I’ve Been Away: Mental health, life, and my sewjo + end of year sewing plans (knock on wood)

Sewing is something I love. But only when I’m feeling good.

Content warning: mental health, infertility, and family loss discussed in this post.

If you follow Sew Busty on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve been struggling with my mental (and physical) health lately. I’ve been experiencing depression, brought on by the death of my grandma, a tumultuous and frustrating fertility journey, and considering the possibility of a career change. All of this happened at the same time, and as someone who thrives on plans and stability, it was just too much change (or even potential change) for me to handle at once.

I lost my sewjo.

But I didn’t just lose my sewjo. I also lost my will to dance — another thing I normally enjoy doing. (I attended my first dance class in four months yesterday.) I lost my interest in cooking — and I love cooking so much that in 2019-20, I took online classes to become certified in plant-based culinary arts. Basically, I lost my energy to do anything other than get through work every day, throw together a quick dinner, and settle in for some TV, all the while distracted by obsessive thoughts about what my life might look like in 6 months, a year, five years.

Struggling to define my career

The job situation was especially hard, I think. If you know me, you know I love what I do. So much of my identity is tied up in my work. My job is in exactly the field I sought to join when I went to grad school, and I use my graduate degrees (and the knowledge I gained through my thesis research) every day.

So when I was recruited for another job — in the same field, at another organization I love — while it was a great honor and an exciting prospect, the thought of leaving my current organization was exhaustingly frightening. I spent 8 weeks grueling over the decision, second guessing myself at every juncture. I can’t even explain how stressful this was, because I struggle to find words to identify why I found it so taxing. I was crying about it almost daily for 8 weeks, though, if that gives you an indication.

And when I ultimately decided to stay at my current organization (with a promotion that included my absolute dream job description), it upset some people whom I respect, and that was incredibly tough. At this point, I’m LOVING my new role, and I’m so glad I decided to stay where I am. I’m at peace with people being upset with me.

Making babies is hard (and expensive)

And then there’s this fertility journey. Let me tell you something: Women’s healthcare fucking sucks.

The doctors basically have no idea why, but my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about a year now to no avail. I’m 29, so age isn’t a factor, and by all accounts, this shouldn’t be this hard.

You know, you spend your whole life trying to avoid pregnancy because they tell you in middle school health class how easy it is to get pregnant. And then you end up in my situation, finally trying to get pregnant, and you have to go to the doctor twice a week for even a hope.

Skip the next three paragraphs (gray background) if you don’t want the nitty-gritty details. The way a uterus-having person’s cycle is supposed to work is this: You have your period. Near the end/just after your period, your estrogen starts rising, ultimately surging. During this time, you grow follicles that will eventually release an egg (or two, in the case of fraternal twins). Your estrogen surge tells your body to then produce luteal hormone (LH), which then surges. This LH surge tells your body to release the egg. This happens, usually, on day 12-15 of your cycle. The LH surge also tells your body to produce progesterone, which aids in implantation and prevents your body from having a period too early.

Some of this happens for me. I have a period, my estrogen rises, and I have an LH surge and ovulation — albeit a bit late, at day 18. But the progesterone doesn’t happen. I get a mini progesterone rise — enough for the doctors to confirm that I am, in fact, ovulating — but not enough to aid implantation or to stave off my period. My period comes ~8 days after I ovulate, which is not enough time for implantation to occur, since implantation takes 8-12 days after ovulation. This short period between ovulation and menstrual cycle is referred to as luteal phase defect.

The thing is, if one’s body is capable of producing estrogen (which mine clearly is), apparently it’s also capable of producing progesterone. I don’t understand the mechanics of that, but this is what my endocrinologist tells me. So the theory for a while was that my body wasn’t recognizing the LH surge and thus wasn’t producing progesterone the way it should have. This was an exciting theory, because it was the beginnings of a diagnosis. But then I had a uterine biopsy (which, yes, almost made me pass out from the pain) that showed that my body does actually react to LH, so we’re really not sure what the hell is going on.

I took a pause while writing this to answer a call from my pharmacy telling me the drug my doctor thinks might help is not covered by insurance. Which brings me to the other part of the baby-making struggle: It’s flipping expensive.

I’m spending something like $1000-1500/month on medical care right now. I’m so thankful that for that promotion and raise I just got, because it’s honestly all going to the fertility clinic.

Slowly starting to feel normal

A couple weeks ago, I got to visit my best friend in Seattle for about a week. It was exactly what I needed. We didn’t do much sightseeing, but instead just spent time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

After that trip, I’m feeling much better. Not 100%, but much better. Well enough to make a bra last weekend, to have another pattern printed and ready to cut, and to have taken a dance class yesterday. I’m starting to feel like me again.

I made the new Porcelynne Jackie sports bra last weekend (stay tuned for a review on the pattern tomorrow!), and this was my first sewing project in a while. It felt good to make a pattern that went together easily. And now I have plans for some more complicated projects. In the next month or so, I’m hoping to make:

Now I just need y’all’s good vibes to make it happen. With luck (and a little bit of self care and therapy), I’ll be on my way back to producing more regular content for Sew Busty again. ❤

August/September Sewing Challenge + New Sew Busty Plans

I’m super excited to both announce our sew along and sewing challenge for August and September, as well as a few changes for the way we do sew alongs and challenges at Sew Busty!

August & September Sew Along + Challenge: The Amelie & Buttons

For August-September, we’re going to sew the Amelie dress from Untitled Thoughts as our sew along, and buttons will be the theme of our challenge! Sew any garment with buttons and post using the hashtag for a chance to win a prize!

I’ve long had my eye on the Amelie, and I just can’t get over the adorable back. The best part? The Amelie includes a DD draft at all base sizes, and there’s a way to make the open back cover a bra!

The Amelie sew along will come in three installments: August 9, August 16, and August 23. But, no new sew along will be posted in September, giving you extra time if 3 weeks isn’t enough. (And, as always, the Amelie sew along will live on this site indefinitely, so you can always come back to it at another time of year.)

The Buttons Challenge means that, if the Amelie isn’t your thing, you’ll have the months of August and September to sew up anything that features buttons – a button-up blouse, button-up pants, a cardigan, or even a bag with buttons. Post it by September 30 with #sewbustychallenge for your chance at winning a prize!

Planning Ahead for Sew Busty

Soooo, why is the Amelie sew along and buttons challenge going to span over two months instead of one? Because you asked for more time, and because this will help me not burn out!

If you follow me on insta, you know that I’ve been doing some scheming. This had two goals: First, I wanted to make sure I was giving y’all the content you want. Second, I wanted to make sure my Sew Busty workload remains (or even gets more) manageable, given that I’m one person (and a person with a full-time job and multiple chronic illnesses at that!).

Here are a few things I learned that are being implemented immediately:

Y’all like sew alongs, but you don’t need (or want) them every month.

Whew! This is soooo good to know, because sew alongs take a lot of effort. It’s a lot easier to sew something up quickly than to sew, stopping at every step to take pictures, and then write 3-4, 1500 word posts about how I did it.

So, from now on, sew alongs will happen every other month.

Y’all also like sewing challenges, but again, not necessarily every month.

This was actually a surprise to me. I honestly thought sewing challenges would be more popular than they are. Sewing challenges will span two months. They’ll start with the month of the sew along, and extend into the next month.

So, for example, as you’ll see on the handy calendar below, we’re going to start the Untitled Thoughts Amelie dress in August. You’ll then have August AND September to do a project with buttons and post it using #sewbustychallenge in order to be entered for prizes.

You want more notice on sew alongs and challenges

WISH GRANTED. I love this idea. So I’ll now be putting out a schedule, like the one you’ll see below, every quarter or so. My goal is to give you at least a month’s notice before a new sew along starts. Obviously I’m late for August, but I’ll be putting this out again in early September, ahead of the October/November sew along and challenge.

Pattern reviews are the most sought-after content.

This is honestly also a relief, because writing up my thoughts on a pattern after I sew it is SO MUCH EASIER than the full tutorials. So I’m going to be more focused on writing up every pattern I make.

After pattern reviews, sloper and FBA content is the most sought-after.

This gives me a challenge: Continue experimenting with my sloper! I can’t promise I’m going to do these posts on a particular schedule, because I honestly don’t always have the spoons to play with my sloper, as it’s a new thing for me. Same thing with FBA posts: I often opt for cup-sized patterns because that’s what I have the energy for. But! I will still make an effort to give you more of this content.

People also want more community features.

One idea someone offered was to do interview-based features on people in the community. I love this idea, and will definitely be implementing it. (Want to be featured? Ping me!)

Y’all want things in metric too.

My brain sucks at numbers and math and I didn’t grow up with metric, but I’m going to do this, because I know most of the world doesn’t think in inches 😂 In the last Roseclair sew along, I used both imperial and metric, and that will continue!

As always, thanks for trusting little old me to bring this community of busty sewists together. Y’all inspire me every day. If you ever have feedback, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m all ears!

Introducing The Sew Busty Community

Welcome to the Sew Busty Community – or SBC for short!

We are a community of busty people who love to sew. SBC aims to bring you inspiration, resources, and – perhaps most importantly – connect you with other busty sewists.

So what can you expect from SBC?

First, you can expect to find community. It’s in our name. Join us in our Facebook group or on Reddit!

Second, you can expect resources. On the resources page, you’ll already find the Busty Pattern Database, a crowdsourced repository of all the indie pattern designers who cater to busty sewists (either by drafting for a larger cup or by offering cup options). You’ll also find our handy measurement guide.

Third, you can expect to be inspired. Here is just some of the content we plan to offer