Sewing Bee is back! Do you watch it? Not just a program for sewers, it is one of those comfort programs you can watch nestled up on the sofa with a cuppa and a biscuit.
I’ve sewn for years. When ill health trapped me at home on the sofa I needed something to do with my hands instead of eating the biscuits.
Always in love with crafts, I watched with admiration and envy as others were artists, knitters, quilters, creating beautiful items, unique just to them. I wanted to play too.
As ever the library saved me.
Armed with my little ticket I borrowed all the books – quite literally. First on knitting and then on dressmaking, embroidery and lastly quilting. I did not have a grannie at whose knee I could learn these skills, so I turned instead to YouTube, nascent sewing forums and online communities.
Those early garments I sewed were not terribly good.
My first skirt – A-line brown corduroy, lined with a Doctor Who Tardis fabric for contrast – was barely wearable. The zip was wonky, the hem all over the place, and the overall fit a bit dodgy. I did not care. I’d made a skirt, a frigging skirt! I wore it endlessly.
I made many mistakes sewing – the first major one – a rookie error all sewers make – was cutting a dress pattern in my dress size, not my real size.
We’ve all grown larger, I don’t just mean rounder but taller as well. As we’ve grown larger many major clothing brands have engaged in a little vanity sizing. After all, who wouldn’t buy jeans in the shop that says we’re a couple of sizes smaller.
Dress patterns are not like this. Tending to be if anything the other way, as a rule, you will be two or three dress sizes bigger on a dress pattern compared to your ready to wear. The key is to measure yourself.
For a woman who has been on a diet for most of her adult life, dress sizes and buying clothes have always been an issue. It was not so long ago when shop assistants looked askance if you asked for a size 16, let alone anything bigger.
With all this in mind, it was hard to see the numbers on the back of the sewing patterns swim before my eyes and discover I was bigger than I thought.
But then something happened.
Clothes, measured in inches not sizes, fitted me in all the right places. My clothes were unique to me, cut to fit my body shape, big boobs, giant hips, long legs, a not-pregnant belly.
All the things that had been a ‘problem’ when I was shopping for clothes were now, well, nothing. I don’t mean they didn’t exist, I mean they were no longer an issue.
Sewing for my body gave me a greater surge of confidence than any diet ever did. I looked and felt fabulous, and the numbers just became the tools to help me get the fit I wanted.
I struggle to sew now, though I still predominately wear clothes I’ve made myself. The clothes I make last, there’s no fast fashion here. I’ve made pants and vests, swimming costumes and tops, summer dresses, coats, pyjamas and even bras.
I no longer know my dress size.
Freed from the tyranny of numbers, sewing gave me my body back, and I found I looked just fine.
I will be sitting, watching Sewing Bee in a particularly fetching two-piece lounge set, made from the softest jersey silk.
Are you joining me?
Just make sure you bring your own biscuits.
Ooh this is telling – in searching for images of a measuring tape. All the images with women were of them measuring their waists or thighs or apples and bizarrely, forks – are we meant to be measuring our fruit as well as our cutlery?
All the images of men were measuring shelves.
Reclaim our bodies and ourselves from the tyranny of measuring ourselves against a false ideal! and forks!