From February, 2005. Isabel is modeling the first of many fairy costumes that I made her.
Yesterday, I wrote about how becoming a mother lead to my sewing most of my own clothing as part of Ease-in to motherhood motherhood sewing blog event. Today, I’m going to talk about something else.
I’ve struggled with depression for most of my teen and adult life. One therapist, and I’ve had many, thinks that what happened was a long slow descent into severe depression that started when I was a young teenager. In addition to depression, I have an eating disorder. Most of the time, I’d have been diagnosed with bulimia, and like many bulimics, I considered myself a failed anorexic. Eating disorders are complicated and are not easily categorized. In addition, there is a popular mythos that has arisen. I don’t fit that mythos, and most of my behaviors, be they restricting or purging, were masked as “being healthy”. It wasn’t until I was seen by someone who worked in the area of eating disorders that I was diagnosed.
After my son was born, for a very brief period, I experienced what I call postpartum euphoria. In fact, for most of my pregnancy with Tony, except for some morning sickness in the first trimester, I felt really good. But the euphoria didn’t last. Before long, I was struggling to get out of bed. I had no energy, and I wasn’t feeling anything. It was like experiences had to be extreme to penetrate the depression before I would react to them. And as the depression got worse, the eating disorder spiraled out of control. I wasn’t eating, and when I was, it was like I was slipping off with my abusive, illicit lover, ED (for eating disorder), to have an orgy. Of course, after the orgy, ED beat the crap out of me, figuratively speaking that is. (Note: People with eating disorders often center their identities around the eating disorder, so separating one’s self from ED breaks that identification.)
Things got so bad that I thought I might lose my job. I’m very lucky that my employer also employs the EAP counselor. She’s on-site, and if she has space in her schedule, she can give you time even if you have exhausted your EAP benefit. She is the one who finally, after about 30 years of having an eating disorder, diagnosed me. I thought I was being healthy, eating carrots, apples, fat free yogurt, skim milk and drinking 2 gallons of water a day. She helped me with the depression, and she helped me get into an out-patient eating disorder program.
It has been a long, hard road to recovery. I think I damaged my heart when I was in my 20s and very bulimic, and I may have other health consequences from being sick for so long. But I am faithful to my therapy sessions, and I am able to manage things. The recidivism rate for eating disorders is very high; official statistics say 30% to 50%, but based on my experience of 12 years of group therapy, I’d say the rates are much closer to 100%. Very, very few people stay the course. In my groups, more people have died from the eating disorder than have left the program successfully. No, it’s worse than that: more people have died than have stayed in the program. It could be that I am only exposed to those who have been sick the longest, and the longer one has an eating disorder, the less likely it is that one will ever ditch ED. But I keep going to group. I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to return to those behaviors.
The thing that has kept me going back to group is my children. I want to see them grow up, graduate high school, graduate college, be successful adults, have children, or whatever it is that they choose to do. I’m a little apprehensive about what will happen when the kids leave home, but I have tools and support that I didn’t have before. Fingers crossed.
Sewing and making friends with other women who sew has also helped me. For one thing, they are a welcoming, loving, supportive group. But they have also helped me restate how I think of my body because very few of us fit a pattern out of the envelope. They have railed against the term “figure flaws”. They have bemoaned the fact that most of us shop and shop and shop, and still, nothing fits. They have shown me the difference that well fitting clothing makes in comfort and, yes, in appearance.
And they have shown me how to buy lots and lots of fabric. 🙂 When I was depressed, I bought a lot of fabric. I don’t buy very much these days. I have a fabric cabinet, and I have tubs of fabric under our kingsized platform bed. My goal is to only have as much fabric as the cabinet will hold.
Valuing myself enough to speak back to the eating disorder didn’t happen until after I had children, and in part, my relationship with other women who sew has also contributed to my valuing myself. I’ll continue to mother my children, go to group, and sew up my fabric stash, and maybe, some day, I’ll be free of ED, have successful, happy adult children, have a fabulous wardrobe, and have all of my fabric in that cabinet … um, actually, it’s two cabinets, but still that is a worthy goal.
Monserratt, over at mexicanpink, are launching a motherhood sewing blog event called
Ease-in to Motherhood
It’s been a while since I eased into motherhood. My eldest is 17, and my youngest is 14, and that’s it, only 2. Isabel is on the right in the image to the right. That’s from her junior prom, and no, I did not make that dress. Tony is below. He’s about 6 feet 3 inches tall (190 cm) … at 14. He broke his humorous a couple of months ago, and the surgeon told us that his growth plates were still open. He’s still growing!
There are two reasons that I started sewing clothing. I had been making quilts, and I liked doing that, but I’m a bit of an exhibitionist. I love being the center of attention. I love showing off my work, whether it is sewing, art work, gardening, or my professional work in engineering. I want people to see what I do. I decided the best way to show off my quilts to those around me was to wear them. I started making quilty clothing and art-to-wear.
Then I had Isabel. I wear size XXL, 1X, or 2X. Do you think I could find nursing tops in my size? Well, I could find one or two. They were in polyester or nylon; I prefer natural fibers. I was into attachment parenting. The book by William Sears recommended the Nursing Mothers Sewing List, so I signed up. The e-mail list introduced me to Elizabeth Lee Designs, which is no longer a business, but she produced patterns for nursing tops. With the support of the mailing list members, I was off and running … I mean, sewing. I don’t have a lot of pix. Year 2000 was before digital cameras were common, and it was a lot harder to get digital images. The image to the right is me nursing my daughter in one of Elisabeth Lee’s designs. I was still in my art-to-wear phase. 🙂
I made a lot of nursing tops. I made us matching tops (below). I look at those tops below and think, “Both Isabel and I loved those tops. Why isn’t purple panné still in fashion?” It’s a lovely color. It’s nicely fuzzy. It’s warm and comfy. Ah, well.
That jacket was really warm. The center front panels were doubled, and there was a layer underneath. It had great pockets, too.
The design had a double layer front panel that zipped in to allow for a baby in a front carrier. I carried Isabel or Tony in a sling. We went out in weather in the 20s F (subzero C), and Isabel or Tony and I stayed very comfortable.
In the 14 years since Tony was born, my sewing skills have improved a lot. I make a lot of my clothing today. I have joined a lot of sewing communities on line. You might know me as Neefer. I’m not as active in those on-line communities as I was 5 or so years ago, but as a result of those communities, I met some local sewing folks with whom I am now very close.
My sewing room still looks like this, pretty much.
The design wall is constructed from 4 bulliten boards mounted on the wall. I covered the boards with a grey flannel fabric. The chest is mostly full of quiting cottons. Supposedly, I put the cutting table away, but since my daughter has taken over my worktable, I haven’t put the cutting table away.
The 2 cupboards contain fashion fabric and some gift wrapping supplies. In theory, when they are full, I stop buying fabric.
The wall cabinets have books, notions, and embellishments. About 2/3s of my patterns are in the tubs under the sewing cabinet. The tubs are the size larger than the shoebox size, and they fit sthe standard pattern very well. A large pattern envelope can lay flat in the boxes, and the ones with the high top lid can accomodate both at once. So far, these tubs are toddler proof.
My husband built the worktable. It’s 41 inches high. I love it. The cutting table is too low, and I get backaches if I’m working at it for extended periods of time. It will be nice when my son is more trustworthy, and I can move my daughter’s stuff off of this table and store things under it again.
My Bernina 1001 sewing machine and Elna 744 serger. I don’t recommend a sewing cabinet like mine. The machines must be available at all times if a busy women is going to be able to sew in 5 or 10 minute bursts. I do like the pnuematic lift under my sewing machine.
The wall mounted ironing board is wonderful when you have small children. I like the full length mirror, too. I secure my iron to the board with a bunge cord.
My Bernina 180E on a desk built by my husband. He bought a ready made countertop and screwed it to two old chestof drawers. This sewing cabinet is much more practical then the expensive fold-away one.
The skirts are designed for woven fabrics. We suggest linen, linen types, rayon suiting, gabardine, corduroy, denim, twill and wool types. This fitted trouser style skirt offers a choice of three lengths. They have a fly zipper, optional front side pockets, a low cut waist with a shaped waistband and extension with a hook and eye closure. View A has a kick pleat at the center back. I made the long version.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I think it does … or it would if it weren’t too big.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were. I sew at night after everyone else is asleep, so I’m tired. I’m also dyslexic which causes problems. I managed to put the waistband on so that the flap is an underflap. However, if I had been more awake when I did this, I think I would have caught it. Other than that, the instructions were great. I recently referred back to this set of instructions for help with another straight skirt.
This was the first time I put in a zip-fly. The instructions were very easy to follow.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKE: I like the style and the length.
DISLIKE: I think it should be pegged, but that is easy to do.
Brown zebra print stretch twill, polyester I think, from Joann’s.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I wanted the skirt to be big enough when I sit down, so I made the finished hip size quite large. Sleep befuddled that I was, I made everything bigger which I shouldn’t have; the waist & wasitband fit fine the way they were. However, it’s just too big in the lower hips. I keep fiddling with it, taking it in, adjusting curves.
And I put the waistband flap on wrong which really doesn’t work. I think this mistake is going to make the skirt a wadder.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I want to try it again. I like straight skirts. I like the style. I want to get the waistband flap on right.
Clear and complete instructions.
T-shirts are really easy to sew. However, just like any top, a t-shirt must be fitted if it is going to flatter a very buxom woman like me.
I started with Kwik Sew 2565, now out of print, and a tie-dye burnout panne from Joann’s. That fabric was all the rage in the early 00’s.
Night 1: I traced, altered for full bust (added 3 inches per side!!! in front), and cut it out of the blue panne .
Night 2: I sewed darts and serged one side of bodice. Coverstitched bottom of bodice and sleeves. What was I thinking? I had to undo some of my serging to put the sleeve in flat. I think that is the way to insert a sleeve in a knit.
Night 3: I put in 1 sleeve and serged one side.
Night 4: I put in second sleeve and serged second side of body. Misread the instructions, and I couldn’t get the neckband in. I decided to try it on. The fit in the shoulders is perfect. The sleeves are a little tight on me. I reread the instructions for the neckline.
Night 5: The sleeves are too small. It’s snug, and it’s a bit short. I had to serge the neckband bottom before applying to the body of the shirt. The panne rolled too much when stretched, and I couldn’t control it.
Review of Pattern
Pattern Description: This is a pattern for a crew neck tshirt or a zippered top with a stand up collar. The pattern is recommended knits with 35% stretch. I made view B.
Pattern Sizing: I made a size large based on my high bust measurement of 41.5 inches. The front pattern sheet said that the size large was 39 inches around at the full bust! Now, that I look at the pattern webpage, I wonder if I misread that. Anyway, it’s close fitting through the bust on me, including my full bust alteration. The short sleeves are tight. The shoulders and neck fit me perfectly. It’s snug at the high hip.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. It looks like a tshirt.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t really follow them. I used my serger to construct the top, and I prefer to do flat construction and hemming. So I had hem my sleeves before attaching them, and construct one side of the top, only, before hemming the bottom.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
LIKE: It’s quick.
LIKE: I takes 1 yard of fabric.
LIKE: The fit in the neck and shoulders.
DISLIKE: I could use more ease, but that is my own fault for not paying attention to the “close fitting” description.
DISLIKE: Sleeves too small. I haven’t had this problem before, and I could have fit the sleeves before sewing.
DISLIKE: It’s short on me. Again, I should have paid attention.
Fabric Used: Polyester tie-dye panne from Joann’s.
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I did a full bust alteration and added 3 inches on each side.
Next time, I will make the sleeves bigger, add an inch or 2 to the length, and let the hip out a bit.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. I plan on making it again. It’s a great way to use up a yard of fabric. It’s very quick to serge up.
Conclusion I like this pattern for a basic, fitted tshirt.
UPDATE: After wearing the tshirt for a full day, I have decided that the sleeves are WAY too small. So if you have full upper arms, you might want to check the sleeves before cutting. I haven’t had this problem with other Kwik Sew patterns (so far?).
Silkroad Fabric on 14th Street in Oakland is struggling. They had a terrible year last year, and if this year is as bad, they will have to close. They are located in the old Holmes Bookstore (for any old Oakland-philes like me out there), and they have preserved all the old woodwork and trim. Parking is free on Sundays.