Happy Valentines, Galentines, chocolates and wine/fancy fabric day, friends! We’re taking today to celebrate one of our favorite kinds of love: self-love. We’ve been so inspired by the Sewing Makes You Love Yourself challenge on Instagram (#smyly2018), we thought we’d chime in with our thoughts on how sewing has transformed, inspired and impacted our lives and our relationships…with ourselves. Join the conversation! Let us know in the comments if sewing has positively impacted your relationship with yourself and your body.
Becoming a mom has been a total blessing but also a crisis in identity of sorts. In the past few years (precisely 5 1/2!), I’ve felt myself and my personal identity slipping away, outside of being a mom of little children (which is, I think, when this feeling might be the most acute – maybe??). Sewing has given me so much during this time: it’s helped me to re-establish and maintain my identity – both in the clothes I choose to make for myself and in my identity as a maker – a way to connect with like-minded individuals and feel visible within this community (including lots of moms!), peace and a sense of accomplishment (to balance out the second-guessing, anxiety and worry that comes with being a parent – maybe it’s just me?), love and understanding for this body that has changed form after housing three babies in short succession, and a small way to give back to myself at the end of a long day or week….which, quite honestly, probably helps me to be a better mom.
Sewing Makes You Love Yourself?
I’ve been sewing for a long time. I’ve never thought of sewing as a way to show love for my body or its image. Body issues have been around for me for a long time. Growing up I would get the old (and tiresome) “you’re too skinny” message over and over and over. Yes, even the “you’re too skinny” messages sting. As with the message “you’re too fat” both phrases tell a child that something is wrong with their bodies. You’re not right. You’re too this or that. There’s something shameful about the body which you live in. Which is probably why I spent years dressing in baggy men’s clothing. To this day I look at clothing labels, pattern sizes and and need to remind myself that I don’t need to get 3 sizes over my normal size.
For me, sewing really changed when I bought the size my shape was intended for. I was sewing with patterns about 2-3 sizes off than what my measurements are. I’m also getting better because of my quest for awesome fit. I want the things I make to fit better and that means really looking at my body and where I can improve on fit. Improving fit means you have to look at your body with an unflinching gaze. The end result is a well fitting garment that isn’t miles to big.
Another big shift in how I looked at my body came after I had my first child. When I gave birth my body went through a tornado of changes, afterwards I was left impressed. I just made a human being from scratch! Who cares what my body looks like, that is an amazing feat!
One thing I’ve heard a lot is that older women who sew tend to drop off sewing garments because they don’t want to address their body changes. Readers out there do you agree? Do women stop sewing for themselves because of menopausal related issues? I would think that is the exact time you would need to keep on sewing. I would love to know your thoughts on this and what it would take to get you back to sewing!
Pregnancy, illness, weight swings, to natural body changes we all go through, the body sure does change! Which is why I’m glad I can sew. My image of my body has changed over the years, definitely better than when I was younger slopping around in men’s clothing. Sewing has helped. But, like everything body positivity is an ongoing journey. There will be another bump or valley that was not there before. A mushy part to examine, poke and prod: “What is that?!” I plan on sewing my way through it all!
When I started sewing, I always made things for other people. I would start out making something for myself and as I got through the project I’d think of someone who would really love what I was making, or I would start to hate the fabric or second guess the style, so I would gift it or sell it. As I got older and developed more of a “signature style” of sorts, it became much easier to sew for myself. But then I had a bunch of kids and sewing for myself took a backseat (really, it was in the trunk covered up by diapers, strollers and food particles). I sewed for them, albeit not very often. While going through breast cancer treatment, I didn’t shop or sew anything because I didn’t know how my body would look after all the surgeries and I didn’t want to waste money on things I’d never fit into again. After surviving treatment, it took me a long time to even start looking at clothing styles and patterns to make for myself. I started out small with easy patterns, like knit T-shirts and tanks with a forgiving fit, and even made a pair of pants. This year, I’ve challenged myself with making at least one garment each month. Just the act of sewing has really helped with my thought-of-cancer-recurrence anxiety. Plus, being able to alter patterns to fit my new boobs is the best part! The more stuff I make, the more I want to make stuff.