self esteem

Coral Cropped Top

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How’s your summer been so far folks? For me, it’s been filled with a lot of sun and warmth, some time with friends and a whole lot of sewing, knitting and home decoration projects, and I’ve been loving every minute of it! I finished last week a sweater called Diane, which is a free pattern from Berroco. And although it didn’t turn out quite like I expected, I must say that I am quite satisfied with the finished garment. The yarn I’m using is a wonderful cotton and linen blend, Knit Pick’s Lindy Chain in colour Conch.

Isn’t it just a wonderful sweater folks? Anyways, now let me run you through the adventure.

You may know this about me (or not) but I am a very intuitive knitter… Which is the nice way of saying that I dont really ever follow patterns to a T, nor do I usually swatch or block my projects, aside from lace shawls. I am very much the no-fuss type that will knit a sweater in natural plant fibers like bamboo, cotton or linen and will just plainly send it washer and dryer with all my other clothes. It shall fall however it will fall!

So once I decided to make this sweater, I had a very quick read through the pattern and looked at the pictures, and made a few decisions. I was using the same yarn weight as the pattern called for to I first decided to knit this sweater in the smallest size (36″ bust), use a single 3.5 mm needle size throughout instead of switching from 3.25 to 3.75 and that I would compensate the change of needle size by adding a few stitches to the body front and back, as I was obviously going to be working on a different (more than likely tighter) gauge. Since I don’t like seams in my sweaters, I also decided to cast on the front and back stitches using a provisional cast-on, and to attach front and back with a kitchener’s stitch at the end instead of a seam.

This sweater was a relatively quick knit, it took me a bit over a month of on and off knitting to complete, and I have to say I really wasn’t dedicating a lot of time to it. The instructions are clear and simple, and the pattern is easy to follow. As I was knitting through the body though, I had this strange impression that the body was much shorter than I had anticipated, looking at the pictures provided in the pattern. But I just decided to roll with it and see what it looked like once finished. As a side note, I also experienced issues with the bottom band and the neckband, as I think the pattern calls for way too many stitches to be picked up. It creates a very loose and shapeless band, which does not suit most projects very well. As such, I decided to pick up less stitches on the bottom band, and even less stitches on the neckband (all the details are provided on my project page).

Anyways I eventually reached the end of it and it is once I tried it on that I could confirm that this sweater was indeed very, very short on me – I had actually knitted a cropped top unknowingly. And you know, cropped tops are not really a thing in my wardrobe; as just like most women out there, I am very self-conscious about by stomach and my body. So what do I do? I still have/had a lot of yarn, so technically I could rip up the bottom band, pick up less stitches to create sort of a fitted band and knit it longer. That would create kind of a 50s style top with looser top and fitted waist. That is/was definitely an option. But destiny gave me a cropped top. Maybe I should just use this as an opportunity to challenge my little petty insecurities and just roll with it, you know? It is cute sweater anyways. And it’s done. So I decided to leave it as is, and every time I wear it, it is a conscious choice to fight my own issues with self-image. And it may also be a lesson to read through patterns a bit more before I start a project… Who knows? Because after re-reading through the pattern, I noticed that it DOES indicate that the finished sweater in size 36″ is supposed to be 20″ long… Which is definitely cropped for me. #Oopsies

Fashion issues

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Today I’ll put the yarn and needles aside to talk to you about something a little more serious. I recently read an article posted by fellow knitter and blogger Lauren, from lollyknits.com on the clothing and fashion industry and I felt like I had a lot to say on the topic, so I decided to post a little something of my own to fully express my views on the subject.

More and more now people present themselves as self-esteem advocates celebrating different women’s body types and shapes, it’s a “trend” that’s catching on rapidly, as we see more people criticizing unrealistic beauty standards presented on television and in magazines. The fashion industry though has been notably undisturbed by it all, sticking to their tried-and-true recipes oriented towards perfect presentation and perfect bodies. Although some companies have decided to accommodate different body types by using a wider range of models, some companies simply refuse to hop the wagon, and continue to ignore the pleas of the public for clothes designed for “real” people.

My take on this is that we can (and should) pressure the fashion industry to make and market clothes that are designed for real women’s bodies, but I think we also have to realize as a society that there is only so much adaptation you can do with mass-produced clothing.

What I mean by that is that there is a lot of different body types in this world. Don’t blindly believe you can only be a “pear shape” or an “hourglass shape” – reality is far more complex than that. Partly due to your genetical baggage, your lifestyle, habits and hobbies, your body can present an astonishing number of features that can vary from one individual to the other. Some are tall, some others are short, some are rounder, or thinner, some others are curvier, some have a long torso and short legs, some others have long legs and a short torso, some have broad shoulders and a long neck, or narrow shoulders but long arms – there’s an infinite amount of possible combinations, and it makes it so that every woman’s body is unique.

With so much variety when it comes to body shapes, how can we expect mass produced garments to fit all of them equally as good? It’s impossible. And this is exactly why so many women struggle to find clothes that fit. There is nothing wrong with your body, there is something wrong with the way we shop for clothes.

I am not an expert on the issue – just a (sometimes unsatisfied) customer who has trouble finding clothes that fit, but I think a lot of other women experience similar issues, which is why I wanted to share my views on the subject and suggest alternatives. I feel there can be a few different ways to solve (or at least minimize) this problem – it’s possible to to have clothes custom made, to continue shopping for generic clothes but tailor them to fit your body, or to make better choices in the clothes you buy and wear/accessorize them in a smarter way.

Not all patterns or alterations are hard or complicated, and sometimes just a little time and patience can eliminate hours of frustration shopping for clothes. You can consult with a professional tailor or seamstress, but you can also try to learn how to crochet, knit, sew or how to make alterations on your clothes yourself. Having a garment that fits will undoubtedly help you regain confidence, and feel more comfortable in your clothes and in your own skin. Please go read this article on Craftsy, talking about the benefits of tailoring and the various classes they offer on the subject.

If nothing here above works for you, I also have advice for the shoppers:

  1. Look for versatile, classic pieces that can be easily matched with different outfits (when you find one thing that fits, wear the heck out of it!);
  2. Choose fabrics that offer a little bit of stretch to better accommodate different body types;
  3. Add accessories to emphasis the things you like about your body (a belt to accentuate a thin waist, gloves for delicate & elegant hands, a scarf to match the color of your eyes, etc.);
  4. Be patient and don’t be afraid to step into stores that are not necessarily “hip” or “trendy” – you might be surprised at what you can find;
  5. If you shop online, try to go to a website that uses real-size models and offer a comment section where people can talk about the shape and the fit of the garments (I personally like to shop at ModCloth), or there’s also some websites who offer tailoring services for a small fee (like eshakti.com) – whichever way, please remember to stay away from any Chinese one-size-fits-all clothing websites.

I sincerely hope this will help some of you, and please feel free to express your opinion or share your experience in the comment box below.