I’m not the first to write about this, but for me, learning to sew clothing has had both a magnifying effect and a calming effect on body image.
Sewing requires attention to the exact measurements of the body, and how those differ from the average pattern. So I’m much more aware than before of my body’s specific quirks. But somehow in my mind, the process has cast these measurements in a neutral light as variations, rather than negative problems.
Shopping: “Dresses are hard to find because my bottom half is too big compared to my top half. Pants always gape at the back waist because my hips are shaped weird. Shirts are always too short, yet too baggy under the arms.”
Sewing: “The pattern is only a starting point. I’ll alter it to bridge between the two different sizes of my top and bottom half. Take out a wedge in the middle back to make the waist lie flat. Spread the pattern a few inches to lengthen the hem. Do a small bust adjustment to geometrically remove excess volume without changing garment shape.”
See the difference? The shopping thoughts were focused on criticism. The sewing thoughts now are focused on solving the differences between pattern and body.
Human bodies come in multiple categories, with thousands of variations in each. But clothing companies design only to one or two “ideal” shapes. So it’s no wonder that I would have so many fit issues off the rack. Sewing causes me to look at body shape in an objective light. Rather than the frustration of trying to find premade clothes that happen to fit my shape, I get to call the shots with the fabric.
P.S. There’s a downside. Now I know too much about fit and won’t settle for less anymore while shopping. But I’m reeeeally slow at sewing and nowhere near good enough yet to replace a substantial chunk of my wardrobe. What to do…