Over the Christmas break, I’ve been pondering how sewing your own clothes affects the way you see your body. In January, there’s so much incitement to diet, to get fit and to give up everything from alcohol to pasta that I wanted to take a step back and work out if sewists see this sort of thing differently.
Now that fast fashion is so cheap, most of us start to sew clothing because we can’t find the clothes we want in the shops. For some of us that’s because we have quirky taste. But for many of us, it’s because what the shops sell doesn’t fit us properly.
If you’ve ever gone into a mainstream teen clothing chain – one that all your friends love – and find as I did, aged 15, that you can’t fit into the largest trousers on the rack – it knocks your confidence. It’s as if the fashion police have stopped you in the street and publicly labelled your body too tall/short/fat/thin/curvy/lumpy/weird to wear the same clothes as everyone else.
When you sew your own clothes there’s no size label in the back of the neck, chiding you for being fat or thin. You just grade up or down a size and let the seams in or out here or there. You can just be you, in your clothes – uncategorised and unique.
If you’ve ever tried on a beautiful RTW shirt that does come in your size only to find that it gapes across your boobs and billows at the waist, you leave the shop feeling that you’re too chesty to be fashionable or somehow peculiarly shaped.
When you sew your own shirt, you can make it to fit you rather than letting yourself be judged against someone else’s standards. It’s just clothing, after all – WTF should we make this yet another opportunity for someone we’ve never met to tell us there’s something not right with our bodies?
It may not be up there with knowing that you’re loved or succeeding in your career, but feeling that it’s OK to be you, shaped exactly as you are, is fundamental part to your self-confidence. Sewing your own clothes gives you more control over that. And if you want to, you can make it in neon orange, too.
Does RTW sizing and fit get your goat? Has sewing helped you see yourself differently?
Further reading – stuff that’s made me stop and think:
Jenny Rushmore from Cashmerette’s heartfelt interview on Seamwork radio
Najah from Wanna be Sewing Something’s exploration of the process of conquering the changing-room mirror
Alterations Needed explores why so many celebrities always look as though their clothes are tailor-made (spoiler: it’s because they ARE tailor-made!)