November 16, 2012

A little Alma tale

Oh, Alma! It's the darling new top pattern from Sewaholic that's been popping up all over the place the last few months. I wasn't really sure that I loved it, but when I saw this red plaid stretch cotton shirting in the clearance section a while back, the first thing that came to mind was that it would make a really cute Alma. Given that I am being responsible (and I knew that there was a sale coming up), I resisted. I decided that if the fabric was still there when I went back after the sale started, it was meant to be. And it was, so here she is!

Red plaid Alma

I was obviously influenced by Lladybird (again) and her adorable seersucker Alma from the pattern testing stage. Normally I have a hard time with blouses, because they always make me feel like I'm playing dress-up in my mom's clothes, but I'm working on that and have been trying to dress a little bit more grown up and put-together instead of defaulting to jeans and a t-shirt every day. A casual take on view A seemed like a good compromise between blouse and comfy top for my first attempt at Alma.

Alma

I cut and sewed a six based on my bust measurement and I was pretty happy with the fit. I basted it up and I was able to slip it on without the invisible side zip, but I decided to add it anyway to make getting dressed easier, and to get the practice with my invisible zip foot. I'm glad I did because it feels more polished that way, and it certainly does make it easier to get on and off.

Invisible Zip

Being so used to snug t-shirts, I still wasn't really comfortable with the blousey look that I was getting, so I started looking at other Almas to see what I could see.

Blousey
Blousey wrinkleage

Lladybird is a pro at getting a great fit on her (enviably tiny) waist. Her top fits her curves perfectly. And Sew Busy Lizzy's gorgeous Alma is nice and fitted too, with none of the wrinkled blousing effect that I have going on under my belt. And Annabellebumps! Her fall Alma skims beautifully over her figure like it was made for her (imagine that!). I decided maybe I wasn't as happy as I thought, and made up my mind to go back in there and try to make some adjustments.

Alma belted
Post-surgery, slimmed from the waist down.

I could have easily have thrown this in a WIP pile and let it languish there for a long time, but I was determined to have my Alma vision fulfilled, so I picked up the seam ripper and pulled out the side seams from the waist notch down before I could think too much about it. I ended up redrawing the seamline pretty much vertically from the waist notch straight down to the hemline, ending up more than an inch narrower on both sides of both pattern pieces (so 4" total) at the hem, tapering up to the size six from the waist up.

Alma Belted

Now, I know that Sewaholic patterns are drafted purposefully in this way, to accomodate a large hip-to-waist ratio. We've already determined that I do not fit into this shape category, and yet I cannot stop myself from making the patterns up. I also can't seem to learn that I could perhaps take my own shape into account in the beginning, at the cutting stage, rather than making up an entire garment and, in essence, trying to fit my square peg body into these round hole designs. I'm learning! Slowly.

Alma post-surgery

And now, post-surgery, I can't decide if I even like it that much, or find it terribly flattering. I think before, the exaggerated hem flare did a little something to give the impression that I have a waist, whereas in this current rectangular shape, it just sort of emphasizes that I am so rectangular. But also when I look at the photos from before, I feel like the overall impression is loose and sloppy and makes me look extra chubby.

Oh, woe. What's a girl to do? Everyone's talking about sewing for your body and embracing your shape, and I appreciate that. Sewing has helped me come to terms with the way my body is built, and of course I have insecurities but this isn't so much about that as it is trying to understand how to dress myself to best suit my shape, and understand how to change the shape of a flat piece of cloth to fit our non-flat bodies. It's surprisingly technical and I don't have a great grasp on it yet.

So I don't know. I do love the Alma in theory. It's a super cute top and I can see it being very versatile. Maybe it just needs to be styled properly for me to appreciate it. I thought maybe a dark denim skirt would be just the ticket- what do you think?

Alma & New Look 6106

That's New Look 6106, and details are forthcoming. I think it helps to tuck the Alma in? I dunno. It's still kind of blousey, but I don't know if I can comfortably take off any more width. Would deeper darts help shape it further, or is this just not a great match for my figure? Help me, you wise seamsters!

The more clothing I make, I find that I don't have many technical problems with sewing- I feel quite competent constructing things- but fitting is a whole other challenge! It's hard! I have Fit for Real People, but any other suggestions you have for books or videos or whatever would be appreciated. I would love to learn more.

And be honest! Is the Alma working for me or not? Better before the surgery, or after? I have a hankering to try a mustard printed version, because everyone seems to think mustard is the bomb.com and I'm nothing if not easily influenced by the populace, but maybe I should try another pattern?