11 August 2007


For some strange reason, I've been very interested in clothing and my personal style lately.

If you knew me, this would startle you. One of the primary joys in being a housewife, at least to me, is that I don't have to dress up. I can live my life in jeans, t-shirts, and Tevas (or snowboots and sheepskin slippers, depending on the season). I startle my fashion-crazy 11 year old daughter when I wear a vest over solid color tee.

But last winter I hit 50. 30 was liberating, 40 went by without my noticing it, but 50 ... I have a hard time believing that I now qualify to join AARP. I don't look 50, don't act 50 (what 50 year old woman would take a jujitsu class and learn to do rolls, falls, and flips?), and I just don't feel 50.

But I am 50. My hair has enough grey in it to notice, and my body has changed shape while I wasn't looking. I'm a little stiff when I get out of bed in the morning.

A couple weeks ago I found myself browsing the What not to Wear BBC show. I realized I'd be a great victim -- sorry, candidate for the show. I wear baggy jeans, and my shirts either come from the men's department or are so plain they disappear. I'm a hard size to fit, so my thoughts turned to sewing. I haven't made clothes for myself since I sewed 2 pairs of maternity pants when pregnant with the above-mentioned 11 year old, though I've done the odd halloween costume and girl's skirt.

Things have changed in garment sewing. First, none of the local "fabric" stores sells garment fabric for daily wear clothes. The one closest to me devotes about 2/3 the floor space to crafts, half the rest to home decorating. and half the rest to quilting. The remaining 1/12 the square footage contains mostly silky polyester, sequins attached to netting, and fabric seen only on figure skating costumes. My daughter loves to go there, but I could scream! I finally did find one bolt of natural-color linen-rayon for a pair of summer pants.

Second, and much better news, there are a few patterns designed for "the mature figure". Sewing guru Sandra Betzina did what the major pattern houses never do -- she measured a batch of women who sew, and used those measurements to draft patterns that fit. [Vogue sells them, under strict orders not to mess with them.] I bought a pants pattern from this line and am making them up. We'll see if they fit better than one of those pairs of maternity pants -- though I had made a smaller size than I usually wear, you could have fit me and a sumo wrestler inside them.

So, over the next week I'll be working on the pants. I'll let you now how they come out. I've also thought a lot lately about personal style and appropriateness of clothing; i'll share that info too.

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