Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "When Life Throws You Some Curves"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It was sponsored by [personal profile] librarygeek. It belongs to the Fortressa thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"When Life Throws You Some Curves"

[Saturday, December 19, 2015]

"Hey Penny, are you free?"
Primer called. "There's
someone I'd like you to meet."

"Yeah, just let me move the cats
and my laptop," Penny replied.

When she stood up, she could see
Primer dwarfed by a black woman
who wore a loose melon cardigan over
a multicolored top and black yoga pants.

"Penny, this is my friend Bombastica,"
said Primer. "Bom, this is Penny,
our in-house fashion designer."

"I really admire your line
of Pocket Parity clothes,"
said Bombastica. "I wish
that I could fit into them."

"Sure you can," Penny said.
"I just need to make a new sloper.
All I've had to work with so far is
myself and my current models,
of which Primer is the plushest."

Primer was plump and curvy.
Bombastica was enormous and
shaped more like a watermelon.

"You really think you could
fit me?" Bombastica said.

Penny looked at her. "Wow,
this will be like draping a statue!"

"Okaaayyy ..." Bombastica said.

Penny pulled a tape measure
from her pocket and said,
"Mind if I measure you?"

"Go ahead," Bombastica said,
giving her a bemused look.

But the tape wasn't long enough
to go around the woman's hips.

"Well that's fucking useless,"
Penny said, throwing it over
her shoulder. "Fortressa, do you
have a hardware tape measure
that I can borrow, something with
a cloth tape instead of metal?"

"Sure," Fortressa said, tossing
her a round leather case.

So Penny used that to take
the measurements she needed,
then loaded them into her computer
to generate a sloper pattern.

"Okay, Bombastica, talk to me
about clothes," said Penny.
"What do you like to wear?
What do you like about
the clothes I design?"

"What do I want,
or what can I get?"
Bombastica grumbled.

"Both, please," said Penny.

"Well, most of what I own is
workout wear, either skin-tight
or baggy," said Bombastica. "I've
found a few dressier items with
more definition. I like to wear
a corset under a swing dress."

"Cool," said Penny. "What kind
of colors do you usually wear?
Do you prefer patterns or solids?"

"Hot pinks and purples, some orange,
browns and grays," said Bombastica.
"I love bold patterns, like florals. "When
life throws you some curves, flaunt 'em!"

Penny laughed. "That's the spirit!"

"I love your safari clothes,"
Bombastica said wistfully, "but
I'd never get my tits into them."

"Oh, that's easy to fix," said Penny.
"Those are fitted patterns with a lot
of pieces. Yes, that makes it take
a long time to assemble, but they tailor
to the body shape. Here, watch this."

Quickly she sketched out a row of
safari dresses from small to large.

"See how the shape changes?"
Penny said. "Every seam is
a potential control point to alter
the fit of the finished garment."

Bombastica looked at the set
of fashion sketches. "Okay,
I think I see what you're doing."

"Penny makes different patterns
for different body types if the design
isn't one that scales easily," Primer said.
"It's why I thought you'd like her work."

"Yeah, some garments work over
a wide range of sizes, and others don't,"
Penny said. "Sometimes it works better
to make a different garment that serves
the same basic role in a wardrobe."

"Fortressa almost never wears skirts
or dresses, but she likes the fun prints
for a day off," said Primer. "So Penny
did up a bunch of harem pants, and
they're a great alternative to skirts."

"I love those, when I can find any
to fit," Bombastica said. "Most of
them don't have pockets, though."

Penny snorted. "They have
more than enough room."

Her stylus danced across
the screen, making new sketches.

"Check this out -- light flowing fabric
for comfort in the legs, but accent bands
for support at waist and ankles," said Penny.

"Exterior pockets?" said Bombastica.
"I like these pants. They'd match
a lot of what I already have."

"That's the idea," Penny said.
"What else are you missing?"

"Jumpsuits and skinny jeans,"
said Bombastica. "It's hard to find
anything like that in my size,
let alone with pockets."

"You like skin-tight stuff,
so let's play with stretch denim,"
said Penny. "That will highlight
your curves without binding."

Bombastica leaned over
to watch. "That's amazing."

"That's fashion design, and
fuck what my professors said,"
Penny replied. "Let's see,
you like swing dresses ..."

She sketched out a dress
with a flirty handkerchief hem.

"We could take off the lower band
and have a tunic top, or add another
to make it a maxidress," Penny said.
"Again, the seams make it adaptable."

"I'd go for that," Primer said. "You
could do it up in black or blue."

"I was thinking spring green and
hot pink, but yeah," Penny said.

"It's beautiful," said Bombastica,
finger hovering over the side pockets.

"Do you like maxidresses?" Penny said.

"Yeah, but they're too hard to find,"
Bombastica said, shaking her head.

"I can fix that," Penny said,
making another sketch. It had
thin, dramatic stripes of pink
yellow, orange, and black
with a boldly angled bodice.
"Okay, what do you think?"

"Well, I love the concept of
a one-shoulder bodice, but --"
Bombastica gestured at her front.
"-- sometimes the puppies try to
make a break for freedom."

"I guarantee your puppies
will not pop out of this dress,"
Penny said. "I thought about
incorporating a sports bra as
a bodice liner. You know, like
a shelf bra, but actually functional."

"That could work," Bombastica said,
a slow grin spreading over her face.
"How long would it take to make?"

"Oh, I could have preliminary patterns
later today," Penny said. "Working up
test garments and tweaking them
can take weeks, though. Have
you ever thought about modeling?"

Bombastica's mouth fell open.

"Pay me," Primer said smugly,
holding out a hand to her.

Bombastica handed over
a bill without complaint.
"How did you know?"

"Cause she asked us
to model too -- dyke,
crayon soup, chubby girl,
and all," Primer replied.
"You get used to it."

"Well, I need a variety
of models to show off
the different clothes,"
Penny said. "I can't
afford to pay anyone yet,
so I have to work with
whoever takes barter."

"I will totally model for you
in exchange for new clothes,"
Bombastica promised.

"Deal," Penny said, making
a note on her tablet computer.

Pocket parity was catching on.

* * *


Primer (Rae Lyn Robertson) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and wavy brown hair to her shoulders. She often gets into trouble by overlooking danger signs. Her superpower allows her to stick things together or peel them apart.
Origin: Her father worked in a car factory using the paint sprayers. An accident with the new "washless" paint left him with dermal scars and DNA damage -- the latter of which he didn't realize until his daughter was born with superpowers.
Uniform: Street clothes. She likes bold color combinations such as black and blue.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gunplay, Good (+2) Painter, Good (+2) Persuasive, Good (+2) Sassy
Poor (-2) Risk Assessment
Powers: Average (0) Adhesion
Motivation: To color outside the lines.

Bombastica (Beulah Beauregard) -- She has chocolate skin, brown eyes, and chin-length brown hair worn in many thin braids. She is big and tall, with powerful muscles under a thick layer of fat. Bombastica loves her body and dresses to flaunt it. She loves hot, spicy food and has the iron stomach to handle anything. She was a boxer who gained the ability to manipulate her mass, so now she does cape work instead.
Origin: At a boxing tournament, someone was selling "power smoothies." She was standing in line for her third serving when the other women started getting sick. Instead, she gained superpowers.
Uniform: Bombastica has a hard time finding clothes that fit, so most of them are athletic clothes, either skin-tight or baggy. Most of the time, she lets her body take its nature oval shape, but she enjoys dressing up in a corset under a swing dress to create a more defined waist. She favors super-saturated shades of purple, berry, hot pink, and neon orange. The only green she can wear is emerald and the only yellow is goldenrod. Her neutrals are eggshell, a wide range of rich browns, and charcoal.
Qualities: Good (+2) Boxer, Good (+2) Confidence, Good (+2) Iron Stomach, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Loud
Poor (-2) Nothing Fits Right
Powers: Good (+2) Mass-Density Manipulation
Motivation: "When life throws you some curves, flaunt 'em!"

Plus-size fitness clothes can be challenging to find.

Bombastica's business casual wardrobe includes:
Orange jacket, floral blouse in orange-black-white, black business yoga pants, black-and-white polka-dot cardigan, melon cardigan, white blouse, white business yoga pants, goldenrod three-quarter-sleeve dress, emerald sleeveless dress, fuchsia floral sleevless dress, black sleeveless blouse, hot pink skirt, black trousers, blue trousers, violet half-sleeve blouse, multicolor pink-and-melon sleeveless blouse, black-and-white striped short-sleeve blouse.

Her loungewear wardrobe includes:
Ash gray duster, charcoal jumpsuit, peach scarf, ivory slippers, charcoal top, charcoal wide-leg pants, charcoal slippers, navy T-shirt, navy pants, age gray slipper-socks, navy hoodie, ash gray T-shirt, berry pants, white T-shirt, white pants, peach twist-top, charcoal narrow-leg pants, peach duster, ash gray shorts, charcoal straight-leg pants, ash gray slip-on shoes.

Her workout wardrobe has a list in the picture.

One garment that reliably looks spectacular on plus-size people is a corset. As one vendor put it, "You have to have something to fill an hourglass with, dear."

These are some garments that Penny is working up for Bombastica:

Stretch denim offers several outfits. The jumpsuit has two front pockets and two back pockets. The jeans have five pockets. The white blouse has two secret cleavage pockets. The chambray shirt has four pockets.

The safari dress has four pleated pockets.

The jersey dress has two side-seam pockets.

The striped maxidress has two side-seam pockets and a long pocket hidden inside the angled edge of the bodice.

The harem pants have one exterior pouch pocket with accent trim plus a secret pocket hidden inside each cuff. The pants are made from lightweight, flowing material but the accent trim is a heavier woven band that provides shape and support at waist and cuffs.

* * *

"When life throws you some curves, flaunt 'em!"
-- Anonymous

A fashion sloper is a basic fitting pattern. They are not actually that hard to make. In some cases you may only need 2-3 measurements. But the more complex the form and/or the garment, the harder it gets -- you have to be willing to make a lot of fiddly little measurements and then know how to alter a flat pieces of cloth to fit the form. Learn how to make a bodice sloper using duct tape. Draft a skirt sloper. Make a trouser pattern with more duct tape.

1 The regular measuring tape
Typically a measuring tape for measuring the body is 60 inches long which is about 1.5 meters (152 cms). You get 120 inch long measuring tapes in shops as well, which is useful for measuring those curtains and quilts and other home decor stuff.

Size can be shown on a plus-size chart. T-America being saner than here, their clothes are typically sold with inch/centimeter measurements (like menswear here) and may also include sizes as a more general guide. Selling clothes that deviate more than half a size is considered fraud, so they have to stick pretty close to the advertised measurements. Also many stores have body scanners that will tell you which things fit bodies of your shape/size. These factors make it much easier to shop for clothes there ... if people make things in your size/shape at all.

Hardware tape measures come in cloth instead of metal. This one is 33.5 feet long, very nice for measuring people of expansive size.

Compare guides for measuring female, male, and child bodies. People of different identities should look at body silhouettes and consider which measurements they need for comfort and fashion purposes, as nonbinary bodies sometimes have different shapes. See above instructions regarding how to make slopers based on your individual body!

Size inclusivity in fashion requires knowing how to make a pattern bigger and smaller. Larger sizes pose challenges that cause many designers to omit them. This is simply neglect: if you can't afford to make every garment in every size, then alternate who you make clothes for. (It's fine for a designer to specialize; there are petite and tall lines, for instance. But so few people want to design for large customers that they are routinely abandoned, which is not okay.) In addition to accommodating width of different body types, you also need to address vertical adjustment. These companies offer plus-size patterns. Plus-size models and designers are making some progress.

A swing dress is a short dress with a fitted bodice, defined waist, and wide swirly skirt. It can work very well on curvy bodies with a large hourglass shape. You can also use a corset to create that kind of shape.

A shelf bra is a partial liner for a top that has a band of elastic at the bottom to help support the breasts. It's basically useless for anything but the smallest of bosoms. An improvement is to incorporate something closer to a sports bra that will provide robust support for bigger boobs.
Tags: activism, crafts, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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