautiful bust lines.   Although the bodies will have different pressure points for movement, the adjustment is the same.  We’ll use the bust as an example, but the rule also applies to square wide shoulders where the arm might show pressure at the sleeve.  When the fabric pulls across the bust, you’ll feel the blouse slipping back, see creases under the arms, and a shoulder slant that doesn’t match the shoulders. By releasing the fabric at the "pull", the fabric will fall naturally over the curve.

Once the correct chest position and shoulder slant are determined, the sleeve and armhole will need to be matched to the crease of the armhole.  Easy.

The adjustment on the bodice at the armhole will change the line at the arm crease.   Re-trace the line to match the original armhole, which will then once again, match the sleeve.  If the sleeve pulls, you can make the adjustment by releasing the fabric to straighten the grainline and fill in the space.  Here is the adjustment using the bust line as an example. The same adjustment used on the bodice works on any area that pulls.  Remember:  For every action there is a reaction.  If you remove a slight gape on the bodice, because it's too big, you can also make the same adjustment on the sleeve at the same point; as long as the sleeve is also too big.   Making an adjustment on the bodice at the armhole would mean: re-tracing the original sleeve or, if the sleeve is also a bit big...pinching in the sleeve.   If you opt to try this; make the exact same adjustment on the sleeve that you have on the bodice…and at the same point.  For higher armholes and skinny sleeves, you'll want to recreate the opening, following the crease of the arm, and the design of the bodice.  I'll show you how on "SLEEVES" .

I love this alteration for large bust lines, and it also works for a straight bodice cut on medium and even small silhouettes.   This is an amazing alteration to play with and try on many different shapes.   The cut creates a slouchy look for smaller people with broad shoulders, and tailored for the size it was meant for.  (Hmmm…I am always amazed by why this works so well on so many different bodies.)

The sleeve is important in movement, of course, but most of the problems that will ever arise are in the bodice.  This is where balance starts.

You’ll see that with only slight alterations, you can change the bodice from the straight grain to the bias.  Be sure to check the fabric as silk, for example, will fall much closer to the body and therefore will be smaller in size on the bias than a looser weave like linen.  The bust position can be higher or lower according to the grainline which is straightened by the dart or ease on the side.  Be sure to try this first, to see how your fabric will fall.

Even though the blouse is cut from exactly the same pattern, (that we have sliced and played with), the balance will fit many shapes.  In manufacturing, the key is finding the balance in fit. 

Finding the target market and the balance for every shape in each size range is no easy task!   But…truly, it is a million dollar pattern when you take the time to do this. More than.   If you are a designer, you must PLAY with your clothes on every different body shape.   Don’t even think about not doing that!

The bias cut slouch blouse is my newest fav by far.   Not having enough pins for the side I walked away from the dress form for the pins and saw the droop.  Loved it…so tried it on all the bodies and yes, this was good.   It has ease built into the side seams rather than a defined dart, which gives a layered slouchy, square body look.  Design takes its own path when you focus on the grainline or go with a mistake.  

And the back is beautiful…    

For a more defined bust line with a subtle cut, create princess lines.  The fabric should be cut on the straight grain to smoothly follow the curves.  You can make all of the adjustments right on your dress form.        

Unwanted Curves

A story.  At 18, I developed a benign tumor on my back just the below my left shoulder.  What seemed like almost overnight, this thing became the size of half a golf ball, and therefore, changed my life.  My small frame made this tumor super obvious, as it sat on my back shoulder bone. Since it was benign, my parents thought this was not an issue (neither did the insurance company), and lovingly told me that I had “angel wings”! 

People!  EEEWWW  Well… I dealt with this surprise situation like a dog with a bone.  I learned to ease and fuss with my clothes around this curve until no photograph could find it.  Not even a shadow on the fabric. Strange… because as I was trying to disguise it, I realized that my clothes felt fabulous.  I was so comfortable that I stopped thinking about my shoulder when I wore my clothes. (I even stopped carrying the hand mirror to check it 20 to 30 times a day!).  I stopped seeing people with extended necks trying to see the thing on my back.  People stopped seeing it.  It was a revelation.  

After that, I realized the same adjustment could fit busts, and upper hips and under arm pulls (please, some newscasters, stop!), and every curve from shoulder to thigh (unbelievable pants), just by using the slightest ease.  At 26, I had the tumor removed (cosmetically, and financed by me) and it grew back again, but smaller.  It was a bother, but not because of the clothes…the patterns were set, and I loved my style. The issue became really non-epic because:  a.) I couldn’t see it and b.) it was superseded by the fitting issues of breast cancer.  First things first.

My advice, PATIENCE.   Work on the area that seems to be collapsing or protruding.  Even if your spine is not straight, comfortable clothes and style will supersede the issue.  Although I am using the example of a spine that isn't straight, the adjustment works on any area that is not following the natural line of movement.  Bubble butts do great with this...assuming that you love the booty...which, of course, you must!

MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE.   Style can't happen unless you feel comfortable and powerful in your clothes.  And...if your thinking "powerful"?  That reminds me of a business suit.  Not at all... although it certainly could be.  THINK: Friday night movies at home in the moment.  "Got this thing sorted" kind of power.  "I really like who I am" kind of power.  (Even if you don't... it happens.) Try this.  Find a piece of fabric (natural fibers only), create a fabulously simple design, that disguises or enhances everything that is really there...and then allow the fabric to move with you.  Powerful?... That's exactly what I mean.  (It's also why I wear everything I design all the time I am working and designing it.)  I could be fixing toast in a cashmere coat over sweats,  just to be sure that I will always feel like I do when I'm fixing toast.  Like, if you spend all this money on cashmere, and then you reach for the cinnamon, and it's you are going to do real life.  Life can't be about standing in front of a mirror at Barney's.  

And so...

In the pictures you will see:

The shoulder shaping on the right side is not enough to straighten the body completely.  A very high straight shoulder pad would only become annoying and noticeable, so we kept the shoulder comfortable; opting for the design to disguise the rest. 

You can make the same adjustment with a simple knit, and then layer it with an unlined jacket.

The center back alteration will create a smaller back on one side while maintaining the straight center seam (marked with white line). .A slight shoulder pad on the left sculpts the shoulder; carefully following the line of the jacket.  The shoulders are still not straight, but extremely comfortable.  Comfort is the point and focus.  Will anyone notice the very uneven shoulder?  By the time this jacket is finished, (with cuffs and snaps and tabs or whatever)…. and ,,,YOU are wearing it???  Probably not.

To review

You know why the collar slips back.
You know why the bodice twists .
You know why the shoulder pulls.
And you know why the blouse pokes out in front.
You also know how to fix it…right? If you missed this, email us immediately (with pictures):

You probably can guess where we will be going with this pattern; slicing and changing, adding sleeves and turning it into a dress.  In order to do the dress…we’ll need a simple skirt.  I LOVE THESE SKIRTS!  Easy, sh-meesy, skirts!!  Next time!


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