Do you feel positive about your body? In the past I haven’t, and I know I am not alone in that. Ready To Wear and mainstream fashion and magazines often have a knack of making you feel like there is something wrong with you because clothes don’t fit. But it’s not you, it’s the clothes — and luckily sewing is something that can help promote body positivity. Today I am introducing you to 3 Sewcialists who are discussing how sewing helps give them self confidence, because everyone deserves to have great clothes that fit and flatter!
I started sewing because as a plus size tall woman, I could never find vintage clothes that fit me. Sewing was a way to have the vintage inspired wardrobe that I was dreaming of. But as I made more and more clothes, sewing started to positively impact my relationship with my body.
When you’re making your own clothes, I think you start to realize, especially as a bigger person, that your body isn’t the problem: the clothes are. I think it’s never going to be said enough that your size does not define your worth or what you can wear, and after a while when you sew, size doesn’t even hold as much importance. For example, I used to get so worked up when I had to order RTW clothes in a size bigger than my “usual” size, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. Those numbers are arbitrary and super inconsistent fit wise from one company to the other!
When you sew, you are not a size 14, 18 or 24, but instead a list of measurements that will help you make something to perfectly fit that awesome body! And that’s something so very liberating.
I’m forty-two years old and the mother of five boys. Until recently, my relationship with my body could have been described as disapproving. Motherhood, the process of pregnancy, creates great changes in a woman’s body. It is very difficult sometimes to appreciate the miracle of your body when you are so focused on “getting your body back” after your baby is born. And make no mistakes, everyone’s body is miraculous! Though sometimes it’s not so easy to keep that in mind when you are cataloguing perceived imperfections.
Once I turned forty, I could also start to see more visible signs that my body was ageing. Extra pounds that weren’t budging despite efforts to eat better and exercise. Softer, saggier skin around the jawline. I don’t need to share all the changes, but it was harder and harder to still feel attractive. I would look at pictures of myself in my twenties and mourn that pretty, petite girl.
Luckily, my mother happened to get a new sewing machine, and passed her old machine, a Singer Rocketeer 500A on to me! It’s the same machine I learned to sew on, and so I felt like I was welcoming home an old friend. Soon, I was drooling over patterns, and buying fabric. I love sewing clothes. I love to think about how a garment will look in a particular fabric. I am so impressed with many of the Indie pattern companies that I’ve found — and how their patterns work for so many different shapes. I’ve found some patterns that look great on me, and that make me feel lovely and special.
That’s the wonderful thing about making your own clothes. You can make something to your specifications — you decide fabric, details and fit. A self made garment is unique to you, and the sense of accomplishment you feel for making something beautiful and useful only adds to the pleasure. Sewing helps me to appreciate my body’s shape. It helps me to see “imperfections” as quirks and gives me the tools and knowledge to help me tailor and fit garments to my body.
I wish that everyone could experience the thrill of sewing, and the pleasure and confidence of clothes that fit well and are exactly what they want. I am also inspired by all the sewists of different sizes, who are making lovely things and showing that although they might not fit the narrow beauty standards with which we are inundated, they are every bit as beautiful and worthy of wearing garments that fit well and make them feel good.
As well as making clothes, my sewing blog was what changed the way I see myself. When I look at my first posts from a few years ago, there are not many pictures of me. And the ones that are there aren’t flattering, stiff posture, forced smile, bad angles. So what has changed? It is photography! My husband is the photographer and I take my pictures more seriously. We think about weather, venue and time of day. We cast aside our sense of shame in taking photos and just take them wherever and however we want to, not just looking for places where there are few people around.
I like looking at myself more… In part this is because of making my own clothes but also because of selecting pictures for my blog. I am forced to look for the things I like.
There is a certain objectivity and individuality to sewing your own clothes that’s very liberating. The more clothes you make, the more often you see that there is no such thing as an ideal proportion or an ideal size, and bit by bit, you change your mind set. You are no longer trying to reach some ‘ideal’ standard or make your body work with a certain size or certain garment, it becomes a matter of making a pattern work for you! And this is a great boost for your self-esteem!
So, in short… Make yourself some clothes, mix up those sizes, change your inner voice and love yourself, just the way you are! Find yourself a photographer and get out there. Put on some make-up or don’t, get your hair in a complicated up-do or a messy bun on top of your head, develop a signature pose… Tell your photographer to get you 100 pictures or more of yourself and tell her or him what pictures you have in mind. Look at the screen and repeat until you are satisfied! Get rid of your shame and put a face to your blog or Instagram, you have nothing to hide! I want to see you!
How cool is sewing, eh? I love Wende’s comment about wishing that everyone could have the thrill of sewing — what great motivation for spreading the word and encouraging people you know to get started!
If you have a body positivity story to share, we would love to hear from you! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate is one of the Sewcialists editors. An import to the UK from Australia, she shares her love for sustainable fashion and sewing over at Time to Sew.