Thursday, April 19, 2012

a possible & permissible pencil skirt for pears

Lately I've been feeling like a one-trick pony. A one-trick pear-shaped pony, that is. Wait.

To this point I've been highly dedicated to only sewing clothes that fit within the wardrobe "rules" for my particular body type. By most definitions I am a pear shape, in that my bust and waist are narrower than my fairly prominent hips. Maybe it's determined by a shoulder-to-waist-to-hip ratio, not a bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio, but whatever, I just know this baby got back. What I don't know is whose job it was to name the various female body types. I'm not sure how impressed I am by the resulting combination of fruit, geometry and mundane household objects.

Lovely. So here's basically what I know about how to dress to look my best (which, I guess they mean is to look my slimmest). According to YouLookFab's article "The Pretty Pear": "Strive to create an 'A-line' silhouette with your clothing. Choose styles that define your waist and show off your torso. Knee length A-line skirts with vertical panel seaming are best. Pants should make a straight line down from your widest point. Stay clear of bias-cut skirts and pencil skirts.
Translation: "Keep that fat bum outta sight, ladies." C'mon now.

This is all relatively easy to abide by, except when it comes to casual wear. I break the rules with my skinny jeans, even though I know they look bad on me and I feel pretty awful in them all day. I just wanna fit in with the cool kids, you know? For my business casual work environment, though, I've happily built a wardrobe of dresses and skirts that are fitted at my natural waist and flare out over my "problem areas." Here's a sampling of how dedicated I am to the waist-defining A-line shape, in case you haven't noticed. And, no -- though it may appear this way, I'm not really an obsessive patriot who has intentionally created a wardrobe palette based on the colors of the American flag:

1 - Red Trench // 2 - Blue Burda // 3 - Colorblock

Despite feeling most comfortable and confident in these kinds of clothes (USA theme aside), I'm also getting tired of this silhouette. I wouldn't be surprised if my friends, colleagues and blog readers are getting sick of it, too. Oh cool, Andrea, another tent-shaped sundress with a belt slapped around it. Good job, how fashionable. What a nice full skirt and tucked-in blouse you got there. You'd make a lovely 50s housewife, really.

So, folks, I've done the unthinkable, broken some rules, and decided to make myself a (gasp) pencil skirt. Truly scandalous!

OK it's not scandalous at all, really. I chose a tasteful one that still abides by other pear shape rules: emphasize the waist, use solid colors and structure on the bottom half, blah blah. After a Simplicity pattern fail and some additional research, I found a better pattern that looked like it could work for a pear shape: Vogue 8697

It looks a lot like Burda's Jenny Skirt with the high waist, but the key here is princess seams. Because I'm a princess. I mean, these seams are just much easier to fit around curves, and they help eliminate the horizontal pull marks across the thighs. The waistband is pieced and shaped -- not just a flat rectangle -- so the garment contours quite nicely to an actual human body.

The fabric is cotton twill with the color name "Tobacco." I'm instead calling it "Cappuccino," as caffeine is my preferred chemical addiction. This is my commitment to creating more basic items that I can pair with many things I already own (the whole cake vs. frosting thing -- but cake is still sweet on its own!). I do like this color despite its blandness - it has the practicality and matchability of khaki, but in a pretty golden hue. The fabric was 60" wide, so at 1 & 3/8 yards I was able to make this skirt and there's enough left to make a tote bag... in case I want to, you know, tote stuff. Like pencils.

I like the seaming quite a bit, and the pattern instructions were clear (surprising, since it's Vogue). Fair warning, though: all those small pieces meant a lottttt of cutting. There's a lining with the same seaming, and you are told to cut interfacing for both the waistband and waistband facing, so I must have had to cut like 450 pieces. That's when you realize Gingher scissors are kinda heavy, damn.

So if you, like me, have avoided pencil skirts forever but still want to try one out, maybe this is is your pattern! 

What are the "rules" for your body type, and have you ever broken them when it comes to sewing or shopping?