As seems to happen in my nearing-the-end-of-summer-but-not-quite-fall-yet posts, this is going to be a bit of a long ramble. If you actually want to read through all of this, you may require tea and cookies. You have been warned.
Going through my Sew, Wear Are They Now series has helped me realize a few things about what I do and don’t actually like to wear, and also hone in a bit more on what my “style” is. (And by “style” I mean I like nerdy, teal/grey/purple, shiny, or cozy things and I’m too old to put up with any sort of fussy or uncomfortable nonsense at this point in my life). However, the pandemic (and life in general) has really put me at a weird crossroads of what I actually want to do with my limited sewing hours.
The reality is, with work, side hustle, volunteer obligations, and just trying to be a person living life, sewing doesn’t have as much time in my schedule as it used to, which for me is really sad. I keep saying that I want to come back to it more, but the reality is I need to accept I have limited hours in a day, and that I can’t just crank out 1-2 garments per week like I did when I was just out of grad school with far different obligations, running on adrenaline, and not sleeping at all, ever. And while I still have a lot of sewing “plans” in the works, the honest truth is that my excitement levels for everything (not just sewing) all feel somewhat dulled at this point. I don’t know if this means I’m just getting old, or if it’s pandemic burnout, or just general life burnout from doing too many things too intensely for too long. But all told I’m sort of at this weird point of thinking I want to do things but not having enough energy or excitement to actually get them accomplished. So it sort of leaves me with a weird conundrum – do I sew practical things that I actually want to wear and will actually be useful, or do I sew fantastical crazy things to try and ignite the joy of creating again?
Part of this conundrum has to do with me coming to terms with my pandemic weight. The reality is that many (ok, most) of my pre-pandemic clothes just don’t fit comfortably anymore. I tend to be the sort of person that will wear clothes until they no longer fit or are rotting apart at the seams. But, since I’ve been living in PJs for 18 months, it feels like all of my clothes are now in one of these two categories. During the lock down I have been wearing a lot of self-sewn PJs, which are all disintegrating from constant wash and wear, but I haven’t had much need to wear a lot else. I really haven’t been wearing a lot of my other clothes, many of which I bought or made circa 2012, when I was at one of my lowest personal weights. I’d done something of a Konmari-style clean out a few years ago, but I’ve only done a minor closet clear outs since then. Ironically (or logically?), the me-made garments have the best fit of those that I can still wear, but they were also sewn for a very casual lifestyle. Which isn’t super helpful with a one-month deadline for return to office work looming in front of me. So now I find myself in this weird place where I’m getting rid of a lot of my clothes that don’t fit and likely won’t ever fit again unless I return to a multi-hour-per-day type workout schedule (which isn’t happening any time soon), storing a few things that probably will fit again if I get back to my pre-pandemic normal workout schedule, and pondering what I can do with the small amount of wardrobe items I have left. Honestly, if we were staying in pandemic work-from-home mode, I’d be fine with what I have. I can live with 2 or 3 Zoom-appropriate tops, a few snazzy pajama bottoms, and a few t-shirts and jeans that serve well enough for the few times I leave the house. I could sew at my current slow rate and build things out a few items at a time. But with actually needing to look “office appropriate” in the near-ish future, well, this just isn’t going to cut it. So I find myself pondering what, exactly, I can manage to “whip up” in the next few weeks just to get me through a hybrid work situation this fall, and then plan to sew like a fiend through the holidays to deal with whatever the winter and spring bring. This isn’t exactly joyful sewing though – it’s definitely a utilitarian “easier to make it than to buy it” approach, and isn’t exactly inspiring me to get back into the sewing room after recently blitzing through a bunch of yet-to-be-blogged white tops.
As something of a counter point to this, my sewing space semi-revamp from the start of the pandemic has also made me realize just how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. In some ways I’m coming to realize that I have “moved on” from a lot of my earlier sewing goals, plans, and ambitions, and that I can pretty easily talk myself out of the need for a metallic snake print trench coat right at this particular moment (or at all, really). But in other ways I’m realizing that I’m also sort of back to a point where I was when I first started. Originally I’d wanted to sew skating costumes (which I did for quite a while!) and costumes for cosplay. I’m past the point of needing skating costumes, but during the quarantine period I was finding something of a renewed interest in historical costuming and cosplay designs. It seems like there may be a lot of… issues in the historical costuming community though, and I honestly am not too enthused about being part of that. Of course, this sort of problematic behavior doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is sort of off-putting as an interested outsider/social-media observer who now really doesn’t want to have anything to do with the sort of events that hobby seems to promote. But I will say that I do have an interest in learning some historical garment construction techniques, improving my hand sewing, and maybe applying these skills to cosplay or even non-costume projects in the future. I’ve certainly watched a lot of “CosTube” videos since the start of the pandemic, and I have been really inspired by the different techniques and approaches that are utilized by the historical costuming and cosplay community; many of which I don’t really see being utilized by those of us who tend to follow more modern garment construction.
So, I find myself at a weird cross-roads of pondering where I sew from here. On the one hand, my current closet purge does give me a very blank slate from which to build out a “dream wardrobe,” and the Sew, Wear are they Now series gives me a good guide for where to go with it. Though with the current weird in-between state of the pandemic, I don’t really know what that wardrobe would even be for. On the other hand, I could just wait for Amazon Prime’s Wheel of Time series to come out and dedicate the rest of my sewing life to re-creating costumes and coming up with real-world casual cosplays or one of a kind couture creations inspired by the book series and the show. I mean, honestly, I’m not going to pretend like that might not just happen anyway, but since it doesn’t arrive until November it seems a tad premature to commit to a costume sewing obsession based off of a few behind-the-scenes shots and one promo poster. So, for the moment, I’m at a bit of a loss. Maybe I should just appreciate that this could be a good time to rest, and let the sewjo be low, and just get the bare minimum done to function as a clothed person who needs to re-enter a society that feels like it’s almost ready to lock itself up again. Maybe it’s also ok to wait for inspiration to strike. Either way it feels like I’m heading towards a very different phase of my sewing journey. There’s much less chaotic excited energy for sure. But after reviewing all of my sewn garments from the past decade, I’m realizing that so much of what I’ve done thus far really is a result of chaotic excited energy. I just haven’t really figured out if I need to try and find a way to being that chaotic excitement back, or if I should try to figure out where I can go without the driving force of the chaos fueling my sewing adventures. As of now, it’s definitely something that remains to be seen.