When I started this blog, I planned to write about running and sewing. Since then, it's largely been sewing-focused, but something happened today that drove me to write my first running-focused blog post.
Earlier today, I dropped out of the Big Sur International Marathon between mile 14 and 15. I had struggled for the previous half mile, and had two very sharp muscle spasms at mile 14 and I realized that I had a choice between soldiering on and hoping to make it to the end (or mile 21 for the major sweep) and risk permanent injury or admitting that something was wrong and taking myself out at the med stop after mile 14. I chose to take myself out.
I was perfectly comfortable with my decision while waiting for the SAG wagon and on the ride back to the finisher's village. However, when my cell phone got service back forty minutes later, I was flooded with texts and notifications of my friends and family wishing me luck on the marathon. Since Big Sur doesn't have cell service, I had been incommunicado since 5AM. As soon as the messages started coming in, I lost it. I bawled. I made a race official bawl. Just writing this blog post, I'm tearing up. It was the first moment I regretted my decision and the reality of it set in. To be honest, my biggest fear while training for my first marathon was what people would think of me if I failed, rather than the marathon itself.
So, I did what any social media-adept millenial would do: I posted on Facebook. I admitted my failure, my gratitude for the well wishes, and my apologies for disappointing my friends. I didn't expect responses, but to my astonishment, I received love and comments from nearly 50 of my friends, some of whom I had no idea knew that I was running a marathon.
I'm a Type-A perfectionist; I don't really fail at things. If I don't think I'll succeed, I never try. For me, failing the marathon was notable for a number of reasons:
My experience got me thinking: why don't we let ourselves fail more? I learned more from failing today than I would have if I had succeeded. I learned about myself, my limits, and my fears. I learned how to control a panic attack alone in the middle of nowhere. I learned that while I can be beaten, I cannot be broken.
Pardon my Brené Brown interlude, but what would happen if we all challenged ourselves to do something that we had a high chance of failing at? I truly think that we'd all be more humble, hopeful, and work harder. We'd be less scared of the unknown and we'd reach our amazing potential.
I think maybe we are afraid to fail because of social media. (This is awkward for me to admit, since I'm a social media professional.) I know it sounds obvious, but marathons are hard. Half marathons are hard. 10Ks are hard. 5Ks are hard. In our running-event heavy society, we sometimes forget that. How often do you see someone post a picture of them and their medal on social media compared to them admitting that a run didn't go well or that they failed?
Here's my challenge to you: do something that scares you. Let yourself fail. Document the process. Share it. Grow: it's the only way we'll get better and evolve. As for me, I fully intend to try Big Sur again next year, if the marathon lottery gods smile upon me. If not, I'll be doing the 21-miler and conquering Hurricane Point.
How will you fail?
Have you ever seen a pattern, fell in love with it, but question if it would ever look good on you? That was my relationship with the Sweetheart dress by Patterns for Pirates. I had seen so many beautiful versions of the dress on the Patterns for Pirates Facebook group, but I didn't know if I could pull it off. Then, Patterns for Pirates announced they were going to do a sew-a-along for the pattern and Pretty Posh Prints sold a polka dot Liverpool fabric, and I figured it was time for me to stop fighting destiny.
This was my first time sewing Liverpool, and let me just tell you, it sews like a dream. For those of you who are as clueless as I was about what Liverpool fabric is, it's a textured spandex blend. Unlike other textured fabrics, it maintains its texture when it's ironed and has a smooth back. Both are huge bonuses in my book.
The pattern itself is pretty easy, but you absolutely have to make sure that you take updated measurements. The bodice is drafted for an 8-inch side waist measurement, and my Amazonian stature has me coming in at 9.5 inches, so I had to adjust a pattern for the first time ever. It's important to make this adjustment so that the bodice hits you just right at the smallest part of your waist. If it doesn't, it may not flatter you. Making the adjustment is easy, and if you visit Patterns for Pirates' blog, you'll see step-by-step instructions on how to measure yourself, and there are tons of resources on how to alter patterns.
Like most of my projects, I suffered some casualties: I broke two double needles in the process of making this dress. (They actually broke in the span of 5 minutes. I was not happy.) Luckily, I didn't cut myself in the process of making the dress, which is a first for 2016. I have some plans to make other versions of the Sweetheart dress, including a peplum and another dress with the most beautiful knit fabric I've ever seen in my whole life. Hopefully, those will get done before I go on my Alaskan cruise. If not, I'll just wear this dress everyday.
My dress took me about four hours from start to finish. My fabric came from Pretty Posh Prints and cost $6.50/yard. I already had the correct color thread. The pattern cost me $7.50.
In total, the project cost $27. I've actually already worn the dress twice since I finished it on Saturday, including to my local Delta Gamma alumnae chapter's Founder's Day. Did I mention I'm in love with this dress?
I'm running the Peace Love Run Half Marathon on March 6 in Ventura, CA. The race is a 60s-themed out and back course along the Pacific. While most people choose the tie-dyed hippie look if they dress up for this race, I've never been a big tie-dye fan. I struggled with figuring out what I was going to wear, and then while taking down our Christmas tree, I saw my ornament commemorating the first Barbie and was struck by inspiration to do it as a costume at some point. About a month later, I realized that this particular Barbie fit the 1960s theme (while she was released in 1959, she was iconic through the early 1960s) and the beach location.
Luckily, I had the prefect fabric for making this project a reality in my stash and didn't need to purchase anything except for the Patterns for Pirates Sweetheart Dress pattern on which to base my swimsuit dress. If you're interested in how I made the costume, I blogged about my adventures in a series of blog posts that you can access here. Otherwise, let me show you how the costume turned out.
I'll report back on how the costume worked for running early next week, but until then keep on sewing and running!
Let me start off by admitting that this project did not end up like I thought it would and my hack for the "bra" top part of the sweetheart dress bodice ended up looking like "a bra for a toddler" (my friend Crystal's description.) The unfortunate thing was that I didn't realize it until I had sewn the bodice together and put it on, which meant that I couldn't just replace the pieces. I was going to have to figure out another solution and topstitch it on the bodice.
Luckily, with running costumes, no one really looks all that close at your seamwork. And if they did, then my Sofia the First dress probably received a lot of judging looks, because my first regular pattern to running costume pattern hack was a complete structural fail.
Anyway, it three episodes of Fargo and an extreme amount of patience to figure out how to coverup my tiny toddler bra cups and mimic the sweetheart neckline. I ended up using the smallest zig zag setting on my machine to faux embroider the cups on. With the bodice figured out, I sewed on the skirt.
Here's where I parted from the inspiration. In the original Barbie, the bottom of the swimsuit is a stretched out seam making the bottom come together at a diagonal. That's all good and well for a doll dress, but the practicality of such a design doesn't really translate into a the real world. After all, Barbie's swimsuit is more or less a striped sock.
I ended up taking more of the 1920s swim dress approach and did a half circle a-line skirt that matched the stripes of the bodice. Since I'm going to be wearing this for a half marathon, it's more important that the structure be good, even if it departs from the original inspiration. After sewing the skirt to the bodice, I trimmed the seams and left the edges raw, since the spandex has a clean finish.
With the dress totally done, it was time to turn my attention to my Barbie legs. Since I'm not blessed with thighs that allow me to run in just a dress, I needed to make some bottoms. I turned to Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs. (I've previously reviewed that pattern here.) I went ahead and made full-length leggings because the weather forecast for my race Sunday keeps changing. With full leggings, I'll have the best chance at staying warm and/or dry depending on what Mother Nature throws at me. I forgot to add the gusset, so my promise for a step-by-step tutorial won't happen this time.
Ready for the full costume reveal? You can find it here.
Have you ever passed over a pattern because you thought, "Oh, this will never look good on me?" If you said no, let me just say that I don't believe you. I can't even begin to tell you how many gorgeous patterns I've passed over because I was convinced that it would never look good on me. Then, three months ago, I started doing CrossFit and things started changing. (Also, I'd like to make a guess that this is one of the first times CrossFit has come up in a blog about sewing...)
By things changing, I don't mean just my body. My whole attitude about myself changed. I suddenly was saying yes to things that scared me. So, when Angela of Greenstyle put out a call for testers for her new open back pullover, I applied. Much like when I signed up for my marathon, when I got the email saying I was in as the 3XL tester, I panicked. There was no way 250-pound me could sew and wear this top. I almost backed out several times, but I made a commitment and even if it looked terrible, the worst case scenario was that I wouldn't send in photos.
So, I started cutting my fabric and sewing. I was insanely apprehensive about what would happen. Unfortunately for my anxiety, but great for sewists everywhere, this pattern is extremely quick to workup. It takes about four hours from opening the pattern file to finished garment. I pulled on my first version in our living room and my husband assured me it looked good, so I packed it in my bag to wear after CrossFit the next day.
Here's the thing: in order to put the top on, I had to strip down to just my sports bra in the middle of the gym. At work. On a Tuesday. You know, no big deal. The thought had me so anxious that I actually started crying during the WOD. (I couldn't make up this story if I tried.) But, after doing a million push presses and squats, I did it. I changed in front of everyone in the box and had another athlete take my pictures. And in true Buzzfeed fashion, you'll never guess what happened next.
People started giving my compliments and were amazed when I told them I made my shirt. One of my supervisors even said "You need a red or a blue sports bra. The white one doesn't do you justice." WHAT?!
So, I did what any rational person would do: I decided to make another version.
Even though I live on the California Coast, I don't own anything for the beach. (Body issues, remember?) So, I decided to suck it up and make a shirt for pre- and post- beach outings with some flawed fabric I got from Pretty Posh Prints. While the fabric was hellacious to work with (RIP double needle), I think the final project might be one of my favorite things I've ever sewed. It's cute, flowy, and my smile in these photos is genuine: I felt happy and comfortable.
So, here's the moral of my story: if you think something is cute, make it. You never know what your next favorite project will be.
My tops took me about four hours each. My fabric came from Pretty Posh Prints.
The slub anchor fabric was a flawed lot and cost about $2 a yard. The ponte superhero print was $6 a yard. The colorblocked red jersey came from Koshtex and cost $6.75
Because I tested the pattern, I got it for free. You can get it here for $8 while it's on sale.
Welcome back to my adventure in pattern hacking! Today, we're going to talk about mimicking my skin tone with fabric and verifying if the hack will work. If you haven't read part one yet that introduces my project, you can access it here.
For some people, running in a strapless outfit is possible, but with my build, it really wouldn't work. Therefore, I was left with the conundrum of how to emulate the nude look and make it wicking and supportive. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be tricky, because I would order some nude mesh and call it a day. However, since I gave up buying fabric for Lent, I had to search in the dark recesses of my fabric closet. Lucky for me, at one point, I purchased a fairly thick nude spandex from Jo-Ann. I don't quite know when or why I bought it, but there was just enough to make the top part of the bodice and the leggings we'll be discussing later.
Once everything was cut out, it was time for the nerve-wracking part of hacking a pattern: laying it out to verify that you did it all correctly. Because I not only decided to hack this pattern, but also do it with stripes, I was particularly nervous at this point. But as the picture below shows, I think I'm in pretty good shape.
Now that everything is cut and fit together, it's time to pin and sew, but that's an adventure for another time. My half is on Sunday, so hopefully there's enough time to finish the project!
The first step for any pattern hack is to trace your pattern. You never want to hack using the original for two reasons: first, if it's a printed pattern, you completely lose the original and second, if you cut into the original, you have no frame of reference if you mess up later.
For my project, I printed out the Sweetheart dress and traced the bodice pieces, but made a cut into the sweetheart neckline where the striped pattern changes direction.
Important note: due to respect for the original pattern maker, I will not be showing any full pictures of my pattern pieces, except for the hacks I made directly. This is to ensure that no one can recreate her original design.
Tracing and cutting the bodice went really well. It was easy to match the stripes and soon I was ready to cut the skirt. This is also when I realized the peplum skirt pattern that I had originally intended to use made it near impossible to match the stripes or do the diagonal stretch that the Barbie suit required.
This caused the first of what I'm sure will be many frustrations with this project. I ended up asking my husband for help and eventually when neither of us could figure out how to make the peplum skirt work, I gave up and started watching Downton Abbey.
About 15 minutes later, I realized that I could do an unfolded half circle skirt with a cut down the middle to match the midline seam from the bodice. I traced out the bottom of the bodice and drew an a-line skirt from the sides of the bodice to complete the pattern and cut each half separately from matched stripes. After getting the front bodice and front skirt cut out, it was time to cut out the back of the striped part of the costume, which in comparison was easy-peasy since everything could be cut on the fold.
This ended up being my stopping point for the night, so my next update will pick up on the nude part of the costume.
Oh! And before I forget, the accessories for my costume came last night: white cat eye sunglasses and gold hoop earrings. The total for these was about $15. Thanks, Amazon!
When people ask me how I got back into sewing, I'm pretty honest about why: I started running half marathons and found a community of runners who ran in costume. My first half marathon, I planned on running as Merida from Brave, but chickened out of making a tutu and ended up wearing an orange headband and teal shirt. Now, 20+ races and hundreds of miles later, I rarely, if ever, run a race without some sort of themed dress, and usually, it's a costume.
I have a half marathon coming up in a few weeks and have a plan to do a rather iconic costume, but in order to do it I need to hack a pattern. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, hacking a pattern means you take a tried and true pattern and adjust it to meet your project's goals.
I thought it might be interesting to do a step-by-step journey of me creating the costume, including what could potentially be a failure à la tutu. Therefore, you are cordially invited to join me as I transform the Sweetheart Dress from Patterns for Pirates into a running costume inspired by the very first Barbie for the Peace Love Run Half Marathon in Ventura.
Read about my journey!
Part One: The striped bodice and skirt
Part Two: The nude top and laying it out
Part Three: Finishing it up
When I was in college, leggings were standard uniform for most of my friends. Maybe it was because I was in a sorority or maybe it was because I was on the track team, but I pretty much lived in my comfy cotton lycra leggings from Wal-Mart.
I have several memories involving black leggings and sweatshirts, ranging from late nights in the library to track meets. Then, my senior year, I was wearing a pair of bright pink Nike Pro leggings at a meet and some of my male teammates were having a discussion about how poor my fashion choices were. Ever since then, I've been too shy to wear leggings without something properly covering my rear, no matter how comfortable they are. So, imagine my excitement when the Peg Legs pattern from Patterns for Pirates made me feel, well, pretty.
I don't know when or how I learned of Patterns for Pirates (or P4P, as it's called in the Facebook sewist world). What I do know is that EVERYONE raves about their "pegs." EVERYONE. In fabric groups, in other sewing groups, in running groups. Peg Legs are everywhere. So, last Saturday I decided I was going to do make some of my own. I took the plunge, cut into some of my precious brushed poly spandex from Pretty Posh Prints, and attempted to make leggings.
Before we continue, it's important for me to point out that for the longest time, I've been afraid of making any type of pants or bottoms. I'm not entirely sure why, but the thought of making my own pants was a hurdle that I needed to cross. If you have a similar trepidations, this pattern is a great place to start. It's simple and easy-to-understand and only took me an hour or so to sew them, which is amazing.
The instructions walk you through how to make them, and while I constructed mine with a serger, I don't think it would be too hard to make these with a regular machine and some ball point needles. There is one point in the construction where I freaked out a bit because the waistband isn't parallel and actually comes to a point. Don't worry when you see it, but if you need reassurance, check out this tutorial.
I didn't put a gusset in this pair, but I have plans to for an upcoming running costume that would have the gusset. When I do that pair, I plan on taking step by step pictures, but until then, sew on!
My leggings took a little over one yard of fabric and took about two hours of sewing after work to complete.
The pattern was free and the fabric cost $8.85 a yard once shipping was included. I had all of the notions I needed in my stash. Total cost of the project was $10.
Being tall has its perks sometimes. You get can reach the top shelf without a stool. You usually get to see things without obstruction when at sporting events or concerts. You're easy to spot in crowd. For all of the perks, though, you get to live a life of struggling to find things that actually fit you.
I'm 5'10". Not tall enough to be in the six foot club, but tall enough to have issues with inseams and accidentally mooning people. While finding pants is a nightmare, finding a good, comfortable day dress with my body type is akin to torture. Even though I sewed a lot growing up, it wasn't something I did to fill the gaps in my wardrobe. I sewed for 4-H projects, not for clothing. Suffice to say, after years of this, I lost any interest I had in sewing.
Although I returned to sewing a few years ago, I still didn't sew my own clothing. I think that I thought I wasn't capable of it, or that if I sewed my own clothing, I wouldn't look good in it. It took another year and discovering PDF patterns for me to get over it. In November, I stocked up on a bunch of patterns during post-Thanksgiving sales. I'd been lusting after Moneta for a long time and I finally got the nerve up to sew one.
I chose a brown ponte de roma from Girl Charlee. For some reason, I've been wanting a brown dress for a while. While I love the finished result, part of me can't help but think of The Sound of Music. I'm just a few cream colored sleeves away from Do-Re-Mi-ing in the Alps. I realized that I need to dress up the dress with a long necklace or another lively accessory, otherwise it can be dowdy in a heartbeat.
Because I started this blog, I realized that I needed photographs of me in the dress, which meant teaching my husband how to take good photos. The photo above is one he took of me while trying to educate him on what pictures should look like. It actually is one of the best showing the fit of the dress. Gotta love candid photos. The sleeves were easy to sew, as were the in-seam pockets. In a technical sense, the pattern was extremely simple and the directions were easy to follow. However, if you didn't have a serger, it could be a bit more complicated. In all, I'd definitely recommend a casual sewist to try the pattern.
My dress took a little over two yards of fabric and took about a week of sewing after work to complete.
The pattern cost 11.20 and the fabric cost $2.50 a yard. I also had to go to Wal-Mart and get some more thread, which cost $6. Total cost of the project was $24.70.
Hi there! I'm Meredith and a dork who happens to be bad at running and mediocre at sewing, but in love with both of them.