Monday, September 23, 2013

The Size Between Sizes

After waiting twenty-five years to find a group of this nature, I now meet weekly with two creative friends. It's such a gift. I'm very thankful not only for the creative energy of the group, the combined wisdom, and the accountability but for the regular support and encouragement of other women, particularly creative women.

Patti was away this past week so it was just Lorraine and I and I showed her my grandson's leather coat in progress minus the front zipper, lining, and collar. Even unfinished, it was REALLY cute especially with all the top stitched seams BUT - and you knew a but was coming up - on the back of one sleeve Lorraine found a hole - which she pointed out - something she says she'll never do again - and I hope she's lying because of course I wanted to know, especially as this is a special gift.

The first time I top stitched from the hem up the side seam and down the underarm seam to the sleeve hem, the fabric got stuck around the foot. I must have chipped a piece out of the faux leather while trying to get it out of the machine. I tried colouring the visible backing with a felt pen but a hole in leather is a hole in leather. I'm disappointed but not devastated. I have more fabric and it will take about two hours to redo... and I want to... but I really wish I didn't have to. My daughter and I talked about using a different - non leather fabric - and I'll look at options first before starting over.

On Friday, I mentioned that I am starting on a series of t-shirts. At that time, I was working with a dark grey fabric and a smaller size of my T & T pattern. When I finished the t-shirt, the body was too tight and the sleeve was too loose which was very strange since I'd cut it with zero ease so I'm guessing it was a combination of the fabric factor and the method but either way, I prefer the method I normally use for making adjustments and I'm thrilled to have come to that conclusion because it's both comforting and fabulous to not always be re-inventing the wheel and to settle into what works. 

One thing that works for me is princess seams. I decided that the main ingredient I want to work with in the t-shirt series is a curvy line up center front and the question of how to put that line back together. Instead of imposing other ingredients that would basically be irrelevant, I've decided to choose whichever pattern works for the garment I'm dreaming up. Of all the t-shirt patterns I've sewn, New Look 6735, Vogue 8691 without the ruffle, and Vogue 8323 (above) are my favourites and have been sewn repetitively. It's most likely I'll choose from these. The first has curved side seams, easing through the bust line, and a shaped center back seam and the last two have princess seams. They all have shape, which I need for my curvy body.

Based on the results with the grey t-shirt, it seems I didn't go down a full size and I'm somewhere in that middle ground - the size between sizes. It took a lot of work but I managed to get a version of V8323 cut from some scraps of a blue and black paisley and sewed a new muslin to test a change in sizes. It looks better on Millicent than me so I'm going to get out the t-shirts that are too loose, some pins and a measuring tape, and figure out how I'd adjust them to fit and then use my already drafted and perfected patterns which sounds like bliss to me. All good.

I don't have a lot of upper body weight and my shoulders are the slimmest part of my body and yet my upper bust measurement seems to have firmly settled into a larger size in the past year or so. Is this a part of aging? Do we get broader? I have no idea but I'm curious and I know some of you might know and isn't it wonderful to have a group of people you can ask that question to without sounding like a total idiot ? ? ? YES YES!

In-between show and tell, Lorraine and I had a fabulous chat about art and life and women our age, which is a better phrase IMHO than women of a certain age although it's basically the same thing. It seems that good phrases are constantly going bad and we end up working to take away the negative spins that get attached and yet phrases like this one exist because of their element of truth.

Women my age are dealing with different pressures and dreams than younger women and older women are. That's why it's wonderful to have friends older than yourself who can offer their experience, wisdom, and support and it's wonderful to have friends your own age who are right there with you in the experience you're going through and it's wonderful to have younger friends to offer the wisdom of all you've worked through.  I strongly believe in women supporting women.

I've alluded a few times to being quite stressed lately. There's stuff swirling and things to be decided and directions to be chosen and it's not something I particularly want to talk about in public other than to say that what I really want is not to come across as a wet blanket and to let you know that I'm not going to be nearly as productive as I normally am and I'm okay with that. I've decided to putter and meander and do whatever I want to do whether that's sewing or cleaning a closet or going for a walk or painting a door or taking a drive or... whatever. I'm letting you know what to expect to eliminate any pressure to perform. I am working on the t-shirt series but God only knows - literally - when they'll emerge and how many will emerge. I'm not going to push myself to make one a day or even one a week because...

... on a scale of one to ten with ten being highly energized, I would rate myself somewhere around a half and that's not normal for me. I've lost count of the number of times I've been called the energizer bunny in the past but not recently. Talking to my friends, I know that these periods of not recognizing yourself are normal however, that's only somewhat comforting when you're a half who is used to being closer to a ten - LOL - so my plan is to do more playing and more meandering. Tomorrow Patti is coming over for the day and we're going to play with jewelry ideas and see what happens. No pressure. Just fun.

A mind too active is no mind at all. - Theodore Roethke

I've started re-reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. In the outside margins, there are quotes... which I love.. and always read... and even though this is the third time I'm reading this book, it is only the first time that that particular quote has registered. If you're a thinker like I am, you recognize the truth of those words. Thinkers can out think a situation to the point that nothing is happening or to the point that we're putting unreasonable expectations on the experience that are near to impossible to accomplish. There is great value in being realistic, moving incrementally, and ignoring any tall buildings that might require leaping to take the slow meandering path along the rippling brook in the summer sunshine.

The half in me that needs to re-gather energy has decided to take the slow path. There are no route markers so I have no idea how long that slow path may be. There is no description of the trail so I have no idea what I'll be seeing along the way. I haven't invited anyone to walk with me and yet I'm confident friends will show up and be welcome. It seems that this is a walk women my age need to take, to re-evaluate, to prioritize, to make choices, to emerge fully energized. I'm looking forward to the end of the trail and to the journey. If you have any words of advice to add from your own journey, I would appreciate hearing them.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that explanations can bring clarity


  1. We do get broader as we get older, at least from front-to-back. It's a matter of physics, really. As we age, the pads between our vertebrae shrink and wear away from constant use. This means that our vertebrae sit closer together, and we lose a little height because of that. We also -- consequently -- have less space in our torso to contain our vital organs. Old people tend to have bulging bellies and stomachs as a consequence. Our neck-to-what use to be our waist measurements lessen if you measure the vertical drop with the tape held away from the body; the measurement increases if you measure the actual topography. Depending on other factors like how an individual's body deposits its fat, and posture, and other highly idiosyncratic things that happen over a long lifespan, that individual will thicken through a middle only a smidgen, or they'll swell up like a blowfish.

    On the question of "not recognizing yourself" or a drop in energy, I can highly recommend both drinking enough water throughout the day, and a nap. About the water: When my brain is "dry," it is often literally dry. About the nap: One grows brain cells while asleep; one burns up brain cells during furious activity. At least, that's what my brilliant friend Richard told us all in college, whenever we urged him to join us in any sort of physical activity.

    1. It sounds like you're saying we get broader through the stomach. Do you think the same principle applies to broader through the upper bust? My waist/belly are actually smaller.

      LOL - I'd run right now and take a nap to grow some brain cells except that everyone around me would be begging me to please don't do that. I'm in that small percentage of the population that "they" recommend to not nap. We wake up so grumpy we can't even stand ourselves - however - I'm definitely going to do my nap equivalent of meandering - and have a drink... of water - VBG. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Ah, old Ted, who also wrote (in one of his best-known poems): "I learn by going where I have to go."

    I'm also a terrible napper. My alternative is a version of legs up the wall--I lie down on my office floor, with my legs (calves, actually) supported by my office chair. I can conk out in that position, and I'm not grumpy when I get up!

    Good meandering to you.

    1. The quote resonated but I hadn't yet looked up who Theodore was. Thanks for the prompt to find the poem. As I often say, we learn to do by doing.

      LOL - wonder how everyone will react when I'm lying legs up on the wall. How interesting that you don't wake up grumpy. I would guess that's because you can't remain comfortable long enough to go into a deep sleep. Do you think so?

  3. Several months ago, I experienced a temporary loss that shook me to my core. I had a lot of dark days and was meandering around for a couple of months. The solution to the issue is beyond my control. I'm standing on the sidelines and that is not normal for me. I'm not good when I'm not in control. Last month, I went to a women's retreat at a place called Solitude Farms. The peace, calmness and the time spend with God and other women renewed my spirit. I needed a break. I learning that I need to be still on this situation. I need to think less. I'm refocusing my energy and thoughts on things that bring me pleasure and peace. I joined a couple of sewalongs to help keep me focused on sewing. This weekend I picked up a crochet hook and decided to teach myself crochet.

    Do what you have to do for you because ultimately you have to be happy with yourself in order to be good to other people in your life.

    P.S. I'm not a nap person either. I'm grumpy and tired when I take naps. :)

    1. Thank you for understanding and for sharing. It is greatly appreciated. HUGS.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.