She’s here. She needs a name.
This is the Singer 4432 sewing machine, considered a heavy-duty machine. This means it can go through multiple layers of fabric easily, and handle heavier fabrics like canvas (for nifty boat projects!) and denim. I’m in love with this machine! I stopped sewing a couple of years ago and foolishly gave away all my fabric. I could kick myself now, if my tight tendons would let me bend that far back. I’ve missed it, and when I saw this machine on sale (yep, Amazon Prime Day), I imagined all the boat projects I could do, all the kid’s projects I could help with, all the home decor ideas I could try out, and I couldn’t hit “buy now” fast enough.
But then I started thinking about clothes.
I once had the idea that I would make all my clothes. But I wasn’t patient enough in learning to sew. I got frustrated easily, and my skills never rose above the most simple tasks. Even though I kept coming back to sewing every few years, I didn’t come out of the hobby with much to wear. I made a skirt once, but it didn’t fit that well, and even though I loved the fabric, I eventually tossed it in the give-away bin. I made a lot of little bags with drawstring closures.
Clothes are fraught with emotion for me. I have always been heavy, but in the last couple of years have gotten a lot heavier, and I don’t feel like I wear the clothes that reflect who I am. It was startling to realize both how traumatic this little fact of life is, and how much I minimize it to myself. If someone, a friend or stranger, struck up a conversation with me where they talked about feeling as if the clothes they wore didn’t reflect them, and they felt a little bad about themselves every time they went out, I would express great sympathy, and I’d say, “Let’s go!”, and haul them off to help find some clothes that made them feel good. But for some reason, when it’s me we’re talking about, I tell myself things like, “Well, if you lost weight you could wear what you want.” Or, “It shouldn’t matter that much what you wear anyway, they’re just clothes.” I would never say that to someone I loved. Why do I keep saying it to myself?
Clothes matter. Feeling like we have control over our image, how we present ourselves, matters a lot.
After the sewing machine arrived yesterday, I went online and started looking up clothing patterns. Most of what I found didn’t feel right. That’s part of the problem: it’s a feeling. I didn’t know how to articulate to myself what I wanted, especially after so many years of invalidating my own feelings to myself.
At 2 in the morning last night, laying in bed, plundering Instagram for hashtags related to sewing, I saw this woman:
I actually sat up in bed, pumped my fist, and yelled a silent “YES!” to the room. Next to me, Greg snored.
This is what I want! Not entirely – I’m not usually a polka dot person, although they look so cute on her I might change my mind and try them – but the general construction of her outfit is exactly what I want: funky tunic with contrasting fabrics, comfy cotton pants, a pair of Birks. I thought, “Who is this beautiful and creative person? I love her style! Is there more of her virtual closet I could
raid get inspiration from?”
Well, this talented woman turns out to be Sonya Philip, a fiber artist. And the outfit she’s wearing in her Instagram photos are from clothes she’s made. Not only that, she had a huge personal art project with clothing, called 100 Acts of Sewing which you can read all about here. I am so inspired! LET’S GET SEWING!
I can’t wait!
If you head over to Instagram and search the hashtag #100actsofsewing, you can swoon over all the amazing things people have made:
My other uniform is a tunic over leggings. I don't have nearly as many tunics as I do tank tops and cardigans but I'd like to change that and sew up a closet full of #100actsofsewing dress no. 1s and 2s so I can wear them daily and never have to think about clothing again 😜 #mmmay16 #youandmiemakes #naniiro
Look at my mom in her beautiful birthday dress! Last Wednesday she took the train to Berkeley and we spent the day exploring my favorite shops. I've been wanting to take her to @stonemountainfabric and @avfkw for ages! We picked out some beautiful #Ikat fabric and #100actsofsewing #dressno1 pattern by @sonyaphilip. We spent Friday sewing together. My mom is a talented sewer but hadn't sewn in years. She loved the simplicity of the dress pattern and the clear instructions. She used French seams for the first time too! #handmadewardrobe #isew #momfashion #simplesummersewing
A sewing machine as a source of empowerment. I like this idea.