Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Sewing: The Feminist Bathing Suit

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When I tell people that I like to sew my own swimming suits, I tend to get the same reaction of awe and I-could-never-do-anything-like-that self-doubt. Sewing a swimsuit isn’t that hard. Shopping for one is hard.

Let me put this in perspective. How many women out there go to the store, pick out the first suit they like, try it on, love it and go home? And if you’re reading this and you do that, you’re either pre-pubescent or a freaking unicorn. Because that doesn’t exist.

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Every woman I talk to spends at least the double-digits in hours either searching for, trying on, buying/returning a swimsuit. It’s a laborious task finding the swimsuit of the season. It is!

I’m thin. My BMI is in the “you need to gain weight” range. It always has been. So many think it might be easy for me to find a suit I just love. It’s not. I always end the swimsuit excursion feeling emotionally bankrupt, thinking: My boobs are too small, my torso is too long and my body is too pasty. 

Why? Why on earth put myself through that kind of torture? WHY?!?!?

 

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You know what? I have an amazing body. WE ALL HAVE AMAZING BODIES. It’s just that 99% of the time our bodies don’t fit the block created by one manufacturer or another. And is that bad? NO.

So I’m not going to waste another minute feeling upset that my body doesn’t fit a man-made proportion, or spend a second on the things I could do to enhance or change my god-given proportions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it. It’s just not for me. Not right now.

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Now I spend that half-day obsessing over muslins and sketches. I huddle over my sewing machines finishing every detail as best as I can. I’ve drafted my own sewing pattern through lots of trial and error (version 1.0 here), so now I have a pattern for swim bottoms that fits me perfectly. I can adjust that pattern to the style I’m going for. Drafting a top takes more time, but it’s worth it.

At the end of the experience, I have a swimsuit I’ve made. A swimsuit I’m proud of. A swimsuit that fits me. 

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Some may think that sewing is so antiquated. I’ll tell you there’s nothing more empowering than that sewing machine. If you’re on the fence about sewing a swimsuit this year, get off the fence and start making one right now. It’ll be the best investment in you you’ll make this summer.

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Outfit details:

  • floral knit: L.A. Fabric District
  • scuba knit: Fabric.com
  • necklace: H&M
  • shoes: Forever 21
  • bracelet: THP shop

I drafted each pattern from scratch. I would consider starting at Burdastyle, if you download their patterns make sure that patterns have seam allowance before you cut them out. :)

If sewing isn’t for you, check out my swimwear inspiration board.

All images by Sam Pierson

Sewing with Kids: Felix’s Rockstar Tee

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I gave Penelope my hand-me-down Bernina Record 830 (she has NO IDEA what she has – those things go for A LOT on ebay). She knows how to do a straight line, but that’s about it.

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At some point I’ll teach her the foundations of sewing with patterns, using the back-stitch, finishing seams and what-not. Until then, I’m loving every minute of her free spirit made manifest through clothing. This girl’s creativity just rocks my world. And Felix’s patience for her creativity is unmatched.

I think the dot of green marker on his left earlobe completes the look, don’t you?

Understated Style: My Momiform

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Finally I’m getting around to posting some of the many things I’ve made lately. I’ve been busy with projects (some secret and some not so secret) that I haven’t had much time to update this blog. I miss blogging. Instagram has kind of taken over, but I still love the accountability that blogging gives me.

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I found this slub open-knit fabric as a remnant at Michael Levine loft for $3 per pound which means the fabric came out to a whopping $1. Yes. You read right. I love the L.A. fabric district!

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I wanted something light-weight for summer so I whipped up a simple raglan. I don’t like making super basic basics because you can buy those things über cheap at places like Target so I added a couple of fun details that make it unique (at least to me).

I did a reverse hem on the sleeves so you see the underside of the fabric and the raw edges. Since it’s a knit and doesn’t easily fray, it looks purposeful.

I’ve had a heck of a time telling which side is which when I’m racing to throw on my clothes in the morning to get the kids into their routine so I wanted to do something fun to differentiate the front and the back. Instead of sewing a tag only I can see, I added a suede detail on the back side of the shirt. It adds a fun bit of visual interest. I used the raw edge of the hide, but I may go back and cut it at an angle.

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This and a pair of jeans has been my go-to.

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And leather chucks. I wanted to be part of the cool crowd with some rad convers shoes. But between my kids and me, canvas shoes wouldn’t stay nice very long. So I bought leather ones. Good choice, if you ask me. They’ve held up well against vomit, sumi ink, otterpop juice and mud.

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Outfit details:

  • necklace: gift from a friend
  • bracelet: DIY (here)
  • top: handmade (I sized up on the Lane Raglan)
  • purse: c/o Lily Jade
  • jeans: c/o DownEast
  • shoes: Amazon (affiliate, but really this is where I bought them)

Style: Easy-going Palazzo Pants

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These last few months have included a lot of fun travel. I’m getting worn out, but I’m also meeting so many fabulous people and having a wonderful time seeing new places.

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

All photos by Brandi Gard

This month has taken me to Nashville, Tennessee area for Inspired Retreat.

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

Naturally, I was bored with my current selection of clothes. I had to make something new. I had some fabric that I knew needed to be palazzo pants or culottes. It’s a very breezy fabric I found at Michael Levine Loft in L.A.’s fabric district. I love visiting there, but I need to sew up more of my fabric stash before I visit again. I have too much fabric now!

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

I used a vintage patternsimplicity 8550 for the pants. The size I got measured for a 23″ waist (who has a waist that small?!? NOT ME. but looking at the technical drawing and the flat pattern pieces, I did the math and it was a simple gathered pant with a straight waist. I could alter the waistband without having to change anything else. I did add an extra 2 inches in the length just in case. I’d rather they be too long than too short.

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

The fabric I chose is a glorified broomstick fabric (you know broom stick skirts from the 90s?? Yes. Like that. I ironed the fabric before sewing with it, which may cause a problem down the line, but I like the feel of them better when the crinkles aren’t SO dramatic.

In an ideal situation, I would have let the fabric rest before cutting into it. I didn’t, which is why the patterns don’t quite match up at the seams. It kind of drives me nuts, but I’ve actively decided not to care about it because at the end of the day I crossed a project off my list that I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

I decided to sew and complete these all on Saturday (the day before leaving for Tennessee). I’m thrilled that I finished them and they worked! I plan on making another pair, but with a few slight changes.

It was a real treat to have Brandi of Brandi Gard photography photograph this session. It’s not often I get to take direction from a pro. Feeling so glamorous.

©Brandi Gard | Melissa Esplin

Outfit details:

  • top: thrifted
  • necklace: H&M
  • bracelet: The Haute Pursuit
  • pants: self-made
  • shoes: TOMS
  • sunglasses: c/o TomKat Studio

Next I plan to finish my Easter dress. And upholster a chair.

 

 

 

Sewing: Easter Dresses for the Girls

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Easter came and went so fast. I can’t believe it’s been over a week since that glorious day. We kept festivities simple with new Sunday Best and a basket of candy for each kid (minus J – she’ll get one next year ;)).

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I made dresses for the girls and bought Felix pants and a polo. It’s kind of unreal how Felix’s pants match the fabric I picked out for the girls.

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I found this great polyester (I’m assuming it’s polyester) in the fabric district in L.A. last month. It’s very drapey, but with how light-weight it is it’s completely opaque. I’ve had trouble finding fabric with good drape and opacity these days. The print and colors aren’t what I would normally gravitate towards, but it’s growing on me. I like the little tulips and the unexpected blue. I love dressing girls up in blue. Little known fact: Pink used to be a boy color and baby blue was a girl color because they were the pastel versions of red and blue. Red being viewed as more masculine than blue. I don’t think color should be relegated to just masculine or just feminine. I like mixing it up.

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Back buttons and pleats for Juniper’s dress

For the dresses, I made up the patterns. I drafted both dresses from clothes that Penelope and Juniper already had and fit. I kept them simple with pleats instead of gathers (whoever says gathering is easy is crazy). I wanted them to be simple enough that they could be pulled over, but with some thinking, that wasn’t going to happen with a woven fabric. Some kind of fastener had to be involved. Due to the fabric’s drape, I decided buttons were the best fit. I hate putting on buttons. Executing the button holes was a breeze. I’ve got an amazing automatic button hole setting on my machine, so I would set it then let it do its thing while I sat or left the room to take care of something else. It was sewing the buttons on that was a pain.

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Front pleat detail for Penelope’s Dress

Overall, the buttons add a sweet element, particularly to the simple silhouette of Penelope’s dress. Both girls have to have help getting dressed, but closing a button isn’t a big deal.

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Back button detail for Penelope’s Dress

The fabric has been a dream to work with. Now I want something in my size. I’m still trying to decide what to do. I’ve got about 2 1/2 – 3 yards left so the possibilities are nearly endless. Culottes? Wrap skirt? Pleated dress?

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Also, I think I have the most beautiful children. I might be a tad biased.

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