Sewing and writing about it on this blog are my little bits of me. They are the things that I do solely because I love them and to fulfil some need for tangible productivity.
Everything else in my life currently centres around my two small wonderful children who are 4 and just turned 2. I don't really write about them on here and I don't sew for them that much mainly for that reason; this is my space in the world and it is just for me.
Since we moved to Brooklyn, I have been at home with my kids, for many reasons but mostly because having gone back to work part time after my eldest was born and finding the whole thing totally unsatisfactory and now with two kids, it seemed the right time to devote some time to them and enjoy them in their tiny years.
I know I'm not alone in this but I go round and round in circles about whether this is the right thing to do.
I believe it's right for my kids and our family but I see my friends who work and feel envious and I think about the example I set for my kids - especially my daughter who is under the impression that "mummy's don't work".
But then, I want to be the one who wipes their noses and cuddles them when they fall and notices the nuanced shifts in their behaviour throughout the day.
But then I've essentially sounded the death knell on a career I worked really hard for and all the aspirations I had for that before having kids.
But then I hated my job in particular and was bored of the industry I worked in in general, so it was time for a change.
But then I live in this amazing city and would love to experience it as a member of the workforce.
But then, any salary I earn would go entirely on childcare which seems perverse; part time work here is very hard to come by.
But then, we could really do with even a little extra money and I hate not having my own income.
But then I don't want to be away from my kids. I want to be with them, well most of the time I do ...!
And so it goes on and on and on. Round and round and round.
I have no judgement for what other mothers do, everyone has to choose what is right for them and their family, but for me personally it seems there is no 'right' as none of the scenarios open to me fulfil all my possibilities - if that doesn't sound too selfish and 'woe is me'. And so I have opted for the one that I feel is most important - at least at this point in my and my children's lives. (I'm not going to launch into whether I am 'lucky' or not in staying at home - that's too simplistic and needs more words than I have to fully cover it, as well as several bottles of wine.)
So, I think that is why sewing and blogging have become so hugely important to me. It is probably incredibly narcissistic to write a blog plastered with photos of myself and go on and on about what I did and how well or badly I did something, but in this little niche, I have found something I love to do and I'm good at, or so I'm told. Something that is a representation of my possibilities beyond caring for and loving my children. Something that taps into long suppressed creativity, something that allows me to do things how I think they should be best done and not have to vacillate according to the whims of bosses.
Reading Sophie's post the other day about how what you love to sew may not correlate with what you love to wear got me thinking. And it kind of feels a similar paradox to the one of being home with kids vs working. Bear with me here - I swear it is similar because what you want i.e the perfect balance of the two is hard to come by. OK it's a loose similarity and they have different levels of importance in my life but you can see what I mean, right?
What I want to sew IS what I want to wear, it's just what I want to wear isn't what works best for my day-to-day life of play dates and pre-school runs and climbing frames and snotty noses and tantrums and playing trains. I want to wear heels (although this has always been contentious as I'm six feet tall in bare feet and I've been told by random strangers on more than one occasion that I'm "too tall to wear heels"...), and dresses and beautiful fabrics and quirky styles and and fashion forward garments through which I can express who I am.
But then I thought further and thought well why can't the two be compatible? It may not be practical to go to a play date in my favourite thrifted silk blouse, but if otherwise it is going to sit in the wardrobe unworn until such a point that I can - i.e. ten years time - and it will probably be long past its best, why not just wear it now. Even if it gets ruined. Clearly there are some heels, dresses and outfits that are inappropriate for the aforementioned activities but I don't have to limit myself to sewing jeans (yay) and t-shirts (yawn) and some self-imposed mum uniform (a mumiform?)
That's where things like this dress come in. It's a beautifully soft fabric but it's cotton lawn so it washes well, and it's a lovely colour with a subtle but unusual print so easy to wear day-to-day. The pattern is quirky but stylish, it's really comfortable but looks put together and different. As something that I want to sew because it's interesting and want to wear because it's pretty and fits with my life this manages to cover all the possibilities. (Aside, apparently, from the very specific activity of having to roll upside down at a toddler music class.)
In my little world at the moment this dress and what it represents allows me to be me, to show my possibilities as a mother, as someone who creates, as a writer (this is a little grandiose - am I writer if I only write a blog? Probably not.) as a person in touch with fashion and style*.
I still feel I can't currently demonstrate my possibilities in terms of my brain and my ability to make an impact in the big world and a financial contribution to my little world and it worries me as to when this might be possible**.
But the former* is a start and I'm working on the latter**.
- Pattern: Dress V from the Stylish Dress Book: Wear with Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori
- Fabric: Navy speckled cotton lawn by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton and Steel
- Cut size 14
- Added 1 and 1/2 inches to bodice length and five inches to the skirt length
Loves and hates
I'm not a huge fan of 3/4 sleeves so I was going to make the sleeves full length with a placket using the Archer Shirt sleeve pattern piece but decided at the last minute just to go with the pattern and actually for this dress I like the sleeve style and length.
I love the way this pattern is constructed. You cut the front on the fold and then cut down the middle to the waist line and then you create the plackets and gather below the waistline to match the width of the plackets. Not very well explained here but it's really clever!
I'm still not sure on my button choice and think I will change them. I have bought about four different options now, none of which really grab me.
I love the voluminous back of this dress - created by the gathers under the yoke and I love how the gathers at the front manage to make the bodice flattering even though there are no darts or shaping.
It's a truly lovely pattern, it covers all the possibilities and for once I might actually do a repeat!
See you soon x