Welcome to my stop on the House of Curves blog tour. You have already met two pretty amazing, curvy bloggers and now it is my turn to introduce myself.
I am going to take you back to the beginning…
Growing up, my mom had a sewing machine and several times I attempted to learn to sew on it. Something was weird with that machine and we never did get it to work right. Home Ec class came in school and my heart shaped lacy pillow was oblong and ugly and my felt football was lumpy and dumb. Why did I need a felt football anyhow?? Fast forward about 15-20 years, I mentioned to my grandma that I wanted to learn to sew. Actually, I think I wanted to hem my own pants and stop paying someone to shorten them for me. My grandma made wonderful things and always had a sewing machine out. She picked me up an antique sewing machine at a yard sale and promptly informed me she didn’t know how to use it. 🙂 The outfit to the left is made of the Sittin’ Pretty top and the Wrap Skirt. Both are from Ellie and Mac.
Since I also didn’t know how I sew, I learned by winging it! I watched a lot of youtube clips and read a lot of books. I made a very, very wonky quilt on a machine that didn’t reverse, zig zag, or even make a nice straight line. I finished my first quilt top on that antique machine, but within a few days, I bought a new machine! I spent a few years making lovely quilts before I started refashioning thrift store clothing. Some things would be almost wearable, some not at all. I had no understanding of how to make clothing to fit, how to sew properly, or how to size things. I bought a few patterns when they were on sale and I always sewed the largest available size option. Still nothing fit correctly. I didn’t realize most of the paper pattern companies drafted for a B-C cup. I didn’t realize my biceps were larger than normal in my size and that my hips are butt were less curvy than other ladies. (ok, I did know that.) In the PDF world, a few designers are drafting with a full bust adjusted pattern included. That just means they saved me some of the work. 5oo4 patterns and Bella Sunshine Designs both do this. Momma and Me in matching Virginia Maxi Dresses from 5oo4.
Why did I begin testing?
When I stumbled on plus size sewing groups on Facebook I knew I was ready to learn. I commented on another seamstress’s outfit one day and we hit it off. We now refer to each other as “bestie” and she has really been a sewing mentor for me. We both just wanted to help plus size ladies feel good about themselves! When I got my serger, she stayed up and talked me through setting the tension right and threading and it was a very long night! She also got me into testing. Maybe I should be blaming all of this on her!!
My first test was at Bella Sunshine Designs in October of 2017 and it was the Sahara top. I asked 739 questions during the test, but I really wanted to learn. I kept apologizing to them, but I wanted so badly to get it correct. This was the first test I applied to and was lucky enough to get in. I think I have either tested or sewn every plus size pattern of theirs since. I was SO PROUD when my garment fit. Just shy of a year later and I am still wearing this one. I love it as much now as the day I took this pic. I learned how to do a bicep adjustment on this pattern and that made a world of different in my sewing. Several months later, I made a video to teach others how to do one also. Right after this test, I did another Bella Sunshine Designs test, The Apple Cardigan. To date, this is probably the most expensive fabric I have used. I picked it up in a destash sell from another seamstress now designer. We also became friends and recently met up to go shopping. The Camo dress above is The Sahara by Bella Sunshine Designs.
With two successful tests under my belt, I applied to test for Ellie and Mac. I believe they were just starting to expand into my size range, so I figured I would give it a shot. This test was totally different from my first two. I ended up with two wearable garments, but not sure if I was ready for a group without as much support as BSD. I ended up sticking around because I wanted the experience of testing and to continue to learn. Now EAM is one of my favorites. I test for them several times a month and recently began guest blogging for them. In the last year, Ellie and Mac has come a long way into the curvy world and I have sewn at least 30 of their garments. By far, they are my most sewn up pattern company. This is the 24/7 top which I love!
What I am doing now?
I actively test for 5 designers, but have tested for 10 different ones. I am a brand ambassador for one company and recently got accepted into a pretest group. I also sew and promote fabric for 2 different companies I believe in. A few designers have come and gone in the last year. I tested for one company who said they were expanding to plus sizes. They invited me to join their team and have yet to make another pattern in my size. One designer I really loved testing for, but she sold her business to someone else. Another one just popped up, had a nearly terrible test, and disappeared. As with anything in life, you have good and bad experiences. Sometimes. you ruin the pretty fabric and sometimes, YOU LOOK AMAZING! Take the risk! This picture is me wearing the Malala. Way out of my comfort zone, but I feel lovely.
I haven’t had a ton of trouble getting into tests, but honestly I think it is because of my size. I fall in the upper range of tests for the most part. It is getting more difficult now to get into tests, but it is wonderful to see more curvy ladies getting on board. This shows all the designers there is a market out here for their patterns and they need to be more inclusive. If you are interested in testing you should give it a shot. There is almost always someone around who can help you if you need it. Plus you can always tag me on Facebook.
The best thing about sewing custom clothing is everything fits. I know slender folks as well curvy folks all have fit issues, we just have different issues. People will sometimes ask what size I am in ready to wear. I have no idea! Honest! I haven’t bought and worn an off the rack dress since I got boobs in about 3rd grade. My pants vary between an 18-22, but always need to be hemmed. I am only 5’1. I have been only 5’1 since about the 5th grade. They are most likely tight on my stomach and baggy in the butt. Also, it is impossible to find a nice button down shirt to fit my bust and biceps. I have never owned a button front shirt that doesn’t gap open. These are things that lead people to have issues with their bodies. When you feel uncomfortable in your clothes, it shows. I have never in my life thought, “Dang, I look good.” I am not that kind of person, but at least now know how to get my clothes to fit. In school, I wore a lot of boys clothes, I wore men’s jeans for years. The fit better for some reason ( probably because I have no hips or butt) and I just wanted clothes to fit. Now, I really like the girlie stuff. Give me flowers and dots, and pretty colors! I think if I had a job that allowed skirts and dresses I would totally wear them more. Since I make my clothing, I can now be as girlie as I want! The above floral print dress is the Helen by DIBY club. This was for my first ever pretest and also the designer took the time to draw out step by step how to do a proper bicep adjustment for a Dolman sleeve. She didn’t have too, but she did!
So along with the good, there is the bad. Sadly, most of the “bad” comes in the form of feedback from the ”online sewing community.’ Typically, testers promote the new patterns and if someone uses their affiliate links, they earn a small commission. Trust me, I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon. 🙂 So testers spend all the time and money making a beautiful top or well fitting pants or gasp even a swim suit and we share them with our blog readers and on social media. Mostly, we share to show others they are not the only one in their size range and it is ok to be curvy and cute! Nevertheless, I have gotten some nasty feedback.
I have been told ‘plus size ladies should be modest.’ Thank you, but I am very modest and insecure, so again Thanks for reminding me. “Plus size people shouldn’t wear prints or colors.” Thanks, but I prove you wrong on my blog often. “Your large scale print looks good because your body is large.” Thank you, I hadn’t realized that was a fashion rule. “You should wear heels with dresses.” Thanks for your input, but I can’t stand in heels. In this community, I feel like we should be building people up, not tearing them down. So the next time you have a rude comment, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how you would feel. The outfit above was put together for my first ever guest blog post for Ellie and Mac. The hummingbird print top is the Sunny Day by EAM.
Thanks for stopping by to hear my story. Follow the links below to meet the other founding members of House of Curves.
Pattern Testing 102 | Personal Stories Blog Tour
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Check out the stories from all the House of Curves bloggers!
Monday, Oct 1: Seams Like Style
Tuesday, Oct 2: Twinkle Toes & Co
Wednesday, Oct 3: Sequoia Lynn Sews
Thursday, Oct 4: cut.sew.make
Friday, Oct 5: Sarcastic Sewist
Saturday, Oct 6: The Needle and The Belle
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