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Saturday, 15 February 2014

I Spent Valentines Day Making The Most Matronly Nightgown In Existance

I haven't been around for the last two weeks because I was moving my entire life into my parents garage. I have far to much stuff, especially fabric, and even if I get a flat reasonably soon I'm going to have to jettison a good deal of it. Most is stuffed behind the futon and piled up high so it literally hangs over my head while I sleep.

It doesn't look like much but it'll do the job just fine and I don't have a load of uses for blue gingham. My dad saw it and though school uniform just like I did. I don't think anyone who's gone through a british state school wouldn't.

My next project will be my new pattern of the month, a nice, simple shirt. I counted my patterns today and found out if I keep doing one new pattern every month the ones I have should last me well into 2016. That's a bit sobering. Maybe by then I'll have worked through half of my damn stash?

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Navel Gazing (Belly Button Staring?)

All the upheaval in my life at the moment have gotten me thinking about the future. Not just what I want to make and wear but who I want to be. Where do I want to be in ten years.

It's a rollercoaster of joy and depression, and I definitely haven't come out the other end yet but every time something like this has happened to me I've come out of it wiser but a little bit more separated from what I think of as the expected route. If it keeps up at this rate I'll either end up like Bill Gates or the movie stereotype wise crazy homeless person.

I'd prefer the Bill Gates one.

When you're looking for a job you find yourself in the weird position of trying to sell yourself. What would make other people want you and want to be around you. Are you a good leader? Can you type? Heal people? Burp the alphabet? What do you have to offer someone else that's so good that they're willing to pay for it?


I often think of myself as someone with a lot to offer but no proof of it, and that's what I'm trying to change at the moment. I'm trying to be social and it's a new thing for me. It's hard and confusing and people don't make much sense.

I spent some of yesterday sending off applications for volunteering positions, doing fundraising and simple admin for charities, to see if anyone would take me. I even sent off one for a Young Carers support group that I used to get help from as a teen. I'm starting to understand that my actions and my history are the only thing that people have to judge by, they can't see what they need to just by looking at me.

This may not be a big revelation to you, but I've been catching up from behind for a long time now. Things like this come from theory of mind, your ability to understand what other people think and feel, and I've always been lacking. I believe I'm high functioning autistic, but arguing with doctors and getting a test is so much personal interaction and hard work for something I already know, just to prove it to other people who may just mentally label me 'retarded' or rude and move along.
Autistic spectrum disorders mess about with the temporal lobe.

I've learned a lot with my intellectual mind that other people were born with, I rarely accidentally insult people any more any when I only have to deal with one person I'm almost normal, but if there isn't instant feedback I could live my whole life without understanding. I'm starting to think most people fall into this trap.

I think we consider what people will think of us in the short run far longer than the big picture they get. We consider first impressions and often don't think beyond that. Don't get me wrong, first impressions are important, but if you sell yourself as something you aren't then trying to keep it up might well destroy you. You need to present yourself as a condensed, polished representation of yourself, not a totally new person who'll dissolve when the pressure of real life hits. I'm starting to see that more and more lately.

If we want to change the way we are perceived in a radical way, we have to change ourselves in a sustainable way. Find a new passion if you feel like a one trick pony, learn to take a bit more joy in life if people think of you as no fun to be with, and maybe stop expecting people to 'see through to the real you' when you don't even try to look at it from their perspective.

And, of course, learn when not to care what other people think.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

My New Nightgown

As you know, I'm going to be moving back home soon, but a few weekends sleeping on the sofa has made me realize that I really don't have anything to wear during the night. When you're living alone you can pop to the kitchen for a snack just wearing a t-shirt and no one will ever know or care, but I'd rather not do that in a house with other people.

I decided to make myself a nightgown using Kwik Sew 3538, the first pattern I ever used and one of my favorites. I'm making it long with short sleeves using the rest of my blue gingham and I'm hoping to get it finished in time to move.

I've only got the cutting out done so far and it's going slowly because I've got a dozen other things to do but it's not very complicated.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Undocumented Progress

I did really well this weekend and got all the pieces for McCall's 6614 traced off, but since I left my camera at home there's no pictures. Imagine a big pile of pattern pieces curled up to look like scrolls and you're there.

I went to see the people at the jobcentre today and signed an agreement saying how much I had to do towards getting a job. For those of you who don't know, to get the benefits, a whole £200 a month, you have to spend 35 hours a week looking for work and making yourself more employable. That's 7 hours every work day sending off job applications and practicing my touch typing. Heck, at this rate I might be employable at the end.

Obviously that cuts down on sewing time, but if I find someone willing to pay me for 40 hours of my week then that'll be well worth it.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Finished Postal Dress

I finally got the red dress finished and I photographed it when I got to my mums. Well, she photographed it. The hall of my parents house is quite dark so even though it was a sunny day the photo didn't come out well. I'm glad we got it done then because half an hour later we had hail and thunder.

It doesn't look that bad in this picture but I'm not happy with it. It has pointy bits at the end of the bust darts, I have trouble lifting my arms and my hips are too big to fit into the unaltered dress comfortably. It's also very unflattering unbelted, but with the belt it's kinda okay.

I get the feeling this dress, or a version of it, might be good for wearing under a corset with some tweaking to the sizing and the darts. It might even look quite pretty.

This was the first non stretch garment where I've tried to finish the seams with my overlocker and it was quite trial and error. For the seams between the main body and the sleeves I tried using it like one would do hongkong seams with them pressed open but the machine wasn't very happy and they don't look right, but for the side seams I just sewed it like normal and overlocked the two edges together. It looks a lot better. The facing is just pinked and invisibly handstitched to the seams. It's definitely the neatest garment inside yet.

So not my favorite, but not a disaster either. A learning experience.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

My Relationship To Food, Part 2

I'm guessing my last post was a bit boring. Don't worry, this one should be a bit more relevant and the next one is about a dress, so we're back to the sewing.

Recently new (or new to me) research confirmed what most people know, that dieting may work for a little while but your chances of putting the weight back on and more besides is very high. It turns out that your body seriously resists loosing weight, which makes sense if you live in a hunter gatherer society and not having enough calories to maintain yourself is a very bad thing, but humans weren't designed to live in a world where food was abundant and eating too much was more of a threat than eating too little.

Dieting makes you obsessed with food. Your brain telling you louder and louder that you NEED food and no amount of mental strength can hold up to that onslaught. To make it worse, your body has an idea of what your normal size is, and it's much easier for it to go up then down. Once it's gone up it gets even harder to get healthy.

Currently some scientists believe our best option is to develop better appetite suppression drugs and combat our cultures obesity problem, but that's a long way off for most of us. Until then I need another plan.

My plan? Vegetables. I'm thinking I'll pack the fridge at home with bags of carrots and celery and when I feel just a little bit hungry and I get tempted I'll grab some and munch away to my hearts content. I have absolutely no idea if it'll work but it's worth a try and even if it doesn't it'll be much more fun that eating pizza and hating myself for it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

My Relationship To Food, Part 1

I'll be the first to admit that I have issues with my weight. I was one of the big kids at school, or at least I felt like one. I wasn't huge but I hung around with skinny girls and small girls and that kinda skewed my sample.

I ate for emotional reasons mostly. I didn't know how to ask for attention or connect with people emotionally so I always felt left out and neglected. It wasn't the fault of my parents or friends, I just didn't know how to ask for what I needed.

I thought about dieting, but I had very little control over what I ate. Mum made breakfast, packed lunches and big dinners. We were told 'you won't get your dessert until you've cleared your plate'. School dinners were even worse, because we had to take a certain amount and got in trouble for not taking the amount they thought we needed.

I can't leave food on my plate, but I don't know if that's nature or nurture. When I was young I would fight for what I thought was rightfully mine because I always felt short changed. Give me the option and I will choose more. Give me a buffet and I will eat until I puke. Literally.

When I moved away from home things got a little better. My first flat was in a village with no food shops. Restaurants? By the bucket! Need a bridal shop? Have three! But it was a mile bicycle ride to the supermarket for food I could take home. My dinner was a chicken breast and a serving of rice, cooked with a carton of chopped tomatoes and at least two kinds of frozen veg. Breakfast was a simple bowl of cereal and I barely ever found myself going back for more. It was paradise! I don't know what I weighed but I had a healthy relationship with food.

In my second flat it was harder. The shop around the corner sold biscuits quite cheaply and it was easier to binge than to cook. Plus my bike was falling apart so going to get a weeks shop usually involved walking. Frozen food defrosted and fresh was expensive. I turned back to junk food.

I can't pretend that boredom and loneliness wasn't partly to blame as well. I wasn't seeing family as often or getting out as much and was feeling depressed watching my brother go down hill. The highlight of my week was going to roleplaying games where sweets and fizzy pop were the norm. I deluded myself into thinking I was being healthy if I hardly ate the rest of the week.

When I was loosing weight through the beginning of 2013 I attributed it to slimfast powders and force of will, but I think I was partly wrong there. Sure, it helped, but I think what really got me through was my snacking. You see, I love carrots. I love them, and you could get a 1kg bag of ugly and weirdly shaped carrots at the local supermarket for £1. Whenever I snacked, I started to snack on vegetables and I could eat whenever I was hungry. I think that was the key. If I tried to hold back through willpower then I just got hungrier and hungrier until I went and bought a bag of cookies with that same one pound.

As the year continued, however, I got depressed again. I stopped leaving the house and the boyfriend moved in. He couldn't live on salad. We agreed to try and get healthy together, him being quite overweight, but every time he went and spent £20 he didn't have on junk food or bought a footlong subway I gave up a little. It was like he was saying he didn't care as much as me. I don't take it personally now, I see it for what it was, but when he complained about the healthy food I made it hurt.

I want to get my love of healthy, yummy food back, but moving into my parents house means I'm going to have to think long and hard about how I'm going to move forward. I'll talk more about that in part 2.