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How do you fool the eye?

sewelegant | Posted in Fitting on

I wrote this to Gailete in response to her note in the “Tips For Spring Cleaning” thread, but changed it to this heading to keep from further sabotaging that topic.  Her name did not come up on the TO list so could not put it in.

I know the reason I have so much trouble fitting myself is because that is exactly what I am doing… fitting myself!  It’s all a bit of trial and error.  I have asked for help but it has not been from someone who understood what I wanted and you probably know who that is.  Ah well.  My younger daughter is a great help, but she lives miles away and I see her about 2x a year.  I haven’t been sewing enough in the past 10 years to be as proficient at it as I once was either.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Every time I read about fitting I think I’ve got it solved, but I’m still working on it!  Hot weather is coming up and I get so tired of having nothing to wear that is decent enough to go out among ’em in.  Layering does not work for hot weather.  Sleeveless garments make me feel  uncomfortable and I detest pants in hot weather, so there’s my dilemma.  I have two or three loose fitting A-line knit dresses I purchased that are just right, but they need replacing and I cannot find any light weight pretty knits to sew with.  I’ve tried the cotton like the quilting cotton, but it just doesn’t drape well.  I ordered some voile I liked on the EmmaOneSock site this spring and it would be perfect, but I was thinking blouse not dress when I got it so do not have enough fabric for a dress.

I should be sending this to you email because it has nothing to do with spring cleaning!

I also got my buttonholes finished.  By loosening the stitch length just a turn the buttonholer decided that’s all it needed.  That was after ripping 3 times.  I would try it on my test fabric piece and it would work fine, but get hung up on the garment.  I was ready to hand sew the things.  To be fair to the machine and the company that made it… I finally opened my user guide to buttonholes and was refreshed on a few things I had forgotten like adjusting the tension.

Have you discovered any good ways to dress “cool” and still look good?  (I’ve lost some extra wt, but not enough to want to display what no one wants to see)  My goal is to camoflage not emphasize, does that make any sense?


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    Many of us have your same dilemma!  There were many good suggestions in a similarly themed discussion last year; perhaps you can find it in the archives. (I'm not so good a using that feature, but others are.)

    As we approach our first 100-degree day of the year, I still have to dress professionally and cope with frigid air conditioning.  Although linen is good for the heat, it isn't very comfortable until it has been laundered a lot, and I hate wasting water to get it that way before wearing it.  But linen shirts with twill or denim straight skirts or slacks work well for the office. 

    To fool the eye, darker, solid colors, with prints or embellishments only on the tops, and then only around the collar/neckline area.  A navy polo shirt works with almost anything and disguises lumps and bumps in the mid-section; I bought three of them and alternate them with linen, cotton, or rayon shirts.  A nice black rayon or microfiber tee is classic, as are wrap or A-line skirts, if those are flattering for you.

    I wish I could say I'm all ready for the heat, but I'm not; it's far easier to sit in front of the house fan!

    1. sewelegant | | #4

      You know, I remember reading those posts last year... I'll have to look them up again because there were some excellent suggestions.  We are lucky most of the year because the weather here is not too cold or too hot. The sun is butal when there are no clouds (June through October) and the Santa Anas can be bad, but most of the time we do not need the a.c.; the house stays cool until mid afternoon and as soon as the sun goes down so does the temp, unless we are having a particularly hot summer.  The valley we live in gets an ocean breeze and that is good except it also means frost in the winter and we have to protect our plants just as though we lived in a colder clime.  I have lived in many other climates so know I have nothing to complain about, it's just that I get a bit lethargic when the temp gets past 80.  I like your ideas for clothing; it sounds flattering.  I always like navy blue with a small print.  I have not sewed with the microfiber, but I think it is a good, breathable fabric, is it not?  More and more I see unusual things written on the fabric content labels and I know my husband has several golf shirts he really likes that are microfiber.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #5

        Microfiber, the new polyester, spun fibers so tiny that they actually wick away moisture. Cool in summer, warm in winter. They actually got it to mimic naturals this time. Yes, you would like it. The only downside I have found to it is it still has a nasty habit of attracting oils. Upside to it is that it washes out better! :) Some of them actually feel more like real silk! Nothing feels like real silk, but some microfibers have that "sticky" feel that silk has. And they do drape so beautifully. Cathy

        1. sewelegant | | #6

          The wicking may be exactly why he likes it.  I have noticed the silk like texture and at first did not like that, but am getting used to it.  As for finding it to sew with - I have not looked.  I always shop visually when in a fabric shop and probably almost never with something definite in mind.  That's probably why I have a "stash".  Another reason is probably because I would rather read Gatherings than get back to the drawing board!  Summers almost here and all I have finished is one blouse, drat.  I always think I have so much time until it's almost gone.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #7

            Do not laugh, I am just finishing up last summer's dress! I have put in the invisible zip twice and ripped it twice now.... and it is supposed to be easier.... I still hate zippers! Somehow still get my knickers in a knot about it. tee hee hee. I have some lovely new stash that I have promised myself, when I get this one done.... Cathy

          2. sewelegant | | #8

            I'm glad I am not alone!  Also, I know zippers have been mentioned numerous times before, but I no longer resent them since I started using this technique (I think Sandra Betzina also uses this) of first basting the seam closed then ironing it open.  Next, push all the fabric except one seam alowance to one side.  open the zipper and lay the teeth butted right up to the seam line and sew the zipper tape to the  seam allowance.  Close the zipper. (make sure you have it correct so you will be able to open the zipper when you're garment is done!)  This makes the rest of the insertion a snap, in my opinion.  All I need to do now is lay the garment flat and with the zipper in place, pin it at intervals - horizontally, across the teeth, to keep it in place as I sew.  Most of the time I will sew each side separately in the same direction so the fabric will not distort.  The zipper will not go anywhere as you sew because it is anchored.

            I also have the 1630 Bernina and I always move the stitch length to a 3 instead of where it automatically comes up (2).  The 3 stitch length is much easier to deal with, especially if I have to rip, ha ha, but it is also much closer to normal.

            edit:  This is for regular zippers not the invisible, but I'm sure you figured that out.  I just reread your note and thought I'd better specify.

            Edited 5/16/2009 3:00 pm by sewelegant

            Edited 5/17/2009 12:25 am by sewelegant

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #12

            Thanks for the tip on the stitch length. I always stitch from top to bottom on all my zips any way I put them in. I just managed to get an accidental extra twist when I put the zip in this time, must have been tired when I was doing it, tee hee hee. I am going to baste it in and makes extra sure it is right this time. A stitch in time saves nine. Should have basted it in in the first place. The hurrier you goes, the behinder ya gets.....
            Since I have now practiced the insertion twice now, even if it went wrong, I do have to say I like the invisible zippers.... Cathy
            PS I have seen Sandra Betzina's method before. It is similar to the one I use, with a few modifications.

            Edited 5/17/2009 11:30 am ET by ThreadKoe

          4. MaryinColorado | | #29

            have you tried double sided adhesive basting tape?  I get it from http://www.nancysnotions.com for making bias binding, but it works great for zippers too!  Sorry I didn't mention this sooner, it's been awhile since I've put in a zipper.  Mary

  2. gailete | | #2

    I usually wear skirts and tops year round as they are more comfortable for me. I wear a pair of pants when I go see the chiropractor or pull on some corduroy ones to go out and get the mail when it is snowy, but after years of wearing them I avoid them now. However, I have been wanting a dress to have for things like church and the occasional funeral, wedding, etc. I finally found a pattern I like from Simplicity (don't know the number off hand it is upstairs) that I finished cutting out today and hope to sew this weekend. It is basically a loose-fitting A-line dress with a piece at the front where ties come out and tie in the back so it is adjustable for weight fluctuations. I'm making it in a blue silky polyester and hope it turns out okay. My hubby will help me fit things, but sometimes, it is the pattern itself and the tummy that gets in the way. since I'm tall, I'm planning on dropping the tie piece about an inch down so it should hit about where it does on the model and I am also dropping the side seam pocket to coincide (otherwise if I left the pocket in the right place the ties would cover it) and plan on only one pocket instead of the two it calls for.

    If this dress turns out, I plan on making a couple more as it looks like it should be cool and comfortable and other than docs, groceries, church I rarely go out so it doesn't matter if I wear the same design everyday. I'm uncomfortable enough most of the time, I don't want clothes that make me miserable.

    Its funny but when my hubby helps me with fitting, he is always trying to get my tops tighter than I ever wear them as I've been 'hiding' lots of fat over the years. The funny thing is he is right usually. When I take in an extra inch on both sides I tend to look slimmer! I spent too many years in scrubs and extra loose clothes I think.


    1. sewelegant | | #3

      I think that's it!  I want to be able to move when I wear clothes so I always tend to make things too big.  100% polyester has been banished from my fabric stash because I just cannot wear it without burning up.  Oh, I take that back, I saw the most beautiful sheer rose print and had to buy enough to make a very loose fitting jacket that will be flowing and not button.  I'm hoping it will not be too warm as I am planning on it being part of my wardrobe for a trip to Hawaii in Sept.  I really hope your dress turns out perfect because I think there is nothing cooler than a loose dress when the weather gets so hot.  I always pull out my 100% cotton lounge dress when the temp gets around 85-90.  It was a quilting fabric so does not drape like I would like it to but as it gets more wear it is getting softer and more comfortable.  I like it 'cause you don't need a slip.

      1. KharminJ | | #9

        If you've been looking for rayon dress fabric, there IS some at JoAnn's these days! Unfortunately, most of it is mixed in with the "Silky Prints" and not separated from the usual polyesters. Kharmin, just home from the fabric mines.

        1. sewelegant | | #10

          Thank you Kharmin, I will have to look.  I was in JoAnn's today, just briefly, I was going to pick up the latest Threads magazine with my $40% off coupon but could not find even one.  (I am wondering if they are holding back the current issue until the new coupon goes into effect? Oh, I have a high opinion of them don't I? Or maybe everyone is doing what I am doing trying to beat the high cost of the mag. and I just missed out!)  I will look again later.  Maybe Threads should be happy to know that their magazine always sells out, in my area anyway.

          1. KharminJ | | #11

            I really don't know what the deal is, but I don't think you've missed it at your JA, 'cuz it hasn't shown up at mine yet, either!I do know that we have an outside contractor stock and maintain the magazines, so that may be where the hangup is. Also, Threads kind of floats around - for the longest time it was at the end of the mags rack, then moved across from the cashiers, and #142 (with the CD) was in an end cap, right by resister 4. So, be sure to look in "unusual" places, too.Bright Blrssings! K

          2. MaryinColorado | | #28

            I've been getting my Threads mag. at Barnes and Noble on a regular basis for about a year now.  Gave up on finding it at Joannes.  I am attempting to attatch photo of sundress I made last year from Rayon batik from Joannes.  I need to take it in a bit this year, it is hanging on me!  Mary

        2. Teaf5 | | #21

          You found rayon at JoAnn's? That's very good news! I didn't realize that it might be mixed in with the polyesters, which I cannot use. Thanks for the tip; a few rayon blouses and shirts help me get through our hot summers, but I haven't been able to make new ones for a few years because I couldn't find rayon locally.

      2. gailete | | #13

        Happy to report that my dress is fitting me and I only have to hem bottom and sleeves and bind the neck. Big problem though--STATIC CLING!!! What is the current cure? I haven't had a problem with this in years and hubby very tactfully made sure that I realized that the dress was clinging very well to my backside crack! I did like the way his eyes lit up when he saw me as he doesn't particularly like the color blue, but this dress is an awesome shade and looks really good on me. If I could just get rid of the cling. I plan on making several more of these dresses only in cotton or cotton blends to avoid the static factor. So glad to finally make something that fits!

        I'll be finishing it as soon as I get through this current flare-up. I really could do without arthritis.


        1. miatamomma | | #14

          I have used a small amount of a non-greasy hand lotion on my panty hose when I have been bothered with static cling on my legs.


          1. gailete | | #17

            I haven't had a pair of panty hose on in about 8 years--rather difficult to wrestle them on after knee replacements along with all the aches and pains. Do you think just putting the lotion on my skin would work? I really hate the thought of buying something, and didn't know if some new 'secret' had come about in the last 10 years to deal with the problem.


        2. starzoe | | #15

          There is a spray called "static guard" which reduces static cling. You'll find it at the grocery store. It's sprayed on clothing before wearing.

          1. gailete | | #16

            I was hoping not to have to go out and buy something :(.


          2. Teaf5 | | #18

            Rinsing in cold water and line-drying can help, especially if you can avoid ironing.  Baby powder on the inside of the skirt or on your lingerie or skin also breaks the static barrier.  I can't use fabric softener, but my sister swears by it.

          3. gailete | | #19

            Definitely it will be washed in cold water and line dried--None of my stuff goes through the dryer. It is a crinkle fabric so I can't really iron it without ironing out the crinkles. I will try the baby powder as we have some of that here. Thanks for the idea. Between hand lotion and baby powder on my legs, something should work. I'm almost done with the dress.


          4. Ceeayche | | #22

            try tossing it in the dryer on low heat or air dry with a dryer sheet.  I also find tossing similarly colored damp towels in the same cycle works too.  The garment only needs to stay in about 15 minutes, and you can continue the cycle with the towels (not wasting energy that way).  I then hang the dress for about 10 minutes and voila.  I've found it very effective with rayon and acryllic.  Usually my routine is toss in dryer while i shower, let it hang while I finish make up and hair.... and out the door!


          5. gailete | | #23

            I finally found some dryer sheets (I don't usually need them with my washer/dryer combo) dampened one and patted it over the dress. Then tucked it into a zipper style plastic sandwich bag and when I got out of the car I patted my dress all over again in the parking lot. Seemed to worked. But I did stop and get myself a can of Static Guard as the dryer sheet was a bit messy and left an odor on my hands. But it did work!


          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #25

            I may be right out of my mind here, but I seem to recall seeing or reading somewhere that if you put a small safety pin in the seam allowance near the hem of your static y garment, it is supposed to reduce the static. I have not tried it myself, but it might be worth a whirl. Cathy

        3. MaryinColorado | | #30

          congratulations on your progress with the blue dress.  Baby powder on the body, Static Guard on the dress works for me.  Mary

          1. gailete | | #31

            Thank you Mary. I'll try to remember the baby powder. The dress fits me great and I have some ideas for some slight changes to make it the perfect summer dress.


  3. junctioncats | | #20

    You know what, all of my life, people think I'm far slimmer than I actually am. I stand 5'10" and weigh a little over 165 (vanity prevents me from telling the right number here, lol). I have ALWAYS dressed to fool other's eyes, but never realized it until just recently.Never, ever ever wear dresses, skirts, or blouses with all-over prints, UNLESS the print is monochrome. I have a great circle skirt I made that is tiny white flowers on a navy background and it is tres slimming.Never wear anything with embellishments around the areas you want to "reduce". In other words, if you wear a V-neck shirt with a low V, you do NOT want something to draw the eye to the bustline. Same with pants or skirts. Especially stay away from anything with a contrasting waistband.When looking for fabric, stay with basic colors. While that fuschia linen may look great on the bolt, it might not flatter your hips. All of my slacks are solid colors of navy, black, brown, dark green, medium green, and white (believe it or not). My favorite outfit is a pair of white slacks and a navy pinstriped double breasted blazer. It hides the hips, blazer is slightly fitted at the waist (but not much), and because it has brass buttons, no one seems to notice that there's a few extra pounds underneath it all. I have a friend who is brutally honest when I take her either clothes-shopping or fabric shopping. I had to develop a thick skin, since it isn't pleasant hearing that the lovely printed fabric you just have to have, is going to look horrible. But she's the best because she protects "me" from "me". Hope this helps you!Susan

    1. sewelegant | | #26

      You have some excellent ideas on how to "fool the eye".  I can't believe the number of dresses I have half sewn and discarded because I knew I would never wear them!!!  I know all over designs are bad, but I keep buying them.  Some work, some don't, most don't.  I'm sure that is one of the biggest reasons for my "stash" too, because I might love the fabric and know in my heart it isn't going to work.  At least It's still around to admire and dream about if it's untouched.  One consolation is what one of my young granddaughters said when her daddy told her grandma was coming for a visit:  "Is it the one who wears pretty dresses?"  So at least I know one other person liked my choice of fabrics.  Most of the time I wear monochromatic outfits because I am short - 5'3" and it just looks better, but it gets boring.

      I like your white pants.  I am afraid to go that route, but with the pinstripe blazer, now that's a good thing.  Thanks.

  4. Ceeayche | | #24

    A couple of years ago, I took a four hour fitting class at one of our sewing expos.    We had to bring in a blouse pattern of our choosing.  We all took measurements (with the assistance of others) from head to toe (getting an accurate neck to waist measurement was always a challenge alone).  Though I learned a few fitting tricks, the biggest take away was a basic blouse pattern that has been adjusted for my body with the assistance of someone else doing pinning and adjustments.

    When I got home I made the blouse in basic white cotton, and it fit beautifully.  I changed it up with different fabrics and modified the placement of buttons, added trim on one, etc.  Then it turned out I could use it to adjust other patterns easily, just match up the bust points and the waistline and slash and spread the pattern to fit the bodice.  Once I adjust everything from belly to shoulder, the rest is easy for dresses and blouses. 

    Been thinking about taking a similar course in October when the expo comes to town, this time for pants. 

  5. MaryinColorado | | #27

    I've made some very comfortable summer dresses from Rayon bali batiks (not the sheer rayon, but it is lightweight) wash n wear.  http://www.equilter.com has some and so does Joannes out here.  This year I hope to make some multi panel long skirts with a drawstring waist.  I'm on a long sabbatical away from those fitting issues!  Mary

    1. sewelegant | | #32

      Thank you Mary for that site!  I love the rayon Bali Butik fabric and finding it is a bit of a hassle.  It appears like this is a treasure trove.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #33

        You're welcome!  Equilter is advertised in most of the major sewing magazines, including Threads at different times.  They started their business in Boulder, Colorado in their garage and have been blessed with a large business and now have a huge warehouse.  Luana Rubin is a fabric and quilt designer too, a very talented lady.  They have excellent customer service too!  (They also have a forum, but it is very strict and mostly about quilting and some fiber arts.)  By the way, I'm not affiliated in any way, except as a very satisfied customer.  They also carry magazines, books, thread, notions, etc.  Mary

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