I am old enough to remember when schools required home economics, art and shop for all of its high school students.  The result,  has been, for many of us, that being creative, or completing a task, is limited by our imagination, not knowledge of a particular skill.  In short, we can think outside the box because we knew how to make the box, decorate the box, and fill it with whatever the occasion requires.  I mention this because this photo has sent me down another rabbit trail.  The necklace the model is wearing is beautiful and goes wonderfully with the dress.  The embroidered chiffon, light and airy, with a necklace that has a warm handmade look.  The necklace isn’t clear enough to know exactly how it is made, but, it reminds me of a decorative “badge” or “medallion” we used to make.  So today, we will, cross traditional craft boundaries, and make something that requires more patience than skill or ability.  
But, when done, I think you will find many applications for given today’s fashion.  Below are just a few I found that go far beyond the embroidery function on your sewing machine. 

For purposes of this series,  I turned my badge into jewelry, but you can applique it onto your clothes, turn it into a purse… The home spun, geometric look of these badges or medallions can create endless possibilities.
What you can do with the very simple single crochet stitch.

But wait…not only will you learn a quick and easy way to create a wonderful medallion to use wherever your fashion mind takes you, but, the single crochet stitch allows you to create outlines for flowers, dogs, skunks… or to block off an area, or just make links from one design to another. 

How dense or how light that chain looks depends on the thickness of the thread and the size of the crochet hook.  For instance, I used a size 4 crochet hook with bulky yarn.  The result is a very tight chain.  However, notice what happens when I use a slightly smaller crochet hook, 3.5 on upholstery thread.  Now imagine this with a metallic thread doubled up with multi colored rayon.  The combinations are endless and, blocking off areas with this size would give you a netting or lace effect, over your fabric. 

Review last week’s blog on options to adhering the decorative chain onto your fabric.  There is one other option.  Depending on how thick your decorative chain, and the design, you may just want to sew it with clear nylon thread.  I won’t lie, I have a love hate relationship with nylon thread, it’s great when the stars align...a nightmare when they don’t.  But, it’s a good inexpensive solution.
So…how do you do this miracle working stitch?

I am a knitter, and have been for many moons.  In fact, a learned in Scotland from my Aunt who, strange as it sounds, taught me the American style of knitting, not the European.  And, like most knitters, I crochet only when required.  So a will teach you the lazy knitter’s approach to crocheting.  


1.            Tie a knot at the end of your yarn.

2.            With the crochet hook in your right hand (if you are right handed, so the reverse if left handed) stick the crochet needle into the knot with the hook up

3              Holding the tail with your right hand grab the thread with your left and pull it over the hook in between the hook and the loop.

4              Pull the hook through the loop.  And, if everything is done correctly, you will also carry the yarn through the loop and…voila, you have created your first stitch.  Keep going and before long you will have a chain.  If you pull the yarn through the loop, and the stitch disappears, it’s because you didn’t hold the tail down and the knot unraveled.  Fear not, just use the stitch created as your first, and keep on going.

5              You have created a continuous linked chain which will unravel if you start trying to cut it.  At the end, cut the thread and pull it through the loop, this will stop the chain from unraveling.  It is better, working with this chain, to create the exact length you need   But, if you do cut, cut a stitch before so you have slack to pull the cut thread through the last loop.

Hopefully by now you are thinking…this is it?!  Yes…this is it.  Now, if you want to make a sweater, scarf…socks, talk to a crocheter…for something that large, you will need to learn how to hold the hook to prevent injury to your hand, and different stitches to get through the project faster.  However, what you have learned today, will allow you to create everything discussed, boarders and…next week’s project.
You will need

1)            Scissors

2)            Crochet hook (If you don’t have one size 5 might be a good universal size, not too big or too small)

3)            Yarn, cotton (as we are going into summer you might want to use cotton) or, very thick thread

Thank you for joining me, practice with string, yarn, strips of cloth, you will be surprised at the wonderful trims and art you can create for your cloths.  

Until next week, God Bless.
Floral is a standard pattern that you will find each year.  This year is no exception, but there is a particular fabric pattern I think very flattering to larger women.  There are a number of styles where the flowers are bunched in a bouquet around the middle and chest and then fall down the skirt.  If you are unable to find fabric that has this pattern don’t forget you can do it yourself.  

It will take a little work, but possibly not as much as you would think.  The example I give will be for a dress, but you can do the same thing just as dramatically with a shirt and skirt, midriff shirt and pants, jacket and pants, the machinations are endless.  

Find a fabric with the floral pattern in the color pallet that you like.  Then, find a solid fabric that goes with the fabric.  Given today’s fashion, you can go with a cotton, chiffon, silk—the matching fabric does not have to be the same as the flora.  You are going to cut the bodice of the dress in the floral fabric. Then, cut out a petal design from the floral fabric to applique onto your solid fabric.  You may want to vary the size of the petal.  Cut out as many as you would like.  These petals will cascade from you waist down to the bottom of the skirt and collect again, giving you a boarder of flower petals at the bottom of the dress.  You may want to make larger petals for the boarder, because this should be the focus of your dress after the bodice. 
I did a google search and found this at Clipartbest.com.  There are any number of patterns to choose from.

Now that you have all these petals, how do you put them on?  There are several options.  
1)            Fabritac glue.  This glue has a very good reputation for being strong and washable.  It cannot be dry cleaned.  So whatever you make should be something you can just throw into the washer.  The glue takes a while to adhere, so give it a 24 period before drying to work with it again.  First, using a fray check (you don’t need to waste your glue on this) go around the outside of your petals and trim any fraying area.  Pin the petals in place.  If you like what you see--start gluing.  WARNING—you will not be able to remove the glue on the fabric once it is down, so if you make a mistake, you will have a permanently glued spot if you choose to move the petal elsewhere.  Repin the petal in place and wait for it all to dry.  If you are going to bunch the petals at the bottom, and overlap them, you may want to let the glue with the first layer dry before developing the second layer.

2)            Wonder Under.  This is the most popular technique used for doing fabric applique.  It is a web adhesive you can buy at the fabric store.  Double sided, you iron it onto the petal and then remove the backing and iron the petal onto the fabric.  Once the web is on the petal, trim the frayed edge and then iron it to the fabric.  Done correctly, this will be a forever bond.  You do not have to wait 24 hours for drying, and can build your look as soon as the bond cools from ironing.

3)            Hand stitch the petals.  This may not be as onerous a task as you think.  It is very popular to have petals rising from the skirt giving a three dimensional look.  First you will want to glue the edges (FrayCheck or Fabritac glue) and trim.  Then, in the center of the petal, stitch the petal to the fabric.  Do this to all the petals.  This look would be especially nice with chiffon on chiffon, but I have seen it done beautifully with a variety of fabrics. 

I anticipate the project would only take a day.  Remember the petals will act the same way as polka dots, so be careful of you dark and light areas.

Today’s styles not only let you conform style to fit your look…but have a little fun doing it.  Below, I have included a few more variations to inspire you.

Thank you for joining me I look forward to meeting with you next week, until then, God Bless.

Why do we have pattern?

Believe it or not, there is something of a history behind pattern.  I discussed the reasons for it in home décor, but there are also reasons in fashion fabrics too. There is, of course, the tribal reason, to help distinguish friend or foe.  It was also used to distinguish rank within a community.  More importantly, it was developed to help women stand out, without really standing out.  Ah….we are a complicated bunch.  In any community, there is always an underlying competition among women, trying to attract the perfect man or keep him.  But, within that community of women, an unwritten rule not to make the others look too bad, or you too different.  We are to be “distinctively conformed.”  

So, how do you do this when your community has all the same tools for making clothes, limited dyes and fabrics from which to make them?  In other words, if a tunic is a tunic is a tunic how then do you make yourself “distinctively conformed.”  Yes…you guessed it…through pattern.
Calico is a prime example of a pattern that allows women to be “distinctively conformed.”  If you look at it up close, the patterns swirl and then course along the fabric at a frantic pace.  From a distance, however, all the colors and pattern blend together creating a look that is unified, almost solid in color, but inexplicably captivating and lively.  
Fashion designers have taken these traditional patterns, and played with them past their traditional looks.  However, I would point out that for all the change, the use of pattern hasn’t changed that much. The goal is still, “distinctive conformity.”
Again with the Animal Prints

A type of print that is gaining in popularity, I guess because of our new digital graphics, is portrait or themed prints.  They are beautiful.  I haven’t seen fashion dress fabric in the stores yet, but it usually takes a year or two before they show up.  

These fabrics are great for large, especially tall women.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we have room to tell a story.  These fabrics allow us to be fascinating.  

With the prints, there are several things to remember. 

1.  If the pattern repeats along a line, vertically or horizontally, treat it like a stripe.

2.  If it is irregularly repeating, treat it like a polka dot.

3.  Be very careful where various elements of the pattern will fall on you.

4.  Take a good look at the dark areas and the light areas.  And where they’ll fall.  

5.  Make sure you select a pattern that will allow the story to be well displayed.

They seem to be using this fabric with long dresses, specifically sarongs, but, so long as you are “getting the story out” how this is done is not as important.  For instance, a shirt and skirt or a shirt and pants.  A long jacket and shirt and pants or skirt.  A long jacket and shorts.  In fact, you could do a short dress and purse or a short pants and umbrella.  There are patterns for virtually everything now, including umbrellas and purses.  

My point is that if you select an outfit, or if your body is not well suited for displaying all of the pattern, there are many paths to achieving the same goals.

Please see my blog on home décor fabrics, specifically, on the bird panel for tips on sewing up this type of large print fabric.
Polka Dots

When discussing polka dots the phrase, “It is better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all” comes to mind.  Style, color and size of the polka dot all come into play. But there are certain combinations that seem to look very nice on large women. 

Much of this has to do with the eye, perspective and optical illusions.  So, for instance, an extra-large white dot in a black background will highlight only the white dot—thus giving the illusion of less volume.  However, a medium or large black or dark dot, tricks the eye into seeing depth.  And, therefore, less volume in between the color.  In this case, the light or white medium dot does just the opposite.  And the white dots can add a look of volume.  

Having said this, a medium sized white  or light dot can be very flattering with a dark back ground.  As seen in the blue and white dress, to your right.

The reverse again, occurs with a small dark dot and light background.  You will find a dark background with a small light dot looks better.

Polka dots can give you a lively exuberant look and, if done well, slenderize and flatter. Do not fear, they are your friend, and do belong, and are a must, for any large or tall woman’s wardrobe.  

Thank you for visiting, God Bless and see you next week.

As blogs allow flits down various rabbit holes, I thought while we are still discussing “building your look” to review what to do if you can’t find a pattern that works.  How then do you “build” your own style?  

The solution requires a little work, but perhaps not as much as you might anticipate.  Taking our jacket pattern as an example, since we will be discussing animal prints, what if we wanted the back to have a diagonal zebra print at the bottom of the jacket back a leopard skin pattern at the top with a black and white vertical strip in the front?  

Easy peezy…but I have three cautions.  


First, you don’t have to use the same type of fabric for each piece in the jacket but pre-wash all the pieces for shrinkage.  Also, lighter fabrics  through wear will tear when sewn to heavier fabrics, so you will need to strengthen the seams to strengthen your lighter fabric.  

Second, seams add bulk to your fabric, so the more you have the stiffer certain areas will be.

Third, if you are alternating pieces against the grain, you will have some fabrics with too much stretch and some with none.  Depending on the style, a little stretch around the hips might be a good thing, around the back…not so much, because you will end up with puckering.

What you will need:

810 Tru grid.  
This graph paper is sold by the yard and because of the grids, allows you to make alternations with a little more accuracy.


1. Copy all your pattern pieces onto the grid paper and cut them out.

2. With the pattern copied onto the grid paper, cut out the pieces for the style you want.  This is more like a jig saw puzzle now, so have at it.

3.  As you cut your pieces, some will have seam allowance others will not.  Mark those sides that have the seam allowance.

4.  Number your pieces so you have an idea where each is to fit, i.e. back bottom 1, etc.

5.  Once done, put your pieces back onto the grid paper and recut, this time allowing for a seam allowance for those sides that don’t have one.

6.  Sew the pattern up with muslin, and with a marker, mark the direction of your fabric patterns to see if your proportions are correct, seams are appropriate, and the design looks right. 

7.  If yes, then sew up your jacket.  If no, since you have preserved your original pattern, you can always start over.  One note, don’t be afraid of playing with the seam allowance.  By lengthening one piece, with a ¼” seam allowance, and shorting another with an 1”, it might be all you need to make the look work.

Well…that was fun…now back to topic.
Animal Prints.

Animal prints are a timeless look, especially if you go with the more traditional colors.  And, they are a wonderful way for large women to add life and excitement to their wardrobe.  After all, I figure if the pattern looks good on a 200 to 300 pound cat—it’s going to look good on me.  

This year animal prints are not high on the fashion offerings, but they will always be offered.  Leopard is the most popular.  And, strangely, if you get it in the traditional brown and black print, with average sized spots, the pattern looks quite nice on large women.  I think it may have something to do with the black dots adding a depth to the fabric, and the brown acting as the dominant color.  Anyway, as demonstrated by Kim Kardashian, wide hips rule, especially when covered in leopard print.

Other popular prints are snake skin and zebra. Note: although the stripe is obvious with the zebra, it isn't with the snake skin.  You will want to treat the snake skin as if you are working with a stripe. 

But, you are not limited to these prints, I remind you that virtually any animal print is available in the home décor department, in any fabric such as alligator, peacock—fowl, bovine, canine or feline it’s there.  Quilting will also provide you with a wide selection of prints.  The vendor to your right offers tiger, cow, cheetah, as well as leopard, zebra and snake skin.  

What I have noticed is that if you get the patterns close to their original coloring and pattern size, they all blend very nicely together.  You can have what should appear like a cacophony of cow, leopard, zebra and snake, look quite nice.  Don’t go overboard, but these natural patterns don’t fight against each other.    The following is a selection of fabrics and styles I thought could give you ideas to build on.  Please check out my Pinterest site for even more ideas.

Thank you for visiting, and have a blessed week. 
This year is “crazy” with pattern and provides tremendous opportunities for large and tall women.   Of course, I realize I keep saying this but, what exactly do I mean?   

Well….I mean this.

In a perfect world, the perfect dress, pant, jacket, skirt or shirt, will fall on you in a way that minimizes what you would want minimized and maximizes what you want maximized.  Because of the explosive use of pattern this year, the large and tall woman can actually make that perfect dress.  
Marcy Tilton, at  http://www.marcytilton.com/  is one of many designers who are now creating patterns that allow you to build a look.  I am familiar with this designer principally through her association with Vogue patterns.  This year I see a lot of her "influence."    Whether you are 16 or 70, you might find it helpful to take a look at her work.  

This dress to your right, for instance, can be as daring or as tame as you want, with diagonal stripes, calico-- a soft floral…or all three combined.  Built just for you.

I hope, during this next series of blogs to show you some wonderfully effective “building” techniques, used by today's designers.  

the wonderful world of stripes

Stripes can be very effective and flattering, but done wrong, your worst disaster.  It is beyond me why fashion designers insist on clothing large women in thin horizontal stripes.   The dress to your far right is passible, but the other two are just not fair.  REALLY!!!

I am a firm supporter of bold, wider lines.  For instance, the middle dress has the right idea.  It is creating a thinning illusion but, where is the style?  It is not daring, the monotony of the thin stripe makes it less appealing than a candy striper.  

Sadly, the dress on the far right is not appropriate for a large woman.  Again, the lines are too thin, and all you are going to see is a big fat bumble bee…like the one on the far left.  (Which I am not even going to discuss.)  The diagonal cut is excellent, but the black lines should gradually widen going down the skirt, and gradually widen going from the waist up the bodice.  The lines on the sleeve are probably fine.  
Right are dresses with thin stripes, but notice all three break the monotony of the horizontal lines.  Furthermore, although all three have the same stripe width, because the lines vary directionally, a thinning look is created for the hips and waist.

Thin stripes are not out, just use with caution.  You will notice that the busyness of the jacket is used to focus the eyes into the center.  Creating the same effect as the dress below. 
In this dress bold, large stripes are going vertically along the hips and because the horizontal stripes are more intense (it could be an illusion, but the black and white lines look a little thinner), you immediately see the short vertical stripes.  Thus by visually breaking up the space, but in a way that focuses the attention on a narrow front panel, a wonderful thinning illusion is created.

Here are a few more designers I thought made very effective use of stripes.

And of course, check out my Pinterest site for even more great stripes.
Yes, you can fail with wide stripes, but here the stripes are not put into a context.

Nicely done.
This site http://www.fashiontofigure.com/ had some very nice ideas.  Why does this dress work?Much thinner stripe, but notice bold black diagonal stripe, irregular hem and short sleeves.  The smaller stripe creates more of a background look so that the object of the design is the black stripe.

Notice the stripes although thin, are diagonal


Copyright 2014-2015 by Anne A. Sears