So, you can use quilting cotton in place of knit fabric…right?!?! (part 2)

Not sure the answer to the question in the subject line?  It’s NO.  Just so you know.  Now you don’t have to learn the hard way.  Like I did.

Now, on to part 2 of our story…

So, back to my late 20’s and the start of my love for making clothes.  Clothes that fit my body.

I wanted, more than just about anything, a beautiful dress that fit my weird body.  

Turns out we all have weird bodies, after years of teaching garment sewing to women I know that now, but at the time I thought I was unique in that.  Turns out I’m not, not in the least.  I can’t tell you how many times I hear from students, students who on the outside look to be a pretty standard size, that they can’t find this or that to fit their body, because their too short, too tall, have too full of a rear, too flat of a rear…you get the idea.  Too something.  They aren’t, you know.  Too, anything.  They are just right.

Anyway, I couldn’t find any dresses that fit my body and felt beautiful in the way that I wanted to feel.  Ever.

And then one day I was thrifting in this local thrift shop and I found this polyester knit, mint green house dress and it fit my body perfectly.   It was handmade and had these lovely little pinked seams on the inside and that 1950’s polyester feel, maybe not a selling point, but I want you to get the picture.  

I smelled in that way that only vintage polyester can smell when I wore it and the color completely washed me out, but I was so elated that I had found a style that fit my body!  

I fell in love.  Because honestly, there’s not anything more flattering to wear than clothes that fit you.  Clothes that fit always feel and look good.  Okay, they might still be ugly as sin, but it’s a pretty great start.  Now, imagine clothes that fit your body AND that fit your style.  Wowza.

I also loved to imagine that this woman, this lovely woman who had made this dress for her very own body…the clone of mine?!…was going to someday waltz by me on the street and we would notice each other and just know.  We’d connect in our duplicate bodies and know each other’s plights and cares and joys.  In just that moment of movie-making magic.  

Alas, that never happened, and honestly, this dress was old.  I’m not saying what that made the lovely lady who made it, but it was unlikely we were to pass one another on the street and sparks would fly.

So I decided I was going to take that dress and I was going to trace it onto some newspaper and I was going to make my own dress just like it but in a color that was more suited to me.

And that’s what I did. I’ve always been an intrepid maker and I have an innate belief that I can figure out anything I need to figure out in life, I have a deep sense of being capable, and I believe that you can/are too and that’s really what I focus on in the Make-it-Your-Own Society.  I work to cultivate the idea that you have the skills and the ability already, right now,  you just might need or want a little bit of guidance to show you some basic ideas and then you can just soar with your own plans and ideas. 

Anyway, back to the dress, I picked out some beautiful jewel-toned, floral printed quilting cotton. I traced that dress on some newspaper, cut it out, cut out my new quilting cotton, and sewed it up, just like the mint green dress, with no zipper or buttons of any kind.

If you know fabrics, then you know that quilting cotton and polyester jersey are not interchangeable (if you don’t know fabrics and you’re feeling curious, quilting cotton is woven on a loom and has no stretch, jersey fabric is knitted and has a great deal of stretch) and of course my mint green, little house dress had stretch in it so there was no zipper or any kind of fastener like you would find in a woven dress.  

I could just barely squeeze my body, one body part at a time into the dress…but oh did I love it and once on, it fit like a dream…as long as I kept my meal small and took shallow breaths.   I was elated and I wore it with pride and pleasure for quite some time.  

An image of Tina wearing her first handmade dress.
My first dress, made a dozen years ago from a pattern I made from a knit dress that I owned. Made with quilting cotton. If you know fabric, you know that woven fabrics are often not interchangeable with knits. It fit, but just barely. I was elated!

That dress began a long journey of sewing garments so that I could celebrate the body that I had and not feel like my body was weird or wrong and so that I could wear any style of clothing that made my heart pitter-patter.   So that I could be authentically me, in harmony on the outside with who I was, all lit up, on the inside.

Then, true to my nature, I delved in deep and I learned how to draft patterns for myself, never one to be satisfied unless I changed this or that to make it my own (can you relate?), I learned about fabric and fibers and how they’re made and dyed and adorned.  I learned about getting really great fit for my body.  And a garment sewist was born.

But I’m not only a maker with fabric and thread…but that’s the story for next week!

Have a making story to tell?  Share it with me!  Please, I’d love to hear it.

In Kinship,