Washi Doing?

Version 2

Yesterday, I got fed up with always having to manually compare my measurements to a pattern and finally started marking up my cheap ass dress form. The same one I bought with a coupon back in the day — before I knew what to do with it and eons before sewing blogs took off and all the editorial sewists we love to stalk started hugging wolves. As affordably ugly as it is, my dress form has always been an untapped resource for faster fitting. Until now.

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I took the dress that fits me best, put it on the form, and chalk-marked the key areas I’m always double-checking when preparing to sew a new pattern. Then, I applied skinny masking tape to the chalked lines. After using the set up to test and correct a final version of the BHL Anna bodice — which I would’ve sorted out in the first muslin had this reference point for my preferred empire waistline been in my life —I rewarded my win with some Washi Tape embellishing.

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The tape won’t last forever. I like to think of it as the temporary tattoo I designed to give my fitting assistant a makeover. My headless, fuzzy fitting assistant that looks like a set prop in a muppet horror movie (the only reason I need not to creep myself out further by giving it a name). Instead of fading after a few showers, this tattoo will curl at the edges and slowly peel off in the sun.

I am thrilled that the usefulness of my dress form has evolved beyond my first quasi-customization of 38DD animal print bra stuffed with batting (my lazy attempt at customizing it after the 2006 duct tape dress form I made with some strangers in a library at my first ever sewing club meeting, met an accident on the subway ride home). It’s now sporting the demarcation lines I’ve been missing all this time:

  1. My most flattering v-neck line with a flower to mark my that cleavage point-of-no return-spot.
  2. My armhole. Particularly the shoulder and underarm lines of my preferred sleeveless silhouette.
  3. My side seam length. I am short-waisted, but the depth of my bust eats up so much length, that it’s often hard to tell wear my waistline should sit. The top of the two pink strips indicates my empire and natural waistlines (three fingers above my belly button).
  4. The back neckline of my go-to bodice. If I was draping a new bodice or preparing to fit a pattern with a collar, I’d probably mark the high neckline with a necklace just like I do when recording my real body measurements.

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Looking at it now, it’s seems like an obvious hack. I won’t be googling it or anything, but I suspect I am not the first person to pimp out her dress form with Washi tape. It’s like the sticky crack of the craft world! I use the stuff to tape ridiculous things like grocery lists. When I do, I swear that I remember all the things on the list even when I show up to the market without it. There’s something about making the mundane pretty that boosts its benefit.

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My fitting process — which, in a time-lapse video would look like a violent struggle with hot flashes— still involves getting naked at my sewing machine to try on the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of my garments. But these Washi tape lines have really helped me to stop underestimating the silent, linty Sleepy Hollow character that also tries on my clothes. My next step is to verify the waistline with a level and tape-mark my preferred untucked and tucked blouse hemlines (at high and low hip).

How do you use your dress form for fitting? Or, if you don’t have one, what solo fitting techniques have you mastered?

Man of the Year

IMG_1457 As usual, a new trend was catapulted into the sewcial community by a post yesterday on oonaballona inspired from a post by Lori of Frivolous At Last about the heroics of their husbands during photoshoots. A well-deserved #unsungsewingbloghero hashtag was bestowed on them and I’d like to honor my man with one, too. Because he is the water that floats my boat. Especially when said boat is contorting herself to pin darts on her ass.

My husband, Matt is many levels of amazing. When Josephine was born, he was more than okay with staying home with her while I worked. His nickname is “MattGyver” because of how handy and resourceful he is. When I come home from work to my domestic hunk, I’m greeted with things like tomatoes from the garden, a DIY deck sandbox for our daughter, folded laundry, and an upgraded OS for my neglected computer.

Most importantly, he lets me sew ALL DAY on Sundays.

On one of these lovely Sundays recently, I decided to tackle a darted skirt muslin I’d been tinkering with for years. I’d finally worked out that three darts at my high square hip did the trick, but I was struggling to reach that part of my body to drape and pin the darts properly. Enter Mr. Carroll. All he says is “Here”, takes the pin from my hand, and starts to finish the job. Whaaaaaat? What is going on here? Is this really happening? Many women want their husbands to buy them flowers and take them out for fancy dinners…. I just want help with fitting.

DIY-ing a wardrobe is hard damn work and I always assumed I’d have to kidnap a local teenager to be my unpaid intern. But, so far, no felonies are required. It took him some time to get the pinning right, but I let him take all the time he needed. At one point, I started to nag about his technique, but stopped myself from ruining the beautiful, historic moment. Because I so want it to be repeated.

Now that I think about it, Matt has always been my sexy sewing assistant. There’s the floor-length hem he marked for my Amercian Geisha kimono, the photos he took for my Make My Lucky Day dress, and all the diva drama he endured while I rushed to finish the Driving Men Mad dress for a challenge deadline. He doesn’t even give me shit about the shirts I’ve never made for him. Needless to say, he is staying.

Tell me about YOUR unsung hero. Who in your life makes sewing or blogging about it easier?