It’s been awhile since I last jotted down some words and paragraphs and actually wrote a blog post. For my few loyal followers, my apologies. A year ago, which some days seems like 10 and other days yesterday, we were dealing with my mother-in-law in the hospital, tornadoes touching down close by, and had begun our house hunting journey, possibly finding our dream home. The terms pandemic and COVID were still very foreign. Like many others, 2020 was a blur for me. A few weeks ago, in a telephone therapy session, my therapist said, “You’ve lost YOU.” My quest has begun. I am finding ME! And bringing her back loud and strong and I will be sharing my tales along the way.
Finding me is also synonymous with creating and sewing. Not much of that has been done of late either. I decided a good way to get back into my sewing groove would be to host the Sew Much Talent February Pajama Party. (Check out our Facebook Group!) For week one, I chose to sew something with flannel, it’s pretty darn cold here in NC! Flannel’s soft, snuggly, and cozy and perfect for these long winter nights.
Everyone also associates February with love . . . which got me to thinking about self-love. The love where you accept how you are, who you are, where you are, what size you are, etc., etc. Don’t we all struggle here? Putting others needs above our own? I know I sure do and I think I might find me if I start down this rabbit hole! Since I’ve already taken one tumble down some stairs in 2021, I think I’ll slide into this hole a bit more gingerly.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been sewing for a long, long time. So that means I’ve been collecting patterns and fabric for a long, long time too. Remembering I had some cozy flannel already cut out, I trudged through tote upon tote finding the one that might contain an already started project. One that I could hopefully complete in a week. On about bin four, I found a few sleepwear items, one a pretty floral flannel, cut for what I thought might be a warm, snuggly grannie nightgown. There were no pattern pieces or directions with it. No clue as to its size or what it is supposed to look like. I’m pretty good at figuring out how to construct without directions, so I wasn’t at all concerned in that area. But how long ago did I start this? What size would I have cut out?
Based on other items I found, near as I can guess, this nightie was cut out sometime around 1983/1985. No typos there . . . I have UFOs going back nearly 40 years!!! (About 30 in all . . . think of the stories I can write and share!) Where does the time go? It appeared that there was a yoke, button front placket, self -ruffles for collar as well as in the yoke seams, it had long sleeves and a cuff, it was floor length. Since I’ve not grown taller, I figured I was good there, but I’m definitely wider! Although I’m not as much a nightgown person as I used to be, the fact that I could create something that I started so long ago was very intriguing. Little did I know what emotions it would stir within.
As I began to stitch, I thought about being in my early 20s. I had survived high school, sexual abuse, and my father’s alcoholism. I had moved away from home, was taking some courses at the local community college, and had developed a façade of being happy. I worked full-time as a bookkeeper as well as part-time at JoAnns. I was married to a very manipulative man, I was not happy, and I was probably experiencing severe depression. Sewing was the only thing that gave me joy and got me through those bleak days. Boy, I hated that girl . . . too afraid to talk, too scared to have a thought of her own. A husband who pushed her to the brink, with no self-esteem. I was worthless, or so I was told. Tears rolled down my checks as I constructed my gown. Yet I continued to stitch.
I was most concerned about making the yoke pieces large enough as well as opening up the neck to fit my more mature body. The cute little ruffles had to go . . . that girl has grown up and I needed the extra fabric strips. I cut the center back of the yoke and the back neck facing and inserted a piece of the ruffle strip which had a width of 2.5”. I did the same with the center front seams, cutting off the self-facing, inserting the ruffle strip, and reattaching the facing. This left me with awkward seams, so although no one was going to see me, I decided to get decorative and hide them with some gross-grain ribbon (which was neatly tucked in with this fabric so I guess I had planned to use it all along?), some pieces of bias tape in my cast away bin, and some lace left over from a customer project I did a couple of years ago. Although in my haste, or was it because of the tears, I caught the facing portion of the yoke not once, but three times before I noticed it. In the end, I am very pleased with the result!
In my searching my trims bin, I found a little piece of eyelet ruffle that I decided to add to the neckline (maybe everyone needs a little ruffle no matter their age?). I omitted the interfacing, but dang, those facings were narrow! Only 1.5” including all seam allowances! The cuffs were about 4” wide so used those, cutting them into a triangle and made a gusset and inserted into each side seam. My boobs and tummy are where I knew I needed the extra room. It does hang a tad wonky and I could take some of the extra out, but again, who is going to see me? Once I inserted the sleeve, I did take up a small dart right in the arm pit. I also added a full strip of ruffle to each sleeve from the underarm to cuff. I didn’t really need the entire length, but I got lazy. I did a narrow hem on each sleeve and used some of the bias tape as a casing for elastic on the right side of the fabric. This gives me enough movement through my shoulders and arms where a cuff would not.
I decided to not overlap the front so no button placket, again giving me the extra girth I needed. Since it was designed for gathers, I still had enough fullness over those curvy body parts that I have grown to love. I can’t remember the last time I started and finished a project for ME in one day. Talk about some self lovin’! I had to chuckle over the notches, those were the days I still cut around them as opposed to clipping into them. The same with marking the dots on the sleeves, now I clip to them, this had modified tailor tacks. Not only have I grown as a person, my sewing skill level has also expounded.
I never imagined that an old sewing project could evoke such emotions. I can clearly see how far I’ve come, both in my sewing skills as well as emotionally. I had previously unearthed a lost and lonely young lady who had been buried deep in an abyss, embracing her with a whole lotta love. I may have lost me in 2020, but I’m nowhere close to losing me as I have been in my past. As I sew the seams of my nightgown, I shall also sow the seeds for a new me to blossom and grow. I may not wear too many nightgowns these days, but this one will forever remind me of how far I’ve come. It’s been a cathartic adventure. Teddy and I are heading off to curl up with a good book and cup of tea. Night Y’All!