This year is alive with color.  Pinks, aqua, peach, orange…there is virtually no color that is out.  Sadly, most women are so fearful of stepping out in a disastrous cacophony of color that they barely dip their toe in the proverbial water.  I hope to give you the courage to at least put the whole foot in, if not take the plunge.

Large and tall women especially can benefit from remarkable options available to help develop a flattering look.  Today we have color, pattern, fabric and style, at our disposal.  
So, here we go…

What are the rules?  The broad answer is, there are no rules.  Or should I say, there have grown more exceptions to the rules than the rules themselves.  

Neutral colors are those colors which will not clash with anything.  These colors are traditionally, black, white, grey, beige, blue (is now being used as a neutral color), ivory, taupe, and apparently, orange is the new black (no, it’s not just a T.V. series).

Pastels as defined by Google are colors, when described in the HSV color space that have high value and low to intermediate saturation. In other words, they look faded or lighter than other colors.   The name comes from pastels, chalk used in art, which absorbs color in a certain way. 

Pastels are in contrast to bold colors which are dyed in a manner and to fabrics that through their absorption create intense colors.  Pure cotton, silk, and synthetics like polyester can give you bold colors.  Wool, and linen, because of the coarseness of their fiber will tend to give you softer looks.
You will always be safe combining neutrals together or with pastel or a bold colors.  

However, if you wish to be a little—or very daring, this year’s fashions allow that too.

Certain themes have arisen.  First, dressing in one solid color (sadly, I think politically motivated) is very in.  The important thing is to make sure that all the colors from shirt, pants, jacket, dress or skirt are spot on the same color.   
There is also a strong influence in ethnic, tribal or clan color matching.  These tend to be bright color combinations introduced through classic tie dying or batik techniques.  Darfur and the horror of its atrocities, are but a faint geopolitical memory now, but I was surprised, as I watched the news reports, at how beautiful the women’s clothes were.  Soft cottons dyed with powerful greens and yellows or pinks, reds and oranges, all swirling into wonderful combinations.   And this is what I am also seeing on the fashion runways.

Tribal colors are influenced by several factors both practical and esthetic. Each color combination and pattern helps to distinguish members from different tribes.  This function for coloring is important for close up encounters, but also to recognize friend or foe from a distance.   Hence, bright or dark colors, depending on the terrain, not only help to distinguish an individual from his surroundings, but also determine his welcome.  Texture and fiber of the cloth influence the absorption of color, and therefore, the use of color.  Local dyes greatly dictated what colors could be used and last--esthetics.  We are nothing if not creative beings.  The results are color combinations that will not follow the color wheel.   In many of the fashions on my Pinterest page, I can already hear you say, “I would never have put those together.”  In fact, no one in 21th century western or eastern Europe would probably have put these colors together.  But together they are, and surprisingly work.  
Another theme is what I call, “discordant fashion.”  This is fashion that when you look at it strikes you simultaneously as being noisy or busy, but--works.  The key is that as you look at what initially appears to be discordant fabrics, you will find united by a single color or pattern.  For instance, outfit to your far right, you will notice that the model has white, black, but the color your eye catches is the red.  The mind, always trying to make sense out of disorder, will find order in the colors to the point that when asked what the dominant color in the outfit is, you will probably say red.  When in fact, a second look reveals that it is the boldest color, not the dominant color.  But, because the eye catches the exact same color in the jacket and dress, it pulls out the order from the apparent chaos.  For this look to work, you need to be very exacting in selecting the themed color in each fabric.  Close is not good enough.  The result, however, is an outfit that is lively, flattering, daring, and yet, well-coordinated.

Below, I have included daring use of color and style I think are very flattering to large and tall women.  Thank you for joining me, and I look forward to meeting up with you next week.  Until then, God Bless.

I would not recommend the briefs, but the other outfit--why not...

This year’s spring and summer fashions are wonderfully feminine, flowing, delicate and colorful.  Sheers of all types are popular.  But, chiffon is definitely the fabric of the season.   This presents large and tall women with many design opportunities to create flattering clothing.  I am especially impressed with the white dress with china blue lining to your right.  What wonderful fun!    I am going to try and do something similar with coat V8780, to your right.  But, to do so will require a little thinking.  First....

What are sheers? How do you use them? And, how will they be used with this pattern?

A Google search provides me with decent, although maybe a little to detailed definitions of the following:
Sheer fabric is fabric which is made using thin thread and/or low density of knit and which results in a semi-transparent and flimsy cloth. Some fabrics become transparent when wet.
Gossamer is something super fine and delicate — like a spider web or the material of a wedding veil. The original gossamer, from which these meanings come from, is the fine, filmy substance spiders excrete to weave their webs. A dress can be gossamer-like, if its fabric is so sheer as to be see-through, or almost.
Mesh: In clothing, a mesh is often defined as a loosely woven or knitted fabric that has a large number of closely spaced holes, frequently used for modern sports jerseys and other clothing.

Types of shear fabrics:

Chiffon, French pronunciation: ​[ʃi.fɔ̃], from the French word for a cloth or rag, is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of alternate S- and Z-twist crepe (high-twist) yarns.

Voile is a soft, sheer fabric, usually made of 100% cotton or cotton blends including linen or polyester. The term comes from French, and means veil. Because of its light weight, the fabric is mostly used in soft furnishing.
Georgette (from crêpe Georgette) is a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric named after the early 20th century French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante. Originally made from silk, Georgette is made with highly twisted yarns.
Organza is a thin, plain weave, sheer fabric traditionally made from silk. Many modern organzas are woven with synthetic filament fibers such as polyester or nylon. Silk organza is woven by a number of mills along the Yangtze River and in the province of Zhejiang in China.
Net or netting is any textile in which the yarns are looped or knotted at their intersections, resulting in a fabric with open spaces between the yarns. Net has many uses, and come in different varieties.
Tulle (English pronunciation: /tuːl/ TOOL) is a lightweight, very fine netting, which is often starched. It can be made of various fibres, including silk, nylon, and rayon. Tulle is most commonly used for veils, gowns (particularly wedding gowns), and ballet tutus.
Challis, sometimes referred to as challie or chally, is a lightweight woven fabric, originally a silk-and-wool blend, which can also be made from a single fibre, such as cotton, silk or wool, or from man-made fabrics such as rayon.
Gauze is a thin, translucent fabric with a loose open weave. In technical terms "gauze" is a weave structure in which the weft yarns are arranged in pairs and are crossed before and after each warp yarn keeping the weft firmly in place.
With all these options, how then do we choose?  In looking at the coat, I want several things from it. 

First, I want it to be timeless.  I don’t waste effort on something that will last only a year.  The irregular hemline is relatively new for 21st century fashion, but looks like it will be around for a little longer.  The collar, although a little dated makes for a very simple sewing project, so I won’t be overly picky. 

Second, I want it to be flattering.  And this is going to be a problem.  The bold colors and multi-layer outfits, all contribute bulk and mass to an already overly bulky and massy figure, and screams—disaster.  Not done well—I run the risk of looking more like a hot air balloon—in bold bright colors.  This is where choosing to use the lining as the coat’s interest seems more appealing to me.  In this way I can better control how the colors are framed both with the outside fabric, and by the clothes I wear inside the coat. 

The texture of the fabric presents a unique problem.  Blessed with a large rear, the light chiffon, because of its light weight and rough surface, will not fall properly on a full bodied woman.  It will gather on my rear and stay.  I will be tugging at the back, the front and the sides every time I get up, bend down, or bend over.  So, therefore, my selection of fabric will have to keep this in mind.  

Third, only on the fashion runway can models wear nothing but a coat bound around their waist, and get away with it.  For me, something else will have to be worn with the coat--pants, shirt, dress--how versatile can I make it?  What color and fabric pairings will limit the use of the coat? And, what will broaden its use? 

And fourth, what types of fabrics can I combine? And, what will not work?  Two chiffons sewn together will be a disaster, because the overall look will be mud, unless it is your intent to build a look through adding layers of different sheers, which several designers have done.  In this case, placement of the pattern as well as the placement of fabric design, will have to be very well thought out.  Being both a coward, and lazy, I will look for an easier alternative.  I am more inclined to combine a linen voile  with my chiffon.  The chiffon will be inside and the voile on the out.  If this is still too sheer, I will go with a light weight polyester or challis.    Of course, color is very important.   A white voile linen and black chiffon is still not going to be a pleasant combination, either while looking at the chiffon through the voile or the voile through the chiffon. 

Because of the characteristics of organza, I chose not to use it for either the inside or outside of the coat.  It is a slick fabric, and therefore, would solve my problem of getting “hung-up” on body parts.  It is stiff not flouncy like chiffon.  And, although I am not, convinced this is a bad thing, organza cannot reflect design and color as powerfully as chiffon, and therefore would not make the bold statement I wish the lining to make.

Well, we have thought through a number of things, and as you can see, we have a number of decisions to make before even buying the fabric.  Join we next week as we whittle all these factors down into not only a coat, but an ensemble.  Until then, God Bless.



Pinning your stripe.

By now you must have concluded that I am the world’s laziest sewer.  And this conclusion will now confirm it.  I do not baste except under extreme circumstances.  Instead, I have developed a broad knowledge of pins.  There are T-pins, craft pins, silk pins, regular pins, and really cheap pins that bend when you look at them.  I used my craft pins for this project, because they are long, and strong enough to handle the thickness of the fabric plus the lining.  The pins are also helpful in aligning the lines of the stripe to ensure a straight line through the seam.  I have a love/hate relationship with plaids, and before learning about the walking foot, spent many a tearful hour, sewing and ripping out the seams to get them aligned.  Through this experience, I learned that long needles are very helpful.  My trick is this. 

Align the fabric according to the pattern.

Place pin through center of line.

Pin through center of line design in the exact same place, top through to bottom.

Take a stitch following the same technique as above through to the top piece.

I will pin baste the pieces together until I come to a stripe.  Then, I will put the pin through the center of the stripe on one side of the piece, and poke the pin through making sure that it goes into the exact same stripe, into the center, and tack it down by pinning through the center of the line on the top piece making sure that the point ends up through the center of the bottom line.  I make sure the pin is aligned far enough past the seam allowance so that there will be no movement of the lines being sewn together.

After I have pinned the lines together, I visualize and make sure that the pattern will be properly aligned with the seam allowance, and to make sure all the vertical and horizontal lines have been joined.  Then…I sew.
Sewing the coat

Well, it had to happen.  Now we sew.  This of course requires a strong upholstery thread and denim needle.  But outside of that, the pattern, even with the lining, doesn't take any longer than 30 minutes.  The lining is sewn to the outside of the coat edges, so there is virtually no finishing to do.  As a rule I will not sew my lining to the bottom of the coat.  Gravity, not being our friend at this point, I will hem the fabric and the lining separately so that when the eventual sagging occurs, I can just quickly redo the hem.  

Because the fabric is so thick, I knew that I would not be able to put in a nice button hole.  This is why I opted for the frogs, and they complemented the  collar nicely.  There are, however, any number of links that can be used, metal, leather etc.  

After you have finished sewing, place your frogs aligned to your markings for the buttons and the button holes.  Generally the loop of the frog will be on the wearer’s right side, and the “round thingy” on the left side.  I used upholstery thread, and a zigzag stitch to tack them down.  But with some, you will need to hand sew.  

And there!   Within two hours at the most, you have a good looking, versatile and flattering coat that should survive many seasons.
Vogue 8780, can take you very nicely into spring, with the right fabric.

Pattern V8780

Next week we will turn to spring, and pattern V8780.  Before I decide on fabric, I will usually run a Google search on the fashion trends for the season.  I think I have come up with some good looks, and fabrics.  Some are included here but more are on my Pinterest site. 

There seems to be a focus on sharp angles, softened with shapeless fabrics like satin, silk or voile.  The short front of the coat helps to create this look, while eliminating fabric to avoid bulk.     Very light floating coats made from satins, silks, charmeuse and even sheers like organza, georgette, chiffon, voile, netting, etc. are very popular. Although this pattern is intended for double sided fleece fabric, any of these fabrics would be fine.  Because fleece is a thicker fabric, you will have to make an adjustment to the pattern.  But, that can easily be done by  taking a larger seam allowance.  

The advantage of  V8780 for larger women, is that it gives a great fashionably angular look, with less fabric and thus, less bulk.  The following are runway fashions I thought would be helpful in selecting the fabric, and the look of the pattern.  Can you see where I'm headed?

Thank you for joining me today, and we will take a closer look at pattern V8780 next week.  Until then, God Bless.
Planning where to place the pattern

Next, I studied the fabric.  I knew I wanted the lines going horizontally, as the pattern made more sense that way.  This meant that the fabric was going to be cut against the grain.  But, as noted before, because home décor fabric is made specifically to resist stretching out of shape in any direction, the weave will go in many directions.  So cutting against the grain with upholstery fabric is not a problem.  I further studied the fabric to decide on what direction I wanted to place the pattern.  
Did I want the dark green boarder at the top or bottom?  As you can see, I chose to put the large band with the green background at the bottom for the same reason as I put the extension to the Sherpa coat at the bottom.  The darker color would attract attention away from my rear and towards a thinner point of my body.  The length of the fabric went longer than the pattern.  Because I’m tall and need the extra length, that worked out fine for me.  
To resize the fabric for someone who is shorter, depending on how much shorter, the correction could be quite involved or very simple.  In the example fabric, each of the boarders allows you a chance to eliminate a section of the pattern without significantly altering the look of the fabric, starting from the top going down.  Alternatively, if you want the entire pattern, but just a little shorter, you could cut any excess fabric midway from the red boarder—the longest boarder, and then add cording, or a strip of some other fabric to explain the break in pattern.  Because the coat pattern is so simple, you have a number of options in trying to conform the fabric to your needs. 
Matching the pattern

Matching the pattern means studying the pattern itself to the fabric.  Lay it onto the fabric, all the pieces.
After I have thought through everything else, I will then separately go through a mental checklist on how the pattern will physically match.  There are some compromises you will have to make, you will not be able to always match your fabric pattern at all corners.  My priority, is the front, back, sides and shoulder.  

But first, what priority does the pattern set for the eye.  In this case, the focus of the coat design is the collar.  That then, will be my first priority in how I align the pattern.  And in fact, is another reason why the large green stripe was placed at the bottom of the fabric.   As a conductor might do with a fine piece of music, I allowed the pattern of the fabric to build to a crescendo along with the coat pattern, coordinating the fabric pattern to work with the coat design in pulling the eye towards the collar. 
Having determined the focus of the coat design, I studied the fabric in light of this priority.

In looking at home decor fabric there are two patterns to remember, the one close up, and than the one you see at  distance.  This fabric is designed for both views.  Therefore, I knew that the "Persian" busyness close up, would not be the pattern people initially see.  Instead, the stripes are the dominant theme of the pattern, and thus priority in matching.  
Also remember your seam allowance.  If, for instance, you are using a 1/2" seam allowance, this will throw your match off by an inch.    It is true that you should have allowed for seam allowance when cutting the pattern, however, remember that this part will disappear and that what you are trying to match is a 5/8", 1/4" or 1/2" in.  I will try and take a slightly larger seam than usual for just this reason.  If I make a mistake in alignment, I have a 1/2" to 3/4" to make the adjustment.  After all it's not that big a problem if one seam ends up 3/4" and the other is 1/4."

Generally, I am pretty lazy when it comes to marking fabric and pattern—although I usually mark darts.  You will want to mark the button holes and buttons well.  Even though I used frogs (those fabric links) placing them so that each is aligned vertically as well as horizontally is very important.  Because they are so large, it will be very obvious if they are off, even if just a little bit.  So this is something you will want to be “anal” about.  

As you can see, home decor fabric may take a little more thought before cutting out the pattern, but, because of the boldness in pattern and color, it allows you a greater opportunity to carve out a look just perfect for you. Thank you for joining me, we will finish the coat, and, move on to Pattern V8780.  This is a coat that can transition you into spring.  Until then, God Bless. 

Copyright 2014-2015 by Anne A. Sears