In June I went to see Roxane Gay speak with my friend, Jenny. “Did you know she had bariatric surgery?” Jenny asked me. I hadn’t heard. She recommended I read a piece Roxane wrote about it on Medium. I actually listened to Roxane read the piece (which is a really cool thing that Medium does) and although her situation is obviously very different from mine, Roxane describes a relationship with food, and with no longer being able to have that relationship, that felt so familiar to me:
I turned to food when I was sad and happy and lonely and scared and anxious. I turned to food, and away from everything else; it was my comfort and my friend…And then, that comfort was gone. I’ve lost the best friend I never had the courage to acknowledge but who was my constant, loyal companion nonetheless. I am left holding the shattered pieces of whatever has been left behind, trying to assemble them into something new, something that serves me better.
I’ve turned to food as a friend throughout my life as well, but I’m realizing now, in my mid-40’s, that food is a false friend. Food is a form of self-punishment as much as it’s a treat, but it does fill a void and now that I’m eating the right way something else must fill that space.
It’s hard work to make better friends. It’s daily, hourly work.
Some of the work is fun, like treating myself well by getting pedicures and new earrings. And some of it is a slog, like saying no to after dinner snacks. But I’ve made one really good new friend and that’s sewing my own clothes. It’s a great friend because it both honors my body and engages my mind.
My second Grainline Willow Tank.
Here’s something interesting about sewing that many people don’t realize: sewing is vast. Sewing is quilting and making dolls and fine tailoring. Sewing is making drapes and wedding gowns and felt holiday ornaments. Most people who sew don’t sew all of these things or even half of them. There’s a lot to know and a lot to explore.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’ve hardly ever sewn an item of clothing for myself to wear even though I’ve been sewing for a long time. Until now I literally owned no fabric suitable for making a garment. I’ve got lots of quilting cotton, yards of fleece and felt, but I hardly paid attention to garment substrates. Rayon challis? Crepe de chine? What do these terms refer to? I went to the fabric store two weeks ago and walked up the aisles I never explore, touching everything, learning which ones stretch and which are sheer. I’m building a new stash from scratch. Totally exciting!
The first Grainline Willow Tank. Check it out! I made a shirt.
I’ve upgraded a few tools along the way. I bought all new pins because when you sew stuffed animals all your pins get bent (lots of fleece and fur wrestled into a small space will do that!). For my birthday last week my sister bought me a pair of Kai shears, and, perhaps most exciting of all, my family got me a serger. I’ve never used a serger, never even sat down in front of one. It’s a bit scary. I got a Brother 1034d (affiliate link), often described as “the blogger’s serger” because so many bloggers seem to have it. It’s not fancy or expensive, but there’s a Facebook group devoted to this machine with 17,000+ members and I figure I can always upgrade in a few years once I better understand my needs.
I also printed my first PDF garment pattern. I’ve bought PDF patterns before, but they were for small craft projects. A garment is different and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about. The first two patterns I bought were paper (The Rushcutter Dress and The Willow Tank). I decided to get The Sutton Blouse and it’s PDF only. I have to say, I loved the PDF! Once I figured out how to trim the right side and the bottom only, taping it all together took 20 minutes. I like the sturdiness of a pattern printed on copy paper, plus the flexibility of being able to print it again in a different size to make it for my daughters (or take it to the copy shop and have it printed all in one piece). My first Sutton is a muslin, but I’m ready to make it again now in crepe de chine. So exciting!
I’ve started following all sorts of new hashtags on Instagram: #rumitank and #lododress. My feed is beginning to look different which is so neat. I have #memademay plans for 2019. I have new books on my wishlist (affiliate links). My sewing library is expanding.
The third Grainline Willow Tank. It’s okay to have a lot of these, right?
Of course, in no way will I stop sewing dolls and toys and little quilts. Those are the things that brought me to sewing in the first place and that is the type of sewing that makes me feel most free. I don’t need a pattern to make those things – I make those patterns.
I still have so much to learn about sewing clothes for myself, but it’s a good feeling to be a novice, like stepping into the ocean. What I’ve always loved about sewing is that it’s real, it’s an artform that creates a practical result, something you can wear or snuggle or wrap up in. I love the utility of it. That moment when you iron the last seam, turn the shirt right side out and slip it on? It’s unbeatable. It makes a really good new companion.