Sunday, December 30, 2018

Second Adolescence: Year in Reflection and 2019 Make Nine

I feel like I'm going through a second adolescence—this past year is the first time I've been a single lady for more than a month since I was eighteen. Which sometimes is weird and lonely, and sometimes it's amazing, because I never really got to figure out who I am as a "me" before I tried to make that fit into "we's."

I realized I've been dressing for men for basically my entire adult life, by virtue of being in back-to-back long term relationships with two men. What does my partner like? What accentuates my body in a way that I know they'll respond to? I've never had partners that were in any way controlling over my body or appearance, but they're human and their eyes were drawn in predictable ways and I internalized those patterns and didn't even realize I was doing it. But now, I'm able to dress only for myself. What makes me feel badass? What makes me feel like the queen of the world? And, conversely, what makes me feel uncomfortable, or less able to be 100% myself?

While it can sometimes be overwhelming that I have a clean slate, I've been able to play with my wardrobe, my makeup, my hair in ways I never would have before and that is SO. FUN. Five years ago, I never would've guessed that glitter would make me feel as radiant as it does. I never would've guessed that a shimmery purple velvet jacket would make me want to strut everywhere I walk. I never would've guessed that I like bold earrings as much as I do. I never would've guessed how empowering I find low cut body suits and cozy crew neck sweaters—what can I say, I contain multitudes!

I never would've guessed. I still can't! I don't know what I'll like in a month, let alone in a year! I'm having so so much fun with that unknown. There are a lot of unknowns that can be scary or intimidating, but this one is a bit like magic.

I've been largely absent from the sewing community the past few months. The truth is, I made some amazing things this year, including two quilts that I am crazy proud of—but those big big projects burned out my creative energy. On top of that, the thought of sewing anything when I'm in such a period of transition in my sense of fashion felt counter to my goals of slow fashion. Figuring out how I really want to present myself to the world has lately meant not-so-slow fashion. I haven't totally abandoned my ethics there. I'm lucky to live in a part of San Francisco with amazing second hand stores, so I thrift most of my "new" clothes. I also have awesome roommates who have been incredibly generous sharing their wardrobes with me while I experiment. But I'm buying a lot more "stuff" than I ever did before, and some of it gets a wear or two before getting turned back around to the thrift store. I'm still not totally sure how I feel about that.

I recently caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in many years, and she gushed about my sewing, and I felt an embarrassed humility that I didn't recognize in myself. I felt weird that I haven't had the time or energy for making, let alone sharing in the online makers' space, or even looking at the amazing work by the friends I've made there. I felt that if I wasn't progressing in my skills, I was regressing. I know that's wrong, but the feeling of being stuck is a hard one to shake.

Anyway. I don't know if it makes any sense to feel stuck at the same time as feeling this tremendous, fire-cracker personal growth, but I feel it all! This year has been a time of big changes for me. I'm keeping that in mind as I set my goals for 2019. Last year I resolved to be more mindful of my environmental impact (meat consumption, disposable straws and silverware, paper waste), actively cultivate self love, and read more (particular by authors who aren't cis men), and I'd say I did pretty well. This year, my goals are to continue forming good non-screen habits, including reading still more, getting back into regularly practicing yoga, and sewing more regularly—though perhaps not more in volume. Importantly, I want to PLAY more: exploring more of San Francisco, dancing and dressing up more, and continue having fun with how I present myself to the world.

My 2019 Make Nine is about play: silhouettes that make me feel amazing in my body, sparkles and shimmer, and pretty but practical "basics."

knit wrap top // lace bra // lace undies
lacy cami // something sparkly // high rise cut offs
Carolyn pajamas // Bardot top // V9253

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rachael's Secret: Saying Goodbye to RTW undies

Part of my 2018 Make Nine goals was to replace all my worn out, dingy bras with pretty me mades. I tried to muslin the Watson Bra by Cloth Habit (which I hoped to make a swimsuit out of for another 2018 Make Nine goal) as a stepping stone to that, and I REALLY struggled with the elastic and sewing with delicate fabrics like power mesh, which tells me I'm not quite ready to start sewing fancy, lacy underwire bras.

I have been experimenting with undies, using up scraps from other projects that use knits, which both gets me more comfortable with elastics and helps me phase out my sad RTW pairs in good conscience. I initially started with the FREE Rosy Ladyshorts from Cloth Habit, and have altered that pattern to fit me more comfortably by lowering the rise by 1.5" and widening the crotch by .5".

This was a great first try, and it helped me realize what I like best about my most well loved RTW undies so I did a couple rub offs and hacked it with the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern as a base, though the final product doesn't look much like it.

Some things I've learned already:
  • Matching thread to lace elastic is way more important that I thought. Though it's not noticeable to anyone except me (generally true for undergarments anyway lol), I hate the white thread I used on the yellow pair—realistically, it would've been silly to have bright yellow thread I would probably never use again, but it would've been a nice touch to make them look more professional.
  • The stretch of lace elastic is so hard to predict. The Rosy pattern has a guideline for lace lengths that I found a little tight on the legs for my first pair. The second pair should've been about the same, but I found that I had about an inch leftover and the elastic is just slightly loose and I know will stretch out fast. Any tips on this, fellow memade undie makers?
  • I personally prefer patterns that are one piece on the front, but two on the back. The Rosy's ride up front in an uncomfortable way (sorry, impossible not to get a little TMI in this post), but I like a cheekier fit. Three piece patterns it is!