I am trying to recommit to garment sewing right now. The combination of spring and the end of the semester always seem to give me some renewed sewing zeal. I don’t really participate in Me Made May, but seeing other people’s pledges and posts definitely gets me thinking about my closet and my handmade clothes. And the sun and the warmer weather and the relief of being done with grading makes me excited to spend more time in my sewing room.
It’s been a long time since I have been sewing seriously for myself. Or feels like a long time. I pretty much stopped when I was pregnant with Silas. Then tried to get back into the swing of things last summer and made a handful of garments but none of them ended up being things that I actually wore. The frustration with garment sewing was kind of what pushed me into engaging more seriously with quilting, which I’m grateful for. But I also don’t want to give up on garment sewing.
The biggest mental barrier for me is that I’ve just gotten really intimidated by the thought of fitting. Yes, I’ve successfully sewn a lot of things for myself in the past. But, my body has fluctuated a lot over the past five years, as you’d expect, through a combination of having babies and, you know, just living. So the feeling that my body is a bit of a moving target that I have to keep relearning is not helping. But I also have a clearer sense of the specific kinds of things that I would like to be making for myself (button up shirts, jeans, jackets), and those kinds of things seems especially intimidating to me on the fitting front. So intimidating that aside from a single pair of jeans and single dartless button up, I have really not attempted making these garments.
Part of it is pattern access. For a long time, there haven’t been the kinds of patterns I want to make in my size. I have very specifically been waiting for Grainline Patterns to release a version of the Archer shirt in their expanded size range for what feels like forever. And now Helen’s Closet Patterns has released the Cameron Button Up and Cashmerette has released the Vernon Shirt (they’ve had the Harrison for a while but a fitted princess seam shirt is not my preferred look). I have the Cashmerette Ames jeans pattern and an actual denim kit sitting in my stash, and there are a bunch of different jacket patterns that are in my size from a range of companies that I am excited to try.
I just haven’t been able to get past the mental block of fitting. So I’ve been trying to just work the problem. Seamwork released a class for members a few months ago called How to Fit with Confidence, which I worked my way through slowly. And then I used a gift card I got at Christmas to order a copy of Jenny Rushmore’s book Ahead of the Curve, which I just finished reading. Both resources work together nicely in that that present a shared process (measure, choose a size, make a muslin, address what you see) and a shared mindset (body stuff is hard but it will get easier over time to deal with your measurements, start small and aim for good enough, know that you will learn with each project and fitting will get faster and more intuitive over time).
So I’ve been trying to get out of my head about fitting by just leaning into the process. I avoided muslins for a long time because I started sewing in the era of sewing blogs where it seemed like everyone was posting muslins and making a million complex fitting adjustments and fixating on eliminating every possible wrinkle, and it all seemed very intimidating and also not at all fun. Both the Seamwork class and the book address that mindset and offer a more reasonable, low-key approach to making a muslin. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I made my first ever muslin (I think?) for the Cameron Shirt. I new I’d need an FBA and to add a dart, and instead of agonizing over how much to add or where to place the dart, I was able to figure both out really efficiently with the muslin. I’m even going to recut the fronts now that I’ve made an FBA to my pattern piece just to double-check the dart placement and the hip width and to ensure that the pocket markings will work for me, and then I think I’ll be ready to cut out my actual fabric. And I feel reasonably confident that I’ll end up with something that will fit me. And maybe leaning into the process will be the end of the mental block over fitting.