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High Waisted Denim Love

“But you don’t want to wear MOM jeans, do you?”

Said my mom, to me, after a frustrating hour-long jeans try-on-a-thon at our local Old Navy. I had just rejected yet another pair of “classic-rise” jeans that weren’t even making a serious attempt at approaching my belly button (or covering the stretch marks), and I was about to cry.

My sole pair of halfway-decently-fitting jeans are falling down and falling apart, and I had searched high and low for a pair–just ONE pair–of jeans that might replace them, even if that meant trying out the skinny jeans trend.

Well, maybe I do want “Mom jeans” (minus the stonewashing and pleating, anyway). Because I’m sick of jeans labeled “high rise” resting five inches below my natural waist. What conspiracy decided that “modern” jeans should sit barely above the hips, requiring tunic-length shirts to awkwardly hide exposed bellies, and belted tops to emphasize a natural waist that could just as easily be emphasized by a well, waistband?

I am perfectly fine with my post-baby belly–stretch-marks and squish and all–because I couldn’t begrudge anything having to do with the birth of my amazing wonderful little girl. But that doesn’t mean I covet the muffin-top look, and I would much rather the emphasis be on my waist than my belly, thank you very much.

And as a vintage lover, I reject the idea that a low-waisted jean is inherently superior (though it certainly works awesomely for many, of course). Seriously, when and how DID this happen? If you look at any pants or skirt sewing patterns from the WHENEVER up to the 1980s, they pretty much rest on the so-called “natural” waist:

1930s:

1940s:

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

1950s:

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

1960s:

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

1970s:

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

Oh wait!

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

Yeah, there you have it–the hip-hugger jean (and that pattern envelope girl is even striking a pose worthy of Tant-Isis, queen of the low-rise jean!). Perhaps we can blame the 1970s? The natural waisted jean had a brief revival in the 1980s:

Source: etsy.com via Mikhaela on Pinterest

And then somehow, somewhen–in the 90s?–someone permanently decided that it was more modern to ignore the laws of logic and gravity and figure flattery and decree that natural waists were not only outdated, but UGLY, PASSE, and FRUMPY, retraining the eyes of millions over time until we could not but be horrified and terrified by so-called “Mom jeans.” This (admittedly hilarious, thank you Tina Fey) Saturday Night Live video didn’t help.

So where does this leave me? Frustrated and jeansless, pretty much. That Craftsy copy-your-favorite-jeans Jean-ius class wouldn’t work for me, as I have no jeans I’d even want to copy, so I think this means I need to do a little vintage-inspired jeans sewing (pattern TBD–I think I have some good ones in my stash).

And speaking of natural waists–what’s a girl supposed to wear with her high-waisted jeans, pencil skirts and so on? It’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to find cute, reasonably priced high-waisted underthings… in fact, most of these are actually retro swimwear bottoms from Modcloth:

Not Your Granny's High-Waisted Panties

So I think a little sewing might be in order here, too!

Finally, some questions for you:

  • How do you feel about natural-waisted women’s jeans and panties? Do you think they can be sexy, or do they automatically scream “FRUMP-VILLE” or “80s” to you?
  • Do you have any favorite sources or sewing patterns for high-er waisted jeans and panties?
  • Have you ever been accused of wearing “Mom jeans”?

Cross-posted in slighty modified form on my blog, Polka Dot Overload.

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I recently finished this mixed era dress and I love it. I think I’ve worn it at least three times in the past two weeks! I can’t feel anything but happy when wearing this – I think it’s the brilliant green colours…


The pattern is one I drafted myself based on a 1950′s design (this is the second time I have used it – the first time as seen here is much more traditional look). For this version I decided to use a favorite fabric from my stash that I have been saving for 4 or 5 years. I love this fabric so much that every time I considered sewing it I chickened out for fear of not doing it justice. I brought the fabric for about $15 in a second hand store. There was about 5.3m but at only around 90cm wide it only just made it. It feels like a brushed cotton and is lovely and soft and a little warmer which is great with Autumn coming on down here. I’m not really sure when this fabric may be from. 1960′s? or 1970′s? What do you think?

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Before I post some pics of my most recent project, I’d like to send out a big ‘Thank You’ to Lladybird, a contributor here at We Sew Retro, for the inspiration.

Back in March, she posted a top she had made from a full length silk skirt and I thought to myself: what a great idea! I’m always on the hunt for interesting fabric so I decided to see what the op shop had to offer.  It was slim pickin’ I’m afraid, but as I was about to leave I spied this fairly ordinary looking top (dress?).

 

It’s made of a lovely, soft spun rayon and only cost me $1.50! There’s a seam below the bust and I figured once I unpicked it there’d be enough fabric in the bottom half to make a top of some sort. I didn’t really have anything specific in mind and this 1950s ‘one yard’ blouse from my pattern collection looked promising.

Simplicity 3169

I originally chose Style 1 with the faux button front and peter pan collar but found I didn’t quite have enough fabric so a little improvisation was in order. Here’s what I came up with…

 

More details on my lovely new outfit can be found on my blog.

- Tamara

 

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Hi! My name’s Marie and this is my first post here, despite having been a huge fan of We Sew Retro since its launch and a loyal follower and contributor to the old Sew Retro. I’ve been stupidly dragging my feet about registering here – being a blogger user I was scared of the unknown technical stuff – but it was so quick and simple. I don’t mean to be an a*se kisser, but Katherine’s video tutorials on how to register and how to how to create your first post are brilliant! So if you’ve been dragging your feet like me, there’s no excuse to put it off any longer ;o)

Right, let’s get down to business. I thought I’d share my Mad Men inspired dress with you, which was born out of a challenge devised by Julia Bobbin – you can see all the pretty dresses here.

Mad Men inspired dress

Let's not play 'who wore it better' please!

I used Simplicity 4905 and some jersey material to recreate Jane’s look and it all came together surprisingly easily. Despite wanting to do Jane’s dress justice, I also wanted to end up with a dress I’d wear, so I opted for a fuller skirt than hers. This is the part I’m most proud of, because instead of using the pattern’s gathered skirt pieces, I decided to draft my own circle skirt and it actually worked. Hurray!

Simplicity 4905 and Mad Men inspired dress

If you’d like to know more about the making of this dress or to see more pictures, feel free to hop on over to my related blog post!

 

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