The Emperor’s Tight Clothes

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We all know the story of the Emperor who gets a new set of clothes. In the story, nobody was brave enough to tell the emperor that his clothes were not, well, there. Finally, one little boy stood up and said what everyone else was thinking.

Today I am that little boy.

It happened this morning as it has uncountable times before. While perusing Facebook this morning I saw a picture of a woman who attempts to dress modestly. Her skirts are all long, her blouses have long enough sleeves. There was no plunging neckline. But I could tell immediately that she wears D cup bra because of the tightness of her shirt.

This is not modest!

I think a lot of it is ignorance. After all, there aren’t many people who will tell me “That really looks bad. You should wear something else”. But there are a few, and I use them. My husband will tell me. There are women (and even a few male family members) in my life who I can ask for an honest opinion about whether something is appropriate or not.

Some of the problem is that we’re going through a stage in fashion where everything is tight. Some of the problem is people haven’t bought new clothes since they’ve gained weight. Some of the problem is that people are ignorant of the effect their clothing has on others.

This problem is not just for women any more. Men’s clothing has recently take a turn toward tightness. Pants are skin-tight and shirts are sculpted. I’ve never had trouble buying clothes for my husband until recently.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to shop for modest clothes. I know that larger people have it especially hard. As I have had 5 children and fought hypothyroidism my body has changed. Just when I think I have it figured out, it changes again.

But it is possible to find clothes that fit well. It is possible to present ourselves in a manner that doesn’t draw attention to our bodies. If we pay attention to what we look like, how our clothes fit, and what they accentuate, we can dress modestly in an immodest world.

Here are a few rules of thumb I personally use. If you find something that helps you, feel free to use it.

1. If it is so tight that it doesn’t “hang”, it’s too tight. If a shirt or skirt stretches out over a curvy part and then instead of hanging straight down it curves back in, it’s too tight.

2. Most scarves don’t cover; they accentuate. Unless they’re pinned securely in place and carefully used in a specific way, they give small glimpses of whatever is underneath as the scarf shifts around with movement. This peek-a-boo effect can actually be more attention-getting than if the scarf weren’t there at all. I wear scarves, but I don’t plan on them covering up anything.

3. Lace doesn’t count as cloth.

4. If I have to constantly tug on it to keep it in place, it’s either not cut right for me or it’s the wrong size.

5. I am extra careful with stretchy material. It should hang, not cling.

5. If in doubt, I ask somebody. And I have given somebody, or even a few people, permission, no, an order, to tell me if something isn’t right.

I am not judging. I think a lot, even most, of the problem is ignorance and frustration with the garment industry.

So I’m the little boy in the crowd, yelling at the top of my lungs, “The emperor’s clothes don’t fit!”


DIY Easy Reversible Breastfeeding Drape

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I breastfed my babies for about 4 years of my life, and I have nursed my babies just about everywhere. I am a modest person; I am very open about bodily functions (me being a nurse and all), but exposing myself isn’t something I want to go around doing. My go-to nursing drape at that time consisted of the largest receiving blanket I could find (which was never QUITE big enough), a shoestring, and 2 safety pins: not exactly a classy accessory. After I was all done breastfeeding, my daughter’s eczema was just awful and I learned how to sew well enough to make her some non-itchy clothes. I made some breastfeeding drapes for presents at baby showers, nice large stylish ones with adjustable straps, and they’ve been a big hit. I like my design better than any others I’ve found (I don’t like the ones with boning in the front. They allow you to see the baby eating, but they also allow anyone sitting next to you to do the same,) so I’ll share with you how I make them. They are REALLY simple.

Warning: If you are really good at sewing, these instructions will seem way too detailed and simple. I am in no way a professional seamstress, so if you’re a beginner, that’s okay. You do need to know how to cut material, sew a stitch, and put in a button and buttonhole.

Time to complete from start to finish (not counting washing/drying time): 1 1/2 – 3 hrs (depending on skill level).

Supplies needed:

– 2 pieces of coordinating material, 36″X 44″ You want something thick enough to not be flimsy, but thin enough to not make you and the baby hot. Remember, it will be double thickness, and hopefully even a baby born in the autumn will be breastfed through at least part of the summer, so lets not smother the little thing! I usually get a pretty cotton fabric in the quilting section. This pattern needs something that doesn’t have a one-way design but can just go any-which-way. I like to pick a material that is discreet and doesn’t yell, “Hey, everybody look what I’m doing over here” but is also classy and something a lady would wear. I see these as more for the mom than the baby, so I avoid a babyish pattern. But those are just my thoughts. You may want something entirely different.

These instructions make the sides of the drape the selvage/factory edge and the top and bottom the cut edges, so make sure that works with your material’s design.

So here goes.

YOU WILL NEED:

– 1 large button, the bigger the better. At least 1 3/8″ is great. (As you can see here, 1.25″ and less is considered a choking hazard by the Child Safety Protection Act.)

– Thread that either matches or accents with the material. The thread WILL show.

– Velcro, 10 inches long, 1/2 inches wide. I always use the sew-on kind. I’ve been tempted to try the heat-bond kind, but I’m afraid of it coming off at just the wrong time. Nope, don’t want that!

– Sewing-type flexible tape measure

– Scissors

– Straight Pins

– Dull pencil

– An iron

– Something with a right angle, such as a piece of paper or a book

– A straight edge

– A writing pen

– Sewing Machine with button hole setting

IT’S ALSO NICE TO HAVE:

– A Yardstick, or even better, a t-square

– Air soluble marker

Instructions:

1) Wash and dry your material just as you plan to wash the finished product. Use the same washer and dryer settings and detergent so you don’t get any surprises when you wash it later. Iron your material and cut off any threads that have bunched at the edges during washing.

2) Wind your bobbin and thread your machine.

3) Your material probably shrunk in the washing/drying process. That is the point, after all. The length from selvage to selvage, whatever that is now, will be how wide the drape is. You want to leave the selvage as is, make the corners square, and make the 2 pieces the same size. How? Do this. Probably one piece will be slightly smaller than the other. Work with it first. Make the sides and corners of the smaller piece even, straight, and square. This is where a t-square or yardstick will come in handy. If you don’t have those things, use a straight edge of some kind and a square corner (like a piece of paper or a book) to create a 90 degree angle. Leave the selvage uncut. Use it as the basis of your square corner. Use your air-soluble marker (or pen if you don’t have one of those) to mark the edge you want, and cut it out. Once you have one rectangle as you want it, place the other piece of material under it, right sides together, and cut the second to match the first. Now you have 2 nice, even, matching rectangles.

Find the cut edge, not the selvage. Cut off a 3 1/2″ strip of material from the bottom of each of your 2 big rectangles. This will be your strap. Cut off the end of each strap piece so they are each 29″ long. After you are done cutting, you should have 4 pieces of material: 2 big rectangles and 2 long strips. The strips will be 3 1/2″ x 29″. The big rectangles should be somewhere around 30″x40″ but it will vary a little.

4) First we’ll work with the 2 big rectangles, so set the 2 long strips aside for now. Put the 2 rectangles with right sides facing each other, match the edges up, and pin together or baste around the edges. This will be the body of the drape.

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5) Sew around the edge with a 5/8″ seam allowance. (On the selvage edge, sew it just inside where the printing starts. It will probably be a little more than 5/8″. Go all around except leave a 7 inch opening on one side. Use your scissors to cut a small snip in each corner. Be careful not to cut the stitch you just made.

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6) Using the 7 inch opening, turn your material right-side-out.

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7) Using a pencil stuck through the opening you left, poke the corners out so they’re not squared off and not rounded. Do this gently so as not to poke holes in your material.

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8) Press your material with your iron. Put your hand inside the opening and push the seams tight as you iron them. Make the edges nice and crisp. The seam should be at the edge of the pressed material. Don’t iron the opening yet. Of course, don’t iron your hand.

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9) Fold an edge at the 7 inch opening to match the rest of the edges that are sewed, and iron flat. Pin the opening shut.

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10) Now sew a stitch 3/8″ from the edge all the way around, paying special attention to secure the opening you left before.

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11) Now fold it in half, placing the sides (the selvage ends, the shortest sides) together. Place a pin at the top at the 1/2 way fold or mark it with your air-soluble marker. Measure 3 1/2″ on one side and make your buttonhole up and down, perpendicular to the edge.

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12) Now measure 3 1/2″ on the other side of the 1/2 way pin and place the end of the soft, loopy side of the Velcro there, extending toward the side-edge of the drap. Put it just inside the stitch you made in step 10. Pin it in place. Sew as close to the edge of the Velcro as possible while still catching the edge. Take out the pins as you go, not sewing over the pins.

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(My measurements are a wee bit off in this picture. Sorry for that.)

13) Now set that aside and get out the 2 long strips you cut in step #3. As I said before, this will be the strap.

14) Put the 2 strips right sides facing each other, match the edges up, and pin together or baste around the edges, similar to how you did the large rectangles in step #4.

15) Sew around the edge with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Go all around except leave a 4 1/2″ opening on one side. Use your scissors to cut a small snip in each corner. Be careful not to cut the stitch you just made.

16) Using the opening, turn it right-side-out.

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17) As before, using a pencil stuck through the open end, carefully poke the corners out so they’re not rounded.

18) Iron your strap. Put your finger or use the pencil inside the opening and push the seams tight as you iron them. The seam should be at the edge of the pressed material. Don’t iron the opening yet. Again, don’t iron your finger.

19) Fold an edge at the opening to match the rest of the edges that are sewed, and iron flat. Pin the opening shut.

20) Sew a stitch 3/8″ from the edge all the way around, paying special attention to secure the opening left before. Now your strap is sewed.

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21) At one end of the strap, attach the button just inside the stitch.

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(This button is smaller than I like. Get a bigger one for yours to be safe.)

22) At the other end, on the same side of the material as the button, pin the rough strip of Velcro, the side with the tiny little hooks. Sew as close to the edge of the Velcro as possible while still catching the edge. Take out the pins as you go, not sewing over the pins.

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23) Now the strap is done. You are almost finished.

24) Button the strap on the drape. Put the strap around your neck and velcro the other end.

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TA-DA! YOU ARE DONE!