Change your clothes

After I’ve put on weight I have a notion to camouflage my bum and legs, and besides, the new clothes (a rare treat) I bought last year are still in the closet with labels on, fitting like sausage skins. 🙁 So I decided to try out the concept of dresses, something I’ve been opposed to ever since I was 4 and my granny dressed me up for dance lessons. Shudder. But I actually have the shape for it, because I have a lot of shape, at least I used to when I had a waist. 😉 Anyhow, I couldn’t bear seeing myself in shorts this summer, it’s as if my body type has aged 10 years in 12 months.

There are plans to weave fabric and use that for clothing, but that all takes a bit of time, so I needed something “now”.

no sleevesI wanted to keep a low budget, so I mail ordered a bunch of stuff 1-2 sizes larger than my normal. Some were much too large after all, some ok. One dress is actually quite roomy, but the little sleeves, oy! I felt like my armpits were being cut open and the whole dress moved up if I tried to lift my arms.

I decided to keep it however, because I’m not used to inelastic fabric and tend to feel constrained if the fit is close and stiff. But I removed those sleeves and all of a sudden it was fine. In fact I could have just seamed and used it like that, but I’m A. also a bit selfconscious about my chubby arms and B. once it was released from the sleeves, the opening actually became quite large and shows too much bra for my taste, and C. their seaming allowance was very narrow, so the frayed edges show.

So I went ahead and tried to make new sleeves. It took a lot of paper and three versions from an old bed sheet before I finally had a good template, then it’s just a matter of finding a nice sleeve material. Either look in my box, the thrift shop or weave some, what to do? I’d just warped the loom with something else, so in the end I opted for what I could do on the same day. (it did in fact take me most of the day, which surprised me a bit – had I known I probably would have gone with the visible bra!) I found an old shirt the exact same colour and type of material, not as exciting, but not too hippie either.

old sleeve and new template

I rather like the idea of recycling and making rather than constantly buying new, even if I’d had a large pay check every month. I also like the challenge, and it seems it’s a necessary skill when you’re not an average body type. So I learned to shorten my trousers even as a teenager, and luckily I remember some of the stuff my mum taught me about sewing then. It’s not very pretty, either because I pedal too fast or get my pins stuck in the feeder mechanism, but it works.

Strangely as soon as the new sleeves were firmly attached, there was again some tightness in front and the armhole was raised? Very odd, because the circumference is fine both top and bottom, about 5 cm/2″ more than my actual measurements, so it’s some other design thing. I’m keeping it for now, but I may actually remove them if it gets annoying. As you can see from the template, they’re still vastly improved, but it really isn’t all that simple to figure out! Possibly if I shorten the top end of the sleeve? (as in on top of my arm, making the angle of the hem different) Don’t want it to flare too much either. Anyone who has an idea what angle I didn’t get right, please chime in here! I haven’t actually done anything this elaborate before. I guess it all depends whether I want to wear this outside in the community, or just use it for gardening. In case of the latter, I definitely want to be able to move my arms freely. Maybe I should have done zip on sleeves, LOL.


The other two items that I kept also needed some alterations, but nothing major. All in all it does seem like a good idea though, to sometimes buy a roomy size and then use the excess fabric to tailor the garment a bit to your own dimensions. While I’m in the mood for tentlike, there’s no reason to actually look pregnant… Mimi has really been handy for wearing the dresses while I put pins in them, rather than trying to juggle them flat on the table (amongst cats, paint brushes and whatnot).

But the fact that it takes so long also made me rethink the whole concept – not that I would have spent any less time in shops searching perhaps in vain for something that fit, using diesel to get there and getting annoyed, it still seems out of proportion to spend so many hours on a single task. Just for vanity… Obviously if I knew what I was doing it might not have taken so long, but it’s not how I want to spend my time on a regular basis at the cost of other projects. I try to look for activities that give as much or more back than I put into it – time or money. Some things are worth paying for to get it out of the way, compared to the “joy” you might have of making them. Such as a mechanical ball winder for yarn vs. winding them by (arthritic) hand. Others yield a different value and seem to be worth any number of hours compared to what salary you could have made in the same time, does that make sense?


11 thoughts on “Change your clothes

  1. Ja, det giver totalt mening. Jeg har ogsÃ¥ den der “vil jeg betale andre for at lave det her”-tanke. Og jeg betaler gerne andre for at lave et insektgardin til døren, men ikke for at lave rasp, for eksempel. Det er dels noget med om jeg nyder processen, dlels om jeg kan fÃ¥ et ordentligt slutresultat, dels om jeg – hvis det var relevant – kunne fÃ¥ andre til at forstÃ¥ præcis hvad og hvordan jeg vil have det.
    Har du overvejet nederdel og top i stedet for kjole? Jeg synes altid jeg har den der med ikke at kunne løfte armene ordentligt i hele kjoler (og også i smækbukser for øvrigt), hvorimod noget todelt er mere til at arbejde i.
    Jeg synes, dine ærmer ser fine ud, men jeg er ikke den store sy-ørn heller. Hvor genialt at du havde noget magen til stof liggende, og sÃ¥ er den blÃ¥ 🙂

    1. Jeg har godt spekuleret i to-delt, det er sikkert også nemmere at designe, kan mixes lidt forskelligt, og måske du har ret i, at man kommer ud over hæve-sænkeproblemet, taljen bliver jo hvor den er på en nederdel. Så skal jeg bare have knækket ærmekoden!

  2. Not reading Danish I don’t know if you have the answer yet but I think it is because you have too much of an angle on the sleeve seam. If you make the sleeves either parallel or very gently angled in I think they will work fine.

      1. Yes, the straight seam. Because its on an angle you’ve tapered the sleeve, and I think that’s the source of the problem.

        1. At your suggestion I opened the seams yesterday, easy since I had not hemmed the sleeves yet. And while it did not give much in the lifting of arms, when I bring them forward, there’s an open wedge appearing and it definitely does not feel as tight. It’ll never be like wearing a t-shirt, but it’s close to ok! The reaon I’d tapered them is I didn’t want a large flare when my arms are just hanging, but I guess woven fabric just needs a lot more space than knitting, not just a bit more.

        2. Thanks for the assistance! I’m not sure I’ll be peeling the sleeves off, I may just make wedges. I’ll try that first with a temporary stitch anyway. I’m considering some sort of edge, since I feel theyll be a bit short if I fold and hem, just have to find the right material.

  3. Hi Pia, My new favorite wardrope this year is a wrap around apron. I have been making them out of all the fabric left from my grandmother. Which is cool. The reason I love wearing this apron is…(1) some of the daily grime stays off my clothes and (2) I like how they are loose and can be worn over my pants/shirts….good cover up! I’ll post a picture soon but have been on a tear making them. Oh what to wear….comfort, ease, and of course some thought to our older bodies changing shape. Good luck with the sewing!

    1. I’d love to see them. Aprons like you describe is not something I’m accustomed to here in newer history at least, so I’m curious.

      And yes, comfort before fashion, I definitely agree. But no reason to walk around feeling like the Michelin man!

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