Time for Reflection

It’s been a busy time. Like so many people I find myself caught up in cycles of behaviour and previously laid plans and all too often, I don’t really rationalise why I am doing what I am doing! I just plough ahead because that is what is on the schedule!

I was brought up short recently by an article in the Guardian. This article covers a lot of ground. It talks about cultural appropriation – specifically in this instance about garments drafted by designers and sold as kimonos which have no other features of kimonos other than the wide sleeve with bands. This cultural appropriation has caused offence and the community of designers and we as sewers must beware of unwittingly trampling on the sensitivities of others.

And the next lot of sensitivities that were also discussed, apply to me!

The article then goes on to talk about the size issues associated with patterns. The cut off point for patterns varies but all too often ladies of my size need to size patterns up, do full bust adjustments and full sleeve adjustments. These are the very reasons we sew. We want an excellent fit and of course smaller women often need to make these adjustments too. But are the cut off points realistic in reflecting the actual sizes of women today?  The average US female is a size 18.  Bear in mind that their sizes are different to ours and that would translate to a 20 – 22 in UK sizes. It is therefore hard to understand  why some pattern companies stop their sizes at size 16 ( New Look and many Burda patterns).

When I sew, my first consideration is whether the pattern comes in my size. Stylearc and Cashmerette always do and are beautifully drafted. As a result of the Guardian article, Closet Case are now moving into an expanded size range. But too often I attend workshops where the amount of time I have to devote to altering patterns is out of all proportion to that spent by my sewing sisters! I know that tutors have to work to patterns with a wide appeal and that sometimes these bring sizing issues but I am now asking myself if I should be more selective in my choice of workshop. Should I aim to chose things I know I will wear because they were designed for my size, or should I take risks to develop my skills regardless of the sizing of the patterns chosen? Recently I made a dress to challenge myself at a workshop. After working hard and facing the challenge, I ended up throwing it in the bin. The dress was not for me, the fit was wrong and I realised that I had made it just to challenge myself. It is not just a case of adding extra inches uniformly. Some areas require no adjustment others need lots.  But the challenge in itself is no longer enough. I must get the fit and the style that *I* want.

This probably means less workshops for me in the future. I need to focus on my skills when working alone and feeling that the pattern chosen meets my needs, even if I have to do full sleeve adjustments! Retreats appeal because I can make garments of my choice with support. I intend to avoid kidding myself that those workshops which use a smaller size range are appropriate for me.

So…….. going forward, I shall be choosing more carefully what patterns I use. I shall not go to workshops where the pattern is not in my size as part of the size range, I shall use my slopers to alter or design garments but I also just need to finish a couple of UFOs!

Let’s see how it goes.