Saturday, March 24, 2018

#SMYLY


"Sewing Makes You Love Yourself" or #SMYLY, is a challenge hosted by Athena Kakou, Hattie van der Krohn, and Lisa Kisch. The challenge is officially over, but sorry, I still want to use it as a writing prompt!

I wanted to be apart of this as soon as I heard about it, but I'm not even sure how I want to broach this subject of how sewing helped me so much. My story is kind of unique and hard to tell. I will try to be generous and objective as I can, but I am also going to be true to my experience. It's kind of a long story if you are interested and I feel like all of the details are important to adequately explain myself.




Three Years Old

 Where do I even start? I guess from the very beginning. I was a honeymoon baby to two people who were married while my mom was still a teenager. My parents had only graduated from high school. My father worked on different dairy farms. They had seven kids, one right after the other. They briefly owned a farm but it went bankrupt. Then my father got a job as a hoof trimmer, but he did not like that job at all. My mother was a younger child of doting parents. She is not what one would describe as nurturing, organized, clean, or a home maker. Both of my parents could be described as fun loving, rebellious, chaotic, and social. 

How did I fit into this family? The truth is that I didn't. I have always been a serious, quiet person, from the beginning. I grew up with a lot of shame for having a filthy home (rotting food, urine and feces everywhere, garbage everywhere) and not having any clothes. I realize that many have had much worse, but I can count on one hand the number of times my parents purchased clothes for me until I became married at age 21. 


I hated practicing with all my soul

As I was growing up, for reasons I am not exactly sure why, my mother was obsessed with turning her children into classical musicians. I was made to play the violin even though we "couldn't afford" clothes, doctor's visits, lunch food, shampoo, tooth brushes, and tooth paste. We did have cable TV however. I hated every minute of music lessons and practice. I did not want to play the violin. When I was 13, I had a steady baby sitting job and I payed for my own violin lessons, probably to try to get into my mother's good graces. She really started to take an interest in me and my activities. She would write me long letters now about how much she loved me, and of course I loved every minute of that.



These were my only pair of pants for years and I wore my dad's shirts to hide how fat I thought I was.


I bought this shirt with my own money but still had to share it with my sister who bullied me and stretched it out


I started playing in more prestigious competitions and playing more challenging pieces. At the same time, I had no idea how to read music. I had been taught the Suzuki method of ear training when I was younger and never learned how to do more than listen to a piece and try to copy it. I was thrown into orchestras and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I would just pretend to play and hope the directors wouldn't notice.

As I got older and it became closer for me to graduate, my life became worse. My parents became more and more stressed and upset for reasons I didn't quite understand but now I know had to do with finances and my both of my parents' hatred for their jobs. I had a sister that became super rebellious, into partying, and into making my life as miserable as she could. My parents were sometimes exasperated by her but mostly afraid of her and didn't stop her from spreading rumors about me, excluding me from my own friends and activities (social isolating), swearing at me, belittling me, and making me pay for things for her. I was punished for any attempt to stand up for myself against her. 

On top of everything, I knew I couldn't become a professional violinist. I wasn't competing at a high enough level. I still couldn't read music and honestly I really wasn't interested in the violin that much. I was glad I had some ability, and I still am, but I do not have an intrinsic love of it. I was also struggling with an eating disorder. Some people outside my family would say that I was "pretty" and "skinny" but I thought that couldn't be true because I was treated so badly. In my mind, I thought I had to look perfect in order to be loved, and since I wasn't loved I must not look good enough.

 Suffice it to say, I hated everything about myself. I tried to tell my parents to cut their losses with my violin career, and their response to that was to unleash their upset feelings about the money they wasted on the violin and their frustrations with life on me. These people who had taught me never to say a swear word would scream obscenities at me. I was made to sit and listen for hours on end how I had a "too negative/boring" personality and would never be happy because of that. I was told that no one would love or marry me, I would be friendless forever, if I didn't become a violinist, which I knew I couldn't do. I have learned since that they ran away from the jobs their parents wanted them to have when I was a baby. Also, my parents had spent $5,000 on a violin for me, which I now have given to my brother who is a violinist.

Somehow I made it to a university another state away, and did my best to stay away from my family, but had a lot of guilt about not being good enough for them, not being able to please them, and wondering if I had offended God by not wanting to be around them any more.

I got married and settled pretty close to where my family lived, but I still wanted to stay away and did everything I could to do so. This was confusing to outsiders, who only knew my parents and siblings as the "big happy family of Christian musicians".
I was told over and over that I imagined every slight, I couldn't trust my own opinions about anything, and that I needed to continue to do what my parents wanted. I was told this by almost my entire extended family.

No one came to or celebrated two of my three school graduations. I currently have a bachelor's degree in history and music.

There was an incident where I copied pictures of my ancestors without permission (they still have the originals and copies), something I should not have done but still have not been forgiven of and was very much used against me. Other siblings have crashed cars and destroyed property with no consequence.

I got in a lot of trouble for cleaning my room and writing in my journal while a sister was sneaking out of the house to be with boys, drank alcohol, and did drugs. I got good grades, stayed out of trouble, paid for everything myself, but was very much the scapegoat for all my siblings' and parents' problems.

I was told under no circumstance was I welcome to move back home after I graduated from high school. All of my other siblings have done so.

After I went to one of my sister's wedding, I received a letter that said she hated me and was forced to invite me to her wedding. I had barely seen her for five years before that.

Every single one of my sisters (I have four) have admitted to me privately that they know they know they need to be more kind to me, but continue to try to take out their frustrations on me.

And there is even more that I could say that is more crazy, and it will probably never end.

So, how does sewing fit into all of this?

After I got married, I worked as hard as I could to graduate and pay off all of my school loans. I worked all sorts of jobs and even sold my plasma (blood) twice a week. My reward to myself was a sewing machine, something I always wanted but seemed way too expensive and out of reach for me. It was such a luxury to finally get one and I dove right in, not knowing at all what I was doing but loving every minute of it.

I didn't even realize until I heard of this prompt that sewing really did find me in my twenties, probably when I needed it most. I am so grateful that sewing was such a positive force for me as I became a mom without any family there to help guide me. It was a great challenge to dive into when I needed a break from the "trenches of motherhood" (never ending laundry, cooking, and cleaning). It gave me a sense of accomplishment, and a source of self esteem when I was literally being told I was worthless. It was my dream come true when my dream of my "birth family" never came to be. I have so many great memories of making clothes, some that were lessons in failure and others that made me so proud! Sewing was also a way to focus on something besides my unsolvable family problems and relieve my brain from depression. Finally, it was a great creative outlet for the clothes I always dreamed of making for myself and wearing.

 It was my faith, despite my parents' examples of their own, that ultimately saved me during this challenging time. Somehow, I did know that my Savior loved me when no one else did. Therapy also really helped. I definitely recommend it to people with challenging family problems. There are lots of great books about boundaries and family dynamics that are life savers if anyone needs a recommendation. In the end, I learned that even if it didn't make sense to outsiders that only saw one side of my family or heard only their side of all stories, I had every right to cut toxic people, family or not, out of my life. I did so slowly, but now I do not talk to those who had used me the most.

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! Simply saying I had a dysfunctional family/childhood is what I have to say a lot of times, but really doesn't explain the whole situation of my life. Sewing was something that helped me through it and I definitely suggest taking up a hobby when one is struggling with the hardships of life!  




  

Friday, March 23, 2018

Things I Have Learned

Hello everyone! Sorry it's been so long since I've blogged! Life has been a whirlwind of activity! I've been trying my best to keep my head above water and so everything superfluous took a back seat. 

Anyways, I don't want to quit blogging, even if I break the cardinal rules and don't write very frequently or consistently. I do want to write a few things that I have learned recently.

I feel like I don't learn just a ton a once and all of the sudden I'm so much more knowledgeable. Actually, who learns like that at all? I want to talk to you if you do, and learn your secrets. I learn a little bit here and a little bit there.

So, here are a few of the things that I have learned that have definitely helped me. Maybe these tips will work for you, and maybe they aren't exactly what you need. You decide!


1. Stash Less

My new challenge to myself is just to sew everything in my fabric stash or get rid of it. I heard of some people keeping only fabric for their next project and I am very inspired by this. I purged a bunch of things I just know I won't use and made a plan for everything else. I find that I'm less plagued by guilt when I see what I haven't sewn (I hate wasting money!). I feel more focused and in control. An added bonus is that I have saved money these last few months and bought tools and books I have needed instead that have really helped me! I also have a feeling that I will invest in better quality fabrics if I am purchasing just enough material for the next project in line.

Patterns are harder for me to get rid of. I hoard them! I admit it. When I get them for so little or free, I don't want to get rid of them. Every one that I have I find so beautiful and it seems like a waste to get rid of one that I might find the perfect fabric for someday! However, I have decided that I need to be more selective about what I purchase in the future. I will still probably snatch up every vintage reproduction! A lot of other things I will admire from a distance but probably say no to.



2. Make Appropriate Goals For Oneself


I see so many talented people setting up their own vlogs, Etsy shops, drafting patterns to sell, making podcasts, ect. ect. I commend them all! Good for you guys. There is a little voice in the back of my head saying, "Make sewing into a side hustle....make money with what you love!" As tempting as this is, sewing is my hobby. Maybe someday I will have the energy to turn it onto a money making machine, but right now it would turn my "escape from unpleasant reality" into more stress, which I really don't need. My heart is full, but so are my hands! 

More sewing temptations for me are competitions, sew-alongs, and challenges. I think these are excellent ways to learn new things, boost creativity, gain encouragement to finish a project, meet new people, and maybe even win a fun prize or two! However, sometimes they come at moments where I have too much going on. In the past I have killed myself trying to do everything and I just don't want to add more stress to my life right now. I am being more selective about what works for me, and that is okay! 

So if you are not sewing everything and making money doing it, don't sweat it! If you keep making mistakes, don't worry! Everyone does. I keep on getting reminded that sewing is supposed to be therapeutic and fun. A garment usually takes a couple weeks to sew, even the very best seamstresses have to redo things sometimes and take breaks! Do what is right for you and makes you feel happy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Audrey Hepburn "Sabrina" Dress


 I grew up on old Hollywood classics. Doris Day, Julie Andrews, and  Alfred Hitchcock were very familiar names to me! I especially adored Audrey Hepburn, so when the Gertie pattern B6353 came out I immediately fell in love! It is a copy of a dress from the movie "Sabrina" that I always loved.


 When the corresponding Gertie fabric went on sale a year ago I snatched it up! I finally sewed it up this month and I am going to be Audrey Hepburn for Halloween! My childhood dreams have come true!


 This dress is the nicest thing I have ever sewn! The lining is the best one I have ever sewn too!


 I really wanted to step up my photography by taking outside pictures! I totally got heckled by the river though!

 There is a beautiful old mansion in my area, "The Moore Mansion", that I new I wanted to get a picture at, but I wasn't sure how to do it. So I drove up to it when the owner happened to be outside, I asked if I could take a picture just outside the gate and they told me I could take a picture anywhere on the property! It was a dream come true!


I am so happy they let me take a picture here! I have admired this house for ages! It really is lovely. And I thought it was very "Sabrina" to wear this dress outside of a mansion!


What I know about the Moore Mansion was that it was supposed to be a vacation home for a wealthy, ailing woman. It was built around 1920 but the lady died before it was finished! In the 1930s it was a "speakeasy" and even Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been here! It was abandoned for many years and was a restaurant when I was a child. It caught on fire and sustained a lot of damage when I was in high school. Thankfully new owners fixed it up and now lots of people get married here! Sewing bloggers also can sometimes take pictures of their vintage dresses here as well! ;)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Capsule Wardrobe FINALLY completed!!!


 Hey everyone! I'm here to say I really did finish my crazy capsule wardrobe project! I decided to go ahead and document all the different combinations I could find. Supposedly there are 96 different outfits that can be made, but I only could think of 80. Let me know what I did wrong, although 80 combinations are still a lot for me! 

The following is a photo dump of all my different outfits. I acknowledge that some are better that others and my construction is not perfect. However, I learned so much and I am so excited to start wearing all these outfits every day (I was saving them for this blog post because I didn't want any of them to possibly be ruined!).

My "Winter Berry" Capsule Wardrobe:





















































































If you made it to the end, thank you! I am so excited about all the different combinations of clothes I will get to wear everyday!
Also, I must thank the Wardrobe Architect series and the "Sew to Flatter" class on Craftsy!