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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?