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Dressing to Flatter Your Size

Monday, August 01, 2011

No matter what our size, we can dress in a way to flatter ourselves. When I was more overweight, I was still able to find clothes to the office that gave me a clean, polished look. If you're lucky enough to have a Nordstrom Rack in your area, this is where I orignally bought the bulk of my career wear clothes. High end department store clothes at Target prices (I did have to spend time digging through the racks for bargains). I bought pants that fit my hips/waist, then spent a nominal amount to have the length professionally altered (I didn't know how to do it myself at the time!)

I am hardly a fashionista. I have no idea whether mini skirts are in or out, or what the latest hot colors are. I wear tshirts and jeans at home, but when I have to meet with coworkers or clients, I dress appropriately. I go for timeless, classic styles. Fitted black slacks, button down blouse, and conservative black pumps are always going to fit in. For formal clients, I put on a short, fitted jacket.

Now that I've lost about 2 dress sizes, I'm having to refit a lot of my clothes. I've been reading up on how to flatter my new size. Here are some of the things I found. This is mostly aimed at petites, since I am petite, but many of the tips may still apply to others.

- Vertical lines are your best bet for elongating and slimming a petite. Vertical line doesn't have to mean a pin striped suit. It means anything that draws a vertical line. A button down blouse, for example. I've recently discovered the wonders of a "princess seam" dress. They are fitted dresses that does an amazing job of drawing an hour glass, plus vertical lines with the seams. This dress is an excellent example.

The model is most likely already very tall, but the vertical lines from the seams and the color draws your eyes up and down, making her seem stratospheric.

- A line dresses look great on almost everyone. A must have for any woman, tall or short, heavy or slim.

- Monochromatic or single color is best for slimming and lengthening. Only women with model proportions can pull off multicolored separates. The rest of us are better off coordinating with solids. A work outfit with dark slacks, and matching blouse makes a long vertical line.

- Low heeled pumps. I don't wear really tall high heeled shoes. For career wear, I don't wear shoes with a heel taller than about 2". For one, I work for a very old school, conservative company. They didn't get the "new business" dotcom memo about being allowed to wear pajamas to work. Really tall stilettos would not be allowed. But super tall heels just aren't comfortable, anyway. I find 2" heels to be an easy height boost, that don't leave me in pain at the end of the day. I have found Aerosoles to be an extremely comfortable pump shoe. They are the only pumps that I could almost run across town in. They are a little pricey, but the blisters from the $30 Target pumps are also costly. Not much of a value for $30 if I never wear them because I'm afraid of limping for the next two days. I have one pair of Aerosoles that I wear when I know I am going to be on my feet for a long time. I wear the Target painbringers when I'm just walking from the car to the office, then kick them off at my desk.

- Flared pants that cover most of the shoe. My most flattering work pants are fitted on the waist/hip, loose in the thigh, then slightly flares at the bottom. If I wear the pants without my 2" pumps, they are too long. They are altered to cover most of my shoe, with only the front part visible. The effect is, I look long legged. This is a great optical illusion!

- I have a narrow waist compared to my hips, so with well fitted pants that hug my waist and hips, I look curvy. However, I have thick thighs. Hip huggers are great, but I absolutely avoid anything that clings to my thighs.

- Petites should not wear high waisted pants or skirts. It makes your torso appear shorter. This is good if you have a long torso, but not usually for petites. Appearing properly proportioned is more important.

- Don't wear oversized clothes! I know the temptation to hide behind baggy tshirts and pants when you aren't feeling great about your shape. But it isn't fooling anyone. Sweatshirts and tshirts that are too big will make you look bigger - not exactly what most of us are going for.

- V necks are my favorite neck style. Halter necks with a V line are very flattering on me. With proper fitting on my waist/hip, vertical lines, and a V neck, I get a great hourglass-like silhouette.

What clothes most flatter your shape? How do you emphasize/deemphasize your figure assets and flaws?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 8/2/2011 6:42PM

    Well, in that case, my not-so-helpful advice is, don't wear tight fitting clothes that enhances muffin tops. ;)

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 8/2/2011 5:55PM

    "No matter what our size, we can dress in a way to flatter ourselves. "

True that we can make ourselves look relatively hygienic, but when you have a BMI over 50 almost nothing is flattering. Especially anything you can buy off the rack.

Just sayin'

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TRAXINA 8/2/2011 12:15PM

    Great post! I need to learn to tailor clothes myself... I have a fabulous tailor but I moved and now he's 2,000 miles away! It makes such a difference just to have clothes that FIT. I'm willing to pay much more for a classic piece that fits and will last (shoes count, too) than something pretty that's "in" now.

Cheers to a fellow "Maxxinista"!

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FRENCHIFAL 8/2/2011 10:50AM

    Thanks so much for this post! I am very, um, top-heavy, so I have to be careful about what I wear in the office. I usually go for button-downs IF I can find one that fits without pulling. I also go for tops that flare out a little around the hips, it tends to balance me. Lots of V-necks with lace camisoles under them, on the days when I don't have to wear a business suit.

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VHALKYRIE 8/2/2011 9:45AM

    RMREEVESOLIS: That's very interesting! I have to avoid high waisted jeans, and I definitely never tuck my tshirt in my pants with a high waist. They cut my torso in half and make me look like Steve Urkel. LOL

Comment edited on: 8/2/2011 9:46:29 AM

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RMREEVESOLIS 8/2/2011 9:15AM

    I have a short torso, thicker ribcage, and long legs. I find that empress cut shirts and dresses work great for making me look like I have a longer torso. I also think V-shape neckline helps my torso look longer.

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RMREEVESOLIS 8/2/2011 9:06AM

    I absolutely agree, no matter what your size is, there are flattering shapes, colors, and patterns to wear for your size.

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CTUPTON 8/1/2011 8:32PM

    I have noticed larger busted women can look fantastic it seems to me even if they are heavy. I told someone that and she went out and got a bra with water filled inserts. She was only maybe 15 lbs. over weight. I did not know she bought the special bra. I was just about to mention how thin she looked when she divulged her little secret! We both had a good laugh.

Hope I am not offending anyone. that is not my intent. Chris

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CATLADY52 8/1/2011 4:51PM

    Someone once said that the best description of my body type was Rubenesque, basically short and round. Apple not pear shaped. I say more like a fruit basket than the fruit itself. Whatever, my cats like me and snuggle close in the winter. emoticon emoticon

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PRANA_DANCER 8/1/2011 2:47PM

    I try not to emphasize my shape, but rather different parts of my shape; sometimes it gets too busy otherwise. Brightly colored belts and shirt dresses if it's my waist. Pencil skirts form my bum. Sweetheart necklines for my *ahem* top.

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VHALKYRIE 8/1/2011 2:43PM

    Clothes right off the rack often don't flatter me either. I find it interesting that you say that clothes are designed to flatter women with hips. I find most pants are made for women with much narrower hip proportions than I have. Especially in the smaller sizes. I tried on a pair of jeans yesterday in a size 6. It fit me on the hips, but was way too loose on the waist. Whoever they fit those pants for would have had almost no defined waist at all.

Comment edited on: 8/1/2011 2:51:41 PM

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    I love to sew and my dream is to design clothes for women not built like an hourglass. I'm more of an apple and clothes often just don't work. All the clothes seem to fit or flatter women with hips. It's very hard for us apples to look girly or womanly with the way clothes are designed. it's easy to look like a tent though. LOL

that said, I think one person's idea of 'flattering' can differ from another's and that's ok.

and ANY bridal shop worth their salt. will help a woman learn which neckline is most flattering for her face. V neck does not flatter every woman.

just my 2 cents.

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I'm an hourglass?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I always thought I was a 'pear' shape because my lower body is very Jennifer Lopez. I'm not very busty, definitely not a Jessica Rabbit. When in top form, I have more of an athletic profile rather than runway model.

Since I have been doing self study in dressmaking and tailoring, I was surprised to learn that I am not a pear. When I think hourglass, I think Marilyn Monroe. It never occurred to me I could be anything but a pear. I took my measurements and compared it to the charts. Apparently, hourglass shape is not just bust size. You can be an A cup hourglass, or a D cup hourglass. It is actually the proportions of shoulder width, bust, waist, and hip. My shoulder width and hip width are exactly the same, and a 9" difference in waist. That makes me an hourglass!

Hourglass: Shoulder and hip width equal. Bust and hip circumference basically the same, bust is no more than 1" larger than hips. Difference between shoulder/bust and waist is 9" or more.
Triangle: Shoulder width wider than hips. Bust is more than 1" greater than hip circumference. Difference between bust and waist is less than 9".
Pear: Hips are 2" or more wider than bust or shoulder width. Difference between waist and bust/shoulder is less than 9".
Rectangle: Shoulder, bust and hips are equal. Difference between bust and waist is less than 9".

My measurements are kinda on the cusp of pear/hourglass. My hips are almost 2" larger than my bust, but my waist is 9" smaller. We will see if my shape changes more after I lose more fat.

Overweight, I was definitely a pear. All of us gain fat differently. It is embedded in our genetic code where our bodies store fat. When I put on weight, it is stored primarily in my lower body. I gain a little in my waist and upper body, but not much. As I lose weight, I lose inches in my upper body first. Fat on my hips and thighs is the slowest to go. Some girls gain weight in their lower and upper body evenly, and look more proportioned. I gain a large amount of fat in my lower body, and look like an oompa loompa.

I was reading about most flattering clothes for body type. It said that halter style tops are not good for pears. This was my first clue that struck me odd because halter tops are flattering on me. I have always had a hard time fitting pants because what fits my hips is almost always too loose on the waist. Now I know I was not shopping for my right body type. With my current weight loss, I'm a size 4 waist, and size 6 hips.

This was a surprise!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 8/1/2011 12:43PM

    Actually, halter tops WOULD be flattering on you because you have broad shoulders ! So, don't ditch the halter tops they'll accentuate your shoulders. One shoulder dresses (think Grecian goddess types) would be good for you too.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the revival of Empire style tops i.e. the ones where the "waist" comes up under the boobs. Even the thinnest women looks pregnant in those kinds of tops ! I have no idea why they were popular.

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VHALKYRIE 8/1/2011 12:32PM

    I got the information from one of my new sewing books (Vogue Sewing Patterns) and cross checked with various resources on the web. Most people wrongly think an "hourglass" is just bust/hip, but the shoulder width needs to be in proportion too.

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JOAN_HEO 8/1/2011 7:13AM

    You do realize making your own clothes is the answer to fitting problems, right? =)

Great info! Where did you find it?

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SPARKCHANTAL 7/31/2011 12:06PM

    what are the measurements for pumpkins?

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CHEFSOPHIE 7/30/2011 6:17PM

    Wow that was interesting information.

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CARRIE1948 7/30/2011 10:39AM

    Very interesting. I wonder how many of us really know what we are

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EOWYN2424 7/30/2011 1:42AM

    I guess I'm an hourglass too! But I still have like 6kg to lose to be perfect!

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Bodyfat is Still Falling!

Friday, July 29, 2011

I just got a new bodyfat monitor. It's one of the handheld types. I know it's not the most 100% accurate method, but it is good enough. The newer bodyfat measurers have actually improved quite a bit. If doctors are using them, then that's good enough testimonial for me.

My reading is 25.6%! My last measurement on July 8 was 26.6%. Another 1% bodyfat down, even though my weight has maintained pretty stable. That means my lean mass is up to 92.75 lbs.

The most visible change is definitely my waist. It is cinching in, and I've got more of an hourglass going on! The cellulite on my back thighs used to be horrible. I didn't have expectations that it would go away, but I am pleasantly surprised it has smoothed out quite nicely. The worst of the cellulite on my back thighs have almost completely smoothed out. I've got a few annoying dimples remaining on my backside, but I'm hoping those will smooth out with more fat loss, too.

That said, I've still got a pooch on my stomach. Not nearly the flat board I was hoping for - sigh. We all lose fat at different spots on our bodies at different times. I'm wondering at what bodyfat percentage I need to be to get a flat, or near flat tummy. I'm continuing to work to find out! ;)

The rapid weight loss has made clothes fitting rather challenging. I have a pair of pants that I bought recently, never wore, and they are already too big! I guess fortunately due to my rounded hips, it still fits me on the hips. So I just need to take in the waist. I bought a couple of sewing books with altering techniques, so I will be busy trying to alter my clothes. The books say it's better to have pants fit the hips, as taking in the waist is easier, so I'm good there. I'm going to test my pants altering on this pair. If it goes well, I will move on to my work clothes that I mentioned a week ago that don't fit anymore. It will save me a ton of money on work clothes, as I need very well fitted, neat, business casual clothes.

I've been pretty sedentary lately for a number of reasons. Next week I plan to get back on my exercise routine. I've only got 3 weeks left until vacation. While I am losing steady, I need to see if I can accelerate the process just a little!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EVOLVEFISH 7/30/2011 1:27PM

    Great to read. You're much more ambitious than I! (I have a similar problem so I wear a belt and hope no one notices the extra fabric that I attempt to strategically camouflage around the waist.)

Comment edited on: 7/30/2011 1:27:46 PM

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BTVMADS 7/29/2011 8:31PM

    Awesome!! Your progress is so amazing!

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SEDGEY 7/29/2011 8:29PM

    Love it! My pants are falling off too. Making do with a belt, but I'll have to buy new ones soon. :)

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ANDREA409 7/29/2011 4:28PM

    Awesome; glad to hear it, Cathy! You're doing great. You'll be rocking that bikini in 3 weeks, I know it!

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 7/29/2011 4:09PM

    congrats, you can do it!


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Salads instead of Sandwiches

Friday, July 29, 2011

When I first started eating low carb, I was at a bit of a loss on how to eat. The main thing I did was just to stop eating a lot of starches. Gone were my evening mashed potatoes with my supper. It still took me a few months of trial and error to see what would work best.

I knew to replace the starches with more vegetables. I just piled even more veggies on my plate than normal to make up for the missing rice or potatoes.

Sandwiches are awesome for lunches because they can be prepared quickly. Salads have the exact same property. Instead of sandwiches for lunch, I eat salads. Salads are even better for you than sandwiches. A sandwich is mostly bread, a little meat, and a minuscule amount of veggies. There's only so much veggie you can pack in a sandwich before it shoots lettuce and tomatoes out the sides. But a salad is the inverse. Lots of veggies, moderate meat, and little bread (if you add croutons, which I skip). My favorite salads are chunks of chicken or turkey with a light coating of creamy dressing, sliced hard boiled egg (I make these in advance the night before), lettuce, and tomatoes. It's a snap to whip up.

A concern many people have about higher protein diets is the cost of proteins. For breakfasts, I eat eggs and yogurt. Eggs are the most cost effective protein available. Any budget can afford eggs. Don't buy into the cholesterol scare - eggs are good for you. But we will come back to that later. Since I make my own yogurt, it is extremely cheap. $1.29 for a quart of milk, and a $.50 yogurt starter. That makes 7 jars of yogurt.

For lunches, I'll roast a whole chicken or turkey breast for dinner on a Sunday or Monday. Now I have chicken or turkey meat for my above mentioned salads all week long.

If I ate ribeyes and sirloins every night, that would be pretty darn expensive. I eat a steak dinner one night a week as a special treat. For the bulk of meats, I buy what's on sale. Sockeye salmon is in season right now, so I was able to get whole fillets for less than the cost of ribeyes. My local grocery always has a sale on meats that vary weekly. I'll buy tough, inexpensive cuts of meats like briskets, flank steak, chuck roast or london broil. Whatever is on sale. I'll then marinade them to add flavor and tenderize them. I make a lot of Asian and Mexican marinades. A beef brisket slab, flank steak, or a london broil will usually make enough dinner for two, plus strips for a steak salad the next day. I don't buy chicken parts, which are very expensive. Packaged chicken breasts are $4.99/lb in my area. I buy whole chickens at $0.99-1.50/lb that I will either roast or cut up myself for recipes.

While I have cut back drastically on my grain/starch consumption, there are some meals that just aren't the same. Indian curry without jasmine rice just doesn't feel right. Carnitas without rice is a cardinal sin. I make a mix of brown basmati rice and white jasmine rice. I eat a small scoop, about 1/4 a cup. This is far, far less than I used to eat. I used to eat maybe a cup or two of rice. I find 1/4 cup to be satisfying, and I don't feel like I'm missing anything. Just cutting down is enough. It has not stopped my weight loss. However, I will say, on days when I eat rice, even a little, I am far hungrier later in the day than I am without it. If I eat a rice meal, I know to get ready a high protein snack in a couple of hours. I'll eat a hard boiled egg and a piece of cheese when that inevitable hunger attacks. That is usually enough to halt the hunger for the rest of the evening. Now that I know what causes my hunger (insulin), I know how to put it back into balance.

I eat less food than I used to, before low carb. The result is, I have actually saved money on groceries.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLACK-SWAN 7/31/2011 11:13PM


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BTVMADS 7/29/2011 8:42PM

    I ALWAYS have a salad for lunch now, along with either a cheese stick or a hardboiled egg. I have so much more energy throughout the work day now than I ever did when I ate a lot of carbs, despite working a MUCH more physically/mentally demanding job with longer hours! I'm on my feet for 5-6 hours each day now, working in a woodshop or playing games of tag. Amazing that a big salad with 300 calories really does keep me going longer now than a 500 calorie sandwich ever did.

As for folks who say it's more expensive... How many of them don't blink at a $6 deli sandwich? I spend $10 per week, TOPS, on salad ingredients. Plus... it's insurance. More veggies and healthy meals now means fewer doctor bills later!

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CATLADY52 7/29/2011 2:35PM

    Sounds as if you got it down. Keep it up. emoticon

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GREYASH 7/29/2011 12:59PM

    Those are some great tips. I think I might try and maybe slow cook a chicken or a pot roast on a Sunday or Mon. and use the meat for a few recipes. That could save some money! YAY for savings. Haha.

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JOAN_HEO 7/29/2011 10:47AM

    Okay...now you made me very hungry! =)

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PZF144 7/29/2011 10:25AM

    On a day when I've eaten a lot of protein but I need to get my fat content higher, I'll eat a HUGE salad for dinner. I take a salad serving bowl (meant for multiple servings!) and fill with raw spinach and leafy greens. I'll cut up an entire avocado, sprinkle some sliced almonds for crunch and some kalamata olives. I add 2 tbsp. olive oil & balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle parmesan cheese. It is such a yummy & satisfying dinner; I probably eat it 3 to 4 times a week.

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DEBTEVELDAHL 7/29/2011 9:04AM

    It sounds like you have a plan and that is emoticon emoticon emoticon Debi T.

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BRYANTKA4 7/29/2011 8:59AM

  Keep up the good work.

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Sewing Project Updates

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An update on the sewing projects.

I bought a dressform because I will not be able to fit my dresses correctly without it. I don't have friends or relatives nearby who can help me. So it is either a dressform, or I buy a dress from David's Bridal. I was able to find a dressform on sale and gave it a try.

I got the "small" size, which is too big across the bust for me, even though it has an adjustable bust. The bust adjustment is supposedly in my range, however, the problem is the upper bust. The upper bust was much too large - I would never be able to fit a strapless dress to fit me with it. Unfortunately, I had to take it back. I have a "petite" size on order. I was able to find one at a good price (thank you, Google!).

During the short time I had the dressform, I was able to take advantage and fit it to my evening coverup!

I finished the mockup jacket. I wanted to make a lightweight, sheer coverup for when we go on vacation in a couple of weeks. This was the dress I was originally making it for.

After putting it on the dressform, it occurred to me it had a wonderful Mandarin flare on the sleeves. I decided this might look better on my Chinese dress. I'm think black silk or a black brocade for the jacket. I think a black brocade with red embellishments, an inverse of the dress, would look really sharp.

I bought that dress for $25 at a second hand clothing store. Incidentally, it doesn't fit me anymore. I pinned it so it looked right for the picture. I'm eager to get the new dressform so I can alter it to fit!!

I'm bummed I had to return the dressform. In the short time I had it, I fell in love with it. It made things so much easier! The back length and the shoulders/neck didn't fit right on the jacket, and I was able to see how to fix it. If nothing else, I now have the right back length/shoulder adjustment, so I can finish making the jacket. I'm testing a jacket without a flared sleeve for the blue dress, so I can finish it to take on vacation.

Also, I was able to find a wonderful site called PatternReviews.com. It has tips from other people who have made patterns. My Vogue dress is in there. The reviews say the instructions are hard to follow, but there are only actually 3 pieces to sew. Once people figured out how to piece it together, it seems to come together ok.


However, I am going to have to think a bit more about this. We are doing a warm weather wedding, so I may have to consider a lighter dress. When we go on vacation next month, I am going to take a peak at the weddings and see what others are wearing. I still have time, and I'm not set into anything yet.

Probably won't do any sewing tonight. It's just too darn hot. I can't even think about turning on my iron. Will probably just barbeque a brisket, cool off with a sugar free pina colada, and maybe go see Harry Potter in an air conditioned theater later in the evening.


Edit: Looking at the pattern review, I think I'm going to have to find a different dress. There are simply too many layers with drape, accent, and lining. I'll faint from heat stroke. Keeping my eyes open for a similar style that is warm weather, outdoor wedidng friendly. I still want to make it, I'll just have to think of some place fabulous to wear it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLACK-SWAN 7/31/2011 11:17PM

    good news about getting a smaller dressform. It is always easier to add padding to it where you need it than make something too large.

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VHALKYRIE 7/29/2011 3:07PM

    Yes, I did find a dressform that fits my size more closely. I have it on order, and it should be here next week! The tracking info says it should be delivered on Monday. Funny thing is, according to the tracking info, it is already at the depot near my apartment. I wonder if they purposely hold packages 4 days so it doesn't tick off the people who paid a premium for 3 day shipping - haha.

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ARCHIMEDESII 7/28/2011 10:10AM

    Bummer that you had to return the dress form. Have you tried looking for a more appropriate sized dress form online ?

Go on amazon. I found a bunch of different sized dress forms there. I'm sure one would work for you.

Comment edited on: 7/28/2011 10:12:30 AM

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PRANA_DANCER 7/28/2011 9:58AM

    Friendly warning: Vogue pattern instruction can be vague and hard to understand. They have beautiful patterns but make sure you read them!

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RMREEVESOLIS 7/28/2011 9:18AM


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JOAN_HEO 7/28/2011 8:28AM

    Oh wow!!!! That pattern is beeeeautiful!!!!!! You will look absolutely stunning!! Your wedding guests and your groom =) will be amazed at your incredible talent!

After you get you new dress form and it's adjusted, do your fitting with your garment turned inside out. That way you can pin right in the seam lines. It's much easier than doing it right side out.

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VHALKYRIE 7/28/2011 7:30AM

    I did more browsing for dresses, and I can't find a style that I like nearly as much. Arg. I'm going to do more research on fabrics. Maybe I can find a combo that is more breathable. Still want to do a mockup so I can see how many layers there are.

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DAVENALEE 7/27/2011 8:47PM

    Happy sewing! Hope the dress form arrives soon!

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JSPEED4 7/27/2011 5:34PM

    My two older sisters used a dress form. I never was shown how to adjust it! They are great!

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VHALKYRIE 7/27/2011 3:50PM

    I was able to buy 4 yards of white brocade at a steal on sale, so I nabbed it. Even if I don't use it for the wedding dress, I will find another lovely project for it. At the moment, I am leaning towards using the white brocade for the accent, and a lightweight crepe de chine or silk for the draping. Not sure about the lining yet. I may have to do a test run with the cloths draped around like a toga to see how hot I get in it - LOL

Any advice from the more experienced seamstresses out there?

Comment edited on: 7/27/2011 4:39:31 PM

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LUCYSUNFLOWER 7/27/2011 3:47PM

    I love watching your projects unfold! I am more of a gluer than a sewer (don't ask), so I am thoroughly impressed with your plans. I loved the dress pattern you picked out - do you think it would work with summer weight fabrics?

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