Wellmade clothing

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This top was a gift from my aunt about 7 years ago. I wore this at least 200 times since then and I still wear it almost once every week. It’s lace, has ribbons and sparkles. And it is holding up. Still looks like I bought it last week.

Well-made clothing is hard to find these days. Even expensive labels, when you actually look closely, their seams and fit aren’t like they used to be.

Trust me, I just spent a lot of money on my new work clothes and shoes last week. At least I was satisfied with the quality of the things I bought.

But it’s true, when there are shops in every corner that advertise “blouse for $15! Denim $30!” it’s hard to resist deals like that.

I’ve been guilty of buying clothes from those type of shops too. Quantify over quality, eh?

Every time I wear this top, or other things I bought over the years that I came to treasure, I am reminded of how, as a person who loves fashion, I should be more mindful of shopping habits. And be an advocate of fine clothing. :)

I’m not trying to sound snobbish or look down on those shops. If anything, I think most of their practices are unethical. But aside from their business practices, just looking at fashion alone, if you truly love fashion (and not just trends), you have to see that that $10 top with stitch ends still hanging out and off-grain tshirts (not on purpose) don’t have any “fashion value.”

I think fashion walks a fine line between art and function. That’s why when I design my knitwear, I don’t automatically turn to the most expensive yarn available or sacrifice wearability over interesting fashion details. You have to find that balance. I could make a really interesting pullover with 3 headholes and 4 armholes, but who’s gonna put in the time to KNIT it and then WEAR it in public? I could also make a really well-fitted sweater with all over St st but who’s gonna be able to finish that piece without getting bored?

In preparation for the TNNA this weekend, I am inspired and also have many thoughts on my designs…

I am small.

Short Me

 

By small, I don’t mean figuratively, I’m not small hearted or small voiced or anything like that.

By small, I mean my size.

I’m not bony or skinny, but my average Korean body in this everything-must-be-big-America often result in interesting shopping experiences.

I’d go for a dress shopping for a really romantic dinner date, and I’d find myself trying on 10 different silhouettes. One is too long for my height. One is too short for my height. One is too high-waist for my figure, and one is too low waist for my figure. One would be too “va boom” for my figure and one would be too simple to be anything special. And so on.

I am 5’4″ and my “waist to knee” is 20″ while the average American size for my size is 23 3/8″. And my hip size is about 2.5″ smaller than what an “average American” at my dress size would be.

All this came to me because I started sewing. Sewing pattern sizes haven’t changed since 1970s and unlike the “vanity sizing” you see in stores (when you say you wear size 6, please know that you’re actually size 12 or 14 in the “real” size; Marilyn Monroe was a size 10, and she was not big) which clothing companies arbitrarily adopted to make the consumers feel better about themselves and buy their clothes over other stores’ clothes.

I started paying more attention to body sizes. You hear this all the time “shopping clothes for me is not really fun because I don’t look good in anything.” Or “women come in many different sizes!” There are plus size clothing stores for people who are bigger than average people, so why isn’t there a petite shop? Why do short people have to face the humiliation of shopping in the junior section or worse, wear something that doesn’t fit right?

Although in knitting, when you’re looking at different sizes to knit, you can pick the bust size that’s closest to your size and you’re good to go because unless you’re REALLY different from most people, the stretchiness of knitted fabric makes it easy to make something fit you. But sometimes it’s about the proportion than the fit.

You can see in many of my designs that I like to knit sweaters little bit longer, sleeves are little shorter, etc. I think I was subconsciously knitting for my people, i.e. short and petite people.

So lately, I’ve been thinking about “designing for petite people.” I know the general trend of knitting designers going all the way up to 52″ bust but I think I want to focus on people in the 28″~38″ bust sizes. I don’t want to pretend to know how my garments will fit on a person with 52″ bust, because I don’t. If I take my design and just increase the stitches, I don’t know if it’ll be flattering on that person. What designers usually work with is STANDARD (is there really any standard in body sizing?) size charts and those assume that you’re 5’7″~5’8″. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen people who have 48″ bust and 5’4″. This person will most likely be unhappy with the way my design fits on her body because I worked from the standard chart and she is not standard size.

There are many designers who cater to plus size/women’s size people and I don’t believe there’s a place there for me as a designer. Maybe someday I’ll have the luxury of doing an expansive survey of women of different sizes and be able to make my designs in bigger sizes.

Of course, for my designs in many publications will still be available in bigger sizes because that’s what most editors specifically want, but for my self published patterns, I will be focusing on the audience I want to cater to: short, petite size people.

I understand that my decision may be an unpopular one. But after carefully reviewing some of the feedback I got from my customers and my own view of fashion, I realized that many of my designs are considered “young” and many of my customers told me that they were knitting my designs for the younger women in their lives like their granddaughter or younger friends. I want to be the designer that these people remember when they get requests from their daughters for a new sweater or from their school friends for a shawl.

Because, let’s face it. Your 17-year-old daughter isn’t going to much appreciate a huge circle lace shawl. It just doesn’t belong in their closet.

Another reason why I’m doing this is just general promotion of healthy life. I know that plus size people can have a healthy life… It’s just that most plus size people don’t. And I’m not going to pretend that I’m okay with this new notion of  “we should cater to everyone, even the unhealthy ones, because that way we appeal to more people who are overweight and we can sell more designs and we’ll make more money!”

If you looked at my patterns and thought you wanted to make one for yourself but it doesn’t come in your size because you are 5’3″ and have 48″ bust-48″ waist-52″ hip… Well…. That’s really your personal problem and not mine. You can always buy the pattern and hopefully you know how to make a swatch and take the gauge and re-calculate. I don’t have to design anything to please people who are already overindulging themselves to the point to near-death.

A little harsh? I think so too. But hopefully this means that I can really concentrate on my audience (really, there aren’t that many young knitters OR designs in the knitting community) and offer something unique.

 

By the way, I am perfectly medium and average in my home country, South Korea.

 

designing Andover

Andover sketch

 

Andover sketch

when preparing submission package to Twist Collective earlier this year, I was already working on my fall designs. For Fall 2012, I wanted to create wearable cardigan, jackets, and sweaters that reflect my own personal styles.

My husband and I took our dog to Laguna Beach (where we got married just a couple of years ago) and enjoyed a really romantic, relaxing brunch one weekend. I took a bunch of photos and these were my inspiration.

laguna beach

The chilly morning breeze was perfect for my Fall inspiration. Once I finished sketching several outfits, I swatched.

Andover’s beginning was a little bit bigger than the current version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the drape and the way stitches really showed off the tweed effect of the yarn. The rest just came naturally — the elbow patches, the huge vintage buttons I got from thrift store….

The pockets are small-ish but I think it works for this jacket. If you want to knit this and make the pockets a bit bigger, I suggest lowering where the pockets start so that you don’t end up with big pockets right under your boobs.

For those of you who are working on Andover, let me know if you have any question at all. I’m here to help!

 

 

 

Photos of “Gentle Teresa”

Gentle Teresa was released in the Early Fall issue of Knitty about a month ago, and since then I received several requests from knitters that they wanted to see the sample without the belt.

(c) Gentle Teresa by Jean Chung

Sample was a Medium and was stylized with a belt to match the model’s boots. But of course! This can be worn without a belt. Here are some photos I took of myself wearing the same sample, without the belt.

(c) Jean Chung

 

(c) Jean Chung

 

(c) Jean Chung

 

(c) Jean Chung

 

The pattern is knit without any waist shaping for easy layering. These were taken in about 85 degrees room so I’m wearing a short sleeve tee and shorts. The tee is a medium weight knit, but I’ve worn this vest outside when I first knitted it with a long turtleneck knit tee and it fit very well.

As you can see, this vest is supposed to be worn with enough positive ease to create the oversize top look, but if you prefer more fitted look, refer to the “Finished Measurements” section of the pattern. In most cases, simply going down a size will help.

 

Pattern Release: Lady Mary

Lady Mary pattern is here!



Ladies in Downton Abbey, a popular television series set on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in the North Riding of Yorkshire , England, are often dressed in delicate, feminine, and classic wardrobe.
Inspired by the character, Lady Mary, whose strong-willed appearance shells the hopelessly romantic heart, I designed a lightweight cardigan appropriate for spring.
Knitted from top down, seamlessly in the round, the yoke is knitted first and then the sleeves are held until the body is completed. The sleeves are finished with shaping and lace section for dramatic effect.

To fit bust sizes 32 (34, 36, 38, 40, 42)” / 81 (86, 91.5, 101.5, 106.5) cm
Intended to be worn with no ease; if your size is in-between, go up a size.

Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows = 4″ square in St st. with Main Body needle
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Lace in “Earl Grey” 1 (2, 3, 3, 3, 4) skeins
Needles: US Size 4 / 3.5 mm for Main Body and Sleeves;
US Size 2 / 3 mm for smallest size in lace section;
US Size 6 / 4 mm for largest size in lace section.

Sample made in size S, worn with 0″ ease. 

Click on “Buy Now” to instantly download the pattern.

US $6.00

Errata:

As of 4/13/2012, the PDF has been updated, so the new purchasers will have the corrected version of the PDF (v1.5). However, if you purchased the pattern before this date, there was an error under Body section.

Increase Row (RS): *Work to 1 st before the marker, M1R, k1, sl m, k1, M1L; repeat from * once more, and work to end.

Although we try our best to make all our patterns free of errors, some things may have slipped through. At any time you would like an updated version of the pattern, please email me with the email address you purchased the pattern with and I will send you a new copy. Thank you for your patience and I apologize for any convenience.