what not to knit

a knitalong blog of garments of which stacy and clinton (or, if you prefer, trinny and susannah) would approve! choose patterns and colors that flatter your body type--this is the antidote to unflattering clothing everywhere, the reason many of us learned to knit our own clothing in the first place!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

the seamless bustier

i don't find it uncomfortable at all, actually. the only reason i don't wear it more often (besides that i don't require it often) is that i can't really put it on by myself. at least not well. it's a lot easier for my husband to hook it up for me, and i'm not always getting dressed at a time when he's available to help :) but it isn't uncomfortable to wear; i suspect proper size has a lot to do with that, as with any bra (or any other undergarment). and unlike other strapless bras, i never have to pull it up or adjust it around myself. it completely stays put. it wasn't cheap ($78?), but i considered it a great investment because it *is* so well made, versatile, and easy to wear.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

more thoughts on tempting ii and tubey

on bras with tempting ii: i think i'd wear my good longline strapless, which lends excellent support; i bought it to wear under my wedding dress, actually, and get a good bit of wear out of it. but you're right--things that expose a lot of shoulder do present more brassiere difficulties than they could. i've been reading a lot of posts on the sexy knitters club blog from knitters (particularly those with larger busts) saying they'd like to knit higher necklines, to keep it on the shoulders--and, i suspect, to allow for wearing a more supportive bra. i personally don't think this is as pretty of a sweater, defeating the lines of the neckline as designed (i.e., if you can only wear it that way, it isn't the right design for your body).

on bras with tubey: tubey i think will be fine with a bra. if the bottom of the neck opening is too wide-set and threatens to reveal straps, i'll either wear the strapless or wear a crossover convertible with wide-set straps (those are so handy--hide straps under sleeveless tops as well).

on ribbing: lea makes an excellent point about ribbed knits. if your measurements vary greatly from one body part to another, ribbing may not be the friendliest thing you can do either to your body or to your garment. perhaps you can knit in some decreases or increases? darts? i don't know--i've never attempted such a thing, but it seems to me that some shaping might be possible, though it seems to defeat the clean lines of the neat verticality of ribs. both tempting ii and tubey use worsted-weight yarns, so i'd say moderately forgiving--you don't have to have a six-pack, but you shouldn't have rolls for it to get caught in ;)

on control undergarments and concealment thereof: again, i thank my wedding dress for forcing me to search for excellent, thin, seamless, detailless undergarments. i wore spanx higher power foundations, which slim from ribcage to thigh, and find them excellent if i'm wearing something in which i'd feel self conscious about a clingy fabric showing rolls or jiggles. and the material is very thin, adding zero bulk. but lea's right--you'd want to be careful about any added bulk at the waist or hip, whether from undergarment or from the knitted garment or jeans themselves.

on pleated skirts: i don't think pleats ever go out of style--it's just a matter of placement. witness this trend, in which i delightedly partook yesterday: $20 at target in exactly my size. the waist will require tailoring in the back (that too-large-at-the-small-of-the-back thing that's so annoying), but it's the perfect skirt to wear with tubey in the fall wedding. fits the largest part of the body (my hips) perfectly, the pleats flare out to balance out the hips and add movement (to avoid the sausage-casing effect--which really occurs most when the clothing is too snug, but can also happen if it's tapered, or even just straight where it shouldn't be). i had to have it. (n.b. "corseting effect" from a pencil skirt comes straight from trinny and susannah! i promise :) )

on the other hand, last night i wore pleats that probably weren't as flattering as they could have been, but i had a what-not-to-wear episode right there in my closet. i had a wedding reception to coordinate, and nothing in my closet was right--the c. 1959 vintage champagne brocade dress i would liked to have worn was about half an inch too snug about the ribcage, which would really have constricted my freedom of movement (critical for an eight-hour job of schlepping and rushing about) or the dress' ability to stay in one piece :) so i spent 30 minutes trying everything else in my closet on. this was too funereal (i own a lot of black), this was not juney enough, this wasn't warm enough (i love cool weather, but it's *really* hard to dress appropriately for 60-degree breezes in mid-june! for an evening wedding reception at a museum!). i finally landed on an outfit of which i was really proud, but those pleats weren't as flattering as they would have been over a flatter tummy: a black-and-white graphic floral print sleeveless dress with a medium scoop neck, a white 3/4-sleeve cardigan, black slingbacks with a white asymmetrical bow and three icy pastel translucent beads for detail, pearls, and a little black handbag. very 1950s. my hair was rather a mess, but other than that, i felt pretty cute. i'll see how i look in the photos when they come out. the photographer snapped a few. oh, but back to the pleats: in a very 1950s look, the dress has a belt right at the natural waistline (great), and two-inch pleats that begin right at that point (not so great on me). i wonder if my sewing-goddess friend could stitch those down for me...maybe when i talk to her about tailoring the new black skirt and shortening the silk wrap skirt i bought at the yard sale a few weeks back (one of many other things i tried on yesterday and couldn't wear).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

the perfect transitional and layering sweater?

i own this sweater in grey, and just discovered it's part of the gap's sale ($7-25, depending on the color). i bought it in an emergency (seriously--a story you don't want to hear, but i had to replace what i was wearing while i was out), and it immediately became my favorite fall and spring weather sweater. i have looked for it many times in other colors, and finally it's available in black and white. snap. perfect weight for the pittsburgh weather for many months of the year, perfect length of body and sleeve, perfect lines--except, according to trinny and susannah...large-breasted women shouldn't wear high round necks--it molds breasts into one big lump.
so, i'm getting the sweaters in black and white, and i'm trying out the skirt to wear to the wedding with tubey.
the point of the sweater post wasn't supposed to be "look, i bought this," though (whoops). it was supposed to be, "look at this basic sweater silhouette--fine gauge, close fit, easily alterable neckline and sleeve length to suit your body type and climate needs." there you go: if your chest is too big to make the jewel neckline work, make yours with a lower scoop neck that breaks up the chest area. if you can pull off short sleeves, knit yours with short sleeves. and of course, if i were knitting this, i probably wouldn't do an all-over cable pattern--color me lazy. i'd probably do something like this, a pattern i bought as soon as i saw it because i knew it would be perfect for me. a heavier look, perhaps, but it's actually knitted in a sport-weight yarn. i'm planning to make it in either the andean treasure called for in the pattern (now that i've scored two cotton-blend sweaters for myself and can deal with the idea of another wool) or in knitpicks shine sport. i think it's gorgeous and the perfect silhouette.
okay. time to stop blogging and get to work. yikes.

the gap is having a sale...

and lo and behold, i spy a skirt that may work with tubey for the morning fall wedding for which i'm knitting it. or rather, for which i will be knitting it--the current copper-colored tubey is a gift for a friend with similar figure issues. but mine will be in winter white, and i have been on the prowl for the perfect skirt. is this it?

i think it has the corseting effect at the top of a pencil skirt, yet the pleats have the same balancing effect as flared pants do. and the length is a good one, i think (though my legs aren't as crazily barbie-doll skinny as the model's--did the gap's photoshop people accidentally lop off her left knee and shin?).
pleats are a pain to own--i never iron them myself, so i wear them only as often as i get them to the dry cleaner (literally a couple of times a year).
i don't wear (or own) heels that high, and i'm also not sure i'd wear bare legs in michigan in september--i think the weather there is unpredictable--but i'm considering this. i've been hunting for a tulip skirt (or a gored skirt or fit-and-flare skirt), but this may be better--firmer construction will help the foundation garment keep it all together. we'll see. (the fact that i have a gap gift card helps.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

do you have to be built like jenna adorno to be tempting?

jenna adorno designs simple, form-fitting knits. i made her tempting sweater last year, and i attempted her tempting ii sweater this spring. i'm about to try it again in a different yarn, as it's just been voted the next knitalong pattern for the sexy knitters club, of which i'm a member, and i do love a knitalong.
you can see that jenna is a tiny and fit woman--her blog says she's five feet tall and 100 pounds. i'd be amazed if she weighed that much after three squares and three snacks AND soaking wet, having seen her recently on knitty gritty; the woman is SO cute.
but all this form-fitting knitting doesn't look good on everyone--does it? i don't know. look at her (she's the model in both of these photos of her designs). in addition to the obviously fit shape, flat abs, tiny waist, and...i'll just say the sweater fits her nicely on top...she also has tiny hips AND very fit arms. no jiggle in sight.
what if you don't, but you want to knit this? like, say, me? i have pretty jiggly sausage arms these days--when i work out, i get some bicep tone, and i can get definition in part of my triceps, but i have fat back there that i cannot get rid of no matter how i try. seriously. i've tried hard, ate a very low-fat diet, the whole nine. those flesh flags are going nowhere. it's okay--my body image is not my self-image, and i lose no sleep over this--but i don't wear a lot of tanks or tees.
so here's my take on the pattern's strengths and weaknesses for specific body parts and types--feel free to add your own or pick mine apart :)
the right foundation garments do a LOT for the midsection on this for me, as does making the right size of this. you don't want the ribbing to have to distort itself so much that it shows off the locations and sizes of each of your bulges. on the other hand, it's meant to be form-fitting, not baggy in any way. so knitting the right size is key to making this sweater look good.
but back to the foundation garments: a properly fitted bra to give ribcage and waist definition is something more women need. and when wearing something like this, if you need a waist cincher or high-waisted brief to smooth things out, by all means wear one. there are no prizes for fewer clothes. so you don't wear this on the 90-degree days when such undergarments would make you melt. would you really wear a knitted sweater on a day like that anyway?
knit this to the right length for yourself, too. unless you've got the fat-free, nothing-bulging-over-your-jeans hips of a jenna (and in my opinion, whether you do or not), how about knitting it long enough at least to touch your waist band--even if you lean forward in your chair? what would that be like, thong-and-tattoo girls?
for short-necked women, if you've got good posture (and the aforementioned good foundation garments), this neckline shows off a beautiful collarbone and elongates the neck. (see jenna's long neck and lovely collarbone in the photos, after all!)
for women with saddlebags (like me), a snug-fitting sweater that sits at the top of the hips (so knit it to that length) keeps you slim on top and reduces your waist so much that no one will even look at the hips. regardless, this wide neckline balances out the width of your hips.
but if you've got a really flabby tummy, i really think this sweater calls for a control undergarment. this sweater without it is really going to call attention to a bulge underneath it.
and if you don't have really toned arms (you and me both), make sure that those sleeves are nice and loosely knitted and bound off--you don't want to create sausage casings. ew. or another alternative: knit 3/4-length sleeves! those are ideal for big-armed girls, because they hide the flab at the top while displaying delicate wrists :) on me, i like just past the elbow, but you may like just above. measure and knit accordingly, remembering that jenna's measurements for the pattern begin at the underarm join, not at the shoulder. in any case, cap sleeves are just not good for big arms.
i'm not sure this would be the most flattering sweater for a totally flat-chested woman; it might accentuate a bony chest. this kind of neckline looks great on women with boobage, because it sort of breaks up that shelf-boob look.
finally, the color would matter--choose a color that looks good on you and that you love to wear :) that's not a topic i've figure out yet. i think i should be aiming for more saturated colors as i age (!), yet i seem to gravitate toward these icy blues that i'm not sure are really right for me. i need to go on That Show...i need help :)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What I should wear

I have to admit that I've watched the US version of What Not to Wear, and I don't agree with Stacey and Clinton about some things (mostly their use of animal prints, neon, and sparkles). My style is certainly more boring. In fact, it's "I hate shopping" boring: most things go together and have an elegant line that's (sufficiently) stylish from year to year. I'm working on mixing some more colour into my wardrobe.

Their tool told me a lot of stuff I already know, but it all basically came down to one thing: don't wear clothes that swallow my waist. This is my cardinal rule of clothes. In fact, it's so important for people with a substantial bust and a small waist that I am illustrating it with a graphic (please excuse roughness of right-hand graphic -- I look more hourglass than pear in person):

I'm not a big person, and I don't look fat if I wear flowing tops. Unfortunately, I do look pregnant, because there certainly could be a lot of belly hiding under the encompassing structure of my bust. (Note: I have nothing against looking pregnant if I am. I'm not, and I don't feel like taking the career hit for it if I'm not.)

So I should be knitting things that say "here is my waist" but still fit over my bust. This rules anything boxy right out. I want to try an experiment, though. Usually, empire waists are a bad idea for me, because they look like maternity clothing. What if I knit empire-waist sweeater that: a) didn't ride up my bust so it stood out over my stomach and b) fit very closely through the rib cage area, then draped softly in an A-line shape below?

To this end, I'm searching for a drapey DK-weight yarn that still has good stitch definition and cables well (I have a design cooking up in my fevered brain). My best bet thus far seems to be Zephyr DK. While my first inclination would be to buy some in grey, I'm trying to wear more colour. I'm considering any very cool colour that goes with black and grey; the first consideration speaks to my complexion, the second my winter wardrobe. I was thinking 57; any thoughts?