Balance, Image Identity, #MakeNine2019

“There’s not one thing about your natural physical appearance that isn’t absolutely perfect for the totally unique individual you are.”

Metamorphosis, David Kibbe

A few weeks ago I used the inter-library loan system to have my local library seek and find the out-of-print (and crazy expensive used on Amazon) book Metamorphosis, by David Kibbe. If you do not know what inter-library loan is (your local library probably participates), you essentially can check out books from anywhere the book exists. I first used the website WorldCat, which is a world-wide library catalog, to see if any libraries had copies. I searched by the title and author and discovered there was a local university nearby, and a couple of small-town libraries within the state, who actually did. Then, through the inter-library loan request system at my local library, I told them what book and author I was looking for, and they reach out (through library magic, I am sure) and negotiate with a library that has it in their holdings. It took about two weeks for them to find it, and then have it shipped to my library, but then I had three weeks to read and make notes about the book before it was due back.

This book is actually fantastic overall, and has a huge self-care push, which was surprising to me because the self-care movement seems to be having a moment right now, and my perspective of the 1980s is skewed by the fact that I was a young child and remembering only what my mother and other adults in my life wore. Also, based on the way the basics of the style system have been transposed onto the internet, I wasn’t expecting it to be as body positive as it was. The quote at the top (and in the image) are from the first paragraph on the first page. The driving theme throughout the book is not to look “better,” but to use the way your body is built/created to present a personal theme that is overall balanced and harmonious. To Kibbe, this idea of balance is the ultimate acceptance of who you are, both as a person on the outside, but also on the inside.

Kibbe is very much aware that many (or even most) women have been exposed to negative influences as to how they see their outward selves. He acknowledges that much of the fashion advice received, especially from well-intentioned family members, is to cover areas that are culturally seen as problematic. Kibbe’s perspective is that if you take a yin/yang approach to both your body and the clothes you wear, with the ultimate goal of complete harmony, that the balance you create will not only be the most flattering, but that it will also reflect who you really are as a person. He says this image identity you create is your personal theme, and that creating and achieving this balance is truly accepting yourself.

The other thing I was surprised to read was, once I got to the portion where the quiz pages were laid out, Kibbe’s recommendation that you focus on the theme that you most closely resemble, and that not everyone will be a perfect, exact match for one specific theme. This is another area that I believe was lost in translation as people moved the quiz to the internet, and if I had read that FIRST, I believe I would not have mis-typed myself as Romantic initially. I think I spent my time stressing over what was “perfect,” and I should have taken more time at the outset to analyze my actual facial structure and shaping, and reading the descriptions of the recommended clothing styles to compare with what I have historically felt looks flattering. I also definitely see why Pinterest image searching at the outset might not be ideal, because it creates a pre-formed idea in your mind of what type of outfits a given style is, but is limited to outfits found on Pinterest.

Finally, there were also a few hints that I found helpful in the “Soft Classic” section of the book that had not ever made it to the internet. For example, the hint to remember that Soft Classic style is Classic first, with just a hint of the Romantic I had read before, but then it expanded with the suggestion to read the fundamentals of the Classic style for clear understanding of where to start. Once I had actually done that, I a better understanding of what I should be looking for at the outset, and it opened my mind to possibilities that I thought were not Romantic enough. The Kibbe Classic “key to success in life” is the marry form and function, and for a Classic, structure means freedom. Symmetry is ideal at all times. If I start with these things, then add the hint of Romantic details, then I will create the perfect Soft Classic look.

There were also ideas of how to use accessories like jewelry and scarves to create an overall look, rather than having to constantly look for clothes that create the look wholly on their own. For example, one of my #MakeNine2019 tops is the Concord t-shirt by Cashmerette. It has waist shaping and multiple neck options, but it really is just a plain t-shirt. However, I can add jewelry or a scarf to create the softness I need. Overall, for a Soft Classic, my look should be simple, and moderation will express the refinement and elegant sophistication of my “Graceful Lady” image.

The #MakeNine2019 is essentially a personal challenge to plan nine items to sew (or knit) throughout the year, and then an easy way to share them with fellow makers. I went through the process of planning out my own items a few weeks ago after I dug through my patterns.

Everything I want to make this year is from patterns from my stash, and all of them I also have fabric (either bought purposefully with the pattern in mind, or fabric I have bought and stashed just because I like it). Here is my #MakeNine2019 goals for this year (with links for reference, not affiliate):

Top Row, L-R
Concord t-shirt, Cashmerette, knit fabric from Cashmerette kit
Dartmouth top, Cashmerette, knit fabric from Cashmerette kit x2
Washington dress, Cashmerette, knit and woven fabric from Art Gallery’s “Dare” line by Pat Bravo, ponte waist fabric

Middle Row, L-R
Harrison shirt, Cashmerette, cotton lawn fabric x3
Rue dress, Colette, flannel woven fabric x2 (one will be for a potentially wearable muslin)
M6696, McCall’s, cotton sateen woven fabric

Bottom Row, L-R
M6885, McCall’s, flannel fabric kit put together by Craftsy years ago
Sasha trousers, Closet Case OR Thurlow trousers, Sewaholic (I haven’t decided which yet)
-silk fabric to make sleeveless shells or camisoles for summer (pattern not chosen yet, but maybe Itch to Stitch Crystal Cove, or even self-drafting from RTW that fits well)

After I created the plan, I used the newly updated My Body Model template to create some sketches of some of the plans. I have never done fashion sketching like this, but after I was done, I loved it. I could really tell how the shapes of these patterns would work on my own body. A side note, I am not good at adding hair, but it looked even more weird than no face, so I tried. I like to think I got better as I went, though I don’t think it really looks like my hair. Here are a few of the items close up so you can see how I tried to add details.

The next step I have embarked on is to create a sloper of my body, using the same new measurements I took for the My Body Model. I purchased a class with Suzy Furrer back when Bluprint was Craftsy, but I never actually started it. So the past two weeks I have been slowly working on that. I think having a sloper of my body will give me something to quickly compare to patterns for areas like shoulder width, bust apex, waistline, etc. These are all areas that I tend to need adjustments. I am hoping with my new measurements, including taking my high bust measurement snuggly while making sure no breast tissue is included, it will give me a better starting size for my neck/shoulder area, and make the full bust adjustment I need to do on most patterns more accurate. When taken that way, my high bust measure is 3″ smaller than when I had taken it before. I was ending up with items that were way to big in the neck/shoulders, and then I was doing a FBA on top of that, creating even more space. I am only about halfway through the self-paced course (I had a work conference last weekend out of town), but I am excited about the progress I have made so far. It is so cool to see your body laid out flat like this.

Have you ever made a sloper? Do you have any advice as I move into the portion of the class where I move everything to fabric? I would love to hear things like this!

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