the post-baby wardrobe blues

Warning: slightly ranting, rather candid post ahead. This was originally going to be a post about a shirt that I finished about a month ago, though I just got around to photographing it this past weekend. Though, really, I don’t know what to say about it, because once again, the results just aren’t what I wanted them to be.

IMG_5143

The concept was good. I took my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and the concept from a nursing top that Heather kindly sent me back during my first pregnancy, to attempt to make a boring, basic black tee. Because I somehow didn’t have one, and given my love for bold print skirts, this was a serious hole in my wardrobe. So I used the front band and the instructions from my Peekaboo Patterns nursing camisoles as a guideline. As you can see, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.

I know exactly why. It was a combination of the pattern size being wrong (measuring for my nursing chest size is failing me at every turn lately) and the rayon knit being too drapey to have what turns out to be the necessary recovery for a shirt with two holes in the front. It’s already sagging to just below the covering band, despite the fold over elastic I put there in an attempt to keep it snug to my body, and I think I may have to sew the front completely closed in order to keep this wearable. Which defeats the entire purpose of a nursing shirt. At least the skirt turned out ok, even though all I did was buy it at the thrift shop and shorten it a few inches. The waistband was up to my ribs before–an odd feeling, since I’m not short!

IMG_5145 My apologies if this is sounding like a downer. But the truth is, I’m frustrated, and I’ve been getting increasingly so for awhile. Looking at these pictures, you can tell that I don’t feel great about what I’m wearing. Honestly, I haven’t felt great about almost everything I’ve made for awhile now. I was thinking about it today, and for the entire past 12ish months, I really only have two projects, that weren’t super-simple basics, where I feel like they look decent on me and really suit my style. I showed a picture on Instagram of one of my currently in-progress projects that’s also turning out to be less than I’d hoped, and a (kindly meant and worded in a constructively critical way) comment that I might be better off just cutting a different shirt entirely out of the fabric and starting over nearly sent me off crying. I feel like I just don’t know how to sew for myself anymore, and given that I’ve been sewing mostly clothes for coming up on 30 years now, that thought is horribly depressing.

It’s a hard place to be, sewing for the in-between. I recall having issues after my first pregnancy, and having a few misses on trying to sew for nursing-friendly and more changeable sizes than I was used to, but I think it’s actually hitting me much harder this second time around. I wasn’t expecting to have two kids less than two years apart. And while I wouldn’t trade Padawan in, he really is a sweet and happy baby most of the time, having two pregnancies this close together has really done a number on my body. I’m actually in physical therapy right now, because my hips got completely out of alignment between the two pregnancies and it was starting to make just normal, everyday walking painful. I also started this pregnancy at a higher weight than my first, since I only had something like a month between finishing up with nursing and getting pregnant again, and didn’t have a chance to drop those last few pounds. Long story short, I feel like I’m sewing for someone else’s body now, and I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. My older clothes are still too small, trying to sew looser/more forgiving silhouettes are resulting in things turning out too big, and I’m not even sure what looks good with all of these extra lumps and bumps that I have now. I just feel frumpy pretty much all the time. And of course I’m complicating things further by breastfeeding.

I can’t give up sewing, it’s too much a part of me. But I am seriously beginning to wonder if I should just step back from clothes for now, and focus on stuff like the boys’ Halloween costumes that I’m working on/all of the boring-but-necessary sewing that I’ve been procrastinating on (oh, hi, bedroom curtains that shrank shorter than your lining two years ago). I’ve never had a sewing slump like this one before, where I consistently have far more misses than hits. It’s demoralizing, especially when it’s been such a struggle to get sewing time to begin with. And until I’m 100% sure that I’m done with having babies and massive weight shifts, I don’t know what to do about it.

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16 thoughts on “the post-baby wardrobe blues

  1. gilliancrafts

    Bugger. That’s a tough one. I have zero personal experience with the post-natal struggles, but I think you described it really well, and the way you are feeling is very valid. From my point of view, you have a lovely figure – but I understand that in relation to how it used to feel and look, it doesn’t feel like “you”! I wonder if you decided to focus on sewing costumes and housewares would you be relieved or bored? Worth a try, perhaps! Or maybe it’s time to try on a bunch of stuff in a store and see what you like? This too shall pass!

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    1. I’m thinking I might go ahead and make my next project that I have planned, just because I legitimately need the midweight coat and I feel like that might be more forgiving since I don’t have to fasten it/ it’ll be worn over other things anyway. But after that, I might just focus on stuff for the boys and the house for the rest of the year. The next couple of months are probably ideal for me to window shop anyway, since dressing for the cooler weather is a perpetual struggle for me anyway.

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  2. Your honesty is really important and necessary- especially in our culture where we see only the good stuff and the instant bounce-backs- body image and pregnancy and the postpartum period just aren’t things we talk about.
    Could you do simple refashions for you along with the kid stuff?
    Could you hand the kids off to your mom or your husband, take a trusted friend and a camera with you, and try on a bunch of silhouettes(things you’d wear and things you’d never in a million years choose for yourself) of ready to wear to find things you feel better in?
    I think you’ve had some successes since Padawan- the belted Matcha you posted on Instagram is super cute! And hopefully you get lots of wear out of it- maybe with straight-leg pants?
    Bodies are hard. And it took yours over 2 years and 2 pregnancies to get to where you are- Give yourself grace and time. Don’t give up the thing you love.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. Especially about the Matcha, since that was the shirt that sparked yesterday’s mini meltdown. I’ll have to see what I can do about getting a few hours out to browse. I was seriously considering attempting to sew a capsule wardrobe next year, but I’m honestly afraid that the entire thing would be a flop, the way my sewing has been going.

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  3. So sorry you’re feeling like this. I think most sewists who have had kids can relate, even if it’s not something that’s often talked about. I definitely felt similarly contending with a large weight gain from one pregnancy. It definitely helped me to focus on sewing things for the house or my biscuit since I could just focus on the pleasure of sewing and creating without adding in the stress of fitting and flattering my unfamiliar body.

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    1. It’s good to know that it’s not just me! I have one more thing to make for myself that’s really a need this year, but I think some time off to just work on stuff for the kids/house and reevaluate might be good after that.

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  4. I know this is so frustrating! I had a somewhat similar experience with my first baby, because all of my preferred sewing styles were NOT maternity/nursing/postpartum friendly. So not only did most of my me-made clothes not fit or function any longer, but I also had to change the styles and fabrics I was using (I used to be terrified of knits!). It was a painful transition, but looking back after six years (and three more babies) it was just that — a transition. I now have a better idea of what will work with my “mama” figure, and what garments will actually get worn. But it took time! And I’m still learning…

    All that to say, I feel your pain — I hope that you’re able to find some sewing that lifts your spirits, whether that’s home decor, costumes, or finding some patterns that work for you! And I second Gillian that you look great; often we are our own worst critics. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Shannon

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  5. I know this is so frustrating! I had a somewhat similar experience with my first baby, because all of my preferred sewing styles were NOT maternity/nursing/postpartum friendly. So not only did most of my me-made clothes not fit or function any longer, but I also had to change the styles and fabrics I was using (I used to be terrified of knits!). It was a painful transition, but looking back after six years (and three more babies) it was just that — a transition. I now have a better idea of what will work with my “mama” figure, and what garments will actually get worn. But it took time! And I’m still learning…

    All that to say, I feel your pain — I hope that you’re able to find some sewing that lifts your spirits, whether that’s home decor, costumes, or finding some patterns that work for you! And I second Gillian that you look great; often we are our own worst critics. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Shannon

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    1. I think my biggest issue is not getting to fully bounce back, since I only had about 6ish weeks between wrapping up nursing the first and getting pregnant with the second. So it’s been more or less a solid 3 years of my body constantly changing and really having no way to get a consistent fitting standard. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll be able to sort that out!

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  6. As a mom of five, I remember feeling some of the things you describe. Right now I’ve got menopausal changes and I’m more confused than ever about how to fit clothes, what is going to look good, and if I would ever wear it because all I ever really want to put on is a sports bra and jogger shorts, and that’s not pretty! Having recovered from those postpartum days may help me through this adjustment as well. Give yourself time and take your self sewing easy. Lots of things on your plate these days, I imagine.

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    1. It’s definitely a busy life stage! Good luck to you with figuring your sewing out as well. I can imagine that’s also a difficult adjustment– hormones can really do a number, can’t they?

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  7. Time for your body to settle is key. And time for you to adjust to those changes. My self-image and shape awareness has taken a battering over the years. Two very close babies, then another one. Losing a tremendous amount of weight and then stacking it all back. Now my shoulders are more rounded and my tummy protrudes a bit. Altering my mental image and sewing brain to match reality is taking time.

    As for breastfeeding tops, I used my husband’s buttoned shirts. I kept the top button (or two) done up and stuck baby in underneath. Or just lifted up my super loose tshirts and draped a small towel over baby’s head. It worked so well for the first few months that just kept doing it!

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    1. I have been doing the looser tees on days that I’m just at home or running errands. Wearing my husband’s isn’t really an option, because he’s rather minimal in his own wardrobe and wears the few button downs that he deems comfortable enough to death! I am concerned about what to do with the transitioning seasons, because it’s been cooler for the last couple of days and I’m really struggling to find tops I can nurse in that go with bottoms that fit and are still warm enough + appropriate for teaching music lessons or church. Hopefully that will be easier once it’s cold enough to throw cardigans over everything, because my thrift shopping attempt today was also a near complete fail!

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  8. Pingback: redemption refashioning | sew adagio

  9. I feel you. I’m on pregnancy number 2 and can’t bring myself to sew maternity wear as it takes so much time and just might be a flop. I can absolutely relate to the moving target of our bodies. I told someone recently I had 2 weeks where my “body was my own” between ending nursing and getting pregnant again. I recently went through the book the curated closet to help think about a transitional wardrobe and it did help. I also think this is a time to be super gentle with ourselves and take time before we jump into knowing and sewing for our new bodies. Right now I focus on altering my current clothes and making clothes for my daughter. It scratches the sewing bug without bringing me down. I hope you find what works for you.

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    1. I only had about 5 or 6 weeks in between, so I definitely get that. I think the hardest thing for me right now is feeling like I’m lacking in even enough nursing friendly basics that fit to put together complete outfits. I actually did a little shopping spree last week, just to try to get a few more pants and tops to get me through the winter while hopefully dropping some more of this weight.

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