Mindful sewing: Making Clothes for your Post-Partum bod

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The bodice has been sitting on my dress form so long it’s pretty much become part of the decor

Have you ever procrastinated finishing a garment because you’re a little afraid of how it will fit? That’s what happening right now. I am procrasti-blogging because I’m terrified that my pink sequin dress will actually look terrible.

I’ve made this pattern four times; I know it works on me. I made a muslin. I’m using a stretch woven with a fair amount of body which is pretty forgiving. I’ve done everything I can (short of sewing a solid, black sack) to make sure that this dress will be a success, yet, when I put the bodice on “just to see” it didn’t look great. But it wasn’t the dress. It was me.

20180206_092545368700492.jpgI’m generally pretty okay with my body and have made a conscious effort to talk about it only in terms of what it can do (lift heavy things, bike 100 km in a day, birth a baby), but having a baby makes things change so quickly (and often) that it’s really hard to have any kind of body awareness. You know when you hold up a pair of pyjama pants and can generally judge whether or not they’re going to fit? I have completely lost that. You know that silhouette that you know looks good on you no matter what? Gone.

While sewing your own clothes can be the ultimate boost in body positivity (grading between sizes is the BEST), it’s been really hard for me to justify taking the time to sew myself clothes when I’m not sure if they’re going to generally look good or even fit by the time they’re done.

20171221_1418311312538721.jpgBefore Christmas, I finished a bunch of projects and then took a break from sewing for myself. I said I needed a break before I started sewing my back-to-work wardrobe, but really, I felt weird starting to make clothes that a) were more fitted than the millions of Lindens I made this fall; and b) I wouldn’t wear for months and who knows what my body will look like then.

I mapped out what my year of sewing would look like (at least until July in great detail), meaning that I theoretically need to be making Sasha Trousers, like, now, if I want to wear them to school in April, but how on Earth am I to make fitted pants now for three months from now when my body is changing every day? But how on Earth do I commit to buying pants for work when even my pre-baby body was hard to buy for (’cause, like, RTW is the PITTS for 90 per cent of the population)

So, I’m turning to you, other sewing moms, for advice and maybe encouragement. How does one deal with rapidly changing sizes, proportions and favoured silhouettes? I can’t wear leggings and a hoodie to a work – help!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. I remember this phase!…my advice is make clothes that fit for now and that u feel good in…but sew them in a way that can be altered easily afterwards. E.g – if a dress has a waist seam then sew the front bodice to the front skirt and back bodice to back skirt, so that the side seam is sewn last, and is one continuous seam that can be taken in without too much fuss. Lighter fabrics like viscose/rayon for shirts so that they still hang well if you change size slightly (more structured fabric will be more obvious if garment fit changes). Also stretch wrap dresses can
    Be easily wrapped tighter/looser as needed ☺

    1. Samantha Schmidt says:

      That is such a clever hack for dresses! I think I need to try a wrap dress this year.

  2. Molly says:

    Oh and it’s always the clothes’ fault if they don’t look good. Never yours 😉

  3. Line says:

    Hello Samantha, I loved reading your post as it sounded a lot like what I was going through after my two kids were born. The good news is: it will get better. Your body is changing and it will never get back to how it was before, but it ‘stabilises’ at a certain moment. You’ll find new silhouettes that will work, no matter what.
    The other good news is: You have superpowers! You can sew your own clothes 🙂
    What I did at those awkward moments was this: I still sewed things that didn’t fit a couple of months later because it was just worth it to be able to put on something more or less fitted after months of leggings and hoodies. I’m a very ‘in the moment’
    kind of sewist. I sew what I can’t stop thinking about – even if that was a totally unpractical piece of clothing that I didn’t need. I’ve always felt best about those pieces and they are the ones I’ve been unable to let go.
    So go for it girl! You can do it!

    1. Samantha Schmidt says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! I can totally relate to needing to sew “what I can’t stop thinking about.” I think I’m going to let the looser summer tanks jump the queue as that’s more what I’m wearing now. I am determined to make pants this year, but maybe right now isn’t the time.

  4. I got rid of some really nice pieces when I was in the headspace it sounds like you’re in now, and I regret it SO MUCH. I didn’t understand that 2 years post partum, things would be so different than 6 months pp, and 1 year, etc. I think the advice to sew what fits NOW and makes you feel good now is en pointe, and garments you can easily alter is another wonderful thing to keep in mind. It’s amazing how much time will help everything settle – mentally and physically – so I encourage you to pick what makes you feel good now (maybe not fitted trousers, I mean, why do that to yourself) and give yourself lots of patience of grace.

  5. Molly says:

    Oh girl! I am right there with you. I’m 3 months pp with #2 and real pants are the final frontier lol. It makes me so sad to not be able to make all the non nursing friendly things but limitations can fuel creativity. I find for me that adjusting my expectations in many areas of life, including sewing, is huge. I won’t look quite “right” in the same styles I used to, but maybe i will some day. But, for now, I need to be focused on how I am now and try to account for body fluctuations as best I can. I do NOT strive for minimalism in my wardrobe. Each garment has a specific season of life and I may have to put away favorite clothes for awhile, but hopefully I can come back to them. And I have! Not everything from pre-baby will work, so I have gotten rid of some stuff. Being a mom is kind of a constant transition maybe? I don’t know that we will ever really “arrive” at some permanent, controllable state of body. And there is power in being able to constantly adapt. It’s certainly an accomplishment to meet the needs of your family and yourself with the body you’ve got.

    On a less philosophic note 🙂 and more practical for work wardrobe. Rtw pants shopping is just…ugh…for me. I taught and always wore pencil skirts. I too lived in an extremely cold climate so I would do tall boots and leggings or tights with more straight skirts. The boots block the wind and the straight skirts don’t let the wind up…ahem, where you don’t want it 😉 For the post partum tummy, it’s maybe more flattering to find tops that hit at the hip if tucked in to a high waist doesn’t look the best. Stretch wovens or scuba would be great materials to look professional but still account for weight fluctuations. Also, I feel there are fewer places to fit on a skirt making it easier too.

  6. Janet says:

    I’m 4.5 years pp and I don’t feel I’ve worked this one out yet! Fit issues are clouded for me because I think I’ve muddled up the person I was, the person I am and the person I want to be. So each time I look in the mirror, I’m disappointed with how the garment I made for one of the other me-s doesn’t suit the real one. And it’s not just the physical changes. I spend more time crawling around on the floor, more time half-way up a climbing frame and more time covered in other people’s leftover food (oh joy). So some of my old wardrobe – and my old to-sew list – wouldn’t work for me now, even if my body had stayed the same. If you’ve got this part sorted, then you’re more than half-way there!

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