Big news–I made clothes!
Oh yeah–I’m making something else too. Querido and I are very excited 🙂
Me Made May and pregnancy are oddly similar in their focus on bodies. As we make clothes we are deciding how we want our bodies to look and be perceived: natural, retro, krafty, polished. I love the idea of Me Made May: a whole month to think about our wardrobes, and to nudge them in the direction we’d like them to go. Bristol Ivy had a really lovely Instagram post on how this process of self-evaluation and self-critique can go off the rails. I have a fair bit of wardrobe angst: most of my clothes are bought from big brands that use whatever materials they want and have vague, unsubstantiated claims to sustainability. The two redeeming features of this mostly-bought wardrobe is that it contains mostly biodegradable fibers (having learned in AZ that synthetics + heat = sweaty stinky clothes) and I wear my clothes to death. But prior to becoming pregnant, I was not particularly happy with the shape of the body I was putting in these clothes. It reflected a lot of time spent sitting at a desk, stress eating bad-for-me foods, and drinking beer. I regret the first two, but not the beer. Beer is yummy and Kansas is good at making it.
Being pregnant took all my anxieties about my body, how it looked and fit in my clothes, and the clothes available to put it in, and amplified them. In Kansas I had already set aside several favorite garments because they didn’t fit me any more, and then with the arrival of the Peanut all the parts of my body I was insecure about started becoming accentuated. That meant that I had to strip down my wardrobe further, and I worried more that people were looking and noticing that I looked a bit spodgier than usual (it was far too early to start announcements). Here in Arizona, the only regular clothes that fit me are jersey knit dresses, so there is no hiding…anything. By and large, people have been much better behaved than I expected–I rarely get my tummy touched, and I am frequently told I look good–but here’s the thing. People are always looking. They notice when I get bigger, where I’ve gotten bigger…it’s a bit overwhelming.
At the beginning of May, I was feeling very frustrated. I had so few dresses that still fit, I would literally run out of out of clothes if I didn’t do laundry every week. All the things that frustrated me about regular clothes–preponderance of synthetic fabrics, cost, iffy quality–were frustrating me about maternity clothes, so I didn’t buy any, perpetuating the laundry problem and my insecurities about how I looked in regular clothes.
(As an added side rant, what the heck is with the way maternity clothing models always hold their stomachs? We get it, there’s supposed to be a baby in there, but just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I’ve run out of things to do with my hands.)
I considered buying maternity patterns, but I got discouraged by the ones that scream homemade. I considered hacking regular patterns to make them work for maternity, but then talked myself out of that plan because I am not an accomplished seamstress.
Finally, (probably after running another load of the same six dresses), I said to heck with it, took myself out to the casita, pulled some organic quilting cotton and scraps of one of Querido’s dress shirts out of my fabric stash, and made an Endless Summer Tunic.
The tunic is from A Verb for Keeping Warm. It isn’t a maternity pattern, but it has a relaxed fit and is not difficult for me to sew. I started by making the smallest size back and a front with the width of the next-largest size. I also added 5″ of length to make it a dress.
It doesn’t fit me perfectly, but finally doing something productive with all my fussing about clothes was empowering. I felt really good wearing my little dress: it is light, and easy to move in, and has clean lines.
I bought some more Cloud 9 fabric, this time a double gauze, and am going to try another tunic in a larger size. I may look like I’m trying to shoplift a watermelon, but my style is still simple shapes, clean lines, and cool colors, and I’m going to try to stop worrying about what everyone else is noticing and work with what I’ve got.
Many thanks to Mummy for being my photographer!