I’ve been short for pretty much my whole life, with the exception of a period around the 6th grade when I was smack in the middle of my class in terms of height (I know this because they lined us up according to height for our “graduation” ceremony and I was dead center for the girls.) And you always hear about things that don’t suit this body type, styles that don’t look good on that height or whatever. And then you go to your local Banana Republic or Macy’s, try stuff on, and the mirror confirms what all the magazine fashion “advice” says.

But to tell you the truth, I’ve always held some skepticism about those generalizations for petite people, because so many of them seem to be based on taking garments, shortening at them at the hem, and then declaring that they don’t work. And we all know that correct proportioning is a lot more than just hemming to the right length. I’ve long suspected that some (though not all) of the styles and garments that are deemed to be “unflattering” on short women would actually be fine if proportioned correctly. I secretly even believe that short women could pull off the dreaded cape if they made them at the right length for themselves rather than trying them on at the department store (but testing that theory is not high on my list of priorities right now.) And after discovering last week that pencil skirts don’t turn me into a stump if I make them to fit myself properly instead of relying on Armani Exchange to make a bottom that looks decent on a 5’0″ woman, I’m feeling somewhat emboldened.

And so I’ve decided to take on Vogue 1051, the alice + olivia pant that is decidedly wider in the leg than is generally deemed advisable for a woman with a 25″ inseam. (I’ve gone back and forth on this pattern for a while- I’ve seen the pants made up a lot and while they usually look nice, the made-up versions I’ve seen generally don’t have the swingy edge to them that I like so much about the pattern envelope picture and look more like a standard bootcut trouser silhouette. We’ll see how mine go.)First of all, these pants are loooooong. I did three petite alterations- one in the thigh, one at the knee, and one in the calf (because remember- it’s not just about shortening at the hem!) and probably removed a total of 6″ of length altogether. The final length should be just an inch or two above the floor when I’m wearing heels. And I muslined them up, and you know what?  They don’t turn me into a stump! My theory seems to be panning out thus far.

Ok, so now, about the muslin… I was, as usual, out of old bedsheets to cut up, so I started looking through my stash for something suitable that I didn’t mind sacrificing. (I was going to use some plaid flannel that Dan bought when he decided he was going to sew doggie jackets for all four of his family’s dogs. I told him that after he made one he might not want to make the other three, but he went ahead and bought enough fabric for four anyway, insisting that he would. Guess how many he made. In the end, the dogs just took turns wearing the jacket, and Dan discovered firsthand how stash happens. Anyway, the flannel is soft and nice and would be a great lining for something, so I decided to save it.) It’s utterly shameful to say, but what I decided to sacrifice was… Pendleton wool. Yes, for a muslin.

This is not just any Pendleton wool- this is the wool that BurdaStyle sent me to make the BurdaStyle book coat. Ultimately I ended up substituting coat fabrics due to a necessary last-minute design change, so I ended up with lots of this wool left over. And as shameful as it is to use Pendleton for a muslin, I just knew that I was never ever actually going to use the fabric for a proper garment because it’s not my color:

It’s on a hanger because it’s just far too scratchy to wear without lining. It’s a jacket or heavy bottom weight flannel. The color is darker than sky blue, but not as dark as French blue, and so I’ve been calling it “Viagra blue,” for reasons that should be obvious:

Haha, Viagra reminds me of these little guys. Anyone remember them? I should make some with some of the remaining Pendleton. This is serious.

The pants are kind of fun to put on though because every time I look in the mirror I think I should make a little matching jacket and a polyester tie neck blouse so I can look like a hip grandma from the 70′s. Or better yet, like Mr. Furley:

That guy totally rocks this color. I, however, don’t look so good in it.

For the real version, I’ve cut into one of my most treasured pieces of fabric in my stash, a heathered mocha brushed wool flannel that I picked up on a fabric bender at Mood during the holidays last year. I don’t know how they made this stuff so amazingly soft, but it feels like cashmere and I can easily wear it unlined. It would have been well worth it even at twice its $18/yard price (on the high side for me.)

So that’s where I am, trying to defy well established style advice about wide pants on short legs, using Pendleton as scrap fabric, and making somewhat obscure references to the late 70s and early 80s. I should quit here.

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