Weight Changes, Fitting Issues & Me Made May #MMMay17

Sew Sarah smith

I’ve debated whether or not to write this post, questioning whether anybody would find it useful, meaningful or remotely interesting. But I’ve always reasoned that if I am here to document my sewing journey, I owe it to myself and any Reader to portray that journey honestly; to not prettify it or make it ‘Instagram-worthy’ only. As a WYSIWYG* type person, I’m not great at that anyway!

IMG_8526Back in the autumn of last year, I was diagnosed with Hydronephrosis and underwent two surgeries to correct my blocked kidney. I’d been feeling unwell for the longest time, constantly tired and seemingly unable to pick myself up. Paradoxically, every time I tried to get healthier by, say, drinking lots of water and eating more vegetables or salads, I’d be bed ridden within days. After a particularly agonising bout I was admitted to hospital, diagnosed and treated in record speed. Thank goodness for the NHS eh.

Once recovered, I got stuck straight back into my sewing plans. However, as time went on, I began to feel increasingly frustrated with the results, noticing issues I hadn’t really had to deal with before. Bewildered by gaping necklines, shoulder seams that were too long and armsyces that were too low, I began to question my sewing. It wasn’t until much later that I finally stepped on the scales and realised just how much my weight had changed. Being able to eat anything I wanted without feeling ill afterwards had simply meant I had automatically made healthier choices.

My body may have changed then but my self body image was taking rather longer to catch up. It was dispiriting to realise things I thought I knew about my body were no longer strictly true; I was having to seriously re-evaluate how I approached fitting sewing patterns. You can find frustrated comments to this effect peppered throughout my posts in this period. All the clothes I had lovingly sewn but which no longer fit, I donated (to my Mother, she’s delighted! Truthfully, as a to-the-core selfish-sewer, it was hard handing over my Me Mades; thank goodness for visitation rights!) Then, overwhelmed with feeling I was facing a massive fitting learning curve together with the mammoth task of practically resewing my entire wardrobe, my sew-jo understandably took something of a nosedive.

But this hiatus gave me the opportunity to have a word with myself; it shocked me to realise that, even as a Stitcher, I’d paid so little attention to my own body, which no doubt contributed to ill health. The culling of my wardrobe has allowed me to re-evaluate and plan properly. It’s been liberating learning to look at, and think about, my body objectively rather than emotionally. Now, rather than feeling stymied, I feel energised. My sewing plans are more considered; I’m selecting the patterns I want to sew based on the idea that I can justify taking the time to fit them properly; patterns which I will want to sew multiple times knowing that they will fill a core gap in my wardrobe and that, ultimately, they work for my body.  

Sew Sarah smith

Which brings me onto Me Made May (#MMMay17). This is a fantastic yearly sewing challenge set up by Zoe that has been running strong for a staggering eight years now! If you haven’t already done so, you can read all about it over on Zoe’s blog So Zo…What Do You Know? but, in essence, Zoe states that the Challenge, which works on a personal and community level, is simply about “…improving your relationship with your handmade wardrobe, and perhaps also learning about yourself and your creativity...” Never has that felt more apt than now. I’m going to participate with a very limited pledge and I’m completely fine with that:

I, Sarah Smith of www.sewsarahsmith.wordpress.com and @sewsarahsmith, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to fit, sew up and wear at least one new handmade garment per week for the duration of May 2017.

I’ll probably wear more than that but this pledge represents my focus right now. I’ll be posting my fitting, sewing and #MMMay17 adventures over on Instagram, although this is by no means a requirement of the Challenge itself. Which is good to remember for future years as the idea of standing in front of a camera daily would, in all likelihood, have me running screaming for the hills!

Are you in?

Until next time,

Sew Sarah smith

(*Wysiwyg = what you see is what you get)

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54 Comments Add yours

  1. Nateida says:

    What a great post. I’m losing weight and have quite a bit more to lose. So the reality for me is to always take my measurements and continue to survey my closet for gaps in my wardrobe. I really want to learn how to make a slopper but at this point doesn’t make sense because it would change so frequently.

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    1. Yeah, it can be so frustrating can’t it. I love the idea of making a sloper too and would love to attend a course on fitting, it’s such a difficult thing to achieve on your own isn’t it xx

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  2. ISewALot says:

    Great post Sarah. I too still struggle with my continually shrinking body and I admire your frank and open post in this regard. Glad you are on the mend. Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amanda love. It’s a hard subject to deal with it and it’s a tricky one to write about isn’t it, so laden with complex feelings, as the Writer or as the Reader. I admire your honesty too and the way you deal with your own illness, family and working life. Big hugs xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a post Sarah. I’ve been reading it twice and admire your courage to be so open about illness. Sewing (or another hobby) is always a great to have when some negatives comes along in your life. You make beautiful sewings and always write posts that make me smile. Looking forward to your next post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw you just made me smile, thanks Sonja xx I adore the things you make, you’re so very accomplished! I look forward to continuing to follow your journey too xxx

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  4. Anya says:

    What a great post. Thank you so much for it, Sarah! You are clearly not alone in this and I think we all as makers can relate. Once you start paying attention to fit it is so frustrating to deal with body changes! I’ve been on both sides of it myself. First when I lost a lot of weight through exercise and healthy diet. And then when I gained it all and some back after a head injury. I love reading about other’s way to deal with it and seeing your body in a positive way, it is very inspirational!
    I am also so glad that you are recovered! Being sick is no fun at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anya love, I really appreciate you saying so. Your injury sounds really serious, was it a riding accident? What a complex relationship we all have with our own skin and bones eh. I take it you’re fully recovered too? Xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anya says:

        Yes! We do! And funny enough it is one of the most important relationships we will have 🙂 Probably the longest one too haha
        My injury was not fun at all. I wish I got it while riding! I got my head hit on a really windy day when wind picked up the car door as I was getting into it and slammed it onto my head. My head got stuck in between door and the body of the car and rattled really good. I was out for a year and a half and now just over two years later I am finally feeling like I am almost recovered. There are some changes that will likely stay with me but thats alright, I can manage that! xoxo

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  5. Diane G says:

    I’m just catching up on blogs and got around to reading this….firstly…(((hugs))) What a grotty time you’ve had. And you kept on shining like a ray of sunshine through it all x. If I can help any time Sarah, just shout. Fitting clothes can be a bugger eh? Weight fluctuations keep changing the goal posts too. I love the MMM17 pledge you made and it’s a real chance to get to grips with fit. Good love and lots of love xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Diane. I know you mean that and that means a lot, so hugs and love right back to you too xxxx

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  6. kalimak says:

    Sarah, thanks so much for this post! I’ve been sitting on a post about sewing, fitting, and weight fluctuations for a while now, and it’s still not written. I had an eating disorder when I was younger, and I’ve made it to the other side. By which I mean that I’ve come to understand adulthood as the process of learning to be a friend to yourself.

    It’s thanks to friendship that I got out of my self-destructive spiral, and I’m committed to being supportive and helpful (and genuine in that) to other women but also to myself. That’s the hard step. Hateful thoughts still bubble up, especially during periods of weight gain, but I try to identify them as such and not late myself be carried away by self-hatred. It’s not easy to intervene in such old, familiar thoughts, but it makes me a happier and saner person.

    So I can’t fit into some of the clothes I made earlier but now I’m all about figuring out a comfortable fit for myself. It’s interesting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your message Kalimak. I’m so sorry to hear of the challenges you’ve faced, and still face and I’m soooo glad you have good supportive friends around you. I totally agree with you that adulthood is the process by which we come to accept and love ourselves, which can be hard when our own brains seem hard wired to lead down destructive paths. I hope you find the strength to mainly stay strong. Hopefully sewing is therapy for us all eh. Xxxxx

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  7. hgclark says:

    Thanks for sharing Sarah! It’s good to hear about other people’s process for learning to approach this topic with themselves in a positive way. Fitting issues have been beyond frustrating to me, to the point of being willing to spend more and more money on getting help. I also have had some new changes in the body department which have added to the mix. Please do share your fitting resources and tips if you find any golden eggs ;). Very glad to hear that you are healthy now! Looking forward to seeing your makes!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. technique and then as we develop it soon switches to focusing on fit doesn’t it. I hope you master it too and yes I’ll share what I find…the starting point being that we are perfect and it’s the pattern that isn’t!! 😆😘

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  8. susan roberts says:

    This is such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post Sarah. It must have been hard to publish, but so glad you did. Now of course, it´s obvious why your shirt dress came out so big. The important thing is that you are better now. I suppose we should measure ourselves regularly…I think I´m working on measurements from a few years ago which are a touch small.

    Sewing encourages a healthy attitude to our bodies, both in awareness and feeling like we are an ok shape. Everyone seems to have so many body shape issues, by everyone, I mean women. I hope the younger generations beat themselves up less about a few extra pounds.

    Off to take some measurements. Thank you Sarah. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzy! I rarely reached for my tape measure because I thought I ‘knew’ my measurements; that’s a shocking thing to admit isn’t it! It was the surprise at realising I was practically a stranger to yourself! Yeah fit for the size you are, whatever that size is, and we automatically look/feel good! Xxxx

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  9. Congratulations on your recovery Sarah! You do bring up an issue that I’ve wondered about other sewists since I returned to sewing…the notion of changing body size and sewing. I’ve noticed in general that sewists TEND to NOT fluctuate their weight as much as say the general population. I thought it was likely deliberate since making your own clothes is such a challenge and task (albeit a much loved one!) But there will be fluctuations (like illness as you point out!) out of our control and it must hit a sewist rather hard to realize they don’t fit into any of their me-mades which quite honestly must have been as devastating almost as finding out you really are ill. What a difficult time you’ve had over the past 7 months and how you’re bouncing back so strong is an inspiration to us all. Your mom must be on cloud 9 seeing your speedy recovery, knowing you’re going to be okay and even getting to look in HER closet to peruse all those gorgeous daughter-made clothes! Bonus 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kathleen! I think you’re right; it’s so much easier to nip to the shop and buy new clothing if your weight changes than it is refit everything from scratch! It was a shocker having to go back to the drawing board but what an excuse to get sewing eh! Xxx

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  10. Claire says:

    Hi Sarah, I can relate to this – I am intolerate to everything but fat and natural protein. When I first realised this it was hard because I’d became accustommed to eating what everyone considers to be healthy food – fruit and veg. It was hard to feel that healthy foods made me ill. I can also relate to you not feeling yourself due to health and learning to love your body again. I’m impressed that you will make an outfit a week including fitting, I dont think I could manage more than 2 a month possibly 3. I look forward to seeing your makes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Claire. It is hard when your battling health conditions which directly affect the way you look or feel about yourself isn’t it. But we’re lucky that we can at least sew our perfect wardrobes irrespective of our body shapes, which I think hopefully helps to develop a healthy relationship with it. I’m actually intolerant to animal protein! Isn’t it weird how we’re all different but essentially the same. Hugs x

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  11. monika says:

    Oh Sarah..so many women and men as well can relate to this. so honest and more interesting than any fancy professional photos kinda blog/IG. Not easy to write posts like this and I know it was probably harder for you than other people because you hate the sympathy card so much xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mon love xx I think we all face struggles like this every day don’t we and it can be hard if it’s difficult to embrace change. No sympathy needed, but we can all empathise right? Xxx

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  12. Loved reading your post. Sorry to hear you have been so unwell and glad the NHS has got you back on your feet. I lost a lot of weight last year after giving up sugar and never noticed. It was only after measuring myself and making a skirt, then trying to fit it on my mannequin (and it not fitting) that I realised how much I had changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! It’s amazing what a big impact small changes can make isn’t it and just how oblivious we can be! 😆 well done on conquering the sugar fix, that’s got to have a massively positive impact on your health! Xx

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      1. Both my son and husband have adhd and it’s transformed their life and mine in turn! X

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      2. Oh how wonderful you found a working solution! I imagine you’re also a very good Chef too. I’m certainly trying to curb the sugar my own kids have too xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I don’t bake much…..We only bake cakes when we are craving something and know we can’t just buy it!! I prefer to be sewing in my free time!!

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  13. Sarah this is inspirational to me and many others I’m sure. Such honesty of how you have changed after being diagnosed with your illness and struggling to come to terms with that. I am so glad you are coming out the other side energised and feeling ready to focus on you. I can completely sympathise as I was awfully ill from Feb last year after having a nasty bout of flu. Had loads of tests until Nov diagnosed finally with Fibromyalgia. It effects my daily life and will do for ever and I’m in early stages of dealing with it to be honest. As a result I get tired so easily and can’t focus for too long, slowing my sewing amongst other things. I have put on weight but not had the guts to face that properly in my sewing but I’m getting there. This post has really helped thank you Sarah. I think we all need to face what we have to deal with and only then can we start to feel like we are achieving something positive in our lives. It certainly is working for you. I need to take this on too to hopefully help me. Sorry for the ramblings but this really hit home to me. You are an amazing lady 😘😘😘xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It sounds like a lot of get your head around. I love your comment about facing things in order to achieve something positive. That’s such a good attitude to have. It sounds like you have a lot of adjusting to do, but being extra kind to yourself I hope is right there at the top. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take your journey at your own pace. I wish we could meet up for a coffee and a chat; maybe we will one day. Thank you so much for your kind words. Big hugs xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Sarah you are right I have to take it at my own pace (not sure yet what that is as used to be gun ho and very spontaneous!) we will get there I’m sure. You are a very awesome lady! I would love to meet up that would be wonderful. Let’s make that happen. Loads of love xxxx

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      2. Ah I hear you! And yes, let’s make it happen. I’m hoping to get to a sewing event sometimes this year; hopefully we could coordinate something?? Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That sounds amazing – yes please let’s do that! How exciting. Something positive to look forward to. Just email me via my blog or in IG and will chat it over and get something fixed up 😘😘xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s a deal!! Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      5. 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻💕

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  14. Maxine says:

    Great post Sarah, sorry to hear of your illness but good that some positivity has come from it, not least your mum’s boosted wardrobe! Seriously though I’m sure we all have body issues but the beauty of making our own clothes means we can address them, or at least try to.., my efforts are by no means always successful!! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Maxine! Yeah my Mother is the coolest pensioner in town at the moment! 😆 totally agree with your comment, how lucky are we!!!! 😉😘

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  15. Anna-Jo says:

    I can relate after having child #2 while making my own clothes. I made some lovely things that fit my post baby body, but they’re now too big. It’s good to rise to the challenge of fitting me NOW, though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anna-Jo. Totally agree, we have to sew for who we are now irrespective of size so we can take care of ourselves with making ourselves fabulous things eh! 😁😘

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  16. wis30 says:

    Thanks for this honest post, Sarah. I love to see your makes. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Wis. I had to take a deep breath before pressing ‘publish’!! 😘 really looking forward to following your #mmmay17 posts too!! Xx

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  17. Great post. Love the honesty. Using challenges like me made May is such a good way to boost your sewjo and be inspired. Good luck with it. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Emma! Yeah the timing’s really helped clarify that for me. It’s good to take stock and reflect sometimes isn’t it; I usually find that’s when the sew-jo gates flood wide open! 😆😘

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lynsey_makes says:

    Such an interesting post, sorry you were so poorly but it sounds like you’ve reached the other side and now it’s onwards and upwards 😊 Body image is a very hard thing and even more so when it suddenly changes. I look forward to seeing your photos throughout may 😘 (Ps I’m a complete selfish sewer too)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lynsey, that’s appreciated 😘 it’s really taken me by surprise how little I knew my own body really, that despite sewing I actually gave it very little thought. But now I’m giving it more thought… and care. Thank you again xxx

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    2. And Yey to selfish sewing!! 😆😘

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  19. Glad your health is back on track. I really enjoyed your post x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thank you!! I’ve just read your yoga post. Funnily enough I totally agree with you about avoiding elastic waistbands! I hope you get your sewjourners back soon xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  20. crusicroom says:

    I was limiting myself to what I made myself as I was trying to lose weight. I have now decided that my me made wardrobe journey and my weight lose journey can work hand in hand and I will use it as a chance to learn new things along the way as my dress size goes down.

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    1. That’s a good idea! Wishing you all the best on your journey!!! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. crusicroom says:

        Thank you 🙂 sorry for the typos. My comment sent when I was trying to correct it. Have a lovely Bank Holiday Monday

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 😉you too!!! Pity the sun isn’t out! Xx

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