Firstly, I don’t think that I have ever had as many complimentary and supportive blog comments as on my last blog post on the lace dress I sewed for Clare.  Thank YOU all so much!  She has been thrilled to read them all, as have I.  I really do appreciate each and every one of them (I know it takes that bit more effort and time to leave comments, and we’re all under tight schedules nowadays).  I will be honest and say that I know I will be really disappointed if the dress doesn’t win a prize, but at the same time I am very well aware that there are many other stunning entries, and more are flooding in as the deadline approaches.  I don’t really know what the judges criteria are, and I didn’t really enter thinking that I’d win anything, but after it was finished and I saw all the photos I really hope that it might!  If not, just another life resilience lesson I suppose 😉

So, time for a new blog post!  As is often the case my sewing has got ahead of photography and time at the computer, so I’m blogging out of order.

I’ve mentioned a few times lately that I’ve put on weight this year.  It’s not surprising – a mixture of a slower metabolism, being in my late forties with likely shifting hormones, lack of exercise, and a distinct love of chocolate and wine – and because my other health parameters are okay I’ve been alright with it.  It’s not always as noticeable in the flat photos that you see on the blog, as much of my weight increase is right on the front of my abdomen, but it’s very much there.  And now it is definitely influencing the styles and the fabrics of the clothing that I am sewing.

Which leads me to talking about knit fabrics.  I much prefer a knit cardigan to a woven jacket, and a knit skirt to a fitted woven.  It’s about the flexibility.  I find that it moves better with my bulges, accommodates weight fluctuations, and allows me to bend and move in ways that don’t result in a garment that digs in.  The elastic waist is my friend! Now that Melbourne has moved into spring I am re-evaluating my wardrobe.

Many of my summer dresses still fit me – both the wovens and the knits.  The wovens are nearly all loose through the midsection, and because my upper chest and shoulders haven’t changed a great deal with my weight gain, they mostly still fit.  A number of my knit dresses are more fitted, but the nature of the fabric means that they can stretch to fit. However, I don’t always feel good in them – I don’t like the sausage casing feeling – so a number of stretch dresses have left my wardrobe.

I am finding separates more challenging.  I definitely need those elastic waists.  Most garments with a fitted waist no longer fit me at all.  Many tops and t-shirts that are more fitted around the waist also no longer feel good on me.  I also have a number of separates that don’t really go with anything else.

So it’s time to reassess.  I’m getting rid of what doesn’t fit, and what I don’t feel good in.  (You might have noticed that I talk about how I feel in my clothes, rather than how they look.  Although it’s likely that the two are linked, I know that I won’t wear things that I don’t feel good in, no matter if they look good according to prevailing “taller/thinner/younger” dogma.  My confidence comes from how I feel in what I wear, not what others think about it – although I do of course still appreciate compliments and positive feedback!  Ah, so many contradictions).

I also think that as I approach Fifty I am reassessing many aspects of myself.  I presume that this is a common thing – those “zero” birthdays often have an impact.  Although it’s still over a year away – and I don’t mind getting older; I feel that it is a blessing – it feels significant.  I think that it’s having an impact in a number of areas.

And as for my sewing?  I want to continue to focus on sewing “outfits” that go with at least  one or two other items!  As much as I will continue to love print and pattern I’m seeing a small wardrobe shift toward solids.  I want to keep experimenting with silhouette a little as well – I am planning on trying the off the shoulder look that is fashionable at the moment.  I am fortunate to have a very large stash of fabrics and patterns that allow me to experiment as well as to sew tried and true styles.  I just need a little more focus at the moment.

I’m guessing that these feelings are familiar to many of you reading this blog.  Does your sewing change much with significant changes in life stage?

Anyway, I’m having a day to sew some of those simple basics that have been missing from my recent wardrobe – so I’d better get back to it!


20 thoughts on “Musing

  1. Hi Lara, I totally understand. I am not particularly tall like yourself and I find it only takes a few kilos to change my sizing and shape. Last summer I got into most things that fitted the summer before but I think there are several things that may not fit this summer, a pity as a few years ago I had a significant weight loss and loved how that made me feel and look.
    I tend to buy more solid coloured fabric but have some florals in the stash that I feel should come out this summer when there is so much of it around . I also noticed some gingham in a magazine so will think about it.
    I am liking the more loosely structured patterns, particularly the cocoon shape as they are fitted at shoulder and hemline so I don’t feel like I am wearing a tent.
    Good luck with your musing. Long life is indeed a blessing I hope to enjoy for many years yet and I hope to keep dressing well.

  2. Hi Lara,
    I have looked at your blogs for quite a while and love seeing what patterns and fabrics you use. To be honest I dont know where you get the time or energy to do all you do. Keep up the good work, you and many other bloggers do a fantastic job and give people like me inspiration. I too love the lace dress you made for Claire and wish you success in the competition. Regards Brenda

  3. Hi Lara, I hope that Clare’s dress is a winner too. She looks absolutely gorgeous in the beautiful dress that you so lovingly made for her. I will have my fingers crossed for you. These days I have no idea how judges choose certain winners and sometimes I wonder if I have got it all wrong. Melbourne Cup fashions on the field is a fine example.
    I must be 10 years older than you as I have an 0 birthday next year as well. My weight is something that constantly bothers me as I cannot drop those extra kilos anymore like I use to. But what I do know is that I am healthy, on no medication and can hike for 5-6 hours over 12-15 km. I am just learning to sew items of clothing that suit the mature figure that I have.My family and friends still love me the way I am and at the end of the day, they are the most important people in my life and whose love and care I depend on. Looking at your photos, it is obvious to me that you have 2 beautiful adoring daughters who love you to bits, whatever you are wearing at any given time of the day. Enjoy your good fortune of excellent health above all else and simply sew the styles that suit you so well. xxxx

  4. What a great post!
    Absolutely, six babies and a love of cooking has wrecked my belly. I plan to spend a lot of time getting the comfort and fit just right, for me, from now on.
    Comfort is just as important as being fashionable

  5. I like these insightful posts! First of all, good luck to you and Clare in the Tessuti competition. I’ll be honest, your entry impressed me, above and beyond any others.

    Even though I may be a few digits below you in age, I feel like my health problems well entitle me to complain about being forced to change style 😉 I might be 26 but some days I feel 80. Recently I have put on weight in my tum + hips, and this combined with a worsened sensitivity to sensory stimuli has meant a rethink of what I wear and, consequently, what I sew. I used to wear a lot of skirts (with a low yoke for comfort) and woven dresses with waists, but I find even these too exhausting to put on, and I’ve turned to basic pants and loose tops. Your blog has a lot of style inspiration for me in the skinny pant + loose top combo – I’ve been buying up elastic waist and comfortable pants, and have just sewn my first pair of Style Arc Elles, which I love.

    I have some more bargain buy bengaline hanging around for another pair, but the issue I find most in sewing with knits and stretch fabrics is quality. How do I source fabrics which are as nice as RTW? The answer is, I usually can’t (without paying big bucks). So it kinda puts me off sewing altogether. If you have any recommendations for nice pontes, stretch denims, knits and the like that are available online, I’d be eternally grateful.

    Sorry for the essay! But you spoke to a matter which had already been much on my mind, and I appreciate it. Ultimately, you have to dress in what you feel comfortable in, and if that changes – well I guess you wardrobe has to change to accomodate you.

  6. I am leaning in to the elastic waist lately. For me it’s the belly thing – a person with a stomach has a much more variable waist measurement across a day or a week than a person with less stomach. And my hip and waist measurements are almost the same, except at the waist it’s all at the front and at the hip it’s all at the back. So woven separates with no elastic just have no hope at all of fitting me and not falling down.

    I have been thinking a lot about how my style fluctuates. But I don’t think I’ve been sewing for long enough to really see it yet. It’s only just stabilising – there was the ‘well I guess I will wear whatever I can find in shops that vaugely fits’ then the ‘omg I can sew! Basic shapes! I’ll replicate what I see in the shops’ and then slowly working out what I actually like to wear if I can choose anything, what works with my body and what kinds of clothes are actually useful. It’s definitely quite different from even a year ago. It feels very powerful to have that much more control over how I present myself to the world, I’m endlessly grateful for it. Only being able to wear what I could buy RTW was… limiting.

  7. The weight issue is one thing that bothers me as I get older (I turned 48 last week). I do try to keep it in check because it is easier to maintain than loose it especially as I get older. A year or so ago I managed to get down to the weight I was before children but I found I didn’t have a life and had to all but starve myself to stay there. I was grumpy and tired and having no fun and I am sure I was no fun to be around either. Now I am taking a much more measured approach and it is more about exercise than diet and like you I enjoy chocolate and the odd glass of wine. With working 5 days a week and the demands of family life it isn’t easy but a knee injury forced me into buying a spin bike. Now I can exercise in the dark and catch up with my favourite tv shows at the same time which is a win! If I could only figure out how to exercise and write up blog posts I might actually be up to date!

    I am now an elastic and knit convert as well. It is certainly more forgiving of weight fluctuations. Just today I put on a woven skirt from last summer that was too tight around the waist which I quickly discarded in favour of something else. I do like wovens but it makes me sad when my favourites no longer fit.

    I will keep my fingers crossed that the dress that you made for Clare is a winner. You made such a lovely job of pattern placement and execution and Clare looks lovely in it.

  8. Bodies change as we age and with it so do the clothes we feel comfortable in. I am 64 with sewing friends in their 70’s . All have their own inimitable style and individuality that slightly alters a bodies do. All healthy and fit too. Health is the main thing and arn’t we lucky we can see what we want to wear. I alter garments for all ages and styles and this is a theme. Wish we could see. Enjoy life and create.

  9. Love this post Lara. I’m sure you are on the right path and cannot wait to see more of your colourful creations! I totally understand the constant balance between patterns and solids, I just made myself a white linen top which was strangely cathartic.

  10. Power to you Lara. I think you’re so fortunate that you can make what you like, what suits you and what you’re comfortable in. I remember endless shopping trips with my mum who could never find what she liked or felt comfortable in – how wonderful to not be a slave to clothing manufacturers!…. and I definitely think Claire’s dress is a winner! Xx

  11. I am right there with you with how clothes feel vs how they look. I am totally over the “rules” that all that should matter to me is appearing thinner. Meh.

    I think the reexamination is really good for us!! And you have so much fun with patterns and fabrics and shapes/silhouettes. I think it’ll be a challenge but a fun one.

    Clare’s dress is really fantastic. You do such great work and I have no doubt you’re going to win!

  12. What an interesting post! I’m also going through some body changes with being pregnant right now, and I know things are unlikely to return to exactly how they were beforehand. I found it surprisingly creatively stimulating to have to choose patterns and fabrics for a different body shape than before, although I am definitely looking forwards to being able to wear a slightly wider range of shapes after the birth!

  13. I’ve just had my first child, so I find myself with 1) A wardrobe full of clothes that don’t fit, 2) A new body shape that’s taking some time to get used to (I’m going to need to learn how to do an FBA. Bother.) and 3) No time to sew! Argh! Which is all to say that the “reassessing aspects of oneself” feeling resonates with me. For me it’s both liberating – needing to get rid of most of my clothes gives me a freedom to experiment with new styles and silhouettes that I’ve never tried before – and frustrating, as I find my creativity running ahead of my time. Case in point: I’ve been working on a pair of Named Clothing Astrid wrap pants for around a month now, even though it’s a super simple pattern.

  14. I hear you Laura. Been there and am still continuing doing it. Firstly there is acceptance of the ‘new’ body then the absolutely wonderful and liberating realisation that I don’t give a s**t. what anyone else thinks. It ‘s a time to try new and undreamt of styles – some work, some don’t; some you’ll feel uncomfortable in and in others you’ll feel right at home. That’s the pleasure and freedom of sewing your own. Enjoy your journey.

  15. Ah, the wine and chocolate! I’m almost 10 years older (2 years to the OMG big 60). From experience I think it is the wine and chocolate rather than the hormones that does the damage. Oh well. I work in a professional office so no knit skirts or pants for me. I find wearing woven pencil skirts keeps me on the straight and narrow. You soon feel like a sausage in those when you gain some weight! And I refuse to sew/buy a larger size – so always an incentive to lose the gain. Over the years I don’t think my style has changed other than to keep up with the times. I’m sure it will change when I retire to a more relaxed knit lifestyle.

  16. One of the things I adore about you Lara is that you tell it like it is. I have a few Lara gems that frequently come to mind… “it’s just fabric” springs to mind & I can see “how does it feel (rather than look)” will head to the top of my assessment list for new makes. You are always inspiring and I’m very blessed to call you my friend. Happy sewing & experimenting… I know you’ll have fun.

  17. As a fellow woman in her mid-late 40s, I share your awareness of the changes in one’s body (particularly the abdomen). It’s lovely to read your perspective – your balanced approach to this life stage. I have to admit, I’ve gone kicking and screaming (not so graceful, here). Thanks for writing about this.

  18. This post stayed with me so I am returning to comment. I am now on the other side of 50 and I am turning 54 next month. Time just keeps moving faster! If I knew in my 40’s what I know now…I spent most of the 40’s working extremely hard trying to lose those 10-15 lbs. In the last 5-6 years I have not stepped on the scale. No more of that self-imposed tyranny. I know my measurements very well because I sew. I do find it a drag that my body has changed, because I have been buying into the “thinner, younger, taller” for years. My gene pool is just not having it! I would love to experience the rest of my years in clothes made in beautiful fabrics that provide comfort and ease that express my creativity and joy for living.

  19. Hi Lara,
    I’ve just spent some time reading your blog after following some of your sewing posts on Instagram. As I’ve scrolled through your pics and projects one thing that struck me is that you have a wonderful sense of fun and color in your fabric choices. I’m thinking it reflects a very fun personality.
    I think it’s great that you’re assessing and accepting your changing shape.
    I’ve recently turned 60, (those 0 years are something else on the psyche), and I’ve recently undergone another total life change requiring another total wardrobe shift. So I’m basically starting at scratch. It’s liberating to clean out the closet, and then go forward in any direction you choose. Best to you as you continue to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. I love your sense of style.

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