Thanks, Sally McGraw!

It’s all her fault. Sally McGraw‘s Already Pretty was the first stepping stone on this path to jumping into the sewing/crafting/thinking/dressing blogosphere.

In my first post I mentioned that I spent the summer of 2011 on my own at home in SF while my Lion went abroad to do some study and travel. While encouraging him to take the opportunity, I knew that I would miss him immensely, but I also imagined I would enjoy the time to myself, sew and read, take awesome care of my body, and be even fitter and stronger when he came back (or I went to meet him in Italy!). I mean, what else did I have to do in the evening after work but work out? Why would I be tempted to linger in bed in the morning rather than go out running?

Well, I didn’t think about the not-sleeping that I’d do for the first couple of weeks. It took getting used to sleeping with someone by my side, and well, of course it takes getting used to sleeping without him again! So, there was that. And then the time difference and our internet logistics meant that the only time we could communicate when I was home was . . . right at workout time.

At work, things were heating up as I did both the job I was originally hired for and a percentage of the job I’d convinced them they needed me to do. I’ve since transitioned fully, but boy was that a busy season! So evenings were more often about a glass of wine and some sewing than rock climbing, a run, or anything else.

All of which was leading to some increasing girth. My clothes weren’t fitting as well, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I felt a bit at war with my body.

And then one day someone shared one of Sally‘s posts on facebook. I clicked, I read. I clicked around her site, and read a lot more. I will admit it: I cried some. Having been really fit and strong in the spring, and feeling very svelte and confident and pretty, I had this feeling that I’d slipped, was sliding down some scale of attractiveness, and had a lot of work to do to get back to pretty.

But Sally’s very good and simple point shone through: I was, I am, already pretty. I was at 140 and I was at 155 and I would be at 160. Way, way back when, I even was at 185.

I already had an empire-waist jersey dress and a jersey wrap dress on my sewing table, both styles that suit me when I’m heavier as well as lighter. I was planning how to clothe my fluffier self without feeling like I was wasting money on “fat” clothes. But with Sally’s help I began to think about how to not just clothe myself, but adorn myself, style myself, so that I felt interested in and proud of what I was wearing, and how I was looking, every day.

One of my Tiger-Made pieces for the trip to Italy

The Tiger who showed up in Rome surprised the Lion not only with all my Tiger-made clothes, but with the fact that every day I was wearing an outfit, that I was thinking about not just the cuteness of my shoes (which I think every woman with body issues loves for their constancy), but the whole cuteness of me. And he sure agreed!

By the time I left for Italy, as I’d mentioned, I’d found my way from Already Pretty to Patty the Snug Bug and beyond. I was learning more and more about fit and how ready to wear clothes can make the most beautiful of women feel awkward and lumpy. I was learning to pay more attention to fit as I sewed up a pattern (and I’m finally feeling ready to sew and adjust my very first muslin, for Collette’s Clover pants). I also started remembering to wear bracelets and vary my necklace choice, thinking about hats and purses, and “shopping” my own closets for forgotten pieces.

This process has been all of a piece, and an important step in loving myself for who I am and where I’m at. Yes, I have new fitness goals this new year, but I’m not going to wait to sew lovely things for myself. I’m going to make myself look as great as I can every day, for myself, because I deserve it.

For so many things I have to thank Sally. For linking that fateful Friday to Patty‘s blog (from which I found the sewing blog world), for talking frankly about body image, self love and style, and for helping me to have a different reaction, for once, to one of my periodic upswings in weight. Rather than get down on myself, try to hide, and punish myself with silly wardrobe austerity, I decided to get creative, pay attention, and make the most of what I have right now.

Hello World, Indeed

Howdy folks!

While this isn’t my first blog, it’s my first sewing/knitting/crafting blog and my first blog which owes its nativity to a blogging community.

I’ve been sewing and knitting off and on for decades, but never with as much engagement, thought, research, learning and plain old obsession as in the past year or so. This past summer, when I had three months to myself while my partner (the Lion) was abroad, I enjoyed an orgy of sewing the like of which I’d never experienced before. And through a facebook post I happened upon one blog, and then another, and then another . . . and I’m still discovering this vibrant, inspiring community! What a joy it is to read and learn from so many people all over the world.

Made for my trip to Italy!

Last summer I went to meet the Lion in Italy for 10 days, and I took with me . . . 4 tiger-made garments. This meant I wore me-made clothes almost every day on the trip! I used a technique from Patty (the Snug Bug) to hem the t-shirts I made. It felt so great to have a technique at hand that fit the bill perfectly!

This fall I slowed considerably, due in no small part to the addition of a small cat to our den of big cats. The kitten, Django, sometimes needs a time out when I’m sewing. But nonetheless, I made a heap of costumes for nieces’ and nephews’ Christmas presents. And again, at the end of the process (which I’d done assembly-style as per Robin’s guest post on Gertie’s blog), I found myself using a technique I’d read about in blogs and books. But this time it was without even knowing I was doing something new! I just realized, in the middle of doing it, that I was inserting my first zipper invisible-style! Thank heavens I realized in time to put the right foot on my machine.

Some of the Christmas presents of 2011

And so I realized, in late December 2011, that I had really gained a LOT from my engagement with the sewing blog community, and that I will surely be gaining more and more. I’m set to meet up with fellow San Francisco Bay Area sewists next month thanks to the Sew Weekly, I’m going to participate in a project to test-sew patterns from 1912 (Hellow Downton Abbey fetish!), and more. My life is getting ever richer thanks to this crowd.

It’s my turn, I reckon, to start sharing, challenging myself, putting a little pressure on to keep sewing and not just reading and fantasizing. I’m excited to share my knitting as well, and quite likely the odd kitty picture. It seems de rigeur ’round these parts.

So that’s what’s up with me. Hello World! I’ve been reading you for months now, and am excited to add my voice to the cocktail party.