Ease-in To Motherhood 2

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.


Ease-in to Motherhood

Monserratt, over at mexicanpink, are launching a motherhood sewing blog event called

Ease-in to Motherhood

Junior Prom
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! 
My cute kid.
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.


My favorite nursing top that I made was a jacket.  It also was an Elizabeth Lee design, and I put the nursing slots in it, but I never nursed either kid while wearing it.  It is pictured below.

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.


Chorography (from χῶρος khōros, “place” and γράφειν graphein, “to write”) is the art of describing or mapping a region or district, and by extension such a description or map. This term derives from the writings of the ancient geographer Pomponius Mela and Ptolemy, where it meant the geographical description of regions. However, its resonances of meaning have varied at different times. Richard Helgerson states that “chorography defines itself by opposition to chronicle. It is the genre devoted to place, and chronicle is the genre devoted to time”. Darrell Rohl prefers a broad definition of “the representation of space or place”. [Wikipedia]

I’m taking a class at Sketchbook Skool: Let’s Make a Map.  The class is taught by Nate Padavick.  He draws way cool maps.

Our first assignment was to draw a compass rose, so here’s mine.

Compass Rose

Places that I was thinking of doing a map of:

  • My Garden
  • The town I grew up in: Piedmont/Oakland
  • The town I live in

but then I saw this image at one of Nate’s sites.  Maybe I’ll do a map of the spaces of Jen & Rob.

Neefer’s Sewing Room

My sewing room still looks like this, pretty much.

Neefer's Sewing Room

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.

Neefer's Sewing Room

The 2 cupboards contain fashion fabric and some gift wrapping supplies. In theory, when they are full, I stop buying fabric.

Neefer's Sewing Room

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.

Neefer's Sewing Room

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.

Neefer's Sewing Room

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.

Neefer's Sewing Room

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.

Happy Buphonia

Today is the day to sacrifice a working ox to Zeus, protector of cities (since most of us live in cities …).
I’m not sure where I’d get a working ox or 5, but this is how it is supposed to work:
A group of oxen was driven forward to the altar at the highest point of the Acropolis. On the altar a sacrifice of grain had been spread by members of the family of the Kentriadae, on whom this duty devolved hereditarily. When one of the oxen began to eat, thus selecting itself for sacrifice,[1] one of the family of the Thaulonidae advanced with an axe, slew the ox, then immediately threw aside the axe and fled the scene of his guilt-laden crime.
The slaughter of a laboring ox was forbidden; it was excused in these exceptional circumstances; nonetheless it was regarded as a murder. The axe, therefore, as being polluted by murder, was immediately afterward carried before the court of the Prytaneum, which tried the inanimate object for murder, and, after the water-bearers who lustrated the axe, the sharpeners who sharpened it, the axe-bearer who carried it, each denied in turn responsibility for the deed, the guilty axe or knife was there charged with having caused the death of the ox, for which the axe was acquitted (Pausanias) or the sacrificial knife was thrown into the sea (Porphyry). Apparently this is an early instance analogous to deodand. In the enactment of this comedy of innocence, and the joint feasting of all who participated save the slayer himself, individual consciences were assuaged and the polis was reaffirmed.
New words: lustrate and deodand

Machine Feet

Accessory presser feet are standard equipment with sewing machines sold today, but how do you know which foot is best for which task?

Braid Foot

Use the braid foot to add decorative cording to fabric using any kind of braid, cord or serger threads. Both the narrow and wide braid foot have a hook on front of the foot slip, and a narrow, tunneled groove underneath. The cord is laced through the hook and under the foot slip into the tunneled groove. A braid -guide attachment, a loopy wire that attaches near the presser foot shank, keeps the braid untangled and taut while stitching. Put stabilizer on the fabric to stiffen it before sewing the braid. Use a basic zigzag stitch to attach the braid to fabric. Use the braid foot when attaching string for gathering fabric. Zigzag-stitch the string onto fabric, then pull the string to gather the fabric.

Pin-Tuck Foot

The pin-tuck foot is a flat foot with grooves cut in the bottom. You’ve probably seen pin-tuck work on delicate, heirloom-type sewing, but it can also be used in contemporary designs. The pin-tuck foot, along with a double needle , pinches and stitches lines of fabric into narrow, raised patterns in the fabric . The number of patterns lines, and the spacing between the lines, depends on the number of grooves in the foot. Use a three-groove pin-tuck foot to accommodate heavier fabrics or to create wider designs. Four- and five-groove pin-tuck feet are better when used on lightweight fabrics or for creating more narrow patterns. Use a 1.6 to 2.0 twin needle with the pin-tuck foot.

For fabrics with obvious grain lines, trace a grain line at the desired point with a straight pin to create a straight-on-grain guide for stitching with the pin-tuck foot, or use a decorative-stitch pattern to achieve more elaborate designs. Adjust the width of the selected decorative-stitch pattern to the width of the stitch hole on the pin-tuck foot. To determine the needed width adjustment, slowly hand-walk the first pattern section of the stitching, watching very closely to be sure the needle falls inside the stitch area of
the pin tuck foot.

Narrow Bias Binder Foot

To apply purchased bias binding or hand-cut bias strips, use the narrow bias binding foot. The narrow bias binding foot is distinguishable by a cone-shaped, slotted cylinder situated on the top side of the foot. It applies the bias binding, folding and stitching it all in one step. Using bias that measures a ‘scant’ inch – just under an inch – thread the fabric into the cone shape on the binder foot before attaching the foot to the machine. Do this by clipping the end of the bias strip into a diagonal point to help feed it through the cone. Feed the bias strip into the cone, nudging the pointed end through the narrow end of the cone with a straight pin. Pull the pointed end of the strip through the hole on the foot plate. Attach the foot to the machine. Slide fabric into the center of the foot beside the cone, and sew using any desired stitch to attach the binding. The cone will feed and fold the bias strip to create perfect bindings.

Gathering Foot

The gathering foot is a small L-shaped foot with a slot on the bottom side of the foot. The bottom of the foot is higher at the front than in the back, causing the foot to rock when attached to the machine. The rocking motion creates instant gathers. Set the stitch length on a higher setting to get more gathers and on a normal setting to get fewer gathers. Lay the fabric underneath the foot to gather a single layer of fabric, or use the side slot to stitch one piece of fabric to another.

More Feet:

Ruffler Foot This large foot has many components; and is used to make
large ruffles and pleats.
Eyelet Foot This H-shaped flat foot has a small cylinder shape attached
to the top surface; it is used to create eyelet.
Darning Foot The featured darning foot was plastic and resembled a
standard foot except for a thin, wire attachment. This foot is
used for free-motion embroidery and free-motion quilting.
Buttonhole Foot The buttonhole foot is recognizable as a rectangular-shaped
foot with thin extensions at either end, a raised square on top
of the foot and small grooves on the bottom of the foot. This
foot creates buttonholes and also works well when sewing in
invisible zippers.

Presser Foot Identification Tip

Tape each presser foot to a scrap of fabric that has a sample of the work the foot does, then store the fabric scraps in plastic bags and display them in a notebook.

My notes from Sew Perfect Episode 418
Nina Milenius (Donovan)
Sewing Expert, Viking Sewing Machines Inc. / Husqvarna, Viking and White
3100 Viking Parkway
Westlake, OH 44145
Toll-Free: 800-446-2333
Fax: 440-847-0001
E-mail: info@husqvarnaviking.com
Web site: www.husqvarnaviking.com