Welcome to my new home!

As you can see, not much have changed. I’m not one for changes just because. But sometimes the world pushes you and you just can’t plod on as before. Moving from WordPress.com was such an occasion. I hate it when internet services & websites decide that you don’t need some useful features anymore. So I’ve moved where I have a bit more control. And can fix only what’s broken and leave the rest well alone!

Hopefully I haven’t broken anything major in the process of moving. Speaking of which, if you’re following my blog on a blog or RSS reader, you might have to re-subscribe (buttons in the left menu). If you subscribed via email or WordPress.com Reader then your subscription should automatically be transferred over.

Now back to coaxing that last snake out of its shell…

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Hop hop & away

OK, now I’m back from epic shopping in NYC, I can finally catch the tail end of the Blog Hopping train. Thanks for the nomination, Chris of Make & Wear! 🙂 Let’s see if I can keep this short.

1. Why do I write?

For the same reasons that other sewing bloggers write I think:

  • It’s a creative outlet. (Thank you WWW!)
  • And a way to find other people out there like me. (ET phone home!)
  • And to return the favor as I live vicariously through your sewing blogs! (There’s only so many hours in a day. Plus not everything I like looks good on me. Or suit my lifestyle. Or are achievable with my sewing skills / resources. So I’ll just pretend to be you for the glory moments, bypassing all the sewing PITAs on the way!)

2. How does my blog differ from others in its genre?

Hmm, seems more like a question for marketer bloggers who are trying to make a living out of blogging. I don’t think it’s really relevant to be different. Especially for the purpose of finding Life As I Know It out there! So maybe the question is more like “what’s your tribe”, or “what’s the password”, or “sum up your sewing blog in 5 bullet points”. You know, so your fellow ETs can easily identify you and let you into their Speakeasy. So here are my bullet points. Sort of.

  • Style-wise: I guess I’m more contemporary designer RTW with a dash of street and deconstruction. Well, late 80s onward anyway & always a good few seasons behind the curve. I also like vintage, historical costume, and some couture as well. But they don’t fit my lifestyle that well. And I can’t do serious sporty to save my life.
  • Pattern-wise: I’m veering towards draft-my-own. Because most of my inspirations come from RTW. And my current basic blocks aren’t based on commercial fitting patterns. So draft-my-own seems the quickest way to gratification design & fitting-wise. But I do want to eventually make up some of the commercial patterns I own. Haven’t done any Indie patterns yet. Again, fitting alteration being the stumbling block. And the fact that most styles seems fairly basic, so not warrant the trouble of figuring out fitting alterations needed.
  • Sewing approach: You know the RTW vs ‘Couture’ fight. I’m agnostic. I will try different approaches to see which will give me a good balance between effort & reward. Sometimes machine is better because my hand sewing sucks. Sometimes hand sewing is easier because my machine skill sucks. I don’t need anything that’ll last forever after having suffered through figure changes (and just plain old poor design choices and deficient fitting skills). But I do want to do enough to avoid wardrobe malfunctioning!
  • Writing style: Yeah, sorry about all the in jokes and mongrel lingo & cultural checks, and questionable command of grammar & spelling. I did say this is my creative outlet. So you’ll just have to put up with it if you drop by. Work anal retentiveness also spill over. I put information in buckets for a living. So headings & bullet list galore it is then. And I love my mug shots & ‘improvements’ on the Pattern Review format! I wish more people would do the same! 🙂
  • Plan for World Domination: None. So no tutorials. No sew-alongs. No pattern releases. None of the wonderfully social things that popular sewing bloggers do! I am an introvert after all.

3. How does my writing  process work?

Painfully! I have tried to write spontaneously sometimes. But most of those languish in the draft queue then dissipate into thin air. What you end up with are mostly project summaries. Which are tedious because I want to be useful. I tend not to write work in progress posts because they seem harder to use as a reference. Too many red herrings and wild goose chases.

4. What am I working on?

Tote Bag v1.0Next up on my sewing To-Dos must be a new tote bag to replace the one I made almost two years ago. I’ve been using it almost nonstop. Must be my most successful project ever! And I would continue to use it if it weren’t for the garment grade dark brown vinyl I used for the accents. That has worn away in many stress points, like the bag bottom corners. This time I think I will try home furnishing grade fake leather. And maybe use that for the handle as well since the fake suede I used in v1.0 fray like crazy. I’m staying away from real leather. Because leather bags always seem to weigh a ton.

But first I need to catch my breath and rest my feet after days of pounding that NYC pavement. And earn some more £££ to feed my sewing habit, what with the damage to my bank account that this NYC trip must have done.

5. Nominations

This is getting tougher as more and more bloggers have already done the hop. And others I follow seem too professional / business-like to participate in this sort of thing. So here are my victims, who I think all share my contemporary (quality) RTW aesthetic…

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Skeletal is not a pretty sight

I was just watching a news segment on TV about the rise of social media ‘Thinspiration’ and feel compelled by the images shown to say something:

Skeletal is not a pretty sight.

I know I’m relatively thin, and I complain about the impending threat of middle age spread. But actually the part of my body that I dislike the most is my chest – because the ribs show. Even when I gain weight, the pounds always seem to go to my midriff and never to my chest. I think it may be the reason I don’t wear my Fortuney Wannabe Dress (because it shows my bony chest) but wear my Favourite Oops Tent Dress to death (because it covers my bony chest).

Protruding ribs and bones just reminds me of those horrible Nazi concentration camp photos. Those images were of victims of unspeakable cruelty. Why would anyone want to intentionally look like that?

Many models seems borderline skeletal. Too many designers are still choosing emaciated models for their runways, which I find very counter productive. I end up squirming about the models’ protruding bones instead of admiring the design flair & craftsmanship that went into the garments. But even some fashion editors find those protruding bones unattractive and have them Photoshopped out. Like Numero magazine recently did to a photo of Karlie Kloss.

Now it may be that Karlie’s ribs are like my chest and naturally stays bony even when there’s extra padding elsewhere. People come in all different shapes & sizes naturally. It may not all be down to diet & lifestyle. I’m not a judgmental person in general. But I don’t like to be reminded constantly of the cruelty that our species sometimes inflict on each other. So please, to all the girls & women out there fishing for thinspirations, if you have a choice, I beg you not to starve yourself to look like Holocaust victims.

I know eating disorder isn’t always about a warped sense of fashion & beauty, that frequently it’s about wanting a sense of control over one’s life. But just in case anyone is starving for fashion, here’s one more person who think the emaciated look isn’t a good look.

Whatever your size and shape, I hope you’ll choose healthy above all else.

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Grand Stand for Silkstone Barbie and Victoire Roux on Etsy now

OMG, these dolls are spoiled! I’m not a vintage girl myself, but I’m sure my Blythe girls won’t mind having outfits like these. I’ve always promised to make them outfits but never got around to it. Be sure to check out rest of blog for more fabulous retro outfits.

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Pattern Match-making site?

I have an idea for a pattern matching website and I want your feedback.

The main purpose of the site would be…

  • to collect sizing & shape data for the sewing community
    • so that it’s easier for pattern brands to develop better patterns
    • and it’s easier for people to find pattern brands that are easiest to work with for their shape & size
  • to collate a resource center (links, maybe some free info) for pattern alterations to so people can learn how to alter other patterns to fit
  • to provide a forum for people to suggest gaps in the pattern market
  • to provide an area for pattern companies to explain their constraints and respond to criticisms

Browsing the online sewing community I’ve come across a fair bit of complaints about pattern company sizing and amount of ease, especially the Big4 (or should that be Big2 now that McCallVogueButterick is one company, and Simplicity website also sells New Look & paper Burda). Having read about some pattern makers’ experiences, I also have sympathy for them, and wondered if better transparency, communication, and expectation management would help.

Palmer/Alto’s Fit for Real People has a lot of fascinating info about pattern sizing, including comparison of the big pattern brands (McCall, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, Burda).  Their approach is that once you learn the basics of tissue fitting, you can work with any pattern brand and sizing. And that’s perfectly fine for some of us, especially the more experienced. But if you’re a relative beginner, it might be too much learning curve and effort. Even for the more experienced, there are times you can’t be bothered with that much effort – maybe like me you don’t sew enough for fitting to be second nature. You just want the pattern to work out of the envelope, whatever shape you are!

So wouldn’t it be great if you can find out which pattern brands have patterns that are designed with your size AND shape in mind? I don’t know much about the industry sizing model that these big pattern companies use, how they compare to the ones used by the indies, whether they’re the same general population sizing data used by the RTW, whether the sewing population deviate from the general population standards, and whether any of these standards take into account body shapes. Wouldn’t it be great to find out?

I was inspired by the now defunct Stretch Pattern School. Stuart, the site author, had collected a pool of data via his personalized swimwear / leotard block generator (offline now). You entered your measurements to get the free pattern and he got a pool of measurement data to analyze, which he summarized in a couple fascinating articles about size demographics in general and his findings about women’s sizes.

As I’m not a professional pattern-maker, I certainly won’t be able to offer anything like that. But I thought maybe even a community driven free pattern-matching service would give people enough value that they’d be willing to submit their own measurements and shape info.

So here’s my wishlist…

Data collected:

  • Database 1: public data will be stored and presented anonymously, so people will only see summaries of a group (eg 40-50 year old females in USA), they won’t be able to see your measurements and shape info.
    1. Key measurements
    2. Shape (select from illustration of different shapes)
    3. Age & gender
    4. Country of residence & ethnicity
    5. Sewing skill level, especially in fitting & alteration
    6. Pattern brands & sizes – favorite or currently used
    7. Standard alterations / body characteristics (eg uneven shoulder, full bust, sway back)
    8. Pattern preferences:
      1. garment categories (eg dresses, tops, skirts, pants)
      2. style (eg retro, high street, designer, sporty)
      3. fit (eg close-fitting, loose)
  • Database 2: private data to enable you to retrieve and update your own profile, get personalized recommendations eventually (based on data and preferences you submitted), contact you eventually (eg for recommendation updates and offers)
    1. Contact info (eg email, social network name or ID,  blog URL)
    2. Login details, maybe allow login via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or some other Open ID scheme (WordPress, etc)
  • Database 3: pattern brand info
    1. Target market shape & sizing info – obviously most patterns can be altered to fit, so this is to identify the lucky group who can get great result without alterations
    2. Other brand info (eg style, pricing, availability / distribution, site / social / shop links)

Features:

  • For pattern consumers:
    1. Infographics /summary of the data collected demonstrating why it’s not so straightforward for everyone to get the right fit out of the envelope all the time
    2. Pattern brand & size recommendations for your measurements & shape based on other people’s experience & target market data submitted by pattern brands
    3. Suggestion forum to identify gaps in the pattern market (eg more edgy pants designs for pear-shaped size 16)
    4. Alteration resources: links, book & class recommendations, maybe some free info
    5. Reference section with info on history of pattern sizing & alterations
    6. Updates & offers from pattern brands (eg discount to try out a recommended pattern brand)
    7. No data submission or login required for generic browsable info, data submission & login required for personalized recommendation
  • For the pattern brands & other professionals:
    1. Filterable anonymous demographic data to help decide target market & develop sizing
    2. Filterable market gap / pattern suggestions from the sewing community
    3. Targeted listing / linking opportunity (through recommendations, reference sections)
    4. Targeted marketing / offers (through recommendations, reference sections, maybe eventually emails or social channels)
    5. Blog / news area for for announcing new pattern line offering or responding to criticisms

 

So what do you think? Would you find it useful? Would you contribute measurements and shape data?

Or has someone already done this and no one has bothered to tell me? ;-D The closest I can think of is Pattern Reviews. It already has some of the features I want, but is missing the data collection bit. You can enter text description about your Body Type and Usual Alterations, but the site isn’t able to make use of these to give you pattern brand recommendations. Nor is there a way to find out about the shape and sizing demographics of the PR users. Also the PR site design is a bit old school. I sometimes find it a bit overwhelming to use.

I’d certainly be up for collaboration, maybe tagging on to an established sewing website. Because all these ideas would take a fair bit of time and effort to develop. And that’s not even touching on costs. I’d certainly would like it to be a free resource, or at least a non-profit project. Any volunteers? Comment below or contact me via my web contact form.

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