…They all live in a forest on my new t-shirt.
I came upon GreenStyle Creations Centerfield Raglan T-shirt on pinterest the other night and couldn’t get it out of my head. I had a cute as hell printed cotton knit I wanted to sew up immediately if not sooner and it was the perfect fit for this raglan sleeve tee.
I cut the 2XL off the pattern and I didn’t make any alterations beside dropping the short sleeve length to hit just above my elbow, and adding a tiny useless but adorable pocket. To be honest, I didn’t even read the instructions… it’s a straight-forward process for those who’ve sewn with knits; this tee took less than an hour to run up using my overlocker, and a twin needle on the sewing machine for hems. The results are delightful, obviously.
An hour later I was craving a second version but my stash was almost completely out of knit fabrics. I used this purple polyester slinky knit… I have no idea what it’s properly called but it has a slight texture; I also pulled out the very last skerrick of pink paisley mesh. The mesh is difficult to work with and I could have done a rolled overlocker hem but I don’t have matching cotton. I did a little band to finish it off because it looked a bit crappy unhemmed.
GreenStyle Creations “Centerfield Raglan T-shirt” – in a nutshell.
Changes made to pattern
- Added pocket, and dropped short sleeve length on print tee.
- Added a banded sleeve hem on purple tee.
- Huge size range!
- Great length.
- Curved or straight hem options.
- Sleeve length options.
- A quick sew.
- Will make again, over and over.
- It’s killing me every time I have to write center instead of centre!
I recently got a job in my favourite local fabric store which has driven me into a frenzy of inspiration but, lacking the time, I haven’t actually sewn much. This week I’m in enforced isolation due to having radioactive iodine therapy for my Graves disease, and what better time than to indulge in a bit of sewing?
Almost sensing the imminent storm of activity, my Pfaff decided to make a lot of noise so I had to put it in for a service (conveniently, my work can send machines away for service and repairs!) I almost threw a tantrum my niece would be proud of, but my mum stepped in to loan me her machine!
I’ve certainly been working it hard over the last few days running up muslins for a couple of blouse patterns bought from indie designers. The first two are from SBCC and I’m still working on them, however I can show off the third blouse, the Everyday Elegance Top, from Patterns For Pirates.
The xxxl size was actually two sizes too small for me, but I bought the pattern anyway and after printing and piecing it together I graded it up two sizes and did a full bust adjustment. The first version of this blouse I made in a vivid pink polyester print I bought years ago. I eked the back piece out of what was left by not cutting on the fold; fortunately the print is the same left to right and up and down!
I noted immediately upon putting it on that polyester is slightly gross to wear in Brisbane’s humidity. So this top will be worn in winter – the two week period we get here in this town to wear our long sleeves! The elbow room was also a bit mean considering the button tab restricts some movement so I added a little width to my pattern for the next version. I also planned to construct the collar and v neck a little differently to hide the messy bit of overlocking that pokes out when the collar is attached over the v neck binding. Speaking of.. my v neck binding is terrible.
For this version of the pattern I used a cotton shirting with a self stripe from the fabric stash my late grandmother gave me. She probably bought it intending to make a shirt for my grandfather! I top-stitched every seam because it just felt like I should. The cotton is beautiful to wear, and I will be test driving it at work on Saturday. There’s no air conditioning in the shop and if the current weather keeps up we’ll have a fair challenge for this here blouse.
I completely stuffed up the collar construction by sewing in the interfacing in the wrong order, and I only realised after I’d clipped the seam allowance. Halfway through unpicking it I realised it’d be easier to just cut a new collar. When I got to the sleeves I realised I’d cut two right sleeves due to laying out the pieces to avoid a flaw in the fabric. The self stripe looks different either side and I wanted to make sure the whole garment was made with the same stripe so I went back and cut a new left sleeve because growing an extra right arm is slightly beyond my capabilities…
Despite my slightly wonky collar and annoyingly wrinkled hem I’m proud of this shirt! I haven’t made one in a very long time, and I wanted to make sure I finished it nicely enough to wear to work. Even though it has some flaws, it’s nice to be able to wear things I’ve made at my job in a fabric store!
OH! I wanted to show off my nearly finished self made ice cream shoes! I just have to varnish them to protect the acrylic paint. I bought a pair of cheap wide fitting flats from Yours Clothing that were a patent cream vinyl; after spraying with adhesive I just painted straight on to them and chucked some bugle beads on the toes for sprinkles! I have no idea if they’ll hold up to even casual wearing but they’re cute as heck.
Patterns for Pirates “Everyday Elegance Top” – in a nutshell.
Changes made to pattern:
- Graded up two sizes.
- Full bust adjustment.
- Deepened v neck.
- Added width to sleeve at elbow length.
- Dropped armscye front and back, didn’t alter sleeve as it has gathers.
- Turned and top-stitched v neck binding after collar was attached.
- Sizing doesn’t go up high enough.
- The collar is a bit fiddly.
- Instructions could be clearer.
- Nice casual shirt that transforms based on fabric choice.
- Will be making it again.
Most of my time has been consumed with making new tiaras for Fancy Lady Industries, but I’ve done a couple of drawings and practiced a lot of uke.
A few of my pieces are on Society6 now if you are interested in prints.
I’ve been recording myself playing and singing every few days and posting them on you tube so I can track my progress throughout the year. This is At Seventeen, by Janis Ian. There’s a few more on my channel, if you’re interested!
People seem to have this weird barrier between digital and non-digital life. Naively, the general consensus is that life away from the screen is “real life”, as if what you do on the internet doesn’t count. Online bullying has serious consequences and I think bullies carry on abusing people because they don’t consider themselves bullies if they do so via a keyboard. Employers admit that people aren’t hired on the basis of their public social media profiles, and crowd-sourcing campaigns have the power to significantly change someone’s life. Real life is digital life too.
So my beef today should not be dismissed as “Internet stuff” because it closely mimics the interactions women have with each other in face to face socialising; and while it is certainly not bullying or overt discrimination it contributes to a culture of feminised body shame. I follow a couple of fabric stores on facebook, hoping to be the first to hear about a bargain, however most of the time my feed is full of “cutesy” images about dieting and exercise that make me want to see if I can run my iPhone through my own sewing machine.
I run my own pages, and I’m the first to admit my community building is pretty non-existent, but I absolutely abhor online community building targeted at women that leans heavily on the body, and how flawed it apparently is. Instead of building rapport with audiences about your products, inspiration and projects it seems the easy way out is to fall back on that time-honoured feminine adhesive: how to be skinnier, or at least look it. In my own life I refuse to engage in this topic with family and friends, and it’s really bloody hard to feel part of a group when you cut out body-snarking conversation filler.
It goes from “this food is just empty calories” to “god she looks like an anorexic velociraptor!” and all of it serves to redirect your focus away from meaningful living towards how desirable you can make your body, presumably for men considering the hetero-centric culture we live within. Facebook page owners continue this distraction seamlessly via humorous images that have us chortling “oh carbs, you fiends!” and hitting like.
I prefer to see actual products, the ways people have used them, inspirational photos relating to the topic of interest and most of all, discounts and special offers. Coming back to fabrics, and sewing as a skill, how is it that there is a lack of material to discuss on a page for a fabric shop? There’s a truly immense field of techniques to learn, with a rich history reaching back thousands of years. When people reduce sewing to a mere women’s past time it raises my ire, and conflating it with de rigueur body shaming hits not just angry buttons but shame switches too.
Just tell me what you sell and how useful it will be to me, and I won’t unlike your page.
“I just noticed you haven’t been blogging!”
At the risk of indulging in some navel gazing and completely turning away those of you who hadn’t already written me off, I thought I might make a low key comeback by interrogating myself and asking why I haven’t been blogging.
When I wrote about fatshion blogging and the sticky web it is weaving with brand partnerships and how it is mirroring fashion in mainstream media, I got a lot of flack. People didn’t want to have these tough questions put to them and accused me of ruining the fun, personally insulting them, and being a no-fun hack. It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience and I gained little from it. I don’t even think fatshion bloggers paid much attention at all, because at this stage I still see that pretty much every blogger, even the ones just starting out, are going for brand appeal. In my mind, success as a blogger was breaking through to mainstream media and increasing my audience, and the way to do that was to participate in a culture I did not agree with – ergo I could never be successful as a blogger.
My decision to drop the sponsorship and advertising meant far less content. My financial situation meant far fewer new purchases, and in turn my outfit posts dropped as well. At the same time, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on medication; as easy as it is to say that the medication affected my ability to write, I can’t fully pin the blame there. We bought a house, and that meant even more financial struggle. My focus changed to figuring out how to make money as a person with disabilities, and a person who has self-taught skills and a fairly rigid set of values. (I am, if not anti-capitalist, definitely a doubting capitalist.) I wasn’t going to get a book deal from blogging because I was saying things people didn’t really want to hear, my audience was dwindling, and I’m not actually a very good or disciplined writer.
After five years of focusing on fine art, I decided to review my situation. No one was buying my original art because it was too expensive for the small circle of really lovely people who populate my audience, and I was struggling with the gallery system due to a lack of social skills and ongoing mental health problems. If no one has ever destroyed the troubled artist trope for you before, please allow me to do it now. Mental illness is a barrier to success in the art world. There are a number of artists who deal with illness and have found success but by far, the majority do not ever get there. So I needed to reconfigure my product and tailor it to my lifestyle. I already had Fancy Lady Industries so it seemed natural to expand! And for the last year that has been exactly what I’ve been focusing on.
Running Fancy Lady Industries has been full time and then some. I sketch, design, trial, produce, and put all the products together; I document my processes; I take product photos and write descriptions; I run the shop; I pack orders; and Nick and I promote on social media. I’ve been able to develop my stock and my business on my terms, and it is incredibly fulfilling and meaningful work.
Oh but I have had time for other things that aren’t especially interesting on a former fatshion blog! I’ve been taking care of my brain, playing ukulele, sewing, gardening and decorating my house. I’ve been drawing and painting as well, but for me, rather than for ~fine art~. I document all of this on Instagram and Twitter, and see little reason to repeat myself on this blog.
I’m still trying to figure out where definatalie.com fits in. I don’t write as much anymore because I have lots of stuff to do, but I have also lost a lot of concentration and word-finding ability on Lamotrigine (the med I take for bipolar). I don’t believe I need to shut down the blog because I hate the idea of never writing again, or never posting another photo of myself wearing clothes. I still believe representation of fat bodies is important! This will never be a daily content blog in the foreseeable future, because I see little value in an obligatory blogging schedule when I have naught to say. You will see me now and then when I have something I need to elaborate on. That’s the value of blogging in the current sphere of social media. You get my quick quips on Twitter, off the cuff snaps on Instagram, largely unedited rants and other things I like on Tumblr, but here on my blog you will be able to consume something longer, and a little more considered. (But probably still kind of inflammatory/ provocative/ charming?)
Where have I been? What have I been doing? These are questions you might be asking. Heck, I’ve been asking that of myself! I’ve actually sequestered myself in my study making lots of things, far from human contact (not really). Last night I launched the biggest update of Fancy Lady Industries in history and I figured, “hey why not tell people about it?” Obviously my social/ marketing skills are a bit rusty.
I hope you’ll come by the shop and check out what I’ve been busy doing!
I’ve been busy giving Fancy Lady Industries a complete overhaul, tinkering with its innermost workings and fine tuning the whole shebang so I can bring you new stuff in different ways. The most electrifying development amongst a cast of thrills is GOLD GLITTER fat necklaces! I’m running a presale for this limited edition of the fat necklace until May 29, so go get one.
While you’re over at the new shop, you might notice there’s a bunch of new things and some of them are available IMMEDIATELY! I’ve designed three embroidery patterns with a distinctly political flavour; each pdf comes with stitch suggestions and diagrams of common stitches so even if you’re new to needle work you can start with confidence. Fancy Babe is the first of a line of printable paper dolls and comes with clothes, hair and shoes so you can mix it up in your cubicle at work.
You want more? Ok! You know how I love to doodle when I really shouldn’t? I’ve decided to doodle on cards so you can keep one for yourself or send it to a nice person with lovely words inside it. The current bunch of art cards have bright gem powa designs and are named after cute minerals from the earth.
The last item I’m proud to show you is one of the collars I’ve made. This “Fat Doll” collar is made from burgundy vinyl and backed with felt; I’ve drafted this especially for people with bigger shoulders and necks. It’s a beautiful hand made art piece to embellish your carefully curated fatshion wardrobe.
Go browse the fance and don’t forget about pre-ordering your gold glitter fat necklace!
I’ve been drawing more and more with markers lately, and not even the fancy alcohol based ones. I only have a few of those (some Copics but mostly Shin Han Touch pens) and the few I have are running out of ink fast. A couple of weeks ago I saw Office Works had a tub of 50 Faber Castell Connector Pens on sale so I scooped them up and have been merrily doodling away the last few weeks. The difference between alcohol and water based pens is huge, you can blend and layer ink with the alcohol markers but if you put too many layers of ink down with a water based marker you’ll pull up a bunch of paper fibres. So they aren’t a proper substitute but they’re the substitute I can afford. For the price of 50 connector pens I would only be able to buy two or three alcohol based markers! These drawings use both types of markers; and the ability to layer and blend alcohol markers is evident in the first drawing.
My mother-in-law once said my drawings were rude and ever since then I’ve been self conscious about it. Considering a nude body as vulgar speaks of prudery and shame. I draw a collection of lines organised in a way that makes the brain conclude that it’s meant to represent a body, but there are other lines and shapes on these bodies that signify other things too. Art shouldn’t be read like a mirror, it’s more like a map. I really object to my drawings being read as titillating or erotic, as I’ve seen them put into that context on some tumblr blogs. It says a lot about the lack of respect for women’s bodies and the absolute disregard for consent, that an image of bare breasts is considered pornographic. I’m also reminded of all the boobs in ads targeted at men that are uncensored while images of breast feeding are considered offensive. I’m rolling my eyes directly at you, straight guys.
Since I was blessed with my bipolar 2 diagnosis a lot of things have started to make sense. I don’t want to make light of mood swings and behaviour changes, but I can identify with oscillating between saccharine whimsy and eye-rolling cynicism and it’s pretty evident in the sort of things I make. I also tend be more prolific when experiencing hypomania; I used to think my periods of frenzied output were just me returning to a normal functioning life (though these periods never lasted longer than a week or so), and so when I crashed into depression afterwards it was compounded with feelings of frustration and shame that I could never sustain this “normal” functioning mode.
When I am hypomanic I tend to speak more. Witty repartee rolls out of my face with ease and I feel like I sparkle with charisma – whether or not this is true is immaterial because I am right, and you are wrong. The ideas I have must be caught and put down on paper before they fall out of the air and plop into the bog of eternal stench (and depression). I notice the things I create are generally more light-hearted and amusing, but even if I’m dealing with difficult issues I will approach them with extreme whimsy. Hypomania as described by me sounds delightful, doesn’t it? I still have difficulty regarding it as not-normal because I have fetishised the normal functioning life other people seem to take for granted and enjoy so casually.
I have been medicated for about two years, and have experienced minimal mood swings for a lot of that time. I sometimes miss the flurry of ideas and activity of higher moods but I definitely do not miss the depression that I have experienced for the majority of my life. Coupled with mental illness, there’s a lot of bad stuff that’s happened to me so feeling higher than usual is a welcome change. People with bipolar 2 largely experience a majority of low moods and are a higher suicide risk amongst the spectrum of bipolar patients. The new normal for me is unravelling and I’m getting used to it, but I still experience swings however they aren’t as extreme.
So that’s the preamble. It might go a way towards explaining why I get caught up in whimsy, and in superficially delightful things even if they aren’t Adult and Serious. I think I’m nearly done with cynicism. There’s been enough crap I have to continually deal with, so any way I can make shit more wonderful I will do it.
My name is Natalie, I’m 32, and I have flowers all over my bike. Also I bought a ukulele (and I will never apologise, Helen Razer!)
Crochet patterns for these flowers are below if you want to choke people with joy as you cycle past:
Puffy nondescript flower
Here are a couple photos of Miffy for those who want to know how she’s healing after her enucleation. Her eyelid has healed beautifully and the hair is starting to grow back. It’s still a little weird when I look into her eyes and realise there’s only one there. I keep anxiously testing that eye and worrying about glaucoma claiming it as well, but for now she’s back to tearing around the house after her ball and playing tug of war with rag scraps.