Honey, I shrank the sewists!

2 Dec

If you follow many sewing blogs, prepare to see miniature versions of bloggers (check out mini-Joanne, mini-Ali, and mini-Marie) popping up all over the place as the Colette Sewing Handbook is shipped worldwide.

One of the many fantastic activities included in the book is creating a personalised croquis for sketching inspiration. I’ve written about my love of ursa major’s curvy croquis before but I couldn’t resist playing with one of my own.

The basic premise is to trace a photo of yourself in tight-fitting clothes. To make it easier I printed the photo and scribbled on the back in pencil before placing another sheet underneath and drawing over the top of the photo. The result is a true to scale version of yourself in all it’s glory.

For me this was a  positive activity but I know body image is a really personal and potentially emotionally-charged area. If I’m being honest, (and I really try to be on this blog) my own feelings about my body change on a daily basis. I was raised in a feminist, body-loving hippy house-hold but I also know what the outside world says about other bodies like mine so whilst I try most of the time to be kind to myself, sometimes those nasty voices get in.

Now what does this have to do with making a croquis, you ask? Well it’s a little like stepping on the bathroom scale. If you’re the type of person who sees the number and it sends you into a self-hating hurricane, skip this activity and download one of the many cool croquis available for free online. I chose to give myself a little pep-talk, install definatalie’s ‘No Diet Talk’ blog badge, then dove right in.

And you know what? I actually really love my mini-me. I expected to feel those nasty twinges about my hips but instead I got a series of a-ha moments like, Holy Cow that’s why pants are nearly impossible to find or make.

I’ve found that the longer I sew the more inclined I am to look at myself with a sewist eye rather than a critical one. I don’t feel bad about my hips, I’m much more interested in what adjustments I can make to get garments that fit… it’s like crazy pattern-making sudoku and I love a challenge.

Thoughts that popped into my head:

  • No wonder I have to add like four inches to any crotch length.
  • My pelvis seems to tilt so I think that the front crotch curve will be a very different shape to the back crotch curve.
  • Having a full bust leaves very little waist height.
  • My back length is proportionally short but being 5′ 10 the actual measurement fits most patterns.

I’m not really a pear or an hourglass. I’ve decided that my body-shape will here-forth be called the snowman as it’s like two spheres stacked atop each-other.

So from a fitting perspective it really get’s you thinking about possible alterations you might need.

From a design perspective, it’s quick and easy to see which shapes and silhouettes you like on your body.

Pants are a bit of a mare as anything that sits below my natural waists slips down to that groove between my high and low hip, but I think the bootleg works ok.

One final use… De-coding deceptive vintage pattern illustrations like this one (from Amy’s lovely give-away) on my sewing table at the moment.


43 Responses to “Honey, I shrank the sewists!”

  1. Ginnie Wise December 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    I love it. What a truly superb idea. And the snowman comment literally cracked me up!

  2. Elizabeth December 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Great idea! I love seeing all the different patterns on your croqui. Very illuminating!

  3. Joanne December 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Oh my god you’ve been hard at work sketching away – that’s fantastic! I can’t wait to get colouring in on mine 🙂 I love your mini-me too

  4. Katharina December 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Great idea! I love it when you put clothes on mini-you, you can really tell what looks good. I’m definitely doing this!

  5. Sandy December 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this! I love how you used your croquis to “try on” different outfits. I also appreciate your attitude about body love. I am so tired of the body bashing. We are women, this is what we look like — all beautiful!

  6. Suzie December 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Oh WOW! I love your croqui and loved seeing all the different outfits on it – it really is such a useful tool and I’m very tempted to give it a go, even tho I don’t have copy of the Colette book. I like the look of Truffle on you, the ruffle is very sweet.
    And, oh my god, I laughed so much a ‘snowman’ – I want to be a snowman too!!!

  7. prttynpnk December 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    This is great! I gulped when I read that chapter, but now I know how much I need to do this too- thanks for this!

  8. molly December 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Very cool! It’s easy to see that all shapes of skirts look good on you.

  9. Catherine Daze December 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    What a great idea! I’m going to have to give this a go. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Lisa C. December 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    I’ve been waffling on doing this since I got the book! It’s so nerve wracking to take that picture…ugh, I just can’t imagine asking my husband to do it! (Although he thinks I’m beautiful and I do as well, just not in leggings and a tight tank top!) It was really inspiring of you to post this! If a regular shaped girl can post this online than I can make one just for myself, right?!

  11. Seraphinalina December 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Why oh why did Iput that book on my Christmas wish list? Now I’m frustrated having to wait.
    I can see how that is a difficult but illuminating process. Focusing on fit means that our bodies (regarless of size or shape) just look their best.
    Snowman made me laugh, but come to think of it, I think I am too. A compacted snowman perhaps at 5’0.5″ but yeah, it works.

  12. Debi December 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    LOVE this post! What a wonderful idea!!! It’s like paper dolls only better!

  13. little betty December 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Gosh- so much work! They all look great.

  14. Law December 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Wow Alana you’ve been busy. This is such a good idea! I’m not very good a drawing though, is it easy to sketch the clothes onto your croquis?

    Love the snowman body shape definition!

    • lazystitcher December 3, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      Super-easy, each one only takes 2-3 minutes. I just use the line-drawing of the pattern as a guide 🙂

  15. ms. modiste December 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    This is so inspiring! Love it!

  16. liza jane December 3, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Yep, between you and Ali- I’m convinced. I’ve got to try this. Very awesome and very inspiring!

  17. Sigrid December 3, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    This is so brilliant and inspiring. I can see now how it could be incredibly useful to decode patterns. Thanks for sharing!

  18. jen December 3, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    I used to do this for fashion illustration class when I couldn’t get the pose right I was trying to draw and I found it terrifying, but it looks like you had so much fun doing this maybe I would try it again? LOVE the dress with the ruffle in the play section!!

    • lazystitcher December 3, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      But I just adore your illustrations for your fall wardrobe. They are so damn cool!

  19. Suzy December 3, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    I love this – its like trying on all those styles without having to sew them. Thats one of the pitfalls I’ve found since sewing, because I can make things to fit I often make them just because I can but then when I try them on I don’t like the style on me. I am so doing this myself this weekend!

  20. didyoumakethat December 3, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    This is an absolutely brilliant blog post. Thank you SO much, especially for your thoughts on body image. I’d never even heard of a croquis until Stitch and Witter blogged about hers. I must say, I’d be fascinated to see what came back to me from doing one of these things. Now, whether or not I’ll dare blog with images is another matter!

  21. Sølvi December 3, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    What a great post, Alana! I love this idea! I read Ali´s post as well, and it seemed very illuminating to her as well. Your mini-me is adorable, and I can imagine it comes in handy when you are to decide on what to sew next! I have a fashionary where the croquis are “slightly” elongated, so a more accurate template seems like such a useful tool!

  22. lazystitcher December 3, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Thanks so much for the lovely feedback guys!

  23. mujerboricua December 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    “I don’t feel bad about my hips, I’m much more interested in what adjustments I can make to get garments that fit… it’s like crazy pattern-making sudoku and I love a challenge.”

    YES, YES, YES! I have found myself thinking less and less about how to change my figure and just make it look the best I can. And it’s working. Figuring out what flatters me and how to make a garment fit are great puzzles that I am definitely enjoying doing.

    Great post!

  24. Nicky P December 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    Whoop whoop! Go you (and from watching your blog, I think you do a pretty good job of working out what suits you).

    Keep it up, and happy making.

    From a fellow snowman 🙂

  25. Lavender December 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    I’ve heard of croquis, but never really knew what they were. Along with Seraphinalina, I’m wishing I hadn’t put this on my holiday wish list. I know I’m getting it (brat), but now comes the waiting! This is so brilliant, and I really appreciate your sharing, especially the attitude that sewing has given you freedom to let go of the nagging voice, and thus make things that fit. I feel the same way! It’s liberating. Maybe it’s the drawing, but I do love the wide leg trousers 🙂 And the second skirt length is perfect, imo.

  26. lsaspacey December 4, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Wow, you have been so busy! Great post and great sketches! Your Mini-u is adorable, I love her bangs and bun in the back!

    I actually like the hip yoke pants (I like them for me too), haven’t you made a pair like that before? All of the coats looked great but I’m a big fan of that one in the bottom left hand corner, so fashionable so chic. I also like the vintage pattern but with a deeper neckline. So what’s next on the ironing board?

    • lazystitcher December 4, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks hun! Yup, NewLook 6190 is my usual pants pattern although I didn’t bring it to London with me so I have a Simplicity ‘amazing fit’ pattern to try. The coat in the corner I really like too – it’s the one on the cover of the english language Burda this month so I have my eye out for some wool 🙂

  27. lakaribane December 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Croquis making and using looks so much fun! Thanks for reminding me of this technique. I’m been super busy this week so missed all the mini mes floating around the web. Have to check them out…

  28. Michelle December 5, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Wow! What a fantastic post you’ve written! And doing the croquis sounds like it must have been so empowering.

  29. kathleenleen December 8, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    This is so awesome! I did a croquis many years ago and haven’t used one since I started sewing again. I got my Colette handbook a few weeks ago but I’m so impressed by all the mock-ups of outfits you created… what a great idea to see what works with your shape! You are briliant!

  30. Dana December 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    This post is fantastic in so many ways! Thanks for sharing your croquis!

  31. Anna December 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Your croqui looks great & I love how you can really get a good feel for how an items will look on your body by doing those little sketches (which look fab btw)…
    I think I might try making my own croqui! 🙂

  32. Alessa December 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Wow, that’s so cool and inspirational! I’ve had my Colette book for a couple of weeks but haven’t had the chance to really dig in. Looks like I really should do that!

  33. Rosa January 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    This is great! I’m going to have to try this technique out. Thanks for the honest opinion/insights!


  34. azzy January 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Really interesting and thought provoking post! Definitely an exercise that is work undertaking, even for me as an extreme novice.

    Love how you’re able to turn any potentially negative comments about yourself into positive ones to help improve the fit of garments.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  35. Katrina January 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    This is absolutely awesome!! Its 10pm here in AU and I want to get up and take a pic and do exactly the same! What a massive revelation. Loving your blog…thanks for inspiring me to start messing around with clothes even when I carry a lot more weight. 🙂


  1. Editing For Your Style – Inspiration From Colette | Did You Make That? - December 17, 2011

    […] This was a really interesting exercise. Perhaps tonight I’ll take my inspiration from Stitch and Witter and prance around the house like a French mime artist in deeply unflattering tight leggings and T-shirt. No, not because I’ve finally lost my marbles, but because I am intrigued to see what my croqui will look like! (For an extremely thought-provoking blog on making a croqui, visit Lazy Stitching here.) […]

  2. Lazy Stitching - December 23, 2011

    […] post with the most comments was this experiment in drawing a personalised croquis from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I’m really interested in […]

  3. Colette Fall Palette Challenge Wrap « Lazy Stitching - January 3, 2012

    […] It was fun to start experimenting with croquis, which have now developed into my own mini-me version. […]

  4. My Croquis « Patchwork Dreams - January 9, 2012

    […] It’s a fun exercise! And working out what your body is like and what clothing styles suit you is not something that is just limited to people who sew. Would you be brave enough to try it? If you want to see a couple of other people’s croquis, including two that play around with different clothing styles, see here or here or here or here. […]

  5. Mini-me: Colette croquis « Un Peu de Couture - January 15, 2012

    […] many other bloggers inspired by the Colette Sewing Handbook, I’ve been trying to draw my croquis. […]

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