Monday, December 8, 2008

the crane

One of the things I find really frustrating is how interesting patterns and garments so often don't come in larger sizes. It's bad enough that I find good jeans and T-shirts hard to come by, but when it comes to something a little more innovative I'm doubly disappointed.

And while in theory I can find great patterns and upsize them myself, somehow it is all the more scary. Stepping outside the box exposes me to a much greater level of scrutiny (if only by myself) and I feel like everyone will think I am deluded to figure I can carry off an unconventional look. If a skinny girl did it they might not agree with her taste but if a fat girl chooses a bad look, it is bad because she's fat.

One of the things I really like about the Pattern Magic books (check out the flickr group here) is the way they highlight techniques, rather than actual garments. Many of the highly unusual and challenging concepts contained in the books can be used in a wide variety of ways, making them accessible to all body sizes and shapes.

For example: this knotty skirt detail would work on any skirt, shirt or T-shirt hem, this woven construction is not at all size specific and these raised boxes could be placed anywhere on any garment.

My much thinner friend made the paper crane jacket from Pattern Magic (other examples here and here) and I really liked it. I liked how it looked but I also loved the incredibly clever construction technique (see a diagram here).

But I was nervous to try it. I felt it was most likely something that would look bad on me. I thought it might be a skinny chick's thing. With a little encouragement I took the plunge and although it took a few tries to get the sizing right (I started too big. Of Course), the end result is fantastic. Made from a cotton/viscose/elastine jersey (super cheap from darn cheap fabrics in Heidelberg) it is the ultimate flexible garment. I can throw it on over anything for an extra layer. It is light enough to fold up and carry in a handbag and it doesn't crease. The construction is so clever that once you have worked out your sizing it only takes an hour or so to make one.

And I like that it looks unusual without being bizarre. From the front it looks a bit like a wrap hanging off your shoulders, from the back like a loose cardi. Because the jersey grips a bit, you can pull up the shoulders and make it look much more like a jacket with a bunchy neck or let the sleeves pool down at the wrists and it feels much more wrap like. You can let the fronts hang open or pull them closed, you could add a closure pin or button if you wanted.

I'm not sure I would enjoy wearing a crane made from non-stretch fabric, since the pattern relies on a certain ratio between the hips and shoulder width to sit well in a stiff fabric, but the jersey version is now well centred in my wardrobe. And I have some black wool knitted rib waiting to be made into another one.

For this garment and the many other interesting ideas, I'd highly recommend a tour through the Pattern Magic books 1 and 2.


jessica said...

it looks fabulous on you. nice. i might have to cut into a very, very inexpensive piece of jersey this arvo. i'll just base it on your photo and hope for the best. wish me luck!

Di said...

Jessica- you can find a more helpful photo from the book if you look in the Pattern Magic Flickr pool here-

Paisley said...

Looks fabulous - you've gotta love an easy red cardi! This might be a project for me in the new year.

nehmah said...

If this is a duplicate, blame the software! I am plus and a dressmaker who seldom sews for myself. (When I make a garment, it is made to last!)
Just now, I'm teaching a lovely pre-teen to sew. She has a well-meaning parent, who is trying to encourage, but every topic ends in size comments. I hope to teach this young lady to become selectively deaf. Cordially, Nehmah

Taphophile said...

Oh that is an unusual construction. Probably works best in a knit fabric with drape. A woven might be a little stiff. Looks great.