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Strong Is The New Skinny | Ballet

Strong is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

Happy New Year Everyone! Thanks for stopping by my stop on the Strong Is The New Skinny Blog Tour!

I love the fresh start offered by the new year – the chance to evaluate last year and make plans for this one. I had a few goals in mind for 2016, but when I saw Becca’s call for the Strong is the New Skinny blog tour, I knew it fit in perfectly with how I’ve been thinking recently about my personal health & fitness. I also had some fitness projects in my sewing stash I was hoping to finish for January so hopping on the tour was a given!

Strong is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

My Fitness History

I didn’t love running in Jr. High. I did a kind of walk run that was mostly walking. Later in high school I took a weight lifting class. I cried after the first class because a cheer leader could effortlessly lift more than I could. In college, I joined a gym after gaining my Freshmen 15, but didn’t really know what I was doing there. After school & newly married, I reminisced about a handful of cardio kickboxing classes I took briefly at the end of High School and remembered having a good time, so I grabbed a used copy of Tae Bo to do at home between gym sessions with my husband. And that is what I stuck with for YEARS. I mean, I could probably do the original Tae Bo series in my sleep! (How’s that for a hidden talent?!) After I had my son I took up running and ran my first 5k, but I’ve pretty much kept up either with running or some version of cardio kickboxing for the last 10 years.

First 5K | Made By Jaime

I had also tried out various ways of changing my eating habits. I tried low carb, a vegan/gluten free/dairy free three week cleanse, added green smoothies to my diet, etc. And of course, there was the negative body image we all struggle with in one way or another – a problem area here that plagued me, the doing too much then getting burned out and doing nothing.

New Adventures

Early in 2015 I was ready for a change. I found it more and more difficult to be excited about the same old videos and keeping up with extreme meal plans was exhausting. Plus there’s #momlife and leftovers that need to be eaten. I started to crave a more balanced approach.

As a teenager, I started to think maybe I’d like to try ballet. I loved Audrey Hepburn, who was a ballet dancer before she became an actress, and I was drawn to the beauty and delicacy portrayed by ballerinas. I’ve talked about it off an on for several years, but this past year, I finally found the courage to find an adult beginner ballet class and took the plunge. I am so thrilled that I did.

Audrey Hepburn (source)

When I talked to the instructor at one of our local studios, she let me know the best time to start would be in 2 months time, since they were currently in the throws of choreography for the upcoming show. I was like a little kid, counting down the days and gathering the appropriate ballet-wear. It only took one class to confirm that ballet was everything I had hoped for, but what wasn’t completely evident to me was the strength required to look that effortless! I fell in love with the new challenge, with the idea that ballet couldn’t be memorized on a video and repeated ad nauseum, with the guidance and instant feedback from the instructor and the experience and camaraderie of a live, group class.

Strong Is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

Ballet has also given me a positive goal for my fitness. Whereas before I was focusing a lot on how I looked, now I find myself wanting to be strong so I can dance better! This is a huge shift in my thinking.

Sewing for Ballet & Dance

Last spring while I was dreaming of starting ballet, I purchased this pattern, Kwik Sew 3671. It is out of print but you can still find it on the Kwik Sew website and uncut copies on etsy & ebay.

In sewing for ballet or dance, lycra is king! If you haven’t sewn with stretch fabrics before, do not fear! Just make sure you have a ball point or stretch needle to use with your machine. You will be using a stretch straight stitch or narrow zigzag stitch on your home machine or your serger.

Strong Is The New Skinny | Ballet | Made By Jaime

This clear lightweight elastic I got from Wawak is great for swim & dancewear. You can also use cotton elastic.

I had made swimsuits before so I felt comfortable with the fabrics and techniques, but I wanted to feel the fabrics for this project, their weight and stretch. So I headed to my local store, F&M Fabrics (online as thefabricmarket.com). There are several local theaters in town between the high schools and the melodrama, not to mention the dance studios, and everyone knows F&M Fabrics has the best stretch fabrics for costumes & dance. I was lucky enough to grab a few yards of this black spandex as the bolt was taken off the delivery truck that day, as it is difficult for them to keep it in stock!

Strong Is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

I also grabbed a thinner pink fabric to make a skirt. I started a ballet pinterest board as soon as I knew I would be taking classes and pulled up this tutorial. It went SO FAST – I mean if you cut straight, you don’t even have to hem it. There are no side seams, just cut, attach the waistband and you’re done!

Strong Is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

This particular leotard is so comfy to wear and I love the simple elegance. The one I purchased above for my first class just doesn’t fit well – it’s too short in the torso and I don’t feel great wearing it. I actually broke the Kwik Sew rules and blended sizes to get the perfect fit (it actually says in bold letters not to blend sizes – I now REBEL!).

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Strong Is the New Skinny | Made By Jaime

Since I’ve started ballet class, several of my friends have expressed their long held desire to be a ballerina. I cannot stress this enough – if this is something you’ve been thinking about, find a class and GO FOR IT! You will be re-inspired, learn something new, make new friends and have lots and lots of fun along the way.

Waiting Backstage #ballet

A photo posted by Jaime Johnson (@madebyjaime) on


I hope you are inspired and if you want more inspiration and fitness sewing tips, check out the entire tour!

Strong Is The New Skinny Blog Tour | Made By Jaime

I feel silly even needing to state this disclaimer, but “better safe than sorry,” they say. The talented women participating in this tour are NOT trained physicians (unless they state otherwise). I hope you find their testimony encouraging and motivating – but they are NOT adequate substitutes for the advice of your own doctor, trainer, or other health professional. Please consult an expert before adjusting or creating your own fitness regimen.

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Swimsuit Sew-Along: Your Machine

Welcome to the Swimsuit Sewalong! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, be sure to go back and read the Announcement Post and get ready & excited to make your own swimsuit!

As I thought about the order in which to present the various topics to be covered in this swimsuit sew-along, I wrestled with what to cover first. I finally settled on our sewing machines as I felt that if yours needed to be dusted off, or you needed to borrow from someone, this might take the longest to get situated. So here we go!

Though it is really nice to have an overlock machine, it is not necessary for making your swimsuit. If you have one, by all means, plan to use it! But all you really need is a machine with stitch #1 or #2 below.

MachineStitchesRed

#1 is a simple zigzag stitch, #2 is a three-step zig-zag and either one work beautifully. So stop right now and check your machine. It’s a very standard stitch and I know if you have a sewing machine, you most likely have a zig zag stitch.

Whether it’s been a while since you used your machine, or you use it a lot, take some time to baby it. Pull out your instruction manual and read up on how to clean & oil your machine. If the instruction manual is  misplaced, simply check your manufacturer’s website or google “how to clean and oil _(make & model)_ machine” and be sure you trust the source. If you’ve been wanting to have your machine serviced, take it in now. Sometimes it takes a week or two so get it in sooner rather than later.

Next, you will need to get the right needle for the job. One of the cheapest & easiest steps to prepare for project success is to make sure you get the correct needle for the fabric you will be sewing. I have worked with machines I thought were pretty gutless, but when I put a jeans needle in, it went right through that hem. For sewing knits and stretchy fabrics, you will need a stretch or ball point needle.  The reason being that if a knit strand of thread is cut with a sharp needle, it produces a hole that will enlarge when the loose fibers pull back from the cut. To prevent this, the ball point needle is designed to push aside the individual strands of the knit (Source) Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what to look for.

Stretch-Needles

ballpoint needles

Different machines take different brand needles, so be sure to check your instruction manual to ensure you purchase the correct brand. If you would like a truly professional finish, you may also get a stretch twin needle to produce two parallel rows of stitching on the top of your project and an overlock-style stitch on the bottom. This is the stitch your t-shirts are generally hemmed with.

StretchTwinNeedles

For those of you using an overlock machine (serger), check your manual to see if there are Ballpoint needles available to use with your machine. Sewing machine oil & needles should be available at any fabric store or, if you have trouble finding the right supplies for your machine, check online. Please let me know if you have trouble with collecting these – I’d be happy to help!

So let’s get our machines ready and in the next post we’ll discuss patterns. I cannot wait to show you the variety of patterns available! See you then!