If you told me when I was 17 that in 13 years I would weigh 50 pounds more but post pictures of myself in a bathing suit that I made on Instagram, you would first have to explain what Instagram is, but after that conversation was over, I would be shocked. Like many 17 year olds in the past twenty years, I had distorted eating habits and body dysmorphia. None of this is uncommon. But sewing has given me a new perspective on myself and of my body that has changed drastically since I was 17.
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is how taking my measurements doesn’t mean anything to me. It is a completely neutral act. Is my under bust measurement 1” bigger than it was the last time I measured? Yes, but all it means is I need to size up. So what? Sometimes it doesn’t even mean that I need to size up! I’m not sure if I am only speaking for myself here, but I feel like sewing has desensitized how I feel about women’s clothing sizes.
We always talk about how your ready-made size does not reflect your sewing pattern size, and while that is fine, we need to recognize that sewing sizes in general are very arbitrary. This is even more apparent when we start using different pattern designers outside the Big 4. I am a size 12 for the True Bias Lander shorts, but I am also an 8 for one of Gertie’s Patreon patterns.
The numbers don’t mean anything, and sewing allows us to understand that these numbers really are almost random, and just tell us which lines to cut out.
I think my husband said it best when I told him I was a size 12 for a pattern and he said, “12 what? There’s no units, that size means nothing.” Leave it to the scientists to put things into perspective.
My final takeaway is that clothes should fit ME, I don’t need to fit into my clothes. Once I realized this, my world changed.
Sewing gives us the power to make something fit exactly how we want it to. We are free to make any adjustments we want to a pattern so it fits us perfectly. That power made me feel amazing, and to this day I am the most confident when I wear clothes that I made that fit me, not wearing something I “fit into”.
Sewing my own clothes (and therapy, as well, can’t forget that) has freed me from this idea that I had to measure to a certain number, or I had to fit into a certain size to be happy. What makes me happy now is creating something that is just for me, no one else, and knowing that I put time and effort into it to make it fit me exactly how I am.
Carly (she/her) can be found on Instagram (@sewingyourwildoats) or at her blog with the same name, sewingyourwildoats.com, where she mostly shows tutorials on how to add pockets to patterns!
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