Saturday, 3 May 2014

Butterfly Mind

When I look back over ‘From The Pleats Up’ I’m amazed that I lasted as long as I did. I have hobbies periodically, often ones that last up to a year, but rarely do they need more from me than sitting on the sofa and reading everything I can find on a subject.

It may look like I was doing that a lot with sewing, and that’s definitely true, but I did actually sew some stuff and talk with people in the community. That’s a huge thing for me. I’m a social outsider by habit and by choice but getting involved and producing something interesting made me feel happy.

I’d love to get back to blogging, but my sewing has taken a back seat in the last few months. I don’t really have somewhere to sit and sew and I’ve filled my spare time with other projects in the mean time. I’ve been reading a lot more fiction and joined a writing group and I’ve decided to stop caring so much about sticking to one subject.

I will get back to sewing projects, I’ve got enough fabric to make a whole wardrobe, but it’s not something that’s practical right now.

I’m being down to earth about this. It’s my 24th birthday today and I’m a young woman without an interesting job, with no education, and living on a futon in my parents dining room. I just hope I’ll find some gems while I’m figuring things out.

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.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

How Sewing And Blogging Fulfill Our Needs

I'm a not so secret nerd, and I love social, political and economic theories. I love reading non-fiction books and learning something new, even if I'll probably never use it. Now that I'm temporarily unemployed I'll have a bit more time for reading nerdy stuff and more time to dedicate to this blog. Don't get me wrong, I'll still be looking hard for jobs, but that probably won't take up all my time.

I recently watched an interesting video about why we play videogames, and thought the theory could easily be applied to sewing and, by extension, sewing bogging.

Scott Rigby and Richard Ryan, co-authers of the book 'Glued to Gaming', put forward the theory that we play video games to fulfill the needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness, and this theory works for almost anything we do for fun. You can take a pottery course to learn new skills or meet new people, you can make your own bread for the freedom or to be able to say, 'I did that!'


How does this relate to sewing, though?


This one's a little obvious. We sew, at least a little bit, to get better at sewing. Finally being able to master invisible zippers or the perfectly turned collar is an awesome feeling, but for some people it becomes a really big thing. Think of master tailors who spend their lives getting better and better at what they do. Sure, it's often part of the job, but you don't put that much time into a skill without getting something out of it.

If you want examples of competence sewers then you could do worse than Mainely Dad and his growing collection of mens coats, or Cindy (The Cationess) and her seemingly constant stream of new techniques.

As for a general and explicit thirst for competence, what about Victoria and her goal to accumulate ten thousand hours of sewing time? If that's not a commitment to practice I don't know what is.


Autonomy is all about freedom and choice. Freedom from the fashion industry, is constraints and prescriptions, and freedom to wear what we want. We want to be able to choose our fabric, our patterns, our style, and to be able to make clothing that fits us, that isn't built around a standard shape and set of sizes. We don't want to be told out butts are to big and our breasts are to small, that we need to fit into the mold.

When it comes to style, sewing seems to attract a lot of people who dance to their own beat. I'd love to think I'm one of them but it's a bit of a work in progress. One woman who I think has it in the bag is Oonaballoona. Looking at her blog makes me want to be more adventurous with different fabrics and bright colours, get out of my shell.

For a wider kind of autonomy, So Zo comes to mind. Her search for autonomy in almost all areas of her life is inspiring, and combined with her ethical and ecological concerns it makes her one of my sewing idles.


Blogging, including sewing blogs, firmly lands in the realm of relatedness. Many people are happy with sewing purely for themselves and not talking about it, but sharing our successes and our UFOs, entering contests and sewalongs, give us a community and camaraderie that can pull you out of a sewing funk and get you energised to finish a project.

The amount of forums dedicated to sewing show us that even if you don't have a blog, you can still fulfill your need for relatedness through sewing.

I hope you found this interesting. Do you think mental wanderings like this are interesting or would you rather I stuck to trying to make pretty dresses?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Change Of Schedule

 I'm afraid I don't have a progress picture of my dress to show you, but I'm not where I was expecting to be. I thought I'd be sewing in front of the TV at home tonight then heading off to Rugby in the morning to apply for jobseekers benefit, but my dad came round today to pick up some stuff and I ended up coming too. I've got to be at the jobcenter at two tomorrow and I'm going to stay for the rest of the weekend and tracing sewing patterns. I've got a skirt one to help fill out my wardrobe and two jackets that I can probably get done before it gets too warm to wear them. It is England after all.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Life And Laziness

I seriously need to get off my ass. I've gotten some work done on the red dress, just sewing together the four main pieces, but I thought I'd have it done by now. I also thought I'd have a lot more of my stuff packed up, so it's all systems go until I'm settled in Rugby.

I'll try and finish this today, and then I'll be sticking DVDs and books into boxes.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Red Menace!

I'm a little sorry I didn't post yesterday, but mostly I'm annoyed with myself because I hadn't done anything worth showing. I realised when I went to cut my red fabric that I still needed to pre-wash it and I figured, before I pack everything away for the move I might as well pre-wash everything that needed washing. It'll save time down the road.

I did manage to get some cutting done this morning and it won't be very hard to put together so I should have a complete dress to show you next time. There's no instructions, but seriously, look at it.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

I can't believe it's the 9th of the month and I'm about to start my sixth garment. Stash busting extreme!

I was hoping to make my trial run of this pattern out of a lovely white and grey striped fabric that I've had in my stash for a while, but when I got it out I found out I didn't have enough! There's probably enough for a nice shirt but I'm not up for that yet.

I went digging for something else that'd work and found this lovely red poly-cotton. I love red! It's probably my favorite colour to wear, even though purple is my favorite overall, and it fits into my wardrobe like a key in a lock.

If this dress comes out looking good I'm going to make a lovely white version, but I don't think it'll be done for the Little White Dress challenge over at Pattern Review. I'm just too into stash busting to get stuck into one long project. Oh, well. It's not like they won't have more competitions.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I've got two complete tops! The white one and the blue one (that I'm currently wearing) are finished and the gold, silver and green ones only need their cuffs sewing on.

I've got a load more that I'm going to sew together with black tread when I get the overlocker rethreaded, but I think I need a break from making the same pattern again an again, and I don't mean just the darn tidying.

I'm currently trying to pack my life into a series of plastic crates and trying to get rid of everything I don't need or don't use, and there's a lot of it. I'm a clutterbug, a hoarder and a mess.

At least if I cut things out I can leave the scraps behind.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

T-shirts And Studdies

I was a bit late getting this out because I spent most of the day with my older brother. Me, him and his boyfriend went to wetherspoons and talked about what I'm going to do this year. I've got to get on with researching universities and talking to everyone about what my options are but I'm feeling pretty good about it now.

I did manage to get quite a lot of work done on my t-shirts. I cut out four more and sewed the shoulder seams, as well as the back center seam on the neck band. I had a go at chain stitching (I think that's what it's called when you leave hardly any space between pieces) to save thread and make it go quicker. It worked pretty well and I ended up with the hideous neckband garland. You probably can't see but that things got 30 sharp pins sticking out of it.

The next thing to do will be sew the neck bands to the tops and sew up the sides. I think I should be able to get them finished by the 7th, and then I'm going to try making a wearable muslin of the dress I traced over the Christmas holidays.

Friday, 3 January 2014

First Projects Of The New Year

Yesterday I managed to leave my purse, with my train ticket, money, and house keys in it, at my parents house when I went to go home on the train. I managed to get on the train before I even realised and ended up having to pay again (well, dad did) and sitting for over an hour surrounded by a loud family, trying to read but unable to because of the noise.

When I finally got home I was tired, hungry and feeling a caffeine withdrawal headache coming on. Add on to that a growing feeling that I'm studying the wrong subject and managing to make dinner only to spill it on the floor and it felt like a pretty bad day.

I ended up talking to my older brother about it. We're going to meet up tomorrow and he's going to help me look at my options. I'm going to finish this year at the OU but it's not what I want to do in the long run. I wasn't expecting the new year to lead to quite so many changes.

After that I felt better. I did the washing up and even felt up to getting on with sewing! I got a blue velvet T-shirt cut out and I'm going to do another four before doing them all production line style with white thread. Then I can change to black and do the rest. :-)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Years Resolutions

My 2013 goals for the year kind of fell flat.

I didn't manage to make a statement coat, leggings, a shirt dress, a knee length black skirt, a sewaholic garment, a bag, a summer dress or a cosplay outfit. My seven new items are all nice but they're a bit random. I don't know if I'd have bought any of them in the shops but four were intended as wearable muslins and I never buy scarves.

Ironically, I think the first one I made was my favorite. My lovely red top that I made with my granny. I bought the fabric specifically for the project and it doesn't require any kind of fitting. I'll just have to up my game in 2014.

I do have goals for the new year but they're a bit more vague this time.

1) Do some sewing related work every day when it's feasible. Trace something or sew something together or do some embroidery. I stopped trying to do something everyday during 2013 and almost stopped sewing completely after my boyfriend moved in.

2) Make a garment every month. It's not that much but it'll keep me on course.

3) Stop buying cheap fabric. Given how slowly I sew I might as well save up and get nicer fabric. At least stuff I really like. Once I've used up or gotten rid of my stash I can make a wardrobe of clothing I can truly be proud of.

4) Start making adjustments to patterns that need it. Most clothing patterns were made for people who were medium height to tall and a standard B cup, whereas I'm built like a hobbit wench. I'm not complaining, I've gotten used to it by now, but it means that most clothing won't fit straight out of the packet.

5) Try to sew birthday/christmas presents and give them to people on time. I've never been very good with gift giving. I leave it too late then get overwhelmed with the task.

6) Have fun! This is supposed to be a hobby!