Sewing and body image

I know a lot of other sewing-bloggers have touched on this topic before but it’s something I have a lot of enthusiasm for so I wanted to give you my take.

I know I say this a lot but: sewing for yourself is about just that.

All about celebrating YOU!Ā  Tailoring things to your style, your body and your life and your way of dressing and I just love that!

I NEVER go into a RTW clothing store, try on a tailored dress and have it fit me the way I want it to, just as I almost never fit a pattern right out of the envelope, but I have so much love and respect for my body and what it can do, and when I put on a dress that I have made and it fits me properly I really feel feminine!

Almost every woman on this planet has had issues body-wise at some point in there life and it would be simplifying things to say that the fashion industry is to blame, but making things for one body type that only a small percentage of woman have is just ridiculous.

A couple of years back I started doing a fashion design course, but despite there being some lovely people doing the course with me there was that insidious narrow-minded view about what womens bodies should look like even amongst fashion students and I didn’t want to be part of that, because it even made me much more critical of my own body.

Throughout history beauty trends have come and gone, but there seems to be one constant. Whatever is near impossible for the general population to obtain gets held up as the ideal.

Perhaps one day people of another time will look at the body and beauty ideals of today much like the way we look at ones of the past and fail to understand the appeal or the lengths people go to try and obtain it. I think you would have to stay 15 forever or something.

I think I was blessed because my mother helped instill in me a very positive attitude towards my body. Being healthy was always the most important thing in our family, or at least enjoying food but also putting a priority on health. I remember as a young girl I always wanted to have curves and I was so happy when I did get them, but perhaps even that was silly.

When I look at the things all my fellow sewing bloggers make I am astounded and inspired! There are so many beautiful women of every shape and size looking fabulous in clothing that accentuates every gorgeous part of who they are!

Saying only one type of body is the attractive, to me would be like saying only one flavor of ice-cream tastes good or only one genre of music is worth listening to. It’s completely crazy.

Do I have things I would like to change about my body? of course I do! But that is so far down the list of personal grievances it doesn’t even rate a mention.

My biggest insecurity has always been my lack of intelligence and that is one thing I can work towards doing something about.

I am a real girly girl because I absolutely love clothing and getting dressed up, but for me it is all about about personal style rather than fashion. I always aspire to be a stylish, interesting woman that has her own sense of aesthetics. That to me is fun!

Loving yourself is not always easy, but sewing make it a lot easier because you have all the control!

You get to make your own mold rather than trying to fit a limiting one that does not make you happy.

I know not everyone has the luxury of time to sew for themselves but it really changes your attitude towards your body.

Has sewing changed your attitude towards your body?

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18 comments
  1. Anne W said:

    I’m not sure sewing has made love my body any more, but it certaily has helped me to figure out what suits me, and how to hide or emphasise those bits that need it! I always tell my students when they first start pattern cutting that no-one ever sees the size you make, all they see are fabulous fitting clothes.

    • That is true I have a much better idea of what suits me now too! Yes exactly fit is everything.

    • I agree with your statement “Iā€™m not sure sewing has made love my body any more, but it certainly has helped me to figure out what suits me”. I have started focussing more on the body parts I like and with the body parts that I “dislike” but cannot change, I’m finding ways to flatter them or hide them. Thanks to sewing I am more aware of what is flattering for me and that not all trends suit all bodies.

      Great post.

      • Yes I know what you mean I think I have developed a better awareness of what suits me too! Thanks for reading :)!

  2. Novita said:

    It certainly has! I have scoliosis (bent backbone) and used to be very self-conscious about it. My hip is higher on one side. When I started sewing, I made loose dresses that hide my waist area. But then I began to browse a lot of sewing blogs and saw how different their bodies to each other and yet how each of them are so beautiful.
    I reintroduced my waist to the world a couple of years ago and I love how I look in more shaped clothing! I feel that I love myself more. Now I don’t really think anymore about my backbone, other than the health-related problems (it hurts sometimes). It is such a liberated feeling šŸ™‚

    • As someone who is not symmetrical myself (shoulders and my bust) I can relate. I used to focus on it a lot but these days I rarely even think about it. I think often we are so much more critical of ourselves than we would ever be of others (even focusing on things other people may not even notice).

      I will never forget as a young girl I had bigger ears than all the other girls (my roman nose/side profile was another thing I got hung up on it was SO silly). I used to hate my ears and hide them if I wore a ponytail I would wrap it around my ears to hide them. Now I love them and have no problem with showing them off.

      It’s amazing how a whole world opens up to you when you allow yourself acceptance and start to really feel confident in your own skin.

      I know what you mean! There are so many beautiful women with all different types of bodies and styles proudly wearing there creations, I just love that too!
      I think you wear dresses so well and you look fabulous in a dress with a defined waist.

      Also I have been following your blog for a long time now and the stuff you make is always so delightful :)!

  3. I love this post! I totally agree with you– there’s something about making clothes that fit and suit you that sort of frees you from feeling like your body is “wrong” or abnormal. I always used to feel like I wasn’t a real woman or something because clothes didn’t fit me off the rack, so I used to stay very covered up in loose, shapeless clothing. Now I don’t really feel like I have anything to hide anymore because hey, we’re all OK, you know?

    • Yes exactly! šŸ™‚ For me RTW is often a complete hit or miss fit-wise for me too and because we can sew we are free to look our best and feel good about ourselves, like we should!
      I also love that because we sew we always have the option of tweaking the fit and style of anything we own.

  4. I started sewing again, for just that reason! I would spend so much time in clothing stores, trying on so many ill fitting clothes, only to leave feeling poorly about my body. I’m quite curvy in the hip area with a smaller waist which is quite hard to fit. At first, my goal was to learn how to alter patterns, but in my quest, I developed a passion for thrift store clothes refashion which not only provides me with clothes that fit, but it’s also quite easy on my pocketbook.
    Really good post! Thanks!
    Beth

    • I love what you do with thrift store finds! I have less confidence with altering RTW garments but your posts always inspire me. I am all about being budget friendly too. It feels so good to be learning something new, creating something you love and not spending a lot in the process!

  5. It is so liberating knowing that soon I will be able to sew my own pants! That’s what I will be learning next at sewing class.
    I don’t fit RTW pants. Jeans are a nightmare!!!!! Skinny pants make me cry.
    I have large hips compared to my butt and thighs and I also have calves.
    Pants/jeans that fit the hips/waist are loose around the thighs and butt and vice versa.
    Can’t wear skinny jeans cos my calves can’t get into them. WAH. šŸ˜¦
    BUT!!! Once I master a pant pattern I can wear pants! Good feeling šŸ™‚

    • Argh Yes! I feel your pain. Everyone has such different proportions which is probably why all the females all over the world seem to be on a never ending quest for jeans and pants that fit.
      I have a large waist compared to my legs and hips and I have a small flat backside which means when I wear jeans they always look saggy and sad on the back haha. I just purchased a crafty course about fitting pants so I’m also super excited about learning to fit pants too!
      Being able to fit pants to your shape to me would be the holy grail of sewing accomplishments.
      I can’t wait to see the pants you make šŸ™‚

  6. paunnet said:

    It definitely has! When I was about 20, I started gaining a little weight and putting more curves on and I’ve become a bit more insecure about my body. It still troubles me to try clothes on in a store with the super close mirror and the terrible lights that accentuate every default. But sewing for myself taught me that I don’t have to be desperate because I don’t fit into RTW clothes, modeled after one specific type of body, I can make something that looks good on me, highlighting the good parts of me and hiding the less good. I regained a lot of confidence sewing, not just in my body, but in myself, because I found something I’m quite good at.

    • Amen to that! I feel the same way, I hate those ghastly lights and fitting room mirrors. They would sell more clothing if they had more flattering change rooms! Sewing gives me confidence too.

      You sure are talented the things you make are so beautiful and you always look amazing! šŸ™‚

  7. Sewing has definitely changed my body image for the better. It sounds insane but I used to think I was a different shape to what j really am. For example I’m tall so I always assumed I had broader shoulders than average, but it’s really the opposite. Realising what was really there was quite refreshing. And now I have more comfortable clothes that suit my shape.

    Great post!

    • Yes exactly, you get to know your body better and it’s nice to challenge those assumptions! I have always thought I had broad shoulders too! It really is liberating to have comfortable clothing that suits your shape and personal style. Thanks šŸ™‚

  8. A very inspiring post. Thank you. Also, I just want to say you’re one of the most intelligent people I know!! And I mean it šŸ™‚ So never think you lack intelligence šŸ™‚

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