I have way too many clothes. 2 large wardrobes full and two chests of drawers. I’m a bit of a hoarder and probably half my wardrobe is made up of ‘incentive clothes’ or ‘memory clothes’ which are waaay too small to me, but which remind me of a long-lost slimmer time. This, I know is foolish. I have got bigger in the last couple of years, so pretty much had to replace my small wardrobe with a whole bigger sized one. Unfortunately I still hung on to the tiny clothes, so have doubled the space I need. My husband is appalled at me. My wardrobe is ridiculous, but yet, I have been unable to stop myself from buying more clothes in the hope that they will somehow make me feel as stylish as I did when I was slimmer. They don’t fit in there, they are often cheap and in stretch fabrics or unflattering ‘big girl’ shapes, and usually are deeply unethical and mass produced by people working in awful conditions for little money. This compulsive buying has not made me feel any better about my place in the world, or my contribution to it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally a very happy and healthy person, but my attitude to clothes, size and beauty, like many women, has been somewhat skew-whiff. I think compared to a lot of girls, small or large, I am ok, I don’t have any major body hang ups (even though many people might think I should). I am happy to be seen by everyone in a swimming costume and wear the things I want to, however ludicrous they are. Hot pink strappy jumpsuits are my friend. But the compulsive buying, which is often tinged with a strange nebulous desperation, a hope that this thing, this one thing will make me feel like I used to when I was smaller, needs to stop. Post internet shopping guilt as another package of cheap and nasty clothes arrives from ASOS has been my companion for too long.
I started off by initiating a ‘one in, one out’ policy with clothes buying. If I bought something new, I had to send an old thing to the charity shop. Inevitably this would need to be something too small that I hadn’t worn for five years. This went some way towards my accepting that I wasn’t going to get back to being a size 14 any time soon, and even if I did, I would probably want a new wardrobe, not one that was half a decade out of date. It did not however assuage my guilt at contributing to an oppressive system of fashion production which exploited men, women and children producing cheap clothes in factories abroad, and which often humiliated and marginalised women here in the western world.
And then I discovered sewing. And even though I have only really been doing it for a couple of months, already it has done three huge things for me:
1) Stopped me from passively endorsing a hideous fashion industry at a cost to human dignity everywhere.
2) Allowed me to discover a creative and practical side of me that had lain dormant since school.(and err, spend hours and hours and too much money browsing beautiful fabrics online, but more of that later)
3) Allowed me to realise that my body can not be defined by a clothes size. It is unique, ever changing and marvellous, and I can make clothes that rejoice in that, rather than try and apologise for something shameful or which make me look like I’m trying to be something I’m not.
Sewing allows me to be a much better me. And this blog is going to chart my successes and cock-ups in learning everything that actually Making Stuff can do for a person and their place in the world. And I’m not going to buy any high street clothes until next year. And if all goes well, I won’t buy any in 2015 either. Apart from jumpers. I hate knitting. And shoes. I can’t make shoes. But everything else, me made or nuthin.
(I promise that future blog posts won’t be as grandiose as this one, and will mainly focus on wonky hems and bias binding, but for now, I am filled with joy and wonder and enthusiam for my new hobby, and I just had to get it out there!)